|This article relies on references to primary sources. (September 2009)|
The Red Hat Kickstart installation method is used primarily (but not exclusively) by the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system to automatically perform unattended operating system installation and configuration. Red Hat publishes Cobbler as a tool to automate the Kickstart configuration process.
Kickstart is normally used at sites with many such Linux systems, to allow easy installation and consistent configuration of new computer systems.
Kickstart configuration files can be built three ways:
- By hand.
- By using the GUI system-config-kickstart tool.
- By using the standard Red Hat installation program Anaconda.
Anaconda will produce an anaconda-ks.cfg configuration file at the end of any manual installation. This file can be used to automatically reproduce the same installation or edited (manually or with system-config-kickstart).
A Kickstart file contains a series of options, to be passed to the Anaconda installer, that describes how to set up the system. It may also include custom scripts to be run before or after the installation.
A Kickstart installation follows these four steps:
- The machine is booted from a CD/DVD, a USB device or over a network using PXE and the network protocols Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Trivial File Transfer Protocol.
- The Kickstart file is downloaded from the boot media or network (most common).
- An Anaconda installation is automatically launched and reads the Kickstart file for the location of the Installation Tree. The tree can reside on the boot media or network.
- After accessing the Installation Tree, the installer attempts an unattended installation. If any required information is missing from the Kickstart file, or the file is configured incorrectly, the installer may prompt the user for additional information.
See also 
- Anaconda/Kickstart definition from the Fedora project
- "Complete Kickstart: How to Save Time Installing Linux" at Linux Magazine
- Chapter 28 (Kickstart) of the official RHEL 5 Installation Guide, accessed March 18 2009
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