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USENIX Tenth System Administration Conference (LISA '96)

UNIX Host Administration in a Heterogeneous Distributed Computing Environment

Gregory S. Thomas, James O. Schroeder, Merrilee E. Orcutt,
Desiree C. Johnson,Jeffrey T. Simmelink, and John P. Moore
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Managing a computing environment consisting of hundreds of systems from multiple vendors and hundreds of users dispersed over several buildings of a research campus is a complex task. We developed a data model for representing pertinent information about our computing environment and implemented this model in a database that tracks equipment, users, and accounts. We created software that automates much of the data collection, maintains the database, and provides easy access to commonly requested information. For example, a user can find out which hosts he or she has an account on, or learn the hardware and software configuration of any host on the local network. We also created software that automates many of the tasks involved in account creation, deletion, and modification, which reduces the burden on support staff by allowing privileged users to manage accounts on their own systems.

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