Mimicking a multi-stage update server for RHEL servers on Classic

One of Redhat Satellite’s functions is update release management. Unfortunately it also quite expensive. If you have classic you can mimic the update features (albeit not the security updates) through some scripting.

This solution uses a server which is registered with Redhat with a Classic subscription so it’s not quite free. The server is able to reposync all the updates for its architecture and major release version (e.g. RHEL 5 x86_64).

1. Register the server you want to use as the reposync server on Redhat Classic and assign the correct channel.

2. Using the following command to create a new repo:

reposync -p /mypath/mirror/ --repoid=rhel-x86_64-server-5 -l -n

This syncs the whole of Redhat’s rhel-x86_64-server-5 repository to the /mypath/mymirror folder. You can change these paths and repoid to however you please. The -n switch means that only the newest files are synced each run so you can schedule this in your crontab to run regularly.

3. Now you want to create a point in time snapshot of all the updates contained in the mirror at that point in time. To do that you can use lndir. Here is my rhn_create_snapshot.sh script:



function usage()
 echo "This script creates a new snapshot folder for yum updates"
 echo "rhn-create-snapshot.sh MYGROUP"
 echo "-h --help Show this help"
 echo "--environment=MYGROUP Set the environment to create the repo for"
while [ "$1" != "" ]; do
 PARAM=`echo $1 | awk -F= '{print $1}'`
 VALUE=`echo $1 | awk -F= '{print $2}'`
 case $PARAM in
 -h | --help)
 echo "ERROR: unknown parameter \"$PARAM\""
 exit 1
if [ "$currEnvironment" == "" ]; then
 echo "Environment not set properly. Exiting."
 exit 1
currDate=$(date +%Y%m%d-%k%m)

echo "Creating yum snapshot for environment $currEnvironment in $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate/packages"

echo "Creating new folder for the snapshot to go in"
mkdir -p $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate/packages

echo "Creating new folder for the repodata to go in"
mkdir -p $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate/repodata

echo "Creating a directory of links in the snapshot folder"
lndir $baseRepoPath/mirror/rhel-x86_64-server-5/getPackage/ $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate/packages

echo "Creating a repo for the client to read"
createrepo $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate

echo "Creating a link for the client to the snapshot directory"
if [ -e $baseRepoPath/updates/$currEnvironment ]; then
 rm -f $baseRepoPath/updates/$currEnvironment

ln -s $baseRepoPath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/$currDate $baseRepoPath/updates/$currEnvironment

echo "All done"
echo "Please use the following yum config in your yum.conf:"
echo "[update]"
echo "gpgcheck=0"
echo "name=Red Hat Linux Updates"
echo "baseurl=http://<servername>/updates/$currEnvironment"

If you run

sh ./rhn_create_snapshot.sh MYGROUP

it creates a folder structure like this:

                            <list of reposync'd packages>
            MYGROUP -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-12-11-1104
                                   <directory of symbolic links to /mypath/mirror/rhel-x86_64-server-5/getPackage/<filename>

Each time the rhn_create_snapshot.sh script is run is creates a new dated snapshot directory under /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5 containing a packages folder with a directory full of symbolic links of the files that were in /mypath/mirror/rhel-x86_64-server-5/getPackage at the time it was run. A repo is then created on this list of files. The only space the snapshot takes up is for the repodata files, which is about 200MB in size.

So now you can roll patches through groups of servers by setting the baseurl in their yum.conf to point to different updates/MYGROUP. For example:

TEST -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-12-11-1104
UAT -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-09-11-1001
PROD -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-17-05-1630

The PROD group could be getting a different set of packages when yum update is run than UAT or LIVE. All you need to do to release TEST packages to UAT is to change the symbolic link. Using the above example:

rm -f /mypath/updates/UAT
ln -s /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-12-11-1104 /mypath/updates/UAT

which now gives:

TEST -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-12-11-1104
UAT -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-12-11-1104
PROD -> /mypath/snapshots/rhel-x86_64-server-5/2013-17-05-1630

Now going to UAT machine and running yum update should list new updates. You could no doubt script that if you wanted.

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