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18th Large Installation System Administration Conference — Abstract

Pp. 93–104 of the Proceedings

Auto-configuration by File Construction: Configuration Management with Newfig

William LeFebvre and David Snyder, CNN Internet Technologies


A tool is described that provides for the automatic configuration of systems from a single description. The tool, newfig, uses two simple concepts to provide its functionality: boolean logic for making decisions and file construction for generating the files. Newfig relies heavily on external scripts for anything beyond the construction of files. This simple yet powerful design provides a mechanism that can easily build on other tools rather than a single monolithic stand-alone program. This provides for a great deal of flexibility while maintaining simplicity. The language is a combination of boolean logic and output statements, and also provides for macros and other essential elements. All output is written to channels: an abstraction which provides for extensive configurability. Examples are provided that show the tool's power and flexibility. A description is also provided of the efforts undergone at CNN to integrate this tool in to a sizable infrastructure. The paper concludes with a discussion of future improvements.

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