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I'm hoping there is a light weight, command line utility that I could use to setup a server from scratch.

I like python's fabric or ruby's capistrano but from what I was reading they are more used for deployment purposes and not setting up apache, mysql, update patches etc.

I know there are other tools like puppet, but I don't want to setup a master/slave for servers etc., I was hoping there was a more light-weight tool for this.

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You do not need to set up a server/client infrastructure to use puppet, nor do you need to have a running puppetmaster daemon. You can point puppetd directly at a set of manifest files for your server and it'll happily get things configured for you.

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+1 for writing the answer I would have. Puppet excels at this. – Sam Halicke Nov 14 '10 at 21:47
so normally the manifest files are provided by a puppetmaster daemon? – Blankman Nov 15 '10 at 3:32
Yes, in a server/client setup, the manifests would be provided by puppetmaster, running on the master server. – EEAA Nov 15 '10 at 3:34

You could also look into making a setup using kickstart and pxe boots to do the preliminary setup.

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Add cobbler to the mix. – Cristian Ciupitu Mar 5 '11 at 4:46

I'm using fabric for provisioning instances from scratch (a stock ubuntu image) on EC2; it works great. There are a few basic functions for appending to and commenting lines in a file that make modifying config files workable.

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