[Beowulf] cluster deployment and config management

Lachlan Musicman datakid at gmail.com
Mon Sep 4 22:46:51 PDT 2017

On 5 September 2017 at 15:24, Stu Midgley <sdm900 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Morning everyone
> I am in the process of redeveloping our cluster deployment and config
> management environment and wondered what others are doing?
> First, everything we currently have is basically home-grown.
> Our cluster deployment is a system that I've developed over the years and
> is pretty simple - if you know BASH and how pxe booting works.  It has
> everything from setting the correct parameters in the bios, zfs ram disks
> for the OS, lustre for state files (usually in /var) - all in the initrd.
> We use it to boot cluster nodes, lustre servers, misc servers and desktops.
> We basically treat everything like a cluster.
> However... we do have a proliferation of images... and all need to be kept
> up-to-date and managed.  Most of the changes from one image to the next are
> config files.
> We don't have a good config management (which might, hopefully, reduce the
> number of images we need).  We tried puppet, but it seems everyone hates
> it.  Its too complicated?  Not the right tool?
> I was thinking of using git for config files, dumping a list of rpm's,
> dumping the active services from systemd and somehow munging all that
> together in the initrd.  ie. git checkout the server to get config files
> and systemctl enable/start the appropriate services etc.
> It started to get complicated.
> Any feedback/experiences appreciated.  What works well?  What doesn't?

We are a small installation, with manageable needs. In our first step up
from where you are, we ended up on:

- Katello/Foreman (in RedHat it's called Satellite) for management of
software repositories, in discrete sets and slices. We started with
Spacewalk but it is a little old and fusty and just isn't appropriate
- git for config management of environment module files
- Ansible for easy day to day management of servers

We no longer manage configs as such, since there is a shared data store,
and the Ansible/Katello mix means we can rebuild any server from scratch.

Note that Ansible and Katello/Foreman can be integrated - we haven't gone
that far yet. Are quite happy with the two being apart. That will change in
the near future I think.


"The antidote to apocalypticism is *apocalyptic civics*. Apocalyptic civics
is the insistence that we cannot ignore the truth, nor should we panic
about it. It is a shared consciousness that our institutions have failed
and our ecosystem is collapsing, yet we are still here — and we are
creative agents who can shape our destinies. Apocalyptic civics is the
conviction that the only way out is through, and the only way through is
together. "

*Greg Bloom* @greggish
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