First, to install Red Hat you need the right hardware: Specifically, a CPU that supports virtualization. With Intel-based hardware, the CPU must support the Vanderpoolfeature (i.e., a feature enabling tighter coupling of virtualization and hardware) . If your server has an AMD processor, however, it must have Pacifica built in. In general, most server-grade hardware has these features, but older or cheaper hardware may not. Fortunately, this information is easy to uncover.
When booting the server, enter the cat /proc/cpuinfo command. For Vanderbilt-supported Intel processors, "vmx" should appear in the output's flag line. For AMD CPUs with Pacifica, a "vms" will appear. Even if your hardware supports virtualization, check the server BIOS, because some models have the feature switched off by default.
Next, devise a game plan for your virtualization environment. If you're intending to install RHEL on a single server, make sure there is sufficient RAM
Once the hardware is set up, it's time to install the Red Hat operating system. Insert the installation DVD, and start up the installer. When prompted to select which pattern to install, choose the virtualization pattern but don't click Next yet. By default, RHEL 5.4 installs Xen virtualization, but you want to install KVM. To change this, select Customize. Then, deselect Virtualization and check off KVM instead.
After you have installed the OS, there are a couple of caveats. First, RHEL comes with security features enabled by default. Unfortunately, these features may also interact negatively with the virtual machines (VMs)you are about to create. Therefore, it's best to switch off both the firewall a Security-Enhanced Linux initially (unless you are familiar with this process).
Finally, register the server with Red Hat Network to download the necessary patches and apply for support to complete the installation.
In part two of this series, we cover how to install a VM on top of KVM in your Red Hat server.
This was first published in October 2009