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PATCH: Partition auto-detection and HD exploded tree installation


Please consider the following two patches for inclusion in the anaconda and
pykickstart sources.  The patches provide three features, described below,
related to hard drive installations.  Together these features enable a
kickstart and/or an exploded tree installation image to be placed on a
portable storage device, such as a USB flash memory or hard drive device,
and the device to be used to install one or more systems with unknown hard
drive configuration.  In effect, with this patch, installing from a portable
storage device has the same ease of use characteristics as installing from a
CD, with the added benefit that kickstart and install files can be modified
directly on the device as needed, without the overhead of creating new iso
images and burning CDs.

 The anaconda patch was created using version of the sources. The
pykickstart patch was created using version 0.36. We can provide an updated
patches against the most current versions, if helpful.  Given the rate at
which sources are changing, we decided to hold off until someone in anaconda
has had a chance to review the proposed patches and suggest changes, if


* The anaconda version patch can be downloaded from

* The pykickstart version 0.36 patch can be downloaded from

1. Partition auto-detection. The patch allows the partition to be left
unspecified when using the harddrive method for kickstart and install
locations, and the item (kickstart or installtree) to be located by
iterating through available partitions. Specifically, the kickstart and
method options can now be specified as follows on the command line (note the
empty partition section between the two colons):
           ks=hd::/path/to/ks.cfg, and

Within the kickstart file, a hard drive install can be specified as follows
(note the lack of a --partition directive):

           harddrive --dir=/path/to/install/files
2. Exploded tree support. The patch enables harddrive installation from an
exploded tree, analogous to NFS installations. As a side effect, it also
provides support for a RHupdates folder for an exploded tree installation.
3. Device modification protection. By default, the patch removes partitions
on the harddrive containing the kickstart and/or install iso/tree from the
default set to be formatted/partitioned. This can be overridden manually
within the installer UI or by kickstart.  Likewise, the install/kickstart
harddrive is removed as a candidate for boot record modifications.  This can
similarly be overridden by kickstart.

1. Partition auto-detection

 Previously, loader.c called the setMethodFromCmdLine()function as soon as
the "method=" argument was seen. This can't be done anymore because now the
partition might not be specified, and loader will (incorrectly) identify the
/path/to/install/files as the partition. To get around this, we have added a
new variable -- methodFromCmdLine -- to the loaderData struct.  This
variable is initialized while parsing command line arguments upon seeing the
"method=" argument. After the SCSI, IDE and the DASD hardware have been
initialize, the setMethodFromCmdLine() function is called. A race condition
was seen here, by virtue of which the setMethodFromCmdLine() function was
called before all the USB devices had been recognized. To get around this,
the sleep() function was used to sleep for 5 seconds. If
setMethodFromCmdLine() was called without the USB devices recognized, the
getPartitionsList() (used by the findPartitionsWithFile() function,
described later on) function would not return a complete list of devices.
 If, in the case of an hd install, the partition isn't specified,
the findPartitionWithFile() function is called with the supplied directory
name as a parameter. This function retrieves the list of available
partitions and walks through them looking for the full path to the directory
on each of the partitions. It accepts two parameters: the first is the
pointer to the device string (populated by this function) and the second is
the file to look for on all attached devices. This function returns the
first partition it finds that contains the requested directory.  This
implementation was chosen because it similar to the case when the "ks="
argument is encountered while parsing the command line arguments.
 Similarly, with this patch, the user is no longer required to specify the
partition of the ks file. In this case, like before, if the partition is not
specified, the findPartitionWithFile() function is called with
"/path/to/ks.cfg" as a parameter, and the partition containing the path is
used from then on. The ks partition is passed along to the python stage of
anaconda by the --kspartition option, which is added to the anaconda
language. The ks partition is also saved in the loaderData struct. 

 Pykickstart raises an exception when neither or both of biospart and
partition options are specified with the harddrive command. Since the
--partition is no longer required, pykickstart was modified to not raise an
exception anymore. 

2. Exploded tree support
 To support exploded tree harddrive installation, we mount the harddrive
specified by the "method=" option to /tmp/hdimage and try to find the path
to a valid ISO image (one that contains a stage2.img). If a valid ISO image
is found, it is mounted to /mnt/source and the URL passed to anaconda is


If no such path is found, we check to see if if /tmp/hdimage contains a
valid exploded tree by looking for the stage2.img in the /tmp/hdimage/images
folder.   In this case, the tree itself is mounted to /mnt/source and the
URL passed along to the next stage is
This way, we know which partition is the source partition as well as the
path to the relevant install files. The above approach is modeled closely
after the behavior of anaconda for NFS installations, where /mnt/source is
used as the "base" installation directory. 
 In the python stage of anaconda, the HardDriveInstallMethod class is
replaced by two classes HdInstallMethod and HdIsoInstallMethod, analogous to
the NfsInstallMethod and NfsIsoInstallMethod classes. HdInstallMethod is
identical to NfsInstallMethod except for the URL parsing logic.
HdIsoInstallMethod, on the other hand, extends both HdInstallMethod and
NfsIsoInstallMethod so that there is minimal code redundancy.

3. Device modification protection
 The anaconda.id.diskset contains a list of blacklisted devices that should
not be used by default by the anaconda partitioner; this list includes both
the ks and source devices. Methods returning the ks and source devices are
also added to the DiskSet class. A compareDrives() function is added to
DiskSet that extends the functionality of isys.compareDrives() by adding in
a check against the blacklisted devices.  If one of the two devices appears
on the blacklist, then this device is considered 'smaller' in comparison to
the other.  If, on the other hand, the devices are jointly present or absent
from the blacklist, then the standard isys.compareDrives() function is
called to compute the return value.  All references to isys.compareDrives()
have thus been replaced with anaconda.id.diskset.compareDrives() in order to
comply with the necessary changes in this patch. 
 In the bootloaderSetupChoices() function, when the updateDriveList()
method is called, a sorted list (using the DiskSet.compareDrives()
method) is passed along as well. This ensures that none of the
blacklisted devices are set as the primary boot device.
 The mountHardDrive() function is now a state machine similar to all the
other install methods' "mounting functions." 
 The following tests were performed with the aforementioned changes.  Each
install method was tested with and without specifying the partition of the
kickstart file and source files independently. Tests were performed by
installing Fedora 6 on an i386 machine. The version of booty used for
testing was 0.82 and the version of pykickstart used was 0.36. All tests
passed (both text and graphical installations):
|Install Type |         KS          |      METHOD         |
|             ---------------------------------------------
|             |w/ dev|w/o dev|remote|w/ dev|w/o dev|remote|
|  HDISO      |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  
|  HD         |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  
|  NFSISO     |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  N/A |  N/A  |  N/A |  
|  NFS        |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  N/A |  N/A  |  N/A |  
|  HTTP       |  Y   |  Y    |   Y  |  N/A |  N/A  |  N/A |  
 Fedora Core 6 comes with Anaconda Version, so I put the files
modified between versions and in the RHupdates
directory, and placed it at the same level as the Fedora directory in the
exploded tree. This way I also verified that the RHupdates directory is used
during the installation. 

 For ISO installations, I created an updates.img and placed it one level up
from the ISO files. 

 We are not aware of any bugs at this time.  However, any bugs should be
reported to me - Uday Prakash - by email to uprakash abodiosoftware com 

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