My thoughts on RHEL 5.1 installation

I decided to test RHEL 5.1 to check what changed since RHEL 4. As I usually do a network installation, I had a few surprises.

The installation was done with qemu (with kqemu module) on an AMD Athlon(tm) XP 1800+ processor. The virtual ram was set to 256MB. The installation was done an an LVM LV, and took 25 minutes (pretty good I believe).

I tried to do a minimal installation, so I deselected all the available packages from the list. I ended up with 366 rpms and 935 MB on the disk (excluding /boot).

Look back in the anaconda-ks.cfg seems like that not the minimal installation as this is the %packages section:


I couldn’t find on the CDs a file to explain each of the groups here. The manuals talk about comps.xml for this info, but there is no such file on the 5 CDs. Such files are available for the extra software on the CDs like the cluster / virtualization software.

I also was surprised to see that I needed 3 CDs for the minimal installation. Although cd #2 was needed only for:

  • libgcj
  • java-1.4.2-gcj-compat
  • gjdoc
  • jpackage-utils

and cd #3 only for:

  • wvdial
  • isdn4k
  • minicom
  • lrzsz
  • libwvstreams
  • antlr

I guess these could easily be moved to the first CD and save people the CD changes which wastes time while babysitting the installation instead of doing it completely unattended. Also, seems like by removed the @dialup and @java groups we can be satisfied with only the #1 CD.

This also brought to my attention the method red hat choose on which CD each RPM will be placed. I’m sure doing a popularity contest like Debian is hard for a commercial distribution, but still knowing the method behind the CDs will be useful.

Generaly speaking, the installation went fine. I can start testing the system itself. about testing the


Filed under Red Hat Enterprise Linux

5 responses to “My thoughts on RHEL 5.1 installation

  1. Patrick Schoenfeld

    Besides the facts you mentioned: I always tried to do a netinstall as Debian provides it and they “support” it through a mini-iso. Well, you don’t have the choice between a businesscard iso and a normal netinst iso, but at least there is a way to boot from a mini iso (about 30 MB big) and do a complete network install.
    But its not nearly as comfortable as it is with Debian. You have to specify manually the mirror including the path to the distro files (which is a *very* long URL) and so you are lost if you don’t have a system standing by where you can surf the internet in order to: 1) find a mirror 2) find the path you have to specify. IMHO this is very bad.
    I had a talk about this with some of the CentOS guys at Froscon 2007 and they agreed that this is a weakness of the installer. Well, I wouldn’t call it a weakness, but a no-go.
    As I do install *all* systems in our company with a netinstall (to avoid having a lot of cd subsets and to avoid playing DJ) its just unpracticable.

    Best Regards,

  2. Chris

    comps.xml is the file that yum/rpm uses as a manifest; i.e. what file goes in which distribution set. Generally, the only time people need to go mucking about in there is when they A) Want to do exactly what you wanted to do, or B) Build a custom kickstart file. In the latter case, it’s useful to determine which packages can be removed from a particular group.

    For example, if you wanted to install the editors group, but didn’t want emacs (no holy wars here, please), you could specify


    in your kickstart file.

    CentOS, which is a RHEL derivative, has the comps.xml file in centos/repodata. RHEL might have it in a similar location.

  3. Lior Kaplan

    Thanks Chris. This is the correct location: Server/repodata/comps-rhel5-server-core.xml

    Patrick – Where can people find this mini ISO file ?

  4. comps.xml is on either disk 1 or 5 of the CDs in a dir called repodata. You just didn’t look hard enough 🙂
    also, why not just build a DVD from the CDs?
    that will show you how to do it

  5. Prasad

    I am trying to customize RHEl5.4, but it seems that the earlier utilities for recreating metadata files , primary.tar.gz, others.tar.gz etc are not available now. Btw got a workaround for the same “createrepo” which creates the metadata files using your modified comps.xml.

    Want a minimal ISO, ne pointers ???


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