SolutionBase: Installing Novell Open Enterprise Server

If you've never installed Linux before, the thought of doing so with something as complicated as OES might be intimidating. In this article, Scott Lowe shows what it takes to install Novell Open Enterprise Server.

Novell's Open Enterprise Server 9 product is somewhat unique in the Linux world as it runs both Novell's NetWare operating system as well as SuSE Linux and users get to make the choice as to which platform to use.

The installation for Open Enterprise Server is fairly straightforward and very familiar for those of you that have used YaST-based installers in the past. In this article, I will go through a complete Open Enterprise Server installation based on SuSE Linux. During this installation, I will show you have to make granular configuration changes as well as to create software-based RAID volumes.


If you downloaded Open Enterprise Server from Novell's web site and burned the ISOs to CDs, you'll have a heck of a time figuring out what's what. For example, even though CD 6 looks like the sixth CD in the install set, it's actually the first CD in the SuSE core set. Novell recommends that you label each CD as such:

  • oessp2linux01.iso --> Open Enterprise Server SP2 CD1
  • oessp2linux02.iso --> Open Enterprise Server SP2 CD2
  • oessp2linux03.iso --> Open Enterprise Server SP2 CD3
  • oessp2linux04.iso --> Open Enterprise Server SP2 CD4
  • oessp2linux05.iso --> Open Enterprise Server SP2 CD5
  • oessp2linux06.iso --> SUSE Core Version 9 CD 1
  • oessp2linux07.iso --> SUSE Core Version 9 CD 2
  • oessp2linux08.iso --> SUSE Core Version 9 CD 3
  • oessp2linux09.iso --> SUSE Core Version 9 CD 4
  • oessp2linux10.iso --> SUSE Core Version 9 CD 5

There are the labels that the installer program will use when it prompts you to install a particular disk.

Installation process

To get started, make sure you have a machine that meets the minimum specification as outlined in my previous article. I'm installing Open Enterprise Server to a Microsoft Virtual PC-based virtual machine with 512MB of RAM and two 16GB virtual hard disks.

Insert the first CD-ROM into your server and power up your machine. The first screen you'll see is a welcome screen after which you need to choose from a menu the method by which would you like to boot the system. Since this example is all about installing a server, I'll use the Installation option.

Figure A

Choose the method by which you would like to boot the system.

If you've used SuSE Linux in the past, you're familiar with YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool), which starts at this point. YaST handles the task of installing your new server.

The first YaST task is to make sure you see the license agreement for Open Enterprise Server 9. Read it through and, when you're done, click the button labeled "I Agree".

License agreement

Figure B

You must agree to the terms of the license before you can continue.

The main part of the installation asks a lot of questions, so choose a language you know!

Figure C

Choose the language you will use on this server.

Once you choose your language, YaST displays a number of default installation settings for you to consider and modify as needed. If you want to accept the defaults, click the Accept button. Otherwise, you can select each section and make appropriate adjustments based on your needs. Although, for the most part, a default installation will work for my purposes, I will go through each section for you to see. Figure D shows you the main YaST defaults screen.

Figure D

These are the default installation settings for your new server. You will see more as you proceed through this article.

We'll start at the top with the System selection which, for me, indicates that I'm installing OES onto a Microsoft Virtual Machine that contains 512MB of RAM and that is using an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ processor. However, that is only part of the story. If you choose the System selection from the Installation Settings window, YaST shows you a more complete look at your hardware. You can't do a whole lot here, but it can be useful to see what YaST thinks you're using for hardware. Click OK to go back to the main Installation Defaults screen.

Figure E

Here's a list of hardware that YaST detected in my system.

The default mode for my particular system is New Installation, but you might want to upgrade something you already have, or correct a problem with an existing installation. Use the Mode selection to change this selection. You can select to install a new system, upgrade an existing system, or repair and installed system in one of two ways: automatically (repair installed system) or manually (boot installed system).

Figure F

Choose the installation mode you want to use.

The next two selections allow you to change your keyboard layout and mouse choice. I am not going to go over these two areas.

With your input device selection out of the way, the next selection on the list helps you to define your hard drive layout. My virtual machine has two 16GB disks assigned to it, which YaST suggests partitioning as one 15GB reiserFS partition and one 1GB swap partition. If you don't like YaST's suggestion, you can create your own partition set up. There are two options for this task as you can see in Figure G.

Figure G

YaST recommends a standard disk layout.

As this is a server system example, providing a way to handle storage redundancy is important, so I will go through the partitioning tool and create set up a mirrored volume. Figure H shows you the Expert Partitioner window on which you can perform such tasks as creating RAID volumes. On this screen, I have created two 14GB Linux RAID partitions--one on each volume in my system. To do this on your own system,

Figure H

This window shows you two identically sized Linux RAID partitions, each residing on separate physical hard drives.

I created each of these volumes by doing the following:

  • Choose the disk (HD) on which you want to create the RAID partition.
  • Click the Create button to open the Edit Partition window.
  • On this window, in the Format box, choose "Do not format".
  • For the "File system ID", choose "0xFD Linux RAID".
  • For the size, type +xxGB, where xx is the size you want to allocate to the partition. In my case, I used +14GB as you can see in Figure I.
  • Click OK.

Figure I

The Edit partition window allows you to create volumes/partitions of many types.

With the partitions created, you now need to make them a part of a RAID group. To do this, choose the RAID button and click Create RAID. This starts a three step wizard that guides you through the process.

On the first screen, you're asked to select the type of RAID you want to create. In this case, since I'm looking for redundancy and have only two disks, I've selected RAID 1, Mirroring. Click Next to continue.

Figure J

Mirroring is a good RAID level for my small server.

The wizard's second screen asks you to select the devices that you want to add to the new RAID volume. Select each partition and click the Add button. As you do these, for each volume, the new RAID device, /dev/md0, will show up next to each entry.

Figure K

Select the devices to add to your RAID set.

The final step provides a place for you to specify how you want to handle the volume. For my system, I opted to format the new RAID volume using the Reiser file system, as you can see in Figure L.

Figure L

Format your new volume and click Finish.

After you get your partitioning out of the way, you can start making selections as to what you want to place on these partitions using the Software option on the Installation Settings window. YaST includes a number of predefined package sets, including "Novell Open Enterprise Server", which I will select. Figure M shows you the various options you have with regard to software installation.

Figure M

You can choose a predefined set of software if you like.

While the predefined software sets can be good for quick selection, click the "Detailed selection" button to provide more granular advice to YaST about the software you'd like to install. Personally, I found YaST's package selection procedure a little cumbersome at first, but I got used to it.

In Figure N, you'll see the list of packages that I opted to install. I selected a few items to add to the OES base installation, including "File Server" and "iFolder 3.0". There are some items that have black arrows next to them. These indicate items for which there are dependencies that will be automatically installed. If you want to change this behavior, click the arrow and indicate to YaST how you want to handle dependencies. After you select you packages, if there are unresolved dependencies that have asked YaST to resolve, you will be greeted with a window similar to the one shown in Figure O.

Figure N

Tell YaST what you want to install.

Figure O

YaST takes the pain out of dependency resolution.

The last few options are pretty easy and take much less time that partitioning and package selection. First up, Boot Loader setup. In most cases, you won't need to make any changes at all to your boot loader configuration, but, for completeness, I'm presenting it to you in Figure P.

Figure P

You can change your boot loader preferences here.

Almost done. Now, on to your system's time zone. You've seen this a million times--if not here, in other operating systems. Choose your time zone and, if the time or date shown in the lower right-hand corner of the screen is wring, click the "Change Time or Date" button and correct it.

Figure Q

Change the time zone as appropriate and make sure the date and time are correct.

Finally, you need to select a default runlevel for your system which, in most cases, should

Runlevel 5, enabling multiple users, networking, and a GUI.

Figure R

Choose the default runlevel for your Open Enterprise Server system.

With your selections out of the way, from the Installation Settings window (see Figure D), click the Accept button. YaST will indicate that it's ready to begin installation and prompts you to click a button marked "Yes, install" to proceed.

YaST provides you with a window that details the installer's progress from each installation CD.

Figure S

You see times and progress next to each CD-ROM choice.

That's it!

This is the main part of the Novell Open Enterprise system installation. When complete, YaST will move you on to the configuration portion of the installation, which takes significantly longer, but is also the place where you can install some of Novell's powerful enterprise-grade services. I will go over this "configuration" phase of the installation in my next article in this series.