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The best ARM on the team is an Ace.


An overview of Stacki and the key concepts can be found at their respective links.

In short, there are two appliance types in Stacki: frontend and backend. The relationship between the frontend and backend hosts is described in the picture below:

There is one frontend. The frontend is responsible for installing and configuring backend hosts. There are several repositories on the frontend (we call them pallets) and these pallets are used as the universe of RPMs available to the backend hosts during their installation. A more in-depth explanation can be found in the Stacki documentation in the Concepts section.

So, the first order of business, is to install your frontend Pi ...




Build Your Frontend

  • On your Linux workstation, download stacki-centos.img and copy it onto the MicroSD card that you will use to build your frontend Pi.

Most likely, you'll need to put your MicroSD card into an adapter in order to insert it into your workstation.

After you insert your MicroSD card into your workstation, you should see messages like this from dmesg:

[20630376.657782] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] 124735488 512-byte logical blocks: (63.8 GB/59.4 GiB)
[20630376.658370] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] Write Protect is off
[20630376.658374] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] Mode Sense: 03 00 00 00
[20630376.659016] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] No Caching mode page found
[20630376.660577] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] Assuming drive cache: write through
[20630376.665869]  sdd: sdd1 sdd2
[20630376.668636] sd 49:0:0:0: [sdd] Attached SCSI removable disk

The above indicates that sdd is the device name of the MicroSD card. The device name on your system most likely will be different, but it will have the format sdX.

Now let's copy stacki-centos.img to the MicroSD card.

# wget

# dd if=stacki-centos.img of=/dev/sdd
  • Put the MicroSD card into the Raspberry Pi that will be the frontend and power on the frontend Pi.

The frontend Pi will reboot on the first boot, don't be alarmed. The Pi is automatically resizing your '/' file system to take advantage of all the free space on your MicroSD card.

  • After the Pi boots, login as root with the password stacki-centos.

You'll be asked to change your password.

  • Copy the Stacki Ace ISOs to the frontend:

    # wget
    # wget
    # wget
  • Download and execute

This will transform the Pi into a Stacki Ace frontend.

# wget

# ./ --stacki-iso=stacki-4.1-7.x.armv7hl.disk1.iso --stacki-version=4.1 --stacki-name=stacki --extra-iso=os-7.3-7.x.armv7hl.disk1.iso

The above step will run several commands and will eventually display the Installation Wizard.

Installation Wizard


The first screen will appear and you will be prompted to enter your timezone:


The network configuration screen allows you to set up the network that will be used by the frontend to install backend hosts.

  1. Fully Qualified Host Name - Input the FQDN for the frontend.
  2. Choose from the network Devices to select the frontend's network interface.
  3. IP address of the interface.
  4. Netmask.
  5. Gateway.
  6. DNS Servers - Enter one DNS server here.

Click Continue to configure the network interface.


Enter the password for the root account on the frontend.

Add Pallets

The stacki pallet that you provided as a parameter to will be automatically selected.

Just click Continue.


Review the installation parameters and click Continue to proceed.

The remainder of the install will take some time and will output a lot of text.

  • After completes, reboot the frontend Pi to complete the installation.

  • After the frontend Pi reboots, login as root and add/enable the os pallet:

    # stack add pallet os-7.3-7.x.armv7hl.disk1.iso
    # stack enable pallet os
  • Now add/enable the stacki-ace pallet:

    # stack add pallet stacki-ace-4.1-7.x.armv7hl.disk1.iso
    # stack enable pallet stacki-ace
  • Your pallet inventory should like this:

    # stack list pallet
    stacki     4.1          7.x     armv7hl redhat default
    os         7.3          7.x     armv7hl redhat default
    stacki-ace 4.1          7.x     armv7hl redhat default
  • Apply the stacki-ace pallet to the frontend:

    # stack run pallet stacki-ace | bash -x
  • Reboot your frontend Pi

  • After the frontend reboots, your frontend Pi is ready to build backend Pis.

Build Backend(s)

  • Create a host configuration spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet will contain the basic networking information for your backend Pis (known as ace appliances).

The Host CSV file needs to have the following columns:

  1. Name. A hostname.
  2. Appliance. The appliance name for the host (e.g. backend).
  3. Rack. The rack number for the host.
  4. Rank. The position in the rack for the host.
  5. IP. Network address.
  6. MAC. Ethernet address.
  7. Interface. Ethernet device name (e.g. em1).
  8. Network. Network name for the interface (e.g. private).

Here is a link to a sample spreadsheet.

  • Save the spreadsheet as a CSV file (comma-separated values).

  • Load the host configuration spreadsheet into your frontend Pi.

Copy the host CSV file to your frontend Pi and execute:

# stack load hostfile file=hosts.csv
  • To see the host information, execute:

    # stack list host
    rasp003 0    0    4    frontend  default ----------- os        install      
    rasp004 0    4    1    ace       default ----------- os        install

In the above output rasp003 is the frontend Pi and rasp004 is the backend Pi. The appliace type for rasp004 is ace which is th correct appliance type for a Raspberry Pi backend host.

  • Set all the ace backend hosts to install:

    # stack set host boot ace action=install
  • Copy stacki-ace.img from '/opt/stack/images' on the stacki-ace frontend to the MicroSD card that will be used in the backend Pi (use the same procedure you used to copy stacki-centos.img to your frontend Pi's MicroSD card).

Warning: If you do this on the frontend Pi itself, it may shut off due some USB power issue with the Raspberry Pi. It is best to copy stacki-ace.img to the same machine you used to copy stacki-centos.img.

  • Put the MicroSD card into your backend Pi and power it on.

  • The frontend Pi will recognize the backend Pi and the frontend will instruct the backend to install itself.

This process will take approximately 10 minutes. When complete, you'll be able to login to the backend via the console or via ssh from the frontend.

  • If you have multiple backend Pis, repeat the process of copying stacki-centos.img to the respective backend Pis' MicroSD cards and booting them -- the frontend Pi will install all backend Pis that are listed in stack list host.

  • Enjoy your $35 dollar / host cluster!!

Build x86_64 Backend(s)

Requirements before adding hosts

  • Grab the x86_64 isos for Stacki and OS

    # wget
    # wget
  • Add x86_64 box.

    # stack add box x86_64
  • Add/enable the os pallet for the x86_64 box:

    # stack add os-7.3_11122da-7.x.x86_64.disk1.iso
    # stack enable pallet os arch=x86_64 box=x86_64
  • Now add/enable the stacki pallet:

    # stack add pallet stacki-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x.x86_64.disk1.iso
    # stack enable pallet stacki arch=x86_64 box=x86_64 
  • Install the files needed for pxeboot

    # rpm -ivh --force --nodeps --ignorearch /export/stack/pallets/stacki/4.0_20170414_c4aff2a/7.x/redhat/x86_64/RPMS/stack-images-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x.x86_64.rpm 
    # rpm -ivh --force --nodeps --ignorearch /export/stack/pallets/os/7.3_11122da/7.x/redhat/x86_64/RPMS/syslinux-4.05-13.el7.x86_64.rpm  
  • Copy files to pxeboot folder

    # cp /opt/stack/images/vmlinuz-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x-x86_64 /tftpboot/pxelinux/
    # cp /opt/stack/images/initrd.img-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x-x86_64 /tftpboot/pxelinux/
    # cp -r /usr/share/syslinux/* /tftpboot/pxelinux/
  • Add a boot action for x86_64 machines. Change IP_ADDRESS to the ip address of the frontend machine.

    # stack add bootaction action=install_x86 args="ip=bootif:dhcp inst.ks=https://IP_ADDRESS/install/sbin/profile.cgi inst.geoloc=0 inst.noverifyssl inst.ks.sendmac ramdisk_size=300000" kernel="vmlinuz-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x-x86_64" ramdisk="initrd.img-4.0_20170414_c4aff2a-7.x-x86_64"

Adding Hosts

  • Add your x86_64 hosts to the spreadsheet the same way as before but for appliance type use backend.

  • Set the box for the host using the appliance name, otherwise the frontend will think it is installing another Pi.

    # stack set host box backend box=x86_64
  • Set the install action using appliance name

    # stack set host installaction backend action=install_x86
  • Set all the backend backend hosts to install:

    # stack set host boot backend action=install
  • Reboot and install your x86_64 machine. It is regular Stacki from here on out.

Full Stacki Documentation

This guide only contains documentation that is specific to Stacki Ace. The complete documentation for Stacki can be found here.

The Source Code

The source code can be found at GitHub.

Contact Us

Join our Google Group and/or our Slack channel here.