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YaST: Setting up a local SUSE Linux update server

Find out how Novell's SUSE Linux YaST utility can set up your client and server machines to collect updates as well as acting as the installation source for your desktops.

If you use a variation of Novell's SUSE Linux in your business, sooner or later you will use SUSE's all-in-one...

administration tool, YaST (Yet another Setup Tool). YaST began as SUSE's installer, but now handles much of the administration load, offers a graphical interface, and brings point-and-click ease to the task of setting system parameters.

This tip is the first in a series on YaST. In these tips, I'll walk you through some of the standard tasks you can perform through YaST. I'll also explain how to use YaST to keep both your server and client machines updated.

YaST Online Update (YOU) makes it easy to keep any SUSE box current with the latest security patches. However, not all system administrators want each desktop exiting the firewall to connect to an update server every minute of the day. This is no longer necessary. You can set up a server to collect updates, and use that server as the installation source for your desktops. All you need to do to allow any machine to serve as your exclusive installation and update server is to have SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) with an HTTP server installed on the system. (Actually, plain SUSE Linux will do, but this example is more likely to be helpful to larger organizations with lots of Linux desktops to service. In those settings, SLES is the more appropriate version.)

Now, copy all the files from your SUSE Linux 10 install media (DVD or CDs) to the server. It is important to retain the structure of the install media: if you copy from the five CDs, be sure to copy files from the first CD to a directory named Media.1, the second to Media.2, etc. Otherwise, your clients will not be able to install or update properly.

Next, you want to identify the SUSE mirror site you want to get your updates from. Go to this Novell download page for a complete list of YOU mirrors, and select the nearest one that supports the architecture(s) of your clients. This means that if all of your clients are running SUSE Linux 10 on SPARC workstations, do not select a mirror that only has files for i386. (Note: As of this writing, many links to this mirrors page on the Novell Linux site point to a page that no longer exists; the URL listed above is correct.)

To configure your local server as a YOU box, open YaST to the YOU Server Configuration module. By default, SLES 9 includes two products in this menu, SLES itself and SUSE Core 9. Unless you have multiple SLES server licenses, you can remove these defaults. Click Add to point to your selected YaST mirror. In the dialog box, enter this information to define a SUSE Linux 10 update server for your Intel x86 clients:

  1. Product Name: SUSE Linux
  2. Version: 10.0
  3. Architecture: i386
  4. Synchronization URL:
  5. Authentication: Anonymous

Of course, replace the Synchronization URL, listed in the example here, with your desired mirror location.

You will need to create separate configurations for each SUSE version and architecture you want to support. Thus, if you have some machines running Athlon64 or PowerPCs along with your standard Intel machines in your network, or someone needs to run SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 besides the current v10 that everyone else has, create a new listing for each of those instances here.

When you've set up your configuration(s), click Synchronize Now to pull down all the files from your mirror. These files will be stored in /var/lib/YaST2/you. Be patient, as you are downloading several gigabytes of files for each configuration.

You don't want to think about manual synchronization when you get around to it, so set up the server to check for new files automatically. Click Setup automatic synchronization, and check Enable Automatic Update. Set a time for the server to check in daily, and you're good to go. When that's done, start the YOU server by clicking Start Server.

In the next article, we'll set up your client to access the local server.

About the author: Mike McCallister is the author of SUSE Linux 10 Unleashed, published by Sams Publishing.

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