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Re: Managing a network of Debian machines?

nelson@media.mit.edu (Nelson Minar) writes:

> One solution would be to automate the package updates

This is pretty easy to do with dpkg.  The two important commands are

  dpkg --get-selections [<pattern> ...]   get list of selections to stdout
  dpkg --set-selections                   set package selections from stdin

Presumably if you've got a room full of machines running Debian,
you're willing to mirror ftp.debian.org.  You install the packages you
want on one machine, get the selections to a file, and set the other
machines' selections with that file.  Then you just do dpkg -iGROEB
[1] on your mirror on each machine and they'll all get installed to
match the master machine.

One sticky point - configuration of packages - which you'll still have
to do on each machine.  Packages in the unstable snapshot are going to
start using a neat tool called cfgtool.  Among its capabilities is the
ability to get and set configuration information in the same manner
that dpkg can get and set selections.  That'll be in Debian 1.3; a
stable release of that is 3 - 4 months away.

> The other solution, one I sort of like, is to NFS mount as much as
> [...]
> but entails quite a big network cost.

Quick calculation: 100 Mbit/sec ethernet, ~50% efficiency, about
5MByte/sec.  You said only ten machines which leaves about
500KByte/sec bandwidth/machine.  Bearable, but if the lab gets 2x or
3x bigger, it'll be unusable.

[1] Equivalent to dpkg --install --refuse-downgrade --recursive
--selected-only --skip-same-version --auto-deconfigure, which probably
makes sense.


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