Wild-eyed thinking aloud: Python System Management Infrastructure

William Annis annis at biostat.wisc.edu
Fri Aug 3 21:58:44 CEST 2001

 >From: Roman Suzi <rnd at onego.ru>
 >Have you looked at Freshmeat close enough? I thought there
 >were several tools to make multi-machine administration easy.

        With the possible exception of Ganymede, none that I
especially care for.  I'm willing to consider simply gluing several
apps together (especially if it involves cfengine), but most of these
tools have wildly varying approaches.

 >Or maybe you just want to install Radius and let all AAA to
 >be done there. There are several Freeware variants available,
 >xtRadius for example.

        This is only one part of the equation.

 >I have not tried, but NIS and LDAP are also Open Source.

        This is true, but these tools solve very specific problems.
We do in fact use NIS here (all praise secure rpcbind) but this is
little more than a glorified networked /etc/passwd file.  Same for
LDAP, which is basically a database.  These are good *back* end tools,
which I expect any higher level tools to interact with nicely.  The
whole point of a system management infrastructure is to make putting
friendlier faces on these tasks easier and to make different
subsystems chat, at least as I see it.  For example, NIS doesn't give
me a way to link a user (/etc/passwd) with a specific machine, or
identify which printer (/etc/printcap) is closest to her.  LDAP
probably could.

 >Plus (if I understood correctly) you need backup solution. This is also
 >available from Freshmeat. Or you can buy BRU or something.

        We currently have a fine backup system, and I'm not sure how
I'd fit that in.  I don't doubt someone would try, given a chance.

 >When selecting tools, look how scriptable they are.

        I agree.  Most fail miserably, or use exotic scripting
languages of their own.  COSadmin does a pretty good job, though, and
has somehow turned Unix pipes and shell scripts into a relational

        What I desperately want is a way to make all these various
systems adminsitration tasks and databases available in a reasonably
consistent way.


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