Spacewalk – Initial configuration and registering your first client (on CentOS 7)

When it comes to setting up Spacewalk to provide and meet you organisations package management and provisioning needs, there is more to it than simply installing the Spacewalk and then clicking Provision!  There is a list of hoops to jump through before you can get up and running.  This post aims to tackle the common setup tasks through to your first client registration, but specifically with respect to installing it on a system running CentOS 7.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves.  There is a lot to do, so lets get cracking!

I am assuming here that you have managed to install Spacewalk and are now looking for the next steps starting at creating the administrative user.  If not may I suggest taking a peek here as I have provided a very rough guide to do this.  I am also basing a lot of these steps on the HowTo published on the CentOS wiki, though that was for release 5 of CentOS, not 7.  So I will try to fill in gaps where required.

Initial configuration of Spacewalk

OK, you have at this point, hopefully got Spacewalk/Satellite server installed.  The first thing to do at this point is to login to the web GUI.  Well, when I say login, I mean create the admin account.  Best to do this right away before someone has the opportunity to takeover your nice new Spacewalk/Red Hat Satellite server.  You access the GUI by typing in the FQDN of the spacewalk server and it will redirect you to the Create Spacewalk Administrator.  You should see a screen much like the following;

Screenshot of first login screen post installation of Spacewalk on CentOS 7

Just enter a few essential details and away you go.  OK you won’t get too far yet, but keep reading!

Upon clicking the “Create Login” button, you should see the normal dashboard screen that is displayed when logging into Spacewalk (and Red Hat Satellite) for the first time.  With one exception.  You should also have a banner across the top with the following wording;

You have created your first user for the Spacewalk Service. Additional configuration should be finalized by Click here

Make sure you click the “Click here” link and make sure you complete the rest of the steps.

General Configuration

I would advise you check and double check the General configuration tab, specifically the Spacewalk hostname, this should ideally match the FQDN of your satellite server.  And if you haven’t specified a name which is resolvable via DNS you will likely find that things don’t run exactly as they should.

The Certificate tab will be of interest if you are minting your own SSL certificates or wish to use a commercially generated cert. The Bootstrap script tab is where you define settings relating to how clients connect and the associated security around those connections.

The Organizations tab (which in my opinion should read Organisations (because that’s how you spell it) is where you can define how your organisation looks, you can define multiple activation keys for different parts of your organisation, manage subscriptions and users.  To name but a few of the things you can do.

Restart tab, er, do I really need to suggest what this does???  And finally the Cobbler tab.  From here you can kick of a synchronisation between Spacewalk and Cobblerd.  I recommend clicking it now to make sure the integration between the two applications is working.  I would also suggest you double check the cobbler log file located at /var/log/cobbler/cobbler.log for any signs of problems.  Here’s a sample output;

Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | authenticate; ['toby', True]
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | REMOTE sync; user(toby)
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | authorize; ['toby', 'sync', None, None, True]
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | REMOTE toby authorization result: True; user(?)
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | sync
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | running pre-sync triggers
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | cleaning trees
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/grub
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/images
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/s390x
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/ppc
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | mkdir: /var/lib/tftpboot/etc
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | removing: /var/lib/tftpboot/grub/images
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying bootloaders
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying: /usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0 -> /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.0
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying: /usr/share/syslinux/menu.c32 -> /var/lib/tftpboot/menu.c32
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying: /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk -> /var/lib/tftpboot/memdisk
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying distros
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | copying images
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | generating PXE configuration files
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | cleaning link caches
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | generating PXE menu structure
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - INFO | running post-sync triggers
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running python triggers from /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/sync/post/*
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running python trigger cobbler.modules.sync_post_restart_services
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running shell triggers from /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/sync/post/*
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running python triggers from /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/change/*
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running python trigger cobbler.modules.scm_track
Mon Apr 18 23:49:10 2016 - DEBUG | running shell triggers from /var/lib/cobbler/triggers/change/*

Generate a default activation key

In order to register systems against your newly installed Spacewalk server, you must have a activation key defined.  This is not done automatically, and therefore we shall tackle it now.  Navigate to Systems > Activation Keys.

Initially you should see a message stating;

You do not currently have a universal default activation key set. To set a key as the universal default, please visit the details page of that key and check off the 'Universal Default?' checkbox.

Click + Create Key in the top right hand corner of the Activation Keys screen.  You will need to add the following details;

  • Description
  • A Key (I would advise putting something meaningful in here, rather than allowing a key to be auto-generated.
  • Leave the Usage field blank
  • Leave the Base Channels as default (Spacewalk Default)
  • Add-on Entitlements, I have selected only Provisioning (it can be changed later)
  • I also ticked the Universal Default as I do not want to restrict its use

After the default key has been created, the screen looks like this;

Image contains example screenshot of Spacewalk activation key.

Creating your first package repository (and channel)

I will be focusing on CentOS 7 here, but Satellite is capable of providing a centralised repository for other RPM based distributions.

CentOS 7 Base Repository

We will assume you may at some point want to build further servers using the base OS RPMs.  The first thing you need to do is find a local mirror site which you can base your repository on. CentOS provide a lovely page on their web site –, which details, (by country) where you can download the packages from.  In my case I searched the page for United Kingdom and picked one from the list.

Lets get on with the job at hand, and create a repository.  Click Channels > Manage Software Channels > Manage Repositories.  And then click Create Repository.  You will then see a screen, not too dissimilar to the one below;


Once you have defined the repository label and URL (this is the source url which Spacewalk will be using to obtain the packages from).  I have defined the SSL cert that was generated during installation.

You will now need to create the Channel that will be associated to this channel.  Click Manage Software Channels from the left hand menu and then click on Create Channel.  You will (once the page has loaded) be given a few ground rules regarding naming conventions and then the opportunity to create your new channel.  The long and short of it is this;

  • Channel Name and Channel Label are required (hence the red asterisk)
  • Channel Name;
    • must be between 6 and 256 characters in length
    • must begin with a letter
    • may contain spaces, parentheses () and forward slashes /.
  • Channel Label must;
    • be no longer than 128 characters
    • start with a letter or digit
  • Must be lowercase (no exceptions)
  • May contain hyphens, periods, underscores and numerals


Some other options on the screen also include controlling access to the repository (i.e. is it private and only accessible to your Spacewalk organisation, or is it public), also you can define GPG security settings for signed packages.

The last step is to marry the repository and channel together.  This is achieved by going to the Repositories tab, and selecting the repository from the list of available repositories.  In my case it is just one.

The last step, will be kick off a synchronisation of the repository.  Now there are two ways to do this; 1) By click the Sync tab, then ticking the “Create kickstartable tree” option and then clicking Sync Now.  Or 2) run the following command from the cli.

/usr/bin/spacewalk-repo-sync --channel centos7base --type yum --latest --sync-kickstart

Now sit back and watch/wait.  For the current 7.2 repo, the base number of packages is just over 9000, so depending on your connection to the internet, you could find this to be a quick process or quite slow (also very dependent upon the mirror you have selected).  Another option which I haven’t don’t but I believe it would work, is to use a copy of the installation media.  If you try that option, let me know how you get on 🙂

Registering your first client

First, you will need to make sure you have the required packages on the client to be register.  In my case, I had used a minimal install and as such I was missing the required packages.  Easily rectified;

[root@rhc-client ~]# yum install rhn-setup
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, langpacks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package rhn-setup.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: rhn-client-tools = 2.0.2-6.el7 for package: rhn-setup-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
--> Processing Dependency: rhnsd for package: rhn-setup-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
--> Running transaction check
---> Package rhn-client-tools.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: rhnlib >= 2.5.57 for package: rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
--> Processing Dependency: python-hwdata for package: rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
--> Processing Dependency: python-gudev for package: rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
--> Processing Dependency: python-dmidecode for package: rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
---> Package rhnsd.x86_64 0:5.0.13-5.el7 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: rhn-check >= 0.0.8 for package: rhnsd-5.0.13-5.el7.x86_64
--> Running transaction check
---> Package python-dmidecode.x86_64 0:3.10.13-11.el7 will be installed
---> Package python-gudev.x86_64 0:147.2-7.el7 will be installed
---> Package python-hwdata.noarch 0:1.7.3-4.el7 will be installed
---> Package rhn-check.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: yum-rhn-plugin >= 1.6.4-1 for package: rhn-check-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch
---> Package rhnlib.noarch 0:2.5.65-2.el7 will be installed
--> Running transaction check
---> Package yum-rhn-plugin.noarch 0:2.0.1-5.el7 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: m2crypto >= 0.16-6 for package: yum-rhn-plugin-2.0.1-5.el7.noarch
--> Running transaction check
---> Package m2crypto.x86_64 0:0.21.1-17.el7 will be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

 Package               Arch        Version             Repository          Size
 rhn-setup             noarch      2.0.2-6.el7         th_lab_server       87 k
Installing for dependencies:
 m2crypto              x86_64      0.21.1-17.el7       th_lab_server      429 k
 python-dmidecode      x86_64      3.10.13-11.el7      th_lab_server       82 k
 python-gudev          x86_64      147.2-7.el7         th_lab_server       18 k
 python-hwdata         noarch      1.7.3-4.el7         th_lab_server       32 k
 rhn-check             noarch      2.0.2-6.el7         th_lab_server       52 k
 rhn-client-tools      noarch      2.0.2-6.el7         th_lab_server      379 k
 rhnlib                noarch      2.5.65-2.el7        th_lab_server       65 k
 rhnsd                 x86_64      5.0.13-5.el7        th_lab_server       48 k
 yum-rhn-plugin        noarch      2.0.1-5.el7         th_lab_server       80 k

Transaction Summary
Install  1 Package (+9 Dependent packages)

Total size: 1.2 M
Total download size: 1.2 M
Installed size: 4.8 M
Is this ok [y/d/N]: y
Downloading packages:
(1/9): python-gudev-147.2-7.el7.x86_64.rpm                 |  18 kB   00:00     
(2/9): m2crypto-0.21.1-17.el7.x86_64.rpm                   | 429 kB   00:00     
(3/9): python-hwdata-1.7.3-4.el7.noarch.rpm                |  32 kB   00:00     
(4/9): rhn-check-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch.rpm                    |  52 kB   00:00     
(5/9): rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch.rpm             | 379 kB   00:00     
(6/9): rhn-setup-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch.rpm                    |  87 kB   00:00     
(7/9): rhnlib-2.5.65-2.el7.noarch.rpm                      |  65 kB   00:00     
(8/9): rhnsd-5.0.13-5.el7.x86_64.rpm                       |  48 kB   00:00     
(9/9): yum-rhn-plugin-2.0.1-5.el7.noarch.rpm               |  80 kB   00:00     
Total                                              1.3 MB/s | 1.2 MB  00:00     
Running transaction check
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded
Running transaction
  Installing : python-gudev-147.2-7.el7.x86_64                             1/10 
  Installing : rhnlib-2.5.65-2.el7.noarch                                  2/10 
  Installing : python-hwdata-1.7.3-4.el7.noarch                            3/10 
  Installing : python-dmidecode-3.10.13-11.el7.x86_64                      4/10 
  Installing : rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                         5/10 
  Installing : m2crypto-0.21.1-17.el7.x86_64                               6/10 
  Installing : rhnsd-5.0.13-5.el7.x86_64                                   7/10 
  Installing : rhn-setup-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                                8/10 
  Installing : yum-rhn-plugin-2.0.1-5.el7.noarch                           9/10 
  Installing : rhn-check-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                               10/10 
  Verifying  : rhn-setup-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                                1/10 
  Verifying  : m2crypto-0.21.1-17.el7.x86_64                               2/10 
  Verifying  : rhn-check-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                                3/10 
  Verifying  : python-dmidecode-3.10.13-11.el7.x86_64                      4/10 
  Verifying  : rhnsd-5.0.13-5.el7.x86_64                                   5/10 
  Verifying  : rhn-client-tools-2.0.2-6.el7.noarch                         6/10 
  Verifying  : python-hwdata-1.7.3-4.el7.noarch                            7/10 
  Verifying  : yum-rhn-plugin-2.0.1-5.el7.noarch                           8/10 
  Verifying  : rhnlib-2.5.65-2.el7.noarch                                  9/10 
  Verifying  : python-gudev-147.2-7.el7.x86_64                            10/10 

  rhn-setup.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7                                                

Dependency Installed:
  m2crypto.x86_64 0:0.21.1-17.el7      python-dmidecode.x86_64 0:3.10.13-11.el7 
  python-gudev.x86_64 0:147.2-7.el7    python-hwdata.noarch 0:1.7.3-4.el7       
  rhn-check.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7       rhn-client-tools.noarch 0:2.0.2-6.el7    
  rhnlib.noarch 0:2.5.65-2.el7         rhnsd.x86_64 0:5.0.13-5.el7              
  yum-rhn-plugin.noarch 0:2.0.1-5.el7 


Next step is to install your Spacewalk server’s ssl certificate on the client.  This is a security measure which enables the client to verify that the server it is talking to is really the server it SHOULD be talking too.

[toby@devops ~]$ sudo rpm -Uvh http://manager/pub/rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
Retrieving http://manager/pub/rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
Preparing...                          ################################# [100%]
Updating / installing...
   1:rhn-org-trusted-ssl-cert-1.0-1   ################################# [100%]

The final step in the process is to actually register the client against the Spacewalk/Satellite server.

[toby@devops ~]$ sudo rhnreg_ks --serverUrl= --sslCACert=/usr/share/rhn/RHN-ORG-TRUSTED-SSL-CERT
This system is not subscribed to any channels.
RHN channel support will be disabled.

At this point, we float over to the Spacewalk server UI, and we should now see our client in the list of Systems;

Screenshot showing the newly register client listed under the Systems list in Spacewalk

Now, for those of you who have a keen eye for detail, you will have noticed in the screenshot above and the snippet of command line output at the time of registration, that the system isn’t currently subscribed to any channels.  This is very easily remedied;

  1. Click on the client in the system list
  2. On the initial Overview screen, you will see a box – Subscribed Channels
  3. Click Alter Channel Subscriptions
  4. Now Select from the list under Base Software Channel – in my case “centos_7_base”
  5. Click confirm
  6. You should now see the channel listed under the heading “Software Channel Subscriptions”.
  7. In addition you may have child channels created beneath your base channel.

And there we have it.  Time to have a play and see what you can do by having a click around the tabs related to the system and the wider Spacewalk UI.

Reference material

Featured image credit:  Thanks to NASA for making the image of Tim Peake on his spacewalk free to use!

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