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client/server installation


I just resubscribed to debian-devel, and I hope not to ask a question,
which was answered long ago.

Actually I am concerned with an IRIX 6.2 installation of our SGI cluster,
but the Debian systems will be next.

With IRIX the situation is as follows: We have eight systems with a 500 MB
or 600 MB disk, and the vendor supplied software is more than enought to
fill a 2 GB disk.
Like dpkg the SGI inst program checks dependencies, records which files
where installed, and to which subsystem (package) they belong.

The only official options are:
 1. Install everything on the local disk
 2. Install everything on the server disk and use the local disk only for
    swap and tmp.

Since IRIX 6.2 the inst program not only has the possibility to install
into another directory, but also install symlinks to a target directory
instead of local files.
I am not sure, if I will get trouble with dependencies, pre and post
processing scripts, absolute and relative symlinks, etc, when I will do
something like:

 1. On the server install some subsystems/packages into a separate 
    directory without checking for any conflicts:

     inst -r /export/irix6.2 -V rulesoverride:true -F <shared-selection-file>

   (this also sets the admindir like `dpkg --root=...')

 2. On the server and on all clients first do a normal install

     inst -F <local-selection-file>

   for all subsystems, which should go on the local disk, and with

     inst -T /import/irix6.2 -F <shared-selection-file>

   add those subsystems from the server as symlinks to the target

Has anybody done something like that?
What are the problems?
Is it possible at all?
Does it break things like prerm and postinst?
 Should they be called for the server and the client installation?
Which difficulties arise due to ro/rw access to local/shared directories?
Could such a symlink mode be added to dpkg?

Any opinions?

Until now, I have (especially on our Debian systems) only a minimal
system installation, and add software packages with my own scheme:

1. Packages are built with `make --prefix=/soft'
2. They are installed into separate package directories on a fileserver,
   and show up on the client machines as /site/<arch>/<package>_<vers>-<date>
3. A Python script on the client searches for the most recent version of
   all available packages and builds up a symlink tree in /soft.
   For example for the bash shell links like
     /soft/bin/bash        -> /site/irix5/bash_1.14.7-19970505/bin/bash
     /soft/man/man1/bash.1 -> /site/irix5/bash_1.14.7-19970505/man/man1/bash.1
   will be created.
4. It is possible to run a script before a package is removed or after a
   new one is installed. Otherwise it is similar to CMU depot and
   opt_depot (utexas?).

This seems to works at lease for our local SGI, HP and Linux systems.

As you can guess, I would prefer, to use deb and/or rpm packages, but I
will not get bigger disks for all our systems to do a full local
installation, and I am not yet convinced, that it would be a good idea to
run all those systems as diskless clients.

Goetz Isenmann					isenmann@physik.tu-cottbus.de
							 Tel: +49 355 69 3004
							 FAX: +49 355 69 3011
Lehrstuhl fuer Theoretische Physik, Karl-Marx-Str. 17, 03044 Cottbus, Germany

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