Harness the power of bare metal servers on OCI with Red Hat Enterprise Linux

September 19, 2023 | 7 minute read
Zeke Kaufman
Principal Member of Technical Staff at Oracle
Kevin Clevenger
Senior Technical Account Manager at Red Hat
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We’re excited to announce the general availability and support of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) bare metal instances and even more virtual machine (VM) shapes. Customers can also now use Red Hat Enterprise Linux image builder to create customized images for OCI Compute.

Strategic partnership with Red Hat

Earlier this year, we announced a strategic partnership with Red Hat. It’s great news for our many joint customers who use enterprise technologies from both Oracle and Red Hat. The first stage of this partnership included Oracle joining Red Hat’s Certified Cloud and Service Provider (CCSP) program, which certified RHEL on many OCI Compute VM shapes.

We’re not only certifying RHEL on OCI, but also providing complete support from both Oracle and Red Hat, working collaboratively and transparently on any issues experienced by customers. A current subscription for Red Hat Enterprise Linux is required for Red Hat support.

Bare metal certification

We’re now extending that certification to include more VM shapes and the new inclusion of current OCI bare metal instances. This exciting time for us and our customers enables even more workloads to move to OCI while being fully supported by both Oracle and Red Hat. Our customers take advantage of OCI’s high-performance bare metal instances to run the most demanding applications.

The following table details the versions of RHEL and OCI Compute shapes that are certified.

an image of a table showcasing the support options

 

RHEL image builder support

With new OCI Compute shapes, OCI is now a supported destination for RHEL image builder. Using image builder is the easiest way to create a RHEL image that’s compatible with OCI Compute shapes. Previously, OCI Compute VMs were supported by using the QCOW2-formatted RHEL images from the Red Hat Customer Portal. These images still work, but only for certified OCI Compute VM shapes. We now recommend using image builder because it supports all certified OCI Compute shapes, both VMs and bare metal.

Image builder has a lot of features beyond the scope of this article, but it enables you to create customized and consistent gold images that include all your required software packages, configurations, and entitlements. RHEL image builder is available as a locally installed application with command line and graphical interfaces and a hosted solution at Red Hat Insights image builder.

The command line version and the locally hosted version can use a blueprint file in TOML format to configure and create the RHEL image. The creation of an image from a single blueprint file is an immensely powerful feature, which allows for a single file representation of a gold standard image. You can also incorporate the blueprint file into your deployment process and plugs in nicely into a configuration-as-code (CaC) repository.

The on-premises version of image builder is integrated with OCI, so you can automatically push the resulting images into your OCI tenancy. We’re partnering with Red Hat to include the same capability in the hosted version soon.

Deploying RHEL on bare metal

Let’s deploy RHEL on an OCI bare metal instance. For this example, we use the RHEL 9.1 version of RHEL image builder to build and deploy a RHEL 9.0 image on a BM.Standard3.64 shape, an Intel-based bare metal instance with 64 OCPU and 1,024 GB of memory. This example also uses the following blueprint file template, which installs the packages required for OCI bare metal shapes.

Prerequisites

  • Access to a RHEL 9 virtual machine with image builder installed and accessible

  • Access to an OCI tenancy with appropriate permissions and limits to create and launch a custom image on a BM.Standard3.64 shape. The user should have a set of API keys to provide image builder the credentials to upload the image.

  • (Optional) A blueprint file

Sample blueprint file for Red Hat Enterprise Linux image builder to use on an OCI bare metal instance

Sample Image Builder Blueprint for OCI bare metal shapes
# Notes:
# - crashkernel=auto is set here but some shapes may
# need crashkernel=512M
# - At this time OCI manages baremetal networking so
# Network Manager is disabled
name = "rhel-90-image"
description = "RHEL 9.0 image"
version = "1.0.0"
distro = "rhel-90"
modules = []
groups = []
[[packages]]
name = "iscsi-initiator-utils"
version = "*"
[[packages]]
name = "iscsi-initiator-utils-iscsiuio"
version = "*"
[[packages]]
name = "libiscsi"
version = "*"
[[packages]]
name = "udisks2-iscsi"
version = "*"
[customizations.kernel]
append = "rd.iscsi.ibft=1 rd.iscsi.firmware=1 rd.iscsi.param=node.session.timeo.replacement_timeout=6000 network-config=disabled crashkernel=auto"
[customizations.services]
enabled = ["sshd", "kdump"]
[[customizations.files]]
path = "/etc/cloud/cloud.cfg.d/98_network_activation.cfg"
mode = "644"
user = "root"
group = "root"
data = "disable_network_activation: true\n"
[[customizations.files]]
path = "/etc/cloud/cloud.cfg.d/99_network.cfg"
mode = "644"
user = "root"
group = "root"
data = "network:\n  config: disabled\n"
[[customizations.files]]
path = "/etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/80-oci.conf"
mode = "644"
user = "root"
group = "root"
data = "# This prevents Network Manager from automatically creating\n# connections for the OCI network interfaces\n[main]\nno-auto-default=*\n"
1. Log in the image builder web console. Click Image Builder in the navigation menu. Click Import Blueprint and upload a copy of the blueprint file.
A screenshot of the image builder web console with a red arrow pointing to the import blueprint button.
2. After the blueprint file is uploaded, select Create Image.
A screenshot of the image builder on the Blueprints page with a red arrow pointing to the Create Image button.
3. In the Create Image window, select Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (.qcow2) for the image output type. Select the Upload to OCI checkbox.
A screenshot of the Create image window with the options selected.
4. Enter the user OCID, private key, and fingerprint.
A screenshot of the Create Image window showing the authentication options.
5. Fill in the destination details of the resulting image: Image name, OCI bucket, Bucket namespace, and so on.
A screenshot of the Create Image window showing the destination details.

6. Click Next, then click Create.

It should only take a couple minutes for image builder to create the image and upload it into OCI. When it’s done, you can see the image listed under Custom Images in your OCI tenancy.

After the image is created and uploaded into your OCI tenancy, we must enable the bare metal shapes.

7. In your OCI tenancy, under Compute, select Custom Images, Custom image details, and then Edit details.

Ensure that the BM.Standard3.64, BM.Optimized3.32, and BM.Stardard.E4 shapes are selected.

Save the changes.

A screenshot of the Edit image details window.

8. Now we can launch the RHEL 9.0 image.

Go to the custom image in your OCI tenancy under Compute and Custom Images and click Create instance.

Select a bare metal shape, although current generation VM shapes work too. After the instance is running, you can SSH into the instance using the cloud-user username and public IP with the following command:

$> ssh cloud-user@<public_ip>

Conclusion

Oracle and Red Hat continue their strategic partnership to enable customers bring their enterprise workloads to OCI’s high-performance compute, including both bare metal instance and virtual machine shapes. Interested in trying out Oracle Cloud Infrastructure? Get started for free.

 

 

Zeke Kaufman

Principal Member of Technical Staff at Oracle

Kevin Clevenger

Senior Technical Account Manager at Red Hat


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