Secure Boot

Posted by Phil on Monday, October 28, 2019

Note: this has only been tested on a CentOS7 Cobbler 2.8 server to deploy CentOS7/8 and RHEL7/8 hosts.

The complication of secure boot is that all stages of the boot loading need to be vendor specific. So the DHCP configuration needs to have a system specific filename defined. As you need the flexibility to set this value at each level of the distro/profile/system hierarchy, this process uses the ksmeta facility.

Note: release 2.8.5 and below do not support passing ksmeta values to the dhcp.template and therefore you must apply this simple one-line pull request #2180

The ksmeta value for filename needs to be set to the first stage loader for the OS. For 64bit RHEL based distros this is the shimx64.efi. This then loads the grubx64.efi which finally loads the host(MAC) specific config file grub.cfg-01-MAC. Because these filenames are fixed you have to put them in a distro specific sub-directory. Also grubx64.efi will fetch the config files from the same sub-directory.

The steps to get this working are:

1) Apply the patch from PR #2180 if required.

2) Extract the shimx64.efi and grubx64.efi from the distro’s shim-x64 and grub2-efi-x64 RPMs.

3) Place these two files in a distro specific sub-directory of /var/lib/cobbler/loaders/, e.g. /var/lib/cobbler/loaders/rhel8-x86_64/shimx64.efi.

4) Set the filename ksmeta at an appropriate level, e.g. –ksmeta “filename=grub/rhel8-x86_64/shimx64.efi”

5) In the /etc/cobbler/dhcp.template add a check for the filename in the mgmt_parameters:

#for dhcp_tag in $dhcp_tags.keys():
group {
        #for mac in $dhcp_tags[$dhcp_tag].keys():
            #set iface = $dhcp_tags[$dhcp_tag][$mac]
    host $ {
        hardware ethernet $mac;
        #if $iface.mgmt_parameters.get('filename')
        filename "$iface.mgmt_parameters.get('filename')";
        #end if
        #end for
#end for

6) Update the /etc/cobbler/pxe/grubsystem.template to also check for filename. This is required as the file format is different:


#if $mgmt_parameters.get('filename')

menuentry '$system_name' {
    linuxefi $kernel_path $kernel_options
    initrdefi $initrd_path


title $system_name
    root (nd)
    kernel $kernel_path $kernel_options
    initrd $initrd_path

#end if

7) Add a post sync trigger /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/sync/post/secure-boot and make it executable. This copies in the distro specific boot loaders and links in the config files with the name required by grubx64.efi:


for loader in /var/lib/cobbler/loaders/*
  if [ -d "${loader}" ]
    cp -r ${loader} /var/lib/tftpboot/grub/

      cd /var/lib/tftpboot/grub/$(basename ${loader})

      for p in ../01-*
        f=$(basename $p)
        ln -sf $p grub.cfg-$f

8) Do a cobbler sync.

You should now have the loaders copied into distro specific sub-directories of /var/lib/tftpboot/grub/, e.g. /var/lib/tftpboot/grub/rhel8-x86_64, and the filename should be set for each system in the generated /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf, e.g.

    host myserver-eno1 {
        hardware ethernet ec:eb:58:98:79:78;
        option host-name "myserver";
        option subnet-mask;
        filename "grub/rhel7-x86_64/shimx64.efi";

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