Kickstart installation


The Kickstart installation method provides a way to do automated installations of RedHat Linux and derivatives. For documentation see the Pykickstart page. See also our PXE network booting and Install EL Linux via PXE and UEFI pages.

Using Kickstart

Kickstart is a method for Linux installation preparation, and it uses a Kickstart script ks.cfg to describe the steps necessary for installing Linux. The script as well as installation files are then provided through standard services like DHCP and PXE and TFTP (or possibly using a DVD disk, even though this may be outdated).

PXE configuration

Network booting by PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) provides the /tftpboot directory on a boot server for downloading files by the TFTP protocol. The PXE network booting protocol is implemented in hardware/firmware by every Ethernet chip. In order to boot a machine into a Linux installation environment, the client computer boots the PXELINUX software from the boot server.

The boot server’s PXE/TFTP directory /tftpboot is organized into the following subdirectories:

  • /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/: Contains PXE boot files named as default.XXX, as well as soft links corresponding to IP-addresses (see the PXELINUX page Configuration section) to be downloaded and installed using PXE.

  • An OS-specific folder (for example, /tftpboot/CentOS-7.9/) containing two files vmlinuz (a mini-kernel for PXE booting) and initrd.img (an Initial RAM-disk file system).

The PXE network booting is controlled by a number of parameters in a PXE configuration file. For example, a file default.centos7 for installing CentOS 7 might contain:

label CentOS7.9.2009 minimal-x86_64
      menu label Clean CentOS-7.9.2009-x86_64, minimal install
      kernel CentOS-7.9.2009-x86_64/vmlinuz
      append load_ramdisk=1 initrd=CentOS-7.9.2009-x86_64/initrd.img network ks=nfs:

Here the append parameters are documented in Anaconda_Boot_Options. The name of the Kickstart file is configured by the ks=... parameter, which can in addition use several types of network resources such as NFS, HTTP, or FTP.

Possibly obsolete: For NFS installs please note that RHEL/CentOS defaults to the NFS version``NFSv4``. However, the ks= parameter also permits specifying an NFS mount option nfsvers=3 like this:


vmlinuz and initrd.img

The PXE boot kernel and initial file system are the vmlinuz mini-kernel and the initrd Initial RAM-disk, respectively. These should be downloaded to the installation server from a mirror site, for example It is required to download the specially configured Kickstart images and not the regular OS boot images, for example from for AlmaLinux.

On our internal DHCP/PXE server these PXE files are placed in, for example, the /tftpboot/AlmaLinux-8.8-x86_64/ directory for installation of AlmaLinux version 8.8.

The PXE boot files in the /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory must contain default.XXX files such as default.install-centos-4.4-clean which contain a reference to the new versions of vmlinuz and initrd in /tftpboot/CentOS-X.Y.

DHCP configuration file dhcpd.conf

The following entry in /etc/dhcpd.conf enables PXE boot by means of the PXELINUX software:

# TFTP download from intra5:
# Start up PXELINUX:
filename "pxelinux.bin";

These lines are added to /etc/dhcpd.conf on the DHCP servers.