How to install NethServer 7 in 10 easy steps

NethServer 7 Preview

NethServer 7 is a CentOS-based, all-in-one, easy-to-use Linux distribution. NethServer 7 brings many new improvements and exciting features such as the ability to run a Domain Controller. Learn how you can install it now to leverage this awesome product!

Wait, what is NethServer?

In case you missed what NethServer is, you can find a detailed article here.

Important
I take absolutely NO responsibility of what you do with your machine; use this tutorial as a guide and remember you can possibly cause data loss if you touch things carelessly.

NethServer 7 installation

1) Boot from a support

The first thing you have to do to proceed with the installation of NethServer 7 is boot it from a support (CD/DVD and USB Pendrives are today the best options), if you don’t know how to burn the image onto the support find a tutorial on the Internet or use this tutorial. You can get the image here. Once you have your support, reboot your machine, select an option like “boot options” or “boot priority list” and select your support, in this way you should see this screen. At this point you have three installation options:

  • Interactive installation: this installation will try to reclaim as much space as possible (deleting existing data) to perform the installation. You can more or less tweak it.
  • Unattended installation: this method (available under "NethServer unattended installation") will be completely automatic and once finished will reboot in a functioning environment. This setup too will erase everything.
  • Manual installation: this installation method (available under "NethServer unattended installation") will allow you to tweak disks and partition as well as networking.

2) The hub

This is the hub of the installation that will guide you through the basic configuration. There are options for Date & Time, Keyboard and Language Support. Installation source and software selection are disabled since they can only install the same set of package. You can start installing packages after the installation using the web UI. There are also options to configure KDump, Network and Security Policies.

The "Installation destination" really depends on which installation method you chose in the precedent step; if you chose:

  • Interactive installation you will have this part already filled and will be set to erase existing data and perform the installation.
  • Manual installation you will not have this part already filled and will need to set up disks, partitions and filesystems.

Warning!
If you selected Interactive installation, you don't need to click on Installation destination. If you do so, you may click done but that will undo what NethServer has done and doing so twice might crash the installer!

If you selected Manual installation you will have to follow the steps described in the fourth slide.

2.1) Date & Time

By clicking on Date & Time, this will be the screen you’ll be facing. Just select your time zone and set your current time. If you have selected (and I suggest you to) Network Time, time and date will be retrieved from the Internet. If you have no Internet connectivity, disable it by switching off the switch on the top-right corner.

NethServer 7 Installation - 4 Keyboard Layout

2.2) Keyboard layout

In this step you need to select your keyboard layout.

3) Network & Hostname

In this step you can select the hostname of the machine and you can configure the interface. Since NethServer is mainly a server distribution it is advisable to set a static IP address, if you're willing to do so, highlight the connection from the list on the left and click on the configure button below, the next slide will guide you.

NethServer 7 Installation - 6 Setting static network

3.1) Network - setting static IP

After clicking on configure, select the IPv4 settings from the top bar, select Method: Manual and finally click the Add button to configure the IP address, the network mask and the default gateway. NethServer uses Google DNS by default (8.8.8.8) it is advisable to change that value too. Once you're done click on the Save button and afterwards on the Done button in the top left corner.

4) Selecting devices

Warning!
If you selected Interactive installation, you don't need to click on Installation destination. If you do so, you may click done but that will undo what NethServer has done and doing so twice might crash the installer!

This is the most crucial step in the whole installation, pay great attention to what you do, since messing here may mean data loss. In this step you need to select the devices where you want to install NethServer on (yes you can specify multiple devices, but if you’re not experienced, just check one). You can decide to Automatically configure partitioning, this will automatically create the partitions and filesystems needed by NethServer or you can decide to configure partitioning.

4.1) Disk configuration - manual partitioning

You can decide to configure partitions manually. In this case what you do is up to you, by default NethServer 7 creates three partitions using LVM:

  • /boot: 1GiB.
  • swap: proportional to ram.
  • /: the remaining space.

In this example I had a 20GiB disk and was partitioned as shown in the picture. Don't be confused by the entry "CentOS Linux Linux 7..."

You can decide to clear space by deleting existing partitions or reformat older ones, the choice is yours. However, if you found you made a mistake, you can start anew by clicking the little refresh button near the "+" and "-" buttons.

5) All ready!

At this point you will have everything configured, beware, now is your last chance to recognize mistakes, and if you click “Begin Installation” the installation will proceed and start modifying your disks. So be sure to double check everything if you have doubts.

6) Installation Starts

As you can see the installation process has started, now don’t go away to take your coffee yet: you still have to configure your user and root user. One of them has to be filled and you have three choices:

  • Configure only user (and make it an administrator) SUGGESTED
  • Configure user and root
  • Configure only root DISCOURAGED

6.1) Configuring user

In this step you just configure your user, if you want to be an administrator be sure to check “Make this user administrator” (in this way you can skip the following step). I also suggest you to use a password. Beware: if you use a weak password you’ll have to click “Done” twice.

6.2) Configuring root

As you can see this step is much simpler, it just requires a password, be sure to pick something not-too-easy.

8) Done!

Finish! Now everything is configured and NethServer 7 has been correctly installed. The system will automatically reboot and you will be facing a command line interface, but fear not. You will be able to further configure your NethServer installation through a web browser. Use another machine to go to https://NETHSERVER_IP_ADDRESS:980/ to enter the web UI. You will be warned by your browser about an incorrect certificate, you can safely skip this since the initial certificate is a self-signed one. You will be able to log in using the credentials (either root, or administrator user) you set up earlier.


Conclusion

NethServer installation process is almost identical to Fedora and CentOS, this is due to the fact NethServer is based on the latter and even uses Anaconda (Fedora and CentOS installer) to perform the installation. NethServer 7 is a mature and steady product that provides small businesses with a real alternative to paid software that has many features packed in and all the power of Open Source.

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The IT guy with a little boredom look in his eyes, fond of computers since forever he now works as a freelancer in the IT and shares his experiences through this blog.

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