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LISA 2000 Abstract

Use of Cfengine for Automated, Multi-Platform Software and Patch Distribution

David Ressman and John Valdés, University of Chicago


Good UNIX system administration practice includes among its many tasks the proper configuration of system files, installation and maintenance of third party software, and maintenance of system security, including regular updates of operating system (OS) patches. For a small number of systems running only one or two OSes, keeping up with these tasks isn't too difficult. However, as the number of systems and OSes increase (and the number of staff remains constant), these chores can quickly become overwhelming.

This paper describes our planning, development, and deployment of a system that provides automated software distribution, patch installation, and OS configuration through the integration of GNU cfengine [Bur95], MySQL [MySQL00], and a few custom written Perl scripts. It is meant to be less of a tool description and more of a discussion about the various aspects of designing a multi-platform software and patch distribution system, and the benefits of integrating those systems into a configuration management system such as cfengine. Designing and developing our system has been a time-consuming endeavor, but it has proven to be well worth the effort.

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Last changed: 16 Jan. 2002 ml
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