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Centralized updates of debian-live systems


I'm planning the installation of a number of systems that will start from 3 but soon will grow to ~30, possibly ~100.

I'm planning to use debian-live because:
* I need a single installation for many different systems, and a live system is the most suitable for this job
* I'm used with debian, I know how it works
* it's very customizable, and I need to integrate the systems in the existing network (LDAP autentication, printers, shares, etc.) and to arrange the environment the same way users are used to

In order to maintain these systems in a centralized manner, I'm thinking about a way to automagically propagate modifications and updates done in a single system.

One possible implementation could use rsync, but this would force me to have a dual boot, so that rsync could update the main system while it's not running. Furthermore, rsync needs to be set as server on the updated machine, so I'd be forced to do updates only on a single one.

Then I recalled in mind that years ago Knoppix was able to save all user modifications to a zip file and reapply them at the next boot, using the capabilities of unionfs.

Now, I'm wondering about something like this:
* set up a read-only live system on the hard disk of the machines
* allow admins to modify system files and install packages through a unionfs-like mechanism * set up a script that collects all modifications and applies them during shutdown, once stopped all services and remounted rw the filesystem, and saves a copy of them in a zip file * at the next boot, the system is updated and can transfer the zip file with the updates in a place where the other systems can find it, maybe nfs or samba share

Any comments, ideas, suggestions or other about this is much appreciated



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