An installation server is a machine that offers the installation set across the network. If you are likely to want to install a large number of machines, this gives you a way to reduce the amount of work involved in installing systems; after the new system has been booted, it can access the installation set across the network, and the bulk of the installation can be done unattended. If you set up autoinstallation (see the next section) and network booting, then the installations can in fact be totally automatic.
Two features were introduced by SUSE at the time of the release of SLES 9 that make these processes easier than they were before. In the past, it was necessary to create and populate the directories on the installation server manually with materials from the installation CDs. It was also necessary to manually set up NFS, FTP, or HTTP serving for those directories. When performing an installation across the network, it was also necessary to select the installation source manually. The two features that make the whole process easier are:
■ The YaST installation server module
■ The use of SLP (Service Location Protocol)
Service Location Protocol allows services to advertise themselves across the network and be discovered by clients. In the case of the installation server, this means that the client machine that is being installed can discover any installation server on the network without the need to type in an IP number or directory designation. All that is required is that when you start the installation on the client, you choose SLP as the source (rather than the other alternatives such as CD, NFS, local disk, and so on). The client will then discover the installation server and access the installation source through whatever protocol it is being offered, without further manual intervention.
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