[Beowulf] Application Deployment

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Sat Oct 9 15:24:32 PDT 2004

On Sat, 9 Oct 2004, Rajiv wrote:

> Dear All,

> Is there any software available for application deployment- both linux
> and windows. I would like to install packages from master to all the
> clients through a management console.

Again, I don't know about Windows -- most software running on a WinXX
box will be proprietary, and simply cannot be installed in the way you
describe without either a lot of knowledge and/or Windows-specific
tools.  After all, you've got all those CD codes and serial numbers and
other proprietary bullshit to manage, and you're at serious risk of
lawsuit if you fail to manage them perfectly.  Windows does remote
install these days, as I understand it, although I doubt that it
remotely approaches kickstart in its ease of use and transparency.

In linux, there are a variety of solutions, depending on whether you use
RPMs or Debian.  With Red Hat and descendents (Fedora, Centos) you can
use kickstart, which is a lovely tool for installing clusters.
Kickstart run on top of PXE and DHCP makes installing most systems a
matter of turning them on (after making a single host specific MAC
address entry in a table or two, and even this can be automated).  It
makes reinstalling non-servers at any time just as easy.  Servers, of
course, require knowledge, experience, wisdom, and time to do right,
which is why sysadmins get paid and are worth a very decent salary.

To install packages from a master to clients, there are both shrink
wrapped tools and general approaches.  For fairly obvious reasons, I'd
suggest yum and possibly a mix of rsync and any of the packages that let
you execute an ordinary shell command on a list of hosts).  This is both
because yum manages dependencies for you and because once installed it
also manages automatic updates and even upgrades from your repository.
Altering a client configuration is often just a matter of e.g. making an
entry in a table that is read in by a script that calls yum update
whatever, that is itself pushed out in an installed rpm that yum
updates.  Add an entry to the table and wait a day, or use the shell
distribution tool if you are in a hurry.

I don't know about "management consoles", though.  Again, this sounds
WinXX-ish -- you're hoping for something to hide all the detail of
several distributions, packaging systems, software installation tools,
and operating systems and still make them all work transparently for you
without your needing to know what they are doing.

Not in this Universe, at least not unless you pay a real expert a lot of
money (for their software) and are willing to live with something that
doesn't work horribly well at best anyway.  Your best bet is to learn
the specific systems you're working with well enough to make them dance
through hoops, and not to rely on interfaces that are very expensive to
maintain (and which to my experience NEVER work anyway).


> Regards,
> Rajiv

Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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