Installing CentOS 5.4 in VMware

I will be documenting my process in homework #3 for my ISE 311: System Administration class here.

This assignment has three sub-tasks: Linux CentOS and RAID-5 installation, a
Mail and collaboration system setup and configuration, and firewall setup.
They are described in detail below.

The first step is to create a 4-disk virtual machine running CentOS 5.4 in VMware.

1)We will be creating a custom vmware configuration with the following parameters:

  • Hardware compatibility: Workstation 6.5
  • Disk image from which OS will be installed: CentOS-5.4-i386-bin-DVD.iso
  • Guest OS: Linux – Version: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (as instructed by professor)
  • Name: hw3 (up to the user’s preference)
  • Processors: one
  • Memory: 256MB (as instructed by prof)
  • Network Connection: bridged (to obtain an individual public IP)
  • SCSI adapter: LSI Logic
  • Virtual Disk Type/Size: SCSI 10GB
  • USB, Sound, and Floppy controllers removed (as we will not be needing them)
  • 3 more virtual SCSI 10GB disks added in the Virtual Machine Settings post-vm creation wizard.

2) Prior to installation – as a precaution and to have a clean slate in case this VM breaks – I cloned the created configuration with the independent full clone option. You can also take a snapshot to the same effect.

3) Since I am connected to the VMware server over the internet, I will be using CentOS text install option so latency has a lower effect and graphics aren’t taking up as much bandwidth. This process can be accessed by using “linux text” as your boot option. I had to use an additional option “noapic” due to the VMware’s lacking support for APIC at the present time.

4) CentOS 5.4 setup:

  • Pick your preferred language and input methods.
  • Setup may ask you to initialize the hard disks to create new partition tables which would in turn erase all data on them – this is fine as I am working with empty disks to begin with.
  • Since I am making a RAID-5 (RAID-1 for /boot partition) system, during the partitioning step I will be creating a custom layout.
    • I will be using sda1, sdb1, sdc1, and sdd1 for a 100MB /boot ext3 RAID-1 partition, with 1 acting as a spare.
    • I will be using sda2, sdb2, sdc2, and sdd2 for a 20GB / ext3 RAID-5 partition, with 1 acting as a spare.
  • GRUB will be my boot loader.
  • For most steps the default option suffices.
  • I configured my eth0 network interface as well, with ‘activate on boot’ and ‘IPv4 support’. I left IPv6 disabled since I wont be using it for anything and there’s no reason to make my system any more complicated than it has to be. All students are assigned their own hostname based on their username. I checked the IP set for my username by pinging the hostname on the VMware server, and used that to manually configure eth0. Running ‘ifconfig’ showed me some of the other network attributes I needed in the setup.
  • While many packages would be useful in my system, the size of my system is one of the details graded in the homework, so I deselected all the software to make for a quicker install and a smaller system. I can install all required packages individually later.

5) That’s it! Once the newly installed CentOS boots, configure your networking interface (for most that involves editing /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 if you haven’t configured the networking interface during the installation process) and run ‘yum update’ to make sure the system is up to date.

* From this point on, I recommend using SSH to connect to your virtual machine as it should both be more responsive than running VMware workstation remotely, and allow for clipboard functionality. My SSH client of choice is putty (since I run Windows).

* To see how to test if RAID is working correctly, see my next post about this homework.

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