Create usb stick for network install via wlan with autoyast

Hi,
I have a pxe server running for automated installation via autoyast.

Now I´m planning to deploy a custom installation of opensuse leap 42.2 to a large number of netbooks who do not have an ethernet connection, only wireless. PXE doesn´t work for that. Also, I´m only user of that system, I have not set it up myself, thus I don´t understand every detail of the process.

Is it possible to use the opensuse net installer on a stick and automate the process such that

  • the wifi card is autodetected and used for installation
  • the wifi network connection (ssid and password) is established automatically
  • a local mirror is used for installation

I found a site where there is a minimal sample for autoyast:

http://users.suse.com/~ug/AutoYaST_FAQ.html#a3

Is that still valid for leap 42.2?

I have used the net installer before, I think to achieve all of this manually is no problem. The question is if it can be automated such that no user interaction (apart from putting in the stick and booting from it) is needed. Also I don´t want to deploy images, the process should work on different kinds of hardware.

Any help is very much appreciated, especially examples for autoyast profiles would be very helpful. Pointers to the correct documentation are also welcome, there is quite a lot of old documentation around on the net.

Yours

Andreas

I think a few questions are in order;

  • Are all the netbooks exactly the same model?
  • Do you have the specifications and model of the netbooks?
  • If not, do you have access to one that you can print out a few things out of them, mainly the WLAN adapter and type.

I’m seeing a few possible routes that you can take here;

  • Make a USB key that writes an image that you’ve prepared beforehand from the USB key to the netbook, on a modern USB2/3 this should take only a few minutes per machine (Essentially a preload image, much like companies used to do in the past)
  • Spin your own ISO that includes the network drivers required for the netbook (possibly kernel-firmware for example) and tell it to boot to an autoyast .xml on a network drive - this will require editing the startup files.

Thanks for your reply.

For the time being, the netbooks are all of exactly the same type. But this concept should be valid for several years to come, thus I´d like it to be hardware independent.

Maybe I´ll take the image-on-usb-stick route first and ponder over autoyast later.

If I understand you correctly, I´d need a custom iso on stick that starts the autoinstallation. Do you mean, I should modify the net installer?

You can create a full blown installation with all the packages you want in SUSE Studio ( https://susestudio.com/ ) and then when creating the image you choose to create a Preload Image that you write on a USB stick.

You can also cherry pick applications from openSUSE Build Service that are not normally included with the distribution and on top of that, you’ll always get a fully patched system (when you create the image, it will apply the latest versions from Update repositories).

It has a small learning curve (it’s quite simple, really) and you can use ready made templates that already include all the basic software you want. Take a peek at the website and HowTo’s there, you’ll get the hang of it fast. Then when installed, it will start using normal 42.1 or 42.2 repositories (oss, non-oss, update) like a normal installation would.

Hi,
that sounds exactly like what I´m looking for, thank you!

I´ll read the docs and tell you how I get along.

Thanks,
Andreas

Hi,
a rather big drawback of Suse studio is that the offered base systems are out of date. 42.2 is not offered as a pattern.

So I´ve got myself a test machine and tried if the network installer works with wlan - it does! If you don´t put in an ethernet card after some time you are asked for ssid and wlan key, then the installation uses wlan. I didn´t need to add an extra driver.

I´ll try to gather an autoyast profile from that installation, hopefully the ssid and key are within that profile.

Yours

Andreas

So it would seem, however you can fix it by removing the 42.1 repos under “Software / Software Sources” and replacing those with 42.2 versions ( Add Repositories, Import New Repository, Add Repository via URL, give the repo a name and the corresponding URI) and using the 42.2 OSS, non-OSS, Update and Update-non-OSS URIs.


http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/leap/42.2/repo/oss/
http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/leap/42.2/repo/non-oss/
http://download.opensuse.org/update/leap/42.2/oss/
http://download.opensuse.org/update/leap/42.2/non-oss/

That’s how I did it when it didn’t support the latest one at one point.

A bit tricky but should do the trick.

Thank you, this will improve the susestudio-approach very much.

In the meantime I have made some experiments with autoyast.

I generated an autoyast profile from the installation that was done via netinstall and wlan. WLAN ssid and password are indeed written into the autoinst.xml file.

However, when I invoked the installation using that autoinst.xml file, I was still asked for network ssid and password. If there is someone with deep knowledge on autoyast, I´d very much like to know if it is even possible to completely automatize an installation via wlan.

In the meantime, I´ll look into suse studio.

Regards,

Andreas

@Miuku :

I have now played with SuSE Studio. It´s really cool and extremely easy to use. Also it allows to integrate custom files and scripts.

The process of manually changing the SuSE-Version is probably more complicated than you describe, as Leap 42.2 uses a different KDE Version. Is there a rule of thub when SuSE Stutio will change to the latest SuSE Version? My project won´t start before summer.

The task is as follows:

  • in the pilot phase: Give 30 Netbooks to 30 students. They must be functional at school and at home (thus network manager must be used, wicked network at boot-time won´t do). Keep those netbooks alive and updated, install additional software automatically
  • next phase: give netbooks to 150 students, same task as above
  • final phase: give netbooks to 150 students every year, keep ca. 1000 netbooks alive and up to date

That is why I am trying to carefully plan the deployment. Also, installations must be easy to repair.

Yours,

Andreas

That’s true - it should have actually already offered 42.2 versions but I talked to some guys who “know these things” and unfortunately it seems the people who maintain the service are really, really swamped with work currently.

I have a few project things keeping me busy until next Wednesday but then I can help you by trying to see if I can build a 42.2 image in Studio that you can copy.

Thank you very much, I´m not in a hurry (at least not very much so).

The reason I am thinking through different possible routes of deployment is that I must decide if it´s possible to buy netbooks without ethernet or if I must stick to ones with ethernet. Building your own custom preload-image with suse studio would work perfectly with a set of cheap usb-sticks, so that´s very good. Also, adding own files and community-repos is really cool.

When going the autoyast-route I usually install a base system and add community-repos later on via scripts and install additional software with skripts.

Thanks,

Andreas

@Miuku : Did you hear anything from the guys who maintain SuSE studio? I see that there are other templates based on 42.2, is it safe to simply use them?

Regards, Andreas

I sent them a message and have heard absolutely nothing back from them :confused:

Possibly, however you should check that they do not link to repositories that are not official before you use them. So only oss, non-oss, update and update non-oss.