Installing operating systems on bare-metal servers

You can use Lenovo XClarity Administrator to manage the OS images repository and deploy operating-system images to up to 28 bare-metal servers concurrently.

Before you begin

After the 90-day free trial expires, you can continue to use XClarity Administrator to manage and monitor your hardware for free; however, you must purchase full-function-enablement licenses for each managed server that supports XClarity Administrator advanced functions to continue using the OS deployment function. Lenovo XClarity Pro provides entitlement to service and support and the full-function-enablement license. For more information about purchasing Lenovo XClarity Pro, contact your Lenovo representative or authorized business partner. For more information, see Installing the full-function enablement license.

About this task

XClarity Administrator provides a simple way to deploy operating-systems images to bare-metal servers, which typically do not have an operating system installed.

Attention: If you deploy an operating system to a server that has an operating system installed, XClarity Administrator performs a fresh installation that overwrites the partitions on the target disks
Several factors determine the amount of time that is required to deploy an operating system to a server:
  • The amount of RAM that is installed in the server, which affects how long the server takes to start up.
  • The number of and types of I/O adapters that are installed on the server, which affects the amount of time that it takes XClarity Administrator to perform an inventory of the server. It also affects the amount of time that it takes for the UEFI firmware to start when the server is started up. During an operating-system deployment, the server is restarted multiple times.
  • Network traffic. XClarity Administrator downloads the operating-system image over the data network or the operating-system deployment network.
  • The hardware configuration on the host on which Lenovo XClarity Administrator virtual appliance is installed. The amount of RAM, processors, and hard drive storage can affect download times.
Important: To deploy an operating-system image from XClarity Administrator, at least one of the XClarity Administrator interfaces (Eth0 or Eth1) must have IP network connectivity to the server network interface that is used to access the host operating system. Operating-system deployment uses the interface that is defined on the Network Access page. For more information about network settings, see Configuring network access.

Before you perform a bare-metal operating-system deployment on a server, prepare the server by updating firmware to the latest levels and configuring the server using Configuration Patterns. For more information, see Updating firmware on managed devices and Configuring servers using configuration patterns.

Attention: It is recommended that you do not use XClarity Administrator to perform a bare-metal operating-system deployment on Converged and ThinkAgile appliances.


The following figure illustrates the workflow for deploying an OS image to a server.

Illustrates the steps involved in managing and deploying operating system images, including importing and customizing OS images, configuring global settings, configuring network settings, configuring the storage location, and deploying images.

  1. Import OS images.
    Before you can deploy an OS image to a server, you must first import the operating system into the repository. When you import an OS image, XClarity Administrator:
    • Ensures that there is sufficient space in the OS images repository before importing the operating system. If you do not have sufficient space to import an image, delete an existing image from the repository and attempt to import the new image again.
    • Creates one or more profiles of that image and stores the profile in the OS images repository. Each profile includes the OS image and installation options. For more information about predefined OS image profiles, see Operating-system image profiles.

    A base operating system is the full OS image that was imported into the OS-images repository. The imported base image contains predefined profiles that describe the installation configurations for that image. You can create custom profiles in the base OS image that can be deployed for specific configurations.

    You can also import supported custom operating systems. This custom image contains a predefined placeholder profile, which cannot be deployed. You must import a custom profile that can be deployed or create your own custom profile based on the placeholder profile. After the custom profile is added, the placeholder profile is removed automatically.

    For Microsoft Windows Server 2016 and 2019, you can import a custom operating-system image for each release. The imported base image contains predefined profiles that describe the installation configurations for that image. You cannot create custom profiles in the custom OS image.

    For a list of supported base and custom operating systems, see Supported operating systems.

  2. (Optional) Customize the OS image.

    You can customize an OS image by adding device drivers, boot files (for Windows only), configuration settings, unattend files, post-installation scripts, and software. When you customize a base OS image, XClarity Administrator creates a customized OS-image profile that includes the custom files and installation options.

    The OS images repository can store an unlimited number of predefined and custom files, if space is available to store the files.

  3. Configure global settings.
    Global settings are configuration options that serve as defaults for operating system deployment. You can configure the following global settings.
    • The password for the administrator user account to be used for deploying the operating systems
    • The method to use to assign IP addresses to servers
    • License keys to use when activating installed operating systems
    • Optionally join an Active Directory domain as part of the Windows operating-system deployment
  4. Configure network settings.

    You can specify the network settings for each server on which operating systems are to be deployed.

    If you are using DHCP to assign IP addresses dynamically, you must configure the MAC address.

    If you are using static IP addresses, you must configure the following network settings for a specific server before you can deploy an operating system to that server. After these settings are configured, the deployment status of the server changes to Ready. (Note that some fields are not available for static IPv6 addresses.)
    • Hostname

      The hostname must comply with the following rules:

      • The hostname of each managed server must be unique.

      • The hostname can contain strings (labels) that are separated by a period (.).

      • Each label can contain ASCII letters, digits, and dashes (-); however, the string cannot start or end with a dash and cannot contain all digits.

      • The first label can be 2 - 15 characters in length. Subsequent labels can be 2 – 63 characters in length.

      • The total length of the hostname must not exceed 255 characters.

    • MAC address of the port on the host where the operating system is to be installed.

      The MAC address is set to AUTO by default. This setting automatically detects the Ethernet ports that can be configured and used for deployment. The first MAC address (port) that is detected is used by default. If connectivity is detected on a different MAC address, the XClarity Administrator host is automatically restarted to use the newly detected MAC address for deployment.

      You can determine the status of the MAC address port that is used for OS deployment from the MAC address drop-down menu on the Network Settings dialog. If multiple ports are up or if all ports are down, AUTO is used by default.

      • Virtual network ports are not supported. Do not use one physical network port to simulate multiple virtual network ports.

      • When the server's network setting is set to AUTO, XClarity Administrator can automatically detect network ports in slots 1 – 16. At least one port in slots 1 – 16 must have a connection to XClarity Administrator.

      • If you want to use a network port in slot 17 or greater for the MAC address, you cannot use AUTO. Instead, you must set the server's network setting to the MAC address of the specific port that you want to use.

      • For ThinkServer servers, not all host MAC addresses are displayed. In most cases, MAC addresses for AnyFabric Ethernet adapters are listed on the Edit Network Settings dialog. MAC addresses for other Ethernet adapters (such as the Lan-On-Motherboard) are not listed. In cases where the MAC address for an adapter is not available, use the AUTO method for non-VLAN deployments.

    • IP address and subnet mask
    • IP gateway
    • Up to two domain name system (DNS) servers
    • Maximum transmission unit (MTU) speed
    • VLAN ID, if VLAN IP mode is enabled

    If you choose to use VLANs, you can assign a VLAN ID to the host network adapter that is being configured.

  5. Choose the storage options

    For each deployment, you can choose the preferred storage location where the operating system is to be deployed. Depending on the operating system, you can choose to deploy to a local disk drive, embedded hypervisor key, or SAN.

  6. Choose additional options and custom configuration settings, and deploy the OS image.

    You can configure additional deployment options, such as the license key for the OS deployment, and custom configuration settings. If you are installing Microsoft Windows, you can also configure the Active Directory domain to join.

    • If you defined custom configuration settings for a specific custom OS profile, you must define values for required custom configuration settings before you can deploy the profile to a server.

    • When deploying a custom OS profile that includes custom settings, all target servers must use the same custom OS profile and the values for the custom settings apply to all target servers.

    You can then choose the target servers for deployment and the OS images to be deployed. Remember that to deploy an operating system, the server must be have a deployment status of Ready.

    You can deploy operating-system images on up to 28 servers concurrently.

    Before you attempt to deploy an operating-system image, review the Operating-system deployment considerations.