6. User Guide

6.12. API

Cobbler also makes itself available as an XML-RPC API for use by higher level management software. Learn more at https://cobbler.github.io

6.13. Triggers

Triggers provide a way to integrate Cobbler with arbitrary 3rd party software without modifying Cobbler’s code. When adding a distro, profile, system, or repo, all scripts in /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/add are executed for the particular object type. Each particular file must be executable and it is executed with the name of the item being added as a parameter. Deletions work similarly – delete triggers live in /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/delete. Order of execution is arbitrary, and Cobbler does not ship with any triggers by default. There are also other kinds of triggers – these are described on the Cobbler Wiki. For larger configurations, triggers should be written in Python – in which case they are installed differently. This is also documented on the Wiki.

6.14. Images

Cobbler can help with booting images physically and virtually, though the usage of these commands varies substantially by the type of image. Non-image based deployments are generally easier to work with and lead to more sustainable infrastructure. Some manual use of other commands beyond of what is typically required of Cobbler may be needed to prepare images for use with this feature.

6.15. Power Management

Cobbler contains a power management feature that allows the user to associate system records in Cobbler with the power management configuration attached to them. This can ease installation by making it easy to reassign systems to new operating systems and then reboot those systems.

6.16. Non-import (manual) workflow

The following example uses a local kernel and initrd file (already downloaded), and shows how profiles would be created using two different automatic installation files – one for a web server configuration and one for a database server. Then, a machine is assigned to each profile.

cobbler check
cobbler distro add --name=rhel4u3 --kernel=/dir1/vmlinuz --initrd=/dir1/initrd.img
cobbler distro add --name=fc5 --kernel=/dir2/vmlinuz --initrd=/dir2/initrd.img
cobbler profile add --name=fc5webservers --distro=fc5-i386 --autoinstall=/dir4/kick.ks --kernel-options="something_to_make_my_gfx_card_work=42 some_other_parameter=foo"
cobbler profile add --name=rhel4u3dbservers --distro=rhel4u3 --autoinstall=/dir5/kick.ks
cobbler system add --name=AA:BB:CC:DD:EE:FF --profile=fc5-webservers
cobbler system add --name=AA:BB:CC:DD:EE:FE --profile=rhel4u3-dbservers
cobbler report

6.17. Virtualization

For Virt, be sure the distro uses the correct kernel (if paravirt) and follow similar steps as above, adding additional parameters as desired:

cobbler distro add --name=fc7virt [options...]

Specify reasonable values for the Virt image size (in GB) and RAM requirements (in MB):

cobbler profile add --name=virtwebservers --distro=fc7virt --autoinstall=path --virt-file-size=10 --virt-ram=512 [...]

Define systems if desired. Koan can also provision based on the profile name.

cobbler system add --name=AA:BB:CC:DD:EE:FE --profile=virtwebservers [...]

If you have just installed Cobbler, be sure that the cobblerd service is running and that port 25151 is unblocked.

See the manpage for Koan for the client side steps.

6.18. Autoinstallation

6.18.1. Automatic installation templating

The --autoinstall_meta options above require more explanation.

If and only if --autoinstall options reference filesystem URLs, --autoinstall-meta allows for templating of the automatic installation files to achieve advanced functions. If the --autoinstall-meta option for a profile read --autoinstall-meta="foo=7 bar=llama", anywhere in the automatic installation file where the string $bar appeared would be replaced with the string “llama”.

To apply these changes, cobbler sync must be run to generate custom automatic installation files for each profile/system.

For NFS and HTTP automatic installation file URLs, the --autoinstall_meta options will have no effect. This is a good reason to let Cobbler manage your automatic installation files, though the URL functionality is provided for integration with legacy infrastructure, possibly including web apps that already generate automatic installation files.

Templated automatic files are processed by the templating program/package Cheetah, so anything you can do in a Cheetah template can be done to an automatic installation template. Learn more at https://cheetahtemplate.org/users_guide/intro.html

When working with Cheetah, be sure to escape any shell macros that look like $(this) with something like \$(this) or errors may show up during the sync process.

The Cobbler Wiki also contains numerous Cheetah examples that should prove useful in using this feature.

Also useful is the following repository: https://github.com/FlossWare/cobbler

6.18.2. Automatic installation snippets

Anywhere a automatic installation template mentions SNIPPET::snippet_name, the file named /var/lib/cobbler/snippets/snippet_name (if present) will be included automatically in the automatic installation template. This serves as a way to recycle frequently used automatic installation snippets without duplication. Snippets can contain templating variables, and the variables will be evaluated according to the profile and/or system as one would expect.

Snippets can also be overridden for specific profile names or system names. This is described on the Cobbler Wiki.

6.18.3. Autoinstall validation

To check for potential errors in auto-installation files, prior to installation, use cobbler validate-autoinstalls. This function will check all profile and system auto-installation files for detectable errors. Since pykickstart and related tools are not future-version aware in most cases, there may be some false positives. It should be noted that cobbler validate-autoinstalls runs on the rendered autoinstall output, not autoinstall templates themselves.

6.19. Network Topics

6.19.1. PXE Menus

Cobbler will automatically generate PXE menus for all profiles it has defined. Running cobbler sync is required to generate and update these menus.

To access the menus, type menu at the boot: prompt while a system is PXE booting. If nothing is typed, the network boot will default to a local boot. If “menu” is typed, the user can then choose and provision any Cobbler profile the system knows about.

If the association between a system (MAC address) and a profile is already known, it may be more useful to just use system add commands and declare that relationship in Cobbler; however many use cases will prefer having a PXE system, especially when provisioning is done at the same time as installing new physical machines.

If this behavior is not desired, run cobbler system add --name=default --profile=plugh to default all PXE booting machines to get a new copy of the profile plugh. To go back to the menu system, run cobbler system remove --name=default and then cobbler sync to regenerate the menus.

When using PXE menu deployment exclusively, it is not necessary to make Cobbler system records, although the two can easily be mixed.

Additionally, note that all files generated for the PXE menu configurations are templatable, so if you wish to change the color scheme or equivalent, see the files in /etc/cobbler.

6.19.2. Default PXE Boot behavior

What happens when PXE booting a system when Cobbler has no record of the system being booted?

By default, Cobbler will configure PXE to boot to the contents of /etc/cobbler/default.pxe, which (if unmodified) will just fall through to the local boot process. Administrators can modify this file if they like to change that behavior.

An easy way to specify a default Cobbler profile to PXE boot is to create a system named default. This will cause /etc/cobbler/default.pxe to be ignored. To restore the previous behavior do a cobbler system remove on the default system.

cobbler system add --name=default --profile=boot_this
cobbler system remove --name=default

As mentioned in earlier sections, it is also possible to control the default behavior for a specific network:

cobbler system add --name=network1 --ip-address= --profile=boot_this

6.19.3. PXE boot loop prevention

If you have your machines set to PXE first in the boot order (ahead of hard drives), change the pxe_just_once flag in /etc/cobbler/settings.yaml to 1. This will set the machines to not PXE on successive boots once they complete one install. To re-enable PXE for a specific system, run the following command:

cobbler system edit --name=name --netboot-enabled=1

6.19.4. Automatic installation tracking

Cobbler knows how to keep track of the status of automatic installation of machines.

cobbler status

Using the status command will show when Cobbler thinks a machine started automatic installation and when it finished, provided the proper snippets are found in the automatic installation template. This is a good way to track machines that may have gone interactive (or stalled/crashed) during automatic installation.

6.20. Boot CD

Cobbler can build all of it’s profiles into a bootable CD image using the cobbler buildiso command. This allows for PXE-menu like bring up of bare metal in environments where PXE is not possible. Another more advanced method is described in the Koan manpage, though this method is easier and sufficient for most applications.

6.20.1. DHCP Management

Cobbler can optionally help you manage DHCP server. This feature is off by default.

Choose either management = isc_and_bind in /etc/cobbler/dhcp.template or management = "dnsmasq" in /etc/cobbler/modules.conf. Then set manage_dhcp=1 in /etc/cobbler/settings.yaml.

This allows DHCP to be managed via “cobbler system add” commands, when you specify the mac address and IP address for systems you add into Cobbler.

Depending on your choice, Cobbler will use /etc/cobbler/dhcpd.template or /etc/cobbler/dnsmasq.template as a starting point. This file must be user edited for the user’s particular networking environment. Read the file and understand how the particular app (ISC dhcpd or dnsmasq) work before proceeding.

If you already have DHCP configuration data that you would like to preserve (say DHCP was manually configured earlier), insert the relevant portions of it into the template file, as running cobbler sync will overwrite your previous configuration.

By default, the DHCP configuration file will be updated each time cobbler sync is run, and not until then, so it is important to remember to use cobbler sync when using this feature.

If omapi_enabled is set to 1 in /etc/cobbler/settings.yaml, the need to sync when adding new system records can be eliminated. However, the OMAPI feature is experimental and is not recommended for most users.

6.20.2. DNS configuration management

Cobbler can optionally manage DNS configuration using BIND and dnsmasq.

Choose either module = managers.bind or module = managers.dnsmasq in /etc/cobbler/modules.conf and then enable manage_dns in /etc/cobbler/settings.yaml.

You may also choose module = managers.ndjbdns as a management engine for DNS. For this the DNS server tools of D.J. Bernstein need to be installed. For more information please refer to https://cr.yp.to/djbdns.html

This feature is off by default. If using BIND, you must define the zones to be managed with the options manage_forward_zones and manage_reverse_zones.

If using BIND, Cobbler will use /etc/cobbler/named.template and /etc/cobbler/zone.template as a starting point for the named.conf and individual zone files, respectively. You may drop zone-specific template files in /etc/cobbler/zone_templates/name-of-zone which will override the default. These files must be user edited for the user’s particular networking environment. Read the file and understand how BIND works before proceeding.

If using dnsmasq, the template is /etc/cobbler/dnsmasq.template. Read this file and understand how dnsmasq works before proceeding.

If using ndjbdns, the template is /etc/cobbler/ndjbdns.template. Read the file and understand how ndjbdns works before proceeding.

All managed files (whether zone files and named.conf for BIND, or dnsmasq.conf for dnsmasq) will be updated each time cobbler sync is run, and not until then, so it is important to remember to use cobbler sync when using this feature.

6.21. Containerization

We have a test-image which you can find in the Cobbler repository and an old image made by the community: https://github.com/osism/docker-cobbler

6.22. Web-Interface

Please be patient until we have time with the 4.0.0 release to create a new web UI. The old Django based was preventing needed change inside the internals in Cobbler.