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Version: 1.4



Elemental stack provides OS management using OCI containers and Kubernetes. The Elemental stack installation encompasses the installation of the Elemental Operator into the management cluster and the creation and use of installation media to provide the OS into the Cluster Nodes. See Architecture section to read about the interaction of the components.

The installation configuration is mostly applied and set as part of the registration process. The registration process is done by the elemental-register (the Elemental Operator client part) who is the responsible to register nodes in a Rancher management cluster and fetch the installation configuration.

Please refer to the Quick Start guide for simple step by step deployment instructions.

Elemental Operator Installation

The Elemental Operator is responsible for managing the Elemental versions and maintaining a machine inventory to assist with edge or bare metal installations. Elemental Operator requires a cluster including the Rancher Manager and it can be installed with a helm chart.

See Elemental Operator helm chart reference for install, uninstall, upgrade and configuration details.

Prepare Kubernetes Resources

Once the Elemental Operator is up and running within the management cluster a couple of kubernetes resources are required in order to prepare an Elemental based cluster deployment.

  • MachineInventorySelectorTemplate: This resource identifies the criteria to match registered boxes (listed as part of the MachineInventory) against available Rancher 2.6 Clusters. As soon as there is a match the selected kubernetes cluster takes ownership of the registered box.

  • MachineRegistration: This resource defines OS deployment details for any machine attempting to register. The machine registration is the entrance for Elemental nodes as it handles the authentication (based on TPM), the OS deployment and the node inclusion into to the MachineInventory so it can be added to a cluster when there is a match based on a MachineInventorySelectorTemplate. The MachineRegistration object includes the machine registration URL that nodes use to register against it.

A Rancher Cluster resource is also required to deploy Elemental, it can be manually created as exemplified in the Quick Start guide or created from the Rancher 2.6 UI.

Prepare Installation Media

The installation media is the media that will be used to kick start an OS deployment. Currently the supported media is a live ISO. The live ISO must include the registration configuration yaml hence it must crafted once the MachineRegistration is created. The installation media is created by using the elemental-iso-add-registration helper script (see quick start guide) or by using the elemental build-iso command line utility included as part of the Elemental Toolkit.

The live ISO supports PXE booting for direct integration with SUSE Manager.

Within MachineRegistration only a subset of OS installation parameters can be configured, all available parameters are listed at MachineRegistration reference page.

In order to configure the installation beyond the common options provided within the elemental.install section a config.yaml configuration file can be included into the ISO (see Custom Images). Note any configuration applied as part of elemental.install section of the MachineRegistration will be applied on top of the settings included in any custom config.yaml file.

Most likely the cloud-init configuration is enough to configure and set the deployed node at boot, however if for some reason firstboot actions or scripts are required it is possible to also include Rancher System Agent plans into the installation media. Refer to the Elemental Plans section for details and some example plans. The plans could be included into the squashed rootfs at /var/lib/elemental/agent/plans folder and they would be seen by the system agent at firstboot.

Start Installation Process

The installation starts by booting the installation media on a node. Once the installation media has booted it will attempt to contact the management cluster and register to it by calling elemental-register command. As the registration yaml configuration is already included into the ISO elemental-register knows the registration URL and any other required data for the registration.

On a succeeded registration the installation media will start the installation into the host based on the configuration already included in the media and the MachineRegistration parameters. As soon as the installation is done the node is ready to reboot. The deployed OS includes a system agent plan to kick start a regular rancher provisioning process to install the selected kubernetes version, once booted, after some minutes the node installation is finalized and the node is included into the cluster and visible through the Rancher UI.

Deployed Partition Table

Once the operating system is installed the OS partition table, according to default values, will look like

LabelDefault SizeContains
COS_GRUB64 MiBUEFI Boot partition
COS_STATE15 GiBA/B bootable file system images constructed from OCI images
COS_OEM64 MiBOEM cloud-config files and other data
COS_RECOVERY8 GiBRecovery file system image if COS_STATE is destroyed
COS_PERSISTENTRemaining spaceAll contents of the persistent folders

Note this is the basic structure of any OS built by the Elemental Toolkit

Elemental Immutable Root

One of the characteristics of Elemental OSes is the setup of an immutable root filesystem where some ephemeral or persistent locations are applied on top of it. The default folders structure is listed in the matrix below.