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Re: Mounting /usr over the network

Nick Cabatoff <ncc@cs.mcgill.ca> writes:

> 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.

That's a good idea. I guess I'll have a closer look at cfengine.
> 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?

Well, the network's pretty fast here, and you can set up huge AFS
caches (~1 gig perhaps), so netscape etc. would always come from the

> 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.

We agreed here that at least some packages should be exported, so I
think to reduce effort as many as possible should be exported. If we
find out that some are too slow, we can install them locally later. So 
I guess we will at first only install "base" locally.

Thanks for your comments.


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