Red Hat Satellite 6.3 upgrade – easiest upgrade ever and chock full of new stuff

It seems like last week that I started the struggles with Satellite 6, and it seems like just yesterday that Satellite 6.2 came out and a lot of the early issues were finally behind us.  A month or so ago, Satellite 6.3 came up, and things continue to improve.

As always be sure and read the docs BEFORE you start upgrading.

Starting with the upgrade process, in the later z releases of Satellite 6.2, foreman-maintain was introduced.  This handy little tool makes the upgrade process simpler, and easier to predict.  Simply run the tool to check for available versions, then run a pre-flight check for whatever version you want to get to.  Similar in simplicity to dnf, but with more good feels about getting to the next level

# foreman-maintain upgrade list-versions
# foreman-maintain upgrade check --target-version 6.3
# foreman-maintain upgrade run --target-version 6.3

Post upgrade, if you have capsules, there’s more upgrades to do. In our case we actually executed the upgrades as a bunch of remote execution jobs to save keyboard time. YMMV but be sure and read the directions carefully on generating new capsule certificates, especially if you have custom SSL certificates.

Some cool new features in Satelite 6.3 I wanted to touch on.
Firstly, I discovered tracer in the release notes. While still tech preview I’ve had the chance to check this out, and was happily surprised by its simplicity and usefulness.

Installing tracer allows the client to report back to satellite if there are recently packages installed which require a process restart (eg ssh or httpd). Simple to set up

yum install katello-host-tools-tracer

Second up, exporting and importing templates to a git repository.. While not exactly the implementation I was looking for (I was thinking more something built into the UI to execute), after goofing around I’ve come up with a workable solution.
Easy to set up with just a few boxes to fill out in the UI

Importing or exporting is actually accomplished with a couple of API calls. For now this is a manual process as part of our template update pipeline, and may remain that way just to prevent any accidents.

# curl -H "Accept:application/json,version=2" -H "Content-Type:application/json" -u : -k -X POST

# curl -H “Accept:application/json,version=2” -H “Content-Type:application/json” -u : -k -X POST

Next up is a cleaner email setting configuration tab in the Settings menu. This is a move away from the yml file that you previously had to hunt for to get email notifications set up. A few more complex options have been added, and all in all a more refined approach.

Future-Dated Subscriptions were also added. Since we’re in a multi-year deal, this isn’t as big a deal for us, but it will come in handy for a lot of people at renewal time, permitting them to import their subs start start soon and have Satellite transition to them on the activation date.

Satellite 6.3 introduces the ability to view and attach future dated subscriptions to systems. The Red Hat Customer Portal now has the facility to view and download manifests containing future dated subscriptions.

New also is SSH public key provisioning. This handy new feature allows the obvious, throw out public keys to systems as they are provisioned. Great if you need to get a key out for say Ansible, or an administrative user.

SSH Key Provisioning Support
This release adds support for the deployment of public SSH keys as part of the provisioning process.

And lastly, but not leastly, the Notification Drawer. This handy little gem is pretty cool, and hopefully will cut down on some of the clutter, yet provide helpful information about tasks occurring in the background or off your current page in the UI. For example I like to know when a system has finished provisioning, and rather than getting yet another email, I can simply get notified in the drawer that it’s done.

Notification Drawer
This release adds a notification drawer to the Red Hat Satellite Server web user interface. The drawer provides event notifications to keep administrators informed of important environment changes. Notifications currently implemented include the following:

Host discovery
Host deletion
Successful provisioning of a system
Imported host with no owner

Satellite 6.3 is yet another major jump in features and stability to Red Hat Satellite. I have heard tell of people still waiting on the platform to stabilize or for the right time to do it. I said it with Satellite 6.2 a year ago, and I’ll say it again. It’s there. And with the hard work and all the new goodies coming from the upstream community, it will continue to provide value and ease of operation to folks on the ground doing the gritty work everyday.

Still on my “to review” is the UEFI booting which is new in Satellite 6.3.   This should make provisioning Linux on Power Systems easier for those that need it.  This will likely get a full review from me, as it’s somewhat core to our environment.

Be sure and check out the Satellite 6.3 release announcement as well as the Satellite 6.3 Release Notes for all the details of whats new and exciting.  Also Satellite 6.3.1 just recently released, and I hear they’ve touted measurable improvements in Content View Publish and Promote tasks.  I’ll be the judge of this, and be sure to get some real world metrics for my review of Satellite 6.3.1.

Stay tuned!

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