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FAI (Was: Re: Lessdisks, LTSP, workstations, ...)

Ralf Gesel|ensetter wrote:
Am Dienstag, 2. November 2004 17:23 schrieb Finn-Arne Johansen:

FAI - well here I'm blank. I know Kurt loves it. I know it is really
 fast in setting up new machines, and I know it supports LVM, which
 systemimager does not. But I dont think it's usefull for updating
old installations. I know someone has said so, but I'm not sure.

Hi, FAI is not image based, but file / package based. Hence the spreading of files is - even if predefined - always up-to-date (as for version numbers). So, as I understand it, unattended re-installing a system with recent packages in no time could be an alternative to updating package by package.

We've used FAI for our Computer-Pool (at university) and the Staff's Computers now about 2 years, and we are now searching for an alternative.
There are two main problems:

1. Debugging an installation (e.g. if you have added a new package or a new version of a package) is a nightmare. It happend several times that one package or configuration broke the whole installation process. But to check if your correction works, you'll have to run the whole installation procedure (which is about 30-40 min an our 1,2GHz 1GB RAM boxes). So it took usually several hours up to several days to get it working again

2. Adding or just updating a package requires to do a new install on all computers. This may be Ok, as it is done fully automatic, but every time you must keep in mind that this may break the installation (see above). So the way it was done, was installing new packages via dsh, adding them to the list of FAI-packages and hope, that we don't have to install a computer again :-)

The new system, we are testing now, is to use FAI only for the very basic things (partioning of hard disks, detecting the hardware and setting up a minimal system) and after that do the rest with updates via cfengine. So installing a new package is just editining one cfengine config file and run it.



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