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Quick Reference

General Questions

Installation Questions

Satellite Server Administrator Questions

General

What does the academic subscription provide?

The subscription provides access to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for University owned systems and to personal systems owned by NU faculty, staff, and students. Computers owned and maintained by the university have access to the Server , Workstation or Desktop versions of the operating system. Personal systems owned by University faculty, staff, and students can be installed with RHEL Workstation or Desktop versions.

NU RHEL Satellite

All RHN functionality (system profiles, reporting data, application server, etc.) is stored locally on the NU network. The Satellite Server connects with RHN over the internet only to download updates. This model provides NU with the ability for greater optimization and control of systems. NOTE: Only designated NU RHEL Satellite administrators will have access to the NU RHN Satellite Web interface.

Server vs. Server Advanced Platform

If you read Red Hat's description of RHEL5 Server, you will see that there are two types of Server subscriptions available: RHEL5 Server and RHEL5 Server Advanced Platform. Our academic site subscription provides the basic Server option. What this means essentially is that Northwestern IT has access to all Server components except for the GFS file server clustering and the high availability features.

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What RHEL versions are available?

A list of available RHEL versions, visit the Northwestern University Red Hat ISO Repository.

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Which distribution should I choose?
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Where can I find general support for my RHEL installed software?

The NU RHEL contract includes limited support for the High Performance Research Computing Cluster only. General users seeking technical support should inquire with their school/department NU RHEL Satellite administrator.

A dedicated discussion mail list for Linux users at Northwestern University is available. You can subscribe to the NU-Linux mail list at https://mail.mccormick.northwestern.edu/mailman/listinfo/nu-linux. This list discusses the various distributions of Linux available from Red Hat, Fedora and others. The public archives for the NU-Linux list are available at https://mail.mccormick.northwestern.edu/pipermail/nu-linux/. It is a good idea to visit the archives before posting to the list to see if a similar question or problem has been posted already.

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What hardware will work with RHEL?
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I am an existing MEAS RHEL user, do I need to get a new activation key?

Yes. A new activation key is required to convert from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (MEAS) Red Hat Proxy service to the NU Red Hat Satellite service. Please contact your school/department NU RHEL Satellite administrator to obtain an activation key for your area. If you do not have a designated administrator for your school/department you may use the general use NU RHEL ad hoc activation key.

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How do I obtain a license key?

Please contact your school/department NU RHEL Satellite administrator to obtain an activation key for your area. If you do not have a designated administrator for our school/department or this is for a personal account you may use the general use NU RHEL ad hoc activation key.

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My school or department is not represented on the RHEL Administrator list. Who should I contact?

If you do not have a designated NU RHEL Satellite administrator for your school/department you may use the general use NU RHEL ad hoc activation key. If you manage a group of RHEL machines and would like to establish a NU RHEL Satellite administrator account, please submit a request via the NU RHEL Satellite Account Request form. All NU RHEL Satellite user account requests will need approval from the School or Department Technology Leader before processing.

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Installation Questions

How do I download and install the RHEL software?

Northwestern IT provides all current RHEL installers via the .iso format on the NU RHEL ISO Repository. You will need to download the required ISO file and then create a CD/DVD or file/network share with the contents. After the ISO has been burned or exploded out to a usable media format, boot the machine from that media or kick start file and walk through the install process.

Note: The first thing the Anaconda installer will ask you for on RHEL5 installations is the Installation Number. Choose the 'Skip entering Installation Number' option at this time. Once the RHEL5 OS is installed, the machine will be subscribed to the base RHEL5 OS channel.

Installing Entirely from CD or DVD media

Download the proper installation ISOs. Grab the installation ISOs for your architecture (i386, x86_64) and desired operating system (Desktop or Server). After you download the iso files, use a CD/DVD burning tool to create the media. Install the CD/DVD and boot from the media drive.

In depth instructions for installing the RHEL operating system can be found on the Red Hat Web site at http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/enterprise/ under Installation Guides.

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How do I use the activation key file to register my installed OS?

Registering a Personal System to the Red Hat Network

If you do not have a designated NU RHEL Satellite administrator for your school/department, you may register your system to the Red Hat Network and use the ad hoc activation key.

Ad hoc activation key users are not able to log in to the RHN Web portal to view the status of boxes. All updates/upgrades/patches/installation packages will function via manual or scheduled up2date/yum commands from the local machine.

Follow these steps to register a personal system to the Red Hat Network:

  1. Log in as root and open a shell window.
  2. Run the following command: rhnreg_ks --force --activationkey=<adhoc activation key>
Get the general use ad hoc activation key.

IMPORTANT: If you are changing the activation key on an existing system that does not already point to the Red Hat Network (RHN) for updates, you will need to modify the up2date configuration file to point to the RHN server.

  1. Log in to the server as root and edit the following file: /etc/sysconfig/rhn/up2date
  2. Set the following setting as shown below: a. noSSLServerURL=http://xmlrpc.rhn.redhat.com/XMLRPC b. serverURL=https://xmlrpc.rhn.redhat.com/XMLRPC c. sslCACert=/usr/share/rhn/RHNS-CA-CERT
  3. Save changes
  4. Run the following command: rhnreg_ks --force --activationkey= <adhoc activation key>

Troubleshooting: You may need to download the latest RHN Certificate. Below is an installation script that will download and append the RHNS-CA-CERT file with the latest RHN certification.

This script must be run as root. To run the script directly from your machine: wget -q -O - https://rhn.redhat.com/help/new-cert.sh | /bin/bash.

Note: If there is no 'RHNS-CA-CERT' file in the /usr/share/rhn/ directory you will need to create one before the shell script will run correctly.

Registering a Group System to the NU RHEL Satellite Server

If you are a NU RHEL Satellite administrator and have received a group activation key, you can use the activation key to register the machine instead of using the ad hoc activation key.

  1. Log in as root and open a shell window.
  2. Get the bootstrap.sh script:

    wget redhat.it.northwestern.edu/pub/bootstrap/bootstrap.sh

  3. Edit the boostrap.sh script to input the group activation key that you received.
  4. Save the changes and then run the updated file:

    /bin/sh bootstrap.sh

    Note: root users may need to remove the existing 'rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1' rpm from the system before the update can occur. If you receive an SSL error while attempting to run the bootstrap.sh file on the local machine please perform the below action:

  5. Verify you have the outdated rpm, type:

    rpm -qa | grep rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1

  6. If the rpm exists remove it, type:

    rpm -e rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1.

The reason we are removing this package is that the NU RHEL server will install a newer version of the package with the updated certificates.

Once the system has been registered using the activation key, the machine can be managed using the NU RHN site <https://redhat.it.northwestern.edu>. Visit the NU RHN site and log in using 'ads\<NetID>' and password.

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How do I get modules/system/security updates for my installed OS?

If you are a NU RHEL Satellite administrator, all updates can be retrieved via the NU RHN Satellite Web portal and scheduled to be pushed down to the machine. All other NU RHEL users will need to manually run Yellowdog Update Modified (YUM) or UP2DATE utilities on the local machine to get updates for the system. Beginning with version 5, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) uses YUM as its package manager.

More information on using up2date (Red Hat Update Agent) can be found at:

http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/RHNetwork/ref-guide/3.7/ch-up2date.html

More information on using YUM can be found at:

http://www.redhat.com/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/5.2/html/Deployment_Guide/c1-yum.html

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Satellite Administrator Questions

How do I gain access to the RHEL Satellite Server?

All NU RHEL Satellite administrators have been identified and should have proper access to the NU RHEL Satellite Server. If you do not have a designated administrator for your school/department you can send a request to have your school/department added to the NU RHEL Satellite Service via the RHEL Satellite Service User Account Request form. This form can also be used by School Technology Leaders and existing NU RHEL Satellite administrators to request additions/changes to the current list.

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How do I obtain a license key?

All NU RHEL Satellite administrators should have received a communication from Northwestern IT including a new activation key to convert to the new NU RHEL Satellite Server. Please contact your school/department NU RHEL Satellite administrator to obtain a key for your area. If you do not have a designated NU RHEL Satellite administrator for your school/department you may use the general use ad hoc activation key.

If you manage a group of RHEL machines and would like to establish a NU RHEL Satellite administrator account, please submit your request via the NU RHEL Satellite Account Request form. All NU RHEL Satellite user account requests will need approval from the School or Department Technology Leader before processing.

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How many licenses does my activation key support?

All NU RHEL Satellite activation keys were initially provisioned for a specific number of licenses. If the provided NU RHEL activation key has reached its limit then a NU RHEL Satellite administrator can send a request to consultant@northwestern.edu to have the activation key expanded or a new one generated.

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Can I transfer an existing RHEL Satellite Server account to another user?

Yes - School and Department Technology Leaders and existing NU RHEL Satellite administrators can request additions/changes to the current list by completing the RHEL Satellite User Account Request form.

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I do not see a required channel in the NU RHEL Satellite Server. How do I request the addition of a channel within the NU RHEL Satellite?

Northwestern IT has communicated with the designated NU RHEL Satellite administrators to determine the optimal number of RHEL channels to subscribe to while minimizing overall disk space requirements. If a NU RHEL Satellite administrator requires additional channels to support their RHEL implementation, please send a request to consultant@northwestern.edu with the channel information specifics.

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Why aren't automatic updates working?

I've installed RHEL on my machine and registered it with the activation key, but there are several outstanding errata that aren't getting applied. What's going on?

There are several things that can prevent updates from occurring:

Last Updated: 19 April 2017

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