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The installer

The Alpine s390x installer includes a kernel, an initramfs (initrd image), and a parameter file.

Installation on KVM and z/VM are supported.

Installation on LPAR is not supported at the moment.

Kernel parameters (and parmfile)

The Alpine s390x installer requires following kernel parameters to work:

ip= : the networking information, each field is separated by a colon :

  • 1st field: ip address of the guest VM where we are going to run the installer
  • 2nd field: not used, leave blank or fill with none
  • 3rd field: the gateway ip address
  • 4th field: the netmask
  • 5th field: not used, leave blank or fill with none
  • 6th field: the network interface of the guest VM, default is eth0 if left blank.
  • 7th field: fill with none to use static IP configuration. Fill with dhcp if DHCP is used.
  • 8th field: address of the DNS server
  • 9th field: address of the 2nd DNS server

alpine_repo= : the location of the Alpine repository from which packages are downloaded.

For stable release, use http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/latest-stable/main
For rolling release, use http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/edge/main

modloop= : the remote location of the image containing kernel's modules, required for LVM and raid setup.

ssh_key= : the remote location of your SSH public key which is used to allow SSH connection into the installer. HTTPS, FTPS, HTTP, FTP are supported.

ssh_pass= : the password to login the installer via SSH.

You can use either ssh_key= or ssh_pass= even though ssh_key= is recommended method.
If neither of these fields are specified, the default password of blank is used (see below).

z/VM only

dasd= : the addresses of the DASD devices, either ECKD or FBA DASDs. Each device is separated with a comma.

s390x_net= : the network interface type and its subchannels. At the moment, only QETH layer 2 is supported, thus the name qeth_l2 is used (see below).



On your running s390x host, download the kernel [1] and initramfs [2].

Create a virtual disk:

$ qemu-img create alpine_disk.qcow2 5G

Start qemu: (modify ip= alpine_repo= ssh_key= ssh_pass= for your needs)

$ qemu-system-s390x -M s390-ccw-virtio \
       -m 2048 -smp 2 -nographic -enable-kvm \
       -hda alpine_disk.qcow2 \
       -net nic -net tap,ifname=tap0,script=no'
       -kernel vmlinuz-vanilla \
       -initrd initramfs-vanilla \
       -append "ip= alpine_repo=http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/edge/main modloop=http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/latest-stable/releases/s390x/modloop-vanilla ssh_key=https://your-website.com/your-ssh-key.pub"


To ease out the process of downloading the images, punch the readers, ipl, etc., ZNETBOOT [3] is used.

Create the parm file

On your workstation/laptop, create a file named alpine.znetboot in your home directory with contents below (modify dasd=s390x_net= ip= alpine_repo= ssh_key= ssh_pass= for your needs)

(The first line is the line holder for a wide file since z/VM's default file width is 80 chars.)

# ############################################################################ HOLDER FOR WIDE FILE #




Upload to z/VM system via 3270 client

Figure 1.

On your workstation/laptop, download 2 files znetboot.exec [4], and curl.rexx [5] to your home directory.

Open 3270 client and log in the z/VM system with your z/VM username and password.

Upload 3 files alpine.znetboot, znetboot.exec, curl.rexx to the z/VM environment using the 3270 client (this tutorial uses x3270). On the top left corner, click "File", then "File Transfer". (Figure 1.)

Do following steps : (Figure 2.)

Figure 2.
  • On "Local File Name" box, enter alpine.znetboot
  • On "Host File Name" box, enter alpine znetboot
  • Choose Send to host
  • Choose Host is VM/CMS
  • Click Transfer File box

Repeat the same steps with znetboot.exec and curl.rexx files.

Beware the difference between the dot . and the space characters in the file names

Check the configuration files

On 3270 client, enter following commands to check if the configuration files are correctly transferred:

xedit alpine znetboot

xedit znetboot exec

xedit curl rex


On 3270 client, type below command and wait till Figure 3.:

Figure 3.

znetboot alpine


If you install on KVM, steps in this part does not involve the interaction with console starting qemu. Everything is done in the terminal with SSH client.

If you install on z/VM, steps in this part does not involve the interaction with the 3270 client anymore. Everything is done in the terminal with SSH client.

Either installing in KVM or z/VM environments, from your workstation/laptop, you will be able to run:

$ ssh root@ (change ip address to what you specified earlier)

Remaining steps are similar to installing Alpine on other architectures (x86, arm, ppc, etc.), either on KVM (using virtio/SCSI disks) or on z/VM with FBA DASDs. Installing on ECKD DASDs requires an additional step, as described below.


Below is the detailed walkthrough of installing Alpine on a single ECKD DASD using LVM and extend that LVM to the second ECKD DASD.

On SSH client/console, run:

# setup-alpine

Select keyboard layout [none]:

press Enter for none

Enter system hostname (short form, e.g. 'foo') [localhost]:

enter your hostname
Available interfaces are: eth0.
Enter '?' for help on bridges, bonding and vlans.
Which one do you want to initialize? (or '?' or 'done') [eth0]:
type 'eth0' or press Enter

Ip address for eth0? (or 'dhcp', 'none', '?') []

enter ip address or 'dhcp'

Netmask? []

enter netmask

Gateway? (or 'none') []

enter gateway's ip address

Do you want to do any manual network configuration? [no]

enter 'no' or press Enter

DNS domain name? (e.g 'bar.com') []

enter domain name or press Enter for none

DNS nameserver(s)? [ ]

enter DNS nameserver

Changing password for root

enter root password

Which timezone are you in? ('?' for list) [UTC]

enter timezone or '?' for list of timezones

HTTP/FTP proxy URL? (e.g. 'http://proxy:8080', or 'none') [none]

enter proxy or press Enter for none

Enter mirror number (1-27) or URL to add (or r/f/e/done) [f]:

enter a number or 'r' or 'f' or 'e' or 'done' as described

Which SSH server? ('openssh', 'dropbear' or 'none') [openssh]

enter SSH server or press Enter for openssh

Which NTP client to run? ('busybox', 'openntpd', 'chrony' or 'none') [chrony]

enter 'busybox' or press Enter for chrony

(next step is the additional step for ECKD DASDs on z/VM)

Available ECKD DASD(s) are:
  0.0.04c0	(3390/0c 3990/e9 IBM)
  0.0.05d1	(3390/0c 3990/e9 IBM)
Which ECKD DASD(s) would you like to be formatted using dasdfmt? (enter '?' for help) [all]
enter 'all' or '0.0.04c0 0.0.05d1' (separated by a space) to format all/both DASDs
enter '0.0.04c0' or '0.0.05d1' to format respective DASD
enter '?' for help

WARNING: Erase ECKD DASD 0.0.04c0? [y/N]:

enter 'y' to format
Available disks are:
  dasda	(2.5 GB IBM 0.0.04c0)
Which disk(s) would you like to use? (or '?' for help or 'none') [dasda]
enter 'dasda' or press Enter
The following disk is selected:
  dasda	(2.5 GB IBM 0.0.04c0)
How would you like to use it? ('sys', 'data', 'lvm' or '?' for help) [?]
enter 'lvm'
The following disk is selected (with LVM):
  dasda	(2.5 GB IBM 0.0.04c0)
How would you like to use it? ('sys', 'data' or '?' for help) [?]
enter 'sys' to install Alpine on disk
WARNING: The following disk(s) will be erased:
  dasda	(2.5 GB IBM 0.0.04c0)
WARNING: Erase the above disk(s) and continue? [y/N]:
enter 'y'

Installation is complete. Please reboot.

the installation is finished

At this point, don't poweroff the installer right away. Follow below part for directions to have access to your new Alpine system.

Copying SSH keys into new Alpine system

After the installer's done running, there are 2 ways to copy your SSH key into the new Alpine system:

  • Option 1: mount the installed disk and copy the SSH keys while still at the installer's terminal
  • Option 2: poweroff the installer, start the new Alpine system and directly add the SSH keys
if you install on KVM, boot the new Alpine system on qemu, and copy the SSH keys
if you install on z/VM, use the 3270 client to ipl the new Alpine system and copy the SSH keys

Option 1

If you use 'lvm' + 'sys' installation scheme above, do:

# mount /dev/vg0/lv_root /mnt

If you use ssh_key= , do:
# cp -ar /root/.ssh /mnt/root
If you use ssh_pass= , do:
# mkdir /mnt/root/.ssh
# wget https://your-website.com/your-ssh-key.pub -O /mnt/root/.ssh/authorized_keys
# chmod 700 /mnt/root/.ssh
# chmod 600 /mnt/root/.ssh/authorized_keys

If you use 'sys' (without LVM) installation, do

# mount /dev/dasda3 /mnt (change dasda to dasdb or dasdc , etc. for whichever DASD you chose but 3rd partition should be the same - root partition)

Then do accordingly for ssh_key or ssh_pass as described above block.

Then run # poweroff.

Go to "Login to new Alpine system"

Option 2

Run # poweroff.

If you use KVM, start qemu with new Alpine system (removing -kernel, -initrd, -append options)

If you use z/VM, open the 3270 client, login with your z/VM username and password. You may need to run ipl cms. Then run ipl 04c0 (or whichever device you chose as root disk in earlier steps).

Wait for new Alpine system go up, then login as root user while in the qemu console (on KVM) or 3270 client (on z/VM). Then run:

# mkdir /root/.ssh
# wget https://your-website.com/your-ssh-key.pub -O /root/.ssh/authorized_keys
# chmod 700 /root/.ssh
# chmod 600 /root/.ssh/authorized_keys

Go to "Login to new Alpine system"

Login to new Alpine system

On your workstation/laptop, use SSH client to login new Alpine system: # ssh root@ (or whichever ip address you used)

Extending LVM volume

At your new Alpine system, run

# apk add -q util-linux e2fsprogs-extra

# lsblk
dasda            94:0    0  2.3G  0 disk 
├─dasda1         94:1    0  100M  0 part /boot
└─dasda2         94:2    0  2.2G  0 part 
  ├─vg0-lv_swap 254:0    0  588M  0 lvm  [SWAP]
  └─vg0-lv_root 254:1    0  1.6G  0 lvm  /
dasdb            94:4    0  2.3G  0 disk

# dasdfmt -b 4096 -d cdl -yp /dev/dasdb

# fdasd -a /dev/dasdb

# pvcreate /dev/dasdb1

# vgextend vg0 /dev/dasdb1

# lvextend -l +100%FREE /dev/vg0/lv_root

# resize2fs /dev/vg0/lv_root

# lsblk
dasda            94:0    0  2.3G  0 disk 
├─dasda1         94:1    0  100M  0 part /boot
└─dasda2         94:2    0  2.2G  0 part 
  ├─vg0-lv_swap 254:0    0  588M  0 lvm  [SWAP]
  └─vg0-lv_root 254:1    0  3.9G  0 lvm  /
dasdb            94:4    0  2.3G  0 disk 
└─dasdb1         94:5    0  2.3G  0 part 
  └─vg0-lv_root 254:1    0  3.9G  0 lvm  /


If you want to disable swap partition, after finishing NTP client step, quit the installer by pressing Ctrl + C. Then run following command to complete remaining steps:

# setup-disk -s 0

Known Issues

1. If you use ssh_pass=secret and while running the installer you change root password to supersecret, the new Alpine system will have password as secret instead. This is a known bug. However, you could always login to new system directly, either on qemu console or 3270 client console to change root password to supersecret after installation.

2. Installation on 2+ DASDs (both ECKD and FBA) on z/VM is not supported in the installer script at the moment. If you want to install/extend on more than 1 DASD, see "Extending LVM volume". However, installation on virtio disks on KVM are supported just like other architectures.

3. Only QETH layer 2 is supported at the moment on z/VM.