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Re: Mounting /usr over the network

On Oct 29, Falk Hueffner wrote:
> I'm working at a university, and they are pondering to use a single
> linux distributon in the future. They're currently trying Red Hat, but 
> have not decided yet. I suggested Debian, of course :)
> The main consideration is that to save administration efforts and disk 
> space, all non-essential packages should be on a AFS server. No
> distribution does support this directly AFAIK.
> There are different ways to achieve this. One could simply install the
> packages on the server and export /usr, since many packages don't need
> files in other directories. The problem is /etc; some packages need
> files there, but /etc can't be mounted remotely, since there are host
> specific things in there. 

You could get around this by only installing in /etc the files needed
to boot the system:  inittab, passwd, etc.  As part of the boot
process, once /usr (and presumably /var/lib) is mounted, run cfengine
to symlink in all of the non-host-specific files, and to update any of
the files stored locally as needed.

Is this really what you want to do though?  I mean, aren't you going to
pay a pretty heavy speed penalty if everything is coming over the
network?  Why not compromise somehow... it's not like disks < 2GB can be
found nowadays anyway.  You could create a basic installation using say,
500MB on the clients, and then make available via AFS monsters like
GIMP, tetex, GNOME, etc.  This would still require work, of course, both to
set up something to keep the clients in sync and to enable them to use
the networked packages despite dpkg's lack of support for nonstandard
paths.  But cfengine could still do the job IMO, and this approach
would probably result in much more useable machines and a less
congested network.

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