A friend and I started developing this procedure when we were attempting to install CentOS on a machine. Our requirements were:

  • Minimal package set to fit the / partition in about 2 GB and still have room to grow
  • A single XFS filesystem on a hybrid RAID 0/RAID 5 layout of 8 disks (don’t ask)
  • Ability to do all of this with a graphics card that the installer didn’t support

Recently before this the Anaconda team decided (correctly) that it was extremely difficult to maintain the partition manager for both the graphical and text installers, so the text installer lost quite a bit of functionality. Additionally, Anaconda had zero support for XFS.

After about 15 hours of messing around, we finally ended up with a working installation that did what we wanted and a sparse set of documentation on how to do it again. About a year later, we had a fairly complete document on how to do the installation for RHEL 6 or similar systems.

This document is an attempt to flesh out the above into something more than a sparse how-to that provides a reference for years of different versions of RHEL and Fedora.

Who this manual is for

While this manual was written to be very straightforward and provide everything necessary to do a sans-Anaconda install, it’s not for the faint of heart. Users of this manual should have some pretty solid experience with RPM and Yum, command-line partitioning systems, creating and using filesystems, and the GRUB bootloader.

What this manual won’t tell you

To make this guide simpler, we decided against including some tasks in the installation process. Some of these may be added later (possibly by you — see We want your help!).

Installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux

We don’t recommend installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) using this process for a few reasons:

  • RHEL makes it relatively difficult to get copies of their binary packages without configuring your system properly.
  • Anaconda is the only supported installer for RHEL.

Please don’t try to call Red Hat for support for a system you installed without using Anaconda. It will be a bad situation for everybody involved.


This section talks about RHEL — the version Red Hat releases. RHEL rebuilds such as CentOS and Scientific Linux work well with this process.

Installing SELinux

We have had quite a bit of trouble getting this process to behave with SELinux. Our manual instructs you to disable SELinux when installing and not install SELinux on the target system.

Running SELinux is highly recommended on production systems. If you are building a system for serious business, please don’t use this installation method. Something will probably break, and it won’t be our fault.

Installing a graphical environment

After trying for quite a bit and spending countless nights reading documentation and reinstalling an operating system, we haven’t been able to get a solid list of packages that provides a basic graphical environment. If you know the answer, please let us know!

We want your help!

If you know additional information that you think would be a great addition to this manual, please let us know.

This manual is hosted on GitHub. For those with experience in writing reStructuredText and who can provide a patch for this manual, feel free to send a pull request. For the rest, you can open an issue and provide content there.