[ Previous | Next | Table of Contents | Index | Library Home | Legal | Search ]

Network Installation Management Guide and Reference

Chapter 1. Network Installation Management (NIM) Introduction

This section provides an introduction to AIX Network Installation Management (NIM) and the operations you can perform to manage the installation of the Base Operating System (BOS) and optional software on one or more machines.

The types of machines you can manage are standalone, diskless, and dataless. A standalone machine is one that can boot (start up) by itself. Diskless and dataless systems cannot boot by themselves. They must use remote resources to boot. Diskless systems have no disk drive. Dataless systems have a local disk drive but they cannot boot from it. This book provides concepts and procedures for setting up the NIM environment, initiating the installation of standalone machines, and initializing resources for diskless and dataless machines.

Using NIM, you can install a group of machines with a common configuration or customize an installation for the specific needs of a given machine. The number of machines you can install simultaneously depends on the throughput of your network, the disk access throughput of the installation servers, and the platform type of your servers.

The NIM environment comprises client and server machines. A server provides resources (for example, files and programs required for installation) to another machine. A machine that is dependent on a server to provide resources is known as a client. In this guide and reference, any machine that receives NIM resources is a client, although the same machine can also be a server in the overall network environment.

All operations on clients in the NIM environment require one or more resources. NIM resource objects represent files and directories that are used to support some type of NIM operation. Because NIM resources are ordinary file system objects in the AIX operating system, most of them are provided to clients with standard Network File System (NFS) software. This means that many resources must reside locally on the servers providing these resources, because NFS can only export file system objects that are stored on local media in the machines from which they are exported.

Most installation tasks in the NIM environment are performed from one server, called the master. A set of installation tasks can also be performed from NIM clients. Once the network installation setup is complete, users of standalone clients can, from the client, install software that is available on NIM servers.

The machines you want to manage in the NIM environment, their resources, and the networks through which the machines communicate are all represented as objects within a central database that resides on the master. Network objects and their attributes reflect the physical characteristics of the network environment. This information does not affect the running of a physical network but is used internally by NIM for configuration information.

Each object in the NIM environment has a unique name that you specify when the object is defined. The NIM name is independent of any of the physical characteristics of the object it identifies and is only used for NIM operations. The benefit of unique names is that an operation can be performed using the NIM name without having to specify which physical attribute should be used. NIM determines which object attributes to use. For example, to easily identify NIM clients, the host name of the system can be used as the NIM object name, but these names are independent of each other. When an operation is performed on a machine, the NIM name is used, and all other data for the machine (including the host name) is retrieved from the NIM database.

[ Previous | Next | Table of Contents | Index | Library Home | Legal | Search ]