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Re: debian in a lab

Hi Kay,

We currently have 5 Debian clients running with /usr, /home and bits
of /var (shared tfm and pk font files). The system runs really well
over our not too busy 10Mbps ethernet. This may be because we have a
good server, PPro 200MHz with 64MB and a fast-wide SCSI disk, so your
milage might vary if your server's not so good (memory and disk are
probably more important than CPU here).

As to package control, I have to confess we did everything by hand,
first getting a workable small installation on each local machine
(about 100MB), then mounting /usr et al. over the top of this. At the
moment our clients then have a local /usr with the most basic packages
installed, but, in normal use, hidden under the NFS /usr. This is an
inefficient use of disk space, I know, but does mean that the machines
are usable in case of server failure, and it also simplifies upgrades
with dpkg when necessary. Most things work without any trouble then,
although on one very small disk machine I had to hand copy a few
config files across (e.g., /etc/lynx.cfg). It is a pain to upgrade: we
have to umount all network disks, run dselect, remount the network.

The ideal situation, I think, would be for dselect to have an option
where by it can be told that certain directories are NFS mounted. It
should then do the installation as normal, but not copy files to these
directories (or attempt to delete them upon uninstalling). Would that
be hard to implement? I don't think so, though I never got farther
than thinking... If one wanted to be really clever, one could get
dselect on a client to download the server's list of installed
packages and issue a warning if the client tried to install a
different version of the package or a package that the server didn't
have. I think that with those sort of changes Debian could be made
very user friendly to NFS networks like ours.

If I were in your shoes I'd test with one client, until everything
works well, then export the package list and run dselect on each
machine out of a script (mounting the packages NFS, of course!).

I'd be interested to hear how it goes, because I think that our setup
is a bit of a munge, even if it does work.


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