System management tools

When I was studying for my RHCE exam, I came across a number of references to Redhat’s satellite server and its opensource spacewalk counterpart. To dig into these products a bit more, I recently attended Redhat’s deployment and systems management class. I’ve been using satellite server for the past two years, and it’s actually a really useful tool for managing configuration data and systems updates in data centers that solely run Redhat Enterprise Linux. Satellite server provides a number of handy features:

– Patch management (reporting and applying updates to servers)
– Configuration management (versioning and pushing configuration data to servers)
– Monitoring (basic system-level monitoring)
– Provisioning (provides a nice GUI that front-ends kickstart / cobbler)

The commercial version of satellite server will set you back some serious cheddar, but luckily for us satellite server is based off the spacewalk opensource implementation. Spacewalks seems to have a pretty decent following, and it provides an easy way to manage CentOS and Fedora machines.

There are roughly a dozen systems management products that I want to test out this year, several of which are wrappers around puppet. Once I give spacewalk a good beating, I am going to shift gears and start looking at The Foreman. The Foreman appears to have everything I’ve been looking for in a configuration management and provisioning suite, and the fact that it can provision Solaris hosts intrigues me. Only time will tell if it works though!

Which packages or tools are you using to manage (provision, configuration management, monitor) your Linux hosts?

6 thoughts on “System management tools”

  1. How about I save you the trouble (and $90,000 USD)?

    Learn how to package. Get to be really good at making RPMs. Then you can implement clean change management processes around smallest logical units, which would be your components – packages.

    The reason I write this is because I have already gone through what you are about to go through. In the end, in turns out that there is no replacement for the encapsulation, modularity, and cleanliness which packaging system changes offers.

    As a consequence, you will never again have to change a single byte on a system with vi(1), and packages can be plugged in directly into Kickstart via comps.xml. Save yourself the trouble, go for the kill.

  2. We are quite happy using satellite server to version and push configuration files out to our servers. It just works, and we don’t have to fiddle with creating RPMs (we create RPMs for software only). It looks like the next version of satellite server will utilize puppet, which will be solid!

  3. @ohad — thanks for the link! I read a bunch of the summit presentations last week, but for some reason I missed that one. Good stuff!!!

  4. We are using Cobbler, Puppet and Func here and are quiet happy. We rarely use func nowadays, though. Cobbler is just a great fit imho. And I’m in love with koan –replace-self ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *