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What's the best way to automate Ubuntu Server deployments? I saw that someone is porting Kickstart to Ubuntu, but it didn't look very complete.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by HopelessN00b Dec 5 at 11:19

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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For provisioning, you'll want to look into preseeding installation, or perhaps system-imager.

For configuration and maintenance after the system is up, look into a configuration management tool like Chef.

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Our setup uses a homegrown script and puppet to roll out nearly 100% automated deployments.

  • netboot grml
  • if no interaction is taken a script will automatically run that installs debian (but ubuntu has the same toolset) thru debootstrap
  • Host will automatically reboot
  • Human interaction is needed on the puppetmaster (on purpose) to verify the SSL certificate for further configurations is fine
  • at most 15 minutes later a "puppetrun" is started since we have a cronjob checking that puppet is indeed running and starts configuring the node

We considered FAI and preseeding but found that our existing scripts need just very little glue to do what we want so we used that, FAI might be an option in the future thou...

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I would recomment you download and read Automated deployments of Ubuntu whitepaper.

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You maybe should be considering virtualization if you are planning to deploy a lot of nodes. On the physical machine, you just have to install the hypervisor base which is pretty straightforward with solutions such as Citrix XenExpress and VMWare ESX.

Once that is done, all you have to do is copy/paste images and use the tools to configure them from a simple interface. You will have a battery of images for different purposes and deploy whichever one you want by a click (or two). This is interesting even if you have just a few servers as you an do 1:1 virtualization (not so much 1:1 with ESX performance-wise). You will be able to manage/backup you servers with a lot more simplicity.

Obviously if this is just for a couple of servers, virtualization is overkill.

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Using master images is definitely the wrong way for ubuntu/debian (IMHO anything but Windows). Why take the hassle to deploy outdated software when you can get fresh software with all the security updates in an easier way? –  Server Horror Jun 10 '09 at 9:26
    
Well, if you have a real platfrom that contains anything more then a simple confiugration, you're going to have a bunch of hassles using automated means of installation... if it even works. You can always issue an update later on :-) –  Antoine Benkemoun Jun 10 '09 at 9:50
    
I don't know where real platform starts for you. I have 90 physical servers, 300 instances, a bunch of switches, 50 users on site a couple more working thru VPN another bunch of servers at a "managed" location (they take care of hardware failures). Not going the image route has worked pretty well for me –  Server Horror Jun 10 '09 at 10:56
    
If you want to setup a fully featured mail server for example, I find that images are more efficient as I have never been able to automate such an install. I can imagine that if I mastered the art of auto installs, it would work better but I don't and images have worked fine so far. –  Antoine Benkemoun Jun 10 '09 at 11:17
    
I think automated deployment tools should be used even for virtualised nodes. Why treat VMs and physical hardware any different? You may want to promote a VM to real hardware or consolidate real hardware into VMs in future. –  Jon Topper Jul 6 '09 at 15:09

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