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A Red Hat Satellite tutorial to install an update server

With Red Hat Satellite, IT ops can deploy an update server to simplify patching. Follow this step-by-step tutorial to install the server, attach subscriptions and devise a sync plan.

Is server patch management the best part of your job? Stop reading here. Many IT organizations struggle with OS patching processes. For Red Hat administrators who are willing to invest some initial energy to simplify later tasks, Satellite provides infrastructure lifecycle management, including capabilities for provisioning, reporting and configuration management. To this end, follow this Red Hat Satellite tutorial to set up a simple server for updates. Once we review how to install the basic update server, we'll create one example client.

Prerequisites for Red Hat Satellite

A Satellite 6.2 server, as used in this tutorial, must have a static IP address and a working forward and reverse domain name system. Verify that it is synchronized with a reliable time source.

Check the minimum requirements from official documentation against the server you'll spin up. In this Red Hat Satellite tutorial, the virtual Satellite server is allocated 4 CPUs, 16 GB RAM and 200 GB disk space -- barely above the minimum resource limits.

For simplicity, this tutorial also shows the admin using the root account, but do not use direct root logins in production.

Set up the server

To start, register the Satellite server with Red Hat on the back end. Log in to the target server using Secure Shell.

Once logged in, use subscription-manager register to register the system with the Red Hat licensing portal. It will prompt you for credentials, which you can enter. Use username and password switches if desired.

This will associate the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) VM with the Red Hat Subscription Manager.

Red Hat Subscription Manager
Figure 1. To start configuring a Red Hat Satellite update server, register it with Subscription Manager.

Use subscription-manager list --available to see all available repositories.

Repositories in Red Hat Subscription Manager
Figure 2. View all available repositories from Red Hat Subscription Manager.

The next step is to subscribe to the pool of subscriptions available. Copy the pool ID. Subscribe using subscription-manager subscribe --pool=8a85f9815da51ae2015da54645fd4e2e, substituting your pool ID for the example one shown.

Use subscription-manager release --set=7Server  to restrict the pool to only RHEL 7 repositories.

Red Hat Satellite subscription
Figure 3. Attach the Satellite subscription to the image.

Reboot to ensure that the instructions you've entered thus far come up properly. Use the following command to configure the required ports:

    firewall-cmd --add-port="53/udp" --add-port="53/tcp" \

 --add-port="67/udp" \

 --add-port="69/udp" --add-port="80/tcp" \

 --add-port="443/tcp" --add-port="5647/tcp" \

 --add-port="8140/tcp" \

&& firewall-cmd --permanent --add-port="53/udp" --add-port="53/tcp" \

 --add-port="67/udp" \

 --add-port="69/udp" --add-port="80/tcp" \

 --add-port="443/tcp" --add-port="5647/tcp" \

 --add-port="8140/tcp"

Many new users perform the next step in this Red Hat Satellite tutorial incorrectly: You must attach the Satellite entitlement, which ensures licensing compliance for the system. Open the Red Hat Customer Portal, navigate to Satellite Organizations and click Create Satellite. Give it a name, and set Satellite to version 6.2.

Satellite server creation
Figure 4. Name the Satellite, and specify the version.

Once configured, select Attach a subscription, then follow the prompts.

Attach a Red Hat Satellite subscription.
Figure 5. Follow the prompts to attach a subscription.

Once the Satellite setup completes, download the manifest to the local PC.

Update the available repositories:

 subscription-manager repos --enable rhel-7-server-rpms \

--enable rhel-server-rhscl-7-rpms \

--enable rhel-7-server-satellite-6.1-rpms

It's time to install Satellite:

yum clean all

yum install -y satellite

It takes a while to install the prerequisites and tools needed for Satellite. Take a coffee break, then implement the Satellite management server via satellite-installer --scenario satellite.

This too will take a long time to complete. Eventually, the installer will provide the URL, username and password to use on the portal. Log in, then create a product, which is essentially a compilation of repositories and configuration settings.

Red Hat Satellite install
Figure 6. Once Satellite installs, the system will output a URL and credentials.

In the portal details, click Content, then Red Hat Subscriptions. Click Manage Manifest. Browse for the manifest zip that downloaded earlier, and click Upload.

Red Hat Satellite Subscription Manifest
Figure 7. Manage the Subscription Manifest for Satellite.

Enable the required repositories to fill the content setups. Go to Content, Red Hat Repositories, RPMs. This example only uses RHEL 7, so select RHN Tools for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Server RPMs x86_64 7.4.

This work goes into a RHEL Server content package. Navigate to Content and then Products to see a default entry for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server.

RHEL repositories
Figure 8. The available repositories from the RHEL subscription are shown.

Next, select Content, Sync Status from the topmost menu bar. Sync Status displays all the selected repositories. Highlight all the entries, and click Synchronize Now to update the repository. Depending on your connection speed, this could also take a significant amount of time; the base repository is around 22 GB in size.

Red Hat Satellite install, sync files
Figure 9. Synchronize the files to update the repository.

The update server frequently runs a sync plan to get updated items from the Red Hat repositories, so devise one that fits your IT operations needs. Go to Content, Products, and click on the hyperlink for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server. Click on the Details tab, and select New Sync Plan.

Red Hat Sync plan
Figure 10. Sync Status and plan details for RHEL

Give the sync plan a name and, optionally, a description, then save it. Go back to Content, Sync Plans, and attach the plan to the product.

Activation keys

To avoid usernames and passwords, create an activation key to replace them. Start at Content, Activation keys, and fill out a new activation key.

Activation key for Red Hat Satellite
Figure 11. Fill in the information to create an activation key.

Host registration

The term content host has no meaning in relation to a host machine. Content hosts are merely hosts that are attached to the Satellite system.

Register the host, and add an additional client server to use the Satellite functionality. Go to Hosts, Content host and Register new host.

Red Hat Satellite host
Figure 12. Register a new host to use Satellite.

The content host registration page gives a list of commands to register it. Enter the commands into the second host.

Register a Red Hat Satellite host.
Figure 13. Confirm the host is registered before continuing with the Red Hat Satellite setup.

Once completed, the second host will be visible in the Satellite portal, and you can click on it to reveal information about that system. If the administrator runs yum update, Satellite takes the local host as the provider.

Red Hat Satellite host information
Figure 14. The administrator can view information about the host.

Follow the best practice to configure the host so that it receives yum updates from itself.

Next Steps

Red Hat throws its hat into the hyper-converged infrastructure ring -- but can it compete?

Red Hat grows its open source pool of technologies

Containerized API management offers scalability benefits

This was last published in October 2017

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