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We are building a farm of test servers. Currently we have 8 servers. We are planning to use the servers to test the following

  • Mysql Cluster
  • Xen or KVM virtualization
  • Heartbeat/Pacemaker/DRDB

What tools do experienced sysads use for:

  • Initial installation of operating system( installing centos 5 or ubuntu server manually 8 times seems like a tedious task that just begs for automation)
  • Centralized Configuration Management and Software Updates for Host and possibly Guest(virtualized) servers
  • Hardware, Services and Network Monitoring
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2 Answers 2

  • Initial installation of operating system( installing centos 5 or ubuntu server manually 8 times seems like a tedious task that just begs for automation)

Setup PXE(Preboot Execution Environment) to use kickstart files that automate the process of installing the OS

  • Centralized Configuration Management and Software Updates for Host and possibly Guest(virtualized) servers

Puppet is great tool for managing all of the config files across the cluster and pushing them out to them and then using a common scm tool like git, mercurial or svn to track changes made to files.

  • Hardware, Services and Network Monitoring

Nagios and/or Ganglia are well suited tools for monitoring your hardware and to some extent determining incident causes.

It should be noted that learning to use these tools and most importantly getting all these elements configured and in place take some time but once they are setup it makes scaling out much easier and cuts down on response times for certain issues (like reinstalls for example or applying sweeping changes like security updates and software installs). Most importantly though with tools like puppet it makes it much easier to keep all of your machines identical in function.

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+1 PXE, +1 Nagios, +1 Ganglia –  dmourati Jun 16 '11 at 21:30

Hi I have never done it myself but I have seen my senior admins doing this.What they do is make xml configuration files which are also known as kickstart files in a Red Hat environment. You need to make these configuration files and set up a PXE boot along with a TFTP server. That would easily automate the installation of OS on at least bare metal on all of these servers.In case you are experienced enough to make kickstart files then you can go on doing other customizations in the xml files itself.How ever there are some other techniques which I am not aware and some more people have to suggest it.

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