2. Install Guide

Setting up and running cobblerd is not a easy task. Knowledge in Apache2 configuration (setting up SSL, virtual hosts, apache module and wsgi) is needed. Certificates and some server administration knowledge is required too.

Cobbler is available for installation in several different ways, through packaging systems for each distribution or directly from source.

Cobbler has both definite and optional prerequisites, based on the features you’d like to use. This section documents the definite prerequisites for both a basic installation and when building/installing from source.

2.1. Known packages by distros

This is the most convenient way and should be the default for most people. Production usage is advised only from these four sources or from source with Git Tags.

2.2. Prerequisites

2.2.1. Packages

Please note that installing any of the packages here via a package manager (such as dnf/yum or apt) can and will require a large number of ancilary packages, which we do not document here. The package definition should automatically pull these packages in and install them along with Cobbler, however it is always best to verify these requirements have been met prior to installing Cobbler or any of its components.

First and foremost, Cobbler requires Python. Since 3.0.0 you will need Python 3. Cobbler also requires the installation of the following packages:

  • createrepo_c
  • httpd / apache2
  • xorriso
  • mod_wsgi / libapache2-mod-wsgi
  • mod_ssl / libapache2-mod-ssl
  • python-cheetah
  • python-netaddr
  • python-librepo
  • python-schema
  • PyYAML / python-yaml
  • rsync
  • syslinux
  • tftp-server / atftpd
  • dnf-plugins-core

If you decide to use the LDAP authentication, please also install manually in any case:

  • python3-ldap3 (or via PyPi: ldap3)

Koan can be installed apart from Cobbler. Please visit the Koan documentation for details.

Note

Not installing all required dependencies will lead to stacktraces in your Cobbler installation.

2.2.2. Source

Note

Please be aware that on some distributions the python packages are named differently. On Debian based systems everything which is named something-devel is named something-dev there. Also please remember that the case of some packages is slightly different.

Warning

Some distributions still have Python 2 available. It is your responsibility to adjust the package names to Python3.

Installation from source requires the following additional software:

  • git
  • make
  • python3-devel (on Debian based distributions python3-dev)
  • python3-Cheetah3
  • python3-Sphinx
  • python3-coverage
  • openssl
  • apache2-devel (and thus apache2)
  • A TFTP server

2.3. Installation

Cobbler is available for installation for many Linux variants through their native packaging systems. However, the Cobbler project also provides packages for all supported distributions which is the preferred method of installation.

2.3.1. Packages

We leave packaging to downstream; this means you have to check the repositories provided by your distribution vendor. However we provide docker files for

  • Fedora 34
  • CentOS 8
  • Debian 10 Buster

which will give you packages which will work better then building from source yourself.

Note

If you have a close look at our docker folder you may see more folders and files but they are meant for testing or other purposes. Please ignore them, this page is always aligned and up to date.

To build the packages you to need to execute the following in the root folder of the cloned repository:

  • Fedora 34: ./docker/rpms/build-and-install-rpms.sh fc34 docker/rpms/Fedora_34/Fedora34.dockerfile
  • CentOS 8: ./docker/rpms/build-and-install-rpms.sh el8 docker/rpms/CentOS_8/CentOS8.dockerfile
  • Debian 10: ./docker/debs/build-and-install-debs.sh deb10 docker/debs/Debian_10/Debian10.dockerfile

After executing the scripts you should have one folder owned by root which was created during the build. It is either called rpm-build or deb-build. In these directories you should find the built packages. They are obviously unsigned and thus will generate warnings in relation to that fact.

2.3.2. Packages from source

For some platforms it’s also possible to build packages directly from the source tree.

2.4. RPM

$ make rpms
... (lots of output) ...
Wrote: /path/to/cobbler/rpm-build/cobbler-3.0.0-1.fc20.src.rpm
Wrote: /path/to/cobbler/rpm-build/cobbler-3.0.0-1.fc20.noarch.rpm
Wrote: /path/to/cobbler/rpm-build/koan-3.0.0-1.fc20.noarch.rpm
Wrote: /path/to/cobbler/rpm-build/cobbler-web-3.0.0-1.fc20.noarch.rpm

As you can see, an RPM is output for each component of Cobbler, as well as a source RPM. This command was run on a system running Fedora 20, hence the fc20 in the RPM name - this will be different based on the distribution you’re running.

2.5. DEB

To install Cobbler from source on a Debian-Based system, the following steps need to be made (tested on Debian Buster):

$ a2enmod proxy
$ a2enmod proxy_http
$ a2enmod rewrite

$ ln -s /srv/tftp /var/lib/tftpboot

$ systemctl restart apache2
$ make debs

Change all /var/www/cobbler in /etc/apache2/conf.d/cobbler.conf to /usr/share/cobbler/webroot/ Init script:

  • add Required-Stop line
  • path needs to be /usr/local/... or fix the install location

2.6. Multi-Build

In the repository root there is a file called docker-compose.yml. If you have docker-compose installed you may use that to build packages for multiple distros on a single run. Just execute:

$ docker-compose up -d

After some time all containers expect one should be exited and you should see two new folders owned by root called rpm-build and deb-build. The leftover docker container is meant to be used for testing and playing, if you don’t require this playground you may just clean up with:

$ docker-compose down

2.7. Source

Warning

Cobbler is not suited to be run outside of custom paths or being installed into a virtual environment. We are working hard to get there but it is not possible yet. If you try this and it works, please report to our GitHub repository and tell us what is left to support this conveniently.

The latest source code is available through git:

$ git clone https://github.com/cobbler/cobbler.git
$ cd cobbler

The release30 branch corresponds to the official release version for the 3.0.x series. The master branch is the development series, and always uses an odd number for the minor version (for example, 3.1.0).

When building from source, make sure you have the correct prerequisites. The Makefile uses a script called distro_build_configs.sh which sets the correct environment variables. Be sure to source it if you do not use the Makefile.

If all prerequisites are met, you can install Cobbler with the following command:

$ make install

This command will rewrite all configuration files on your system if you have an existing installation of Cobbler (whether it was installed via packages or from an older source tree).

To preserve your existing configuration files, snippets and automatic installation files, run this command:

$ make devinstall

To install Cobbler, finish the installation in any of both cases, use these steps:

  1. Copy the systemd service file for cobblerd from /etc/cobbler/cobblerd.service to your systemd unit directory (/etc/systemd/system) and adjust ExecStart from /usr/bin/cobblerd to /usr/local/bin/cobblerd.
  2. Install apache2-mod_wsgi-python3 or the package responsible for your distro. (On Debian: libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3)
  3. Enable the proxy module of Apache2 (a2enmod proxy or something similar) if not enabled.
  4. Restart Apache and cobblerd.

Be advised that we don’t copy the service file into the correct directory and that the path to the binary may be wrong depending on the location of the binary on your system. Do this manually and then you should be good to go. The same is valid for the Apache webserver config.

2.8. Relocating your installation

Often folks don’t have a very large /var partition, which is what Cobbler uses by default for mirroring install trees and the like.

You’ll notice you can reconfigure the webdir location just by going into /etc/cobbler/settings.yaml, but it’s not the best way to do things – especially as the packaging process does include some files and directories in the stock path. This means that, for upgrades and the like, you’ll be breaking things somewhat. Rather than attempting to reconfigure Cobbler, your Apache configuration, your file permissions, and your SELinux rules, the recommended course of action is very simple.

  1. Copy everything you have already in /var/www/cobbler to another location – for instance, /opt/cobbler_data
  2. Now just create a symlink or bind mount at /var/www/cobbler that points to /opt/cobbler_data.

Done. You’re up and running.

If you decided to access Cobbler’s data store over NFS (not recommended) you really want to mount NFS on /var/www/cobbler with SELinux context passed in as a parameter to mount versus the symlink. You may also have to deal with problems related to rootsquash. However if you are making a mirror of a Cobbler server for a multi-site setup, mounting read only is OK there.

Also Note: /var/lib/cobbler can not live on NFS, as this interferes with locking (“flock”) Cobbler does around it’s storage files.