Cobbler Import

The purpose of "cobbler import" is to set up a network install server for one or more distributions. This mirrors content based on a DVD image, an ISO file, a tree on a mounted filesystem, an external rsync mirror or SSH location.

$ cobbler import --path=/path/to/distro --name=F12

This example shows the two required arguments for import: --path and --name.

Alternative set-up from existing filesystem

(Note: the description of "--available-as" is probably inadequate.)

What if you don't want to mirror the install content on your install server? Say you already have the trees from all your DVDs and/or CDs extracted on a Filer mounted over NFS somewhere. This works too, with the addition of one more argument:

cobbler import --path=/path/where/filer/is/mounted --name=filer \

The above command will set up cobbler automatically using all of the above distros (stored on the remote filer) -- but will keep the trees on NFS. This saves disk space on the Cobbler server. As you add more distros over time to the filer, you can keep running the above commands to add them to Cobbler.

Importing Trees

(Note: this topic was imported from "Advanced Topics", and needs to be more properly integrated into this document.)

(Note: the description of "--available-as" is probably inadequate.)

Cobbler can auto-add distributions and profiles from remote sources, whether this is a filesystem path or an rsync mirror. This can save a lot of time when setting up a new provisioning environment. Import is a feature that many users will want to take advantage of, and is very simple to use.

After an import is run, cobbler will try to detect the distribution type and automatically assign kickstarts. By default, it will provision the system by erasing the hard drive, setting up eth0 for dhcp, and using a default password of "cobbler". If this is undesirable, edit the kickstart files in /var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts to do something else or change the kickstart setting after cobbler creates the profile.

Mirrored content is saved automatically in /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror.

Example1:  cobbler import --path=rsync:// --name=fedora --arch=x86

Example2:  cobbler import --path=root@ --name=bar

Example3:  cobbler import --path=/mnt/dvd --name=baz --arch=x86_64

Example4:  cobbler import --path=/path/to/stuff --name=glorp

Example5:  cobbler import --path=/path/where/filer/is/mounted --name=anyname \

Once imported, run a "cobbler list" or "cobbler report" to see what you've added.

By default, the rsync operations will exclude content of certain architectures, debug RPMs, and ISO images -- to change what is excluded during an import, see /etc/cobbler/rsync.exclude.

Note that all of the import commands will mirror install tree content into /var/www/cobbler unless a network accessible location is given with --available-as. --available-as will be primarily used when importing distros stored on an external NAS box, or potentially on another partition on the same machine that is already accessible via http:// or ftp://.

For import methods using rsync, additional flags can be passed to rsync with the option --rsync-flags.

Should you want to force the usage of a specific cobbler kickstart template for all profiles created by an import, you can feed the option --kickstart to import, to bypass the built-in kickstart auto-detection.


Kickstarts are answer files that script the installation of the OS. Well, for Fedora and Red Hat based distributions it is called kickstart. We also support other distributions that have similar answer files, but let's just use kickstart as an example for now. The kickstarts automatically assigned above will install physical machines (or virtual machines -- we'll get to that later) with a default password of "cobbler" (don't worry, you can change these defaults) and a really basic set of packages. For something more complicated, you may wish to edit the default kickstarts in /var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts. You could also use cobbler to assign them new kickstart files. These files are actually Kickstart Templates, a level beyond regular kickstarts that can make advanced customizations easier to achieve. We'll talk more about that later as well.

Associated server set-up


Depending on your usage, you will probably need to make sure iptables is configured to allow access to the right services. Here's an example configuration:

# Firewall configuration written by system-config-securitylevel
# Manual customization of this file is not recommended.

-A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type any -j ACCEPT

-A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT

-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp --dport 68 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 69 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp --dport 69 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp --dport 123 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
# Syslog for cobbler
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp --dport 25150 -j ACCEPT
# Koan XMLRPC ports
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 25151 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 25152 -j ACCEPT

-A INPUT -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-host-prohibited


Adapt this to your own environment.


Most likely you are using SELinux since it has been in the Linux mainline since 2.6, as a result you'll need to allow network access from the Apache web server.

setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect true


Depending on whether you are running DHCP and DNS on the same box, you will want to enable various services:

/sbin/service httpd start
/sbin/service dhcpd start
/sbin/service xinetd start
/sbin/service cobblerd start

/sbin/chkconfig httpd on
/sbin/chkconfig dhcpd on
/sbin/chkconfig xinetd on
/sbin/chkconfig tftp on
/sbin/chkconfig cobblerd on

This command "cobbler check" should inform you of most of this.

Using the server


PXE for network installation of "bare metal" machines is straightforward. You need to set up DHCP:

  • If the DHCP server is somewhere else, not on the Cobbler server, its administrator should set its "next-server" to specify your cobbler server.

  • If you run DHCP locally and want Cobbler manage it for you, set manage_dhcp to 1 in /etc/cobbler/settings, edit /etc/cobbler/dhcp.template to change some defaults, and re-run "cobbler sync". See DHCP management for further details.

Once you get PXE set up, all of the bare-metal compatible profiles will, by name, show up in PXE menus when the machines network boot. Type "menu" at the prompt and choose one from the list. Or just don't do anything and the machine will default through to local booting. (Some Xen paravirt profiles will not show up, because you cannot install these on physical machines -- this is intended)

Should you want to pin a particular system to install a particular profile the next time it reboots, just run:

    cobbler system add --name=example --mac=$mac-address --profile=$profile-name 

Then the above machine will boot directly to the profile of choice without bringing up the menu. Don't forget to read the manpage docs as there are more options for customization and control available. There are also lots of useful settings described in /etc/cobbler/settings that you will want to read over.


Should you have a system you want to install that Fedora 12 on (instead of whatever it is running now), right now, you can do this:

   yum install koan
   koan --list=profiles
   koan --replace-self --profile=F12-i386

The system will install the new operating system after rebooting, hands off, no interaction required.

Notice in the above example "F12-i386" is just one of the boring default profiles cobbler created for you. You can also create your own, for instance "F12-webservers" or "F12-appserver" -- whatever you would like to automate.


Want to install a virtual guest instead (perhaps Xen or KVM)? No problem.

    yum install koan
    koan --virt --virt-type=xenpv --profile=F12-i386-xen


You can also use KVM or other virtualization methods. These are covered elsewhere on the Wiki. Some distributions have Xen specific profiles you need to use, though this is merged back together starting with Fedora 12.

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