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Red Hat releases Satellite 5.3 with Cobbler engine

Red Hat releases Satellite 5.3 provisioning and management platform with advanced Cobbler engine to speed installs of physical and virtual machines.

CHICAGO -- Red Hat Inc. released Satellite 5.3, the latest version of its provisioning, management and installation platform, powered by Cobbler, an open source universal boot server and back-end engine.

Red Hat open sourced the code for Satellite a year ago to broaden involvement and innovation, and this is the first version created from the ground up as a community-generated, open source product, said Michael deHaan, a Red Hat senior software engineer and leader of the Cobbler project.

According to Satellite product manager Todd Warner, the new Satellite version can scale to larger deployments, support virtualized guests on Xen or KVM and help system administrators automate workloads with their own application programming interfaces instead of time-consuming point-and-click Web user interfaces.

"Satellite 5.3 enables less people to do more work, faster, which means time and money," Warner said.

Red Hat Satellite and server virtualization management
Satellite 5.3 will recognize the Xen and KVM hypervisors and their respective guest/host relationships as part of its job managing, configuring and monitoring the OS and applications, Warner added. However, Satellite 5.3 will not yet directly manage virtual resources, but simply keep track them and include them in reports, he said.

More info from
Cobbler: How to automate Linux provisioning with Cobbler.

PXE: Using a preboot execution environment server to install an OS

Previous Satellite versions included basic options for virtual server configuration specs like memory and disk size but 5.3 adds more advanced options down to the knob and switch level, for virtual networking and virtual storage, for both Xen and KVM, he said.

Server installs faster, automated
Whether an installation involves physical or virtual machines, the Cobbler engine speeds the process because it has modular, reusable templates for different installations that can complete the install process in three to five minutes, deHaan said. Following a Cobbler template, the kickstart network installer will answer the configuration questions and complete the numerous steps in the install process according to the template, without the presence of a system administrator, he said.

Michael Yingbull, the tech lead at Santa Clara, Calif.-based PMC Sierra Inc. Web hosting firm, said Satellite 5.3 is "a really big jump" due to the inclusion of the Cobbler engine. "Cobbler makes it easier to reuse components and manage systems," Yingbull said. "This would be enough to drive us to look at an update.

"It's great that Red Hat released this so quickly, only a year after it open-sourced the code," he added.

In addition, PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) which is used for network installations without a disk or OS, has been incorporated into Satellite 5.3, enabling sys admins to launch bare metal installs or reinstalls automatically, without scripts or applications, even if the server can't be reached on the network, deHaan said.

Satellite 5.3 also has added features that will particularly help large installations, Warner added. This version enables large customers to subdivide an install into separate divisions for different business units, yet continue to share patches and updates and obtain consolidated reports, he said. In addition, corporations with multiple Satellite systems now will be able to share data among them by point-and-click without having to download data onto a disk, he said.

For more info on Satelite 5.3, check out the Red Hat Satellite release notes.

Let us know what you think about this story; email Leah Rosin, Site Editor.

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