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I have about a dozen Linux boxes that I occasionally need to run the same command(s) on. Is there an easier way (or automated way) to do this asides from logging on to each machine and running the command, one at a time? It's not the same commands all the time and it's not at a preset time so it's not something ideal for tools like cron.

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similar question serverfault.com/questions/17931/… –  hayalci Jun 10 '09 at 15:58

14 Answers 14

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Hm, maybe pconsole is the tool you want.

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Wow, pconsole looks pretty cool! I installed it no problems and it looks to be great so far. Thanks! –  Chris Bunch May 1 '09 at 16:02
It's one of my favorite tools too. :) np –  Node May 1 '09 at 16:09

There's also ClusterSSH, which, well, does exactly what you think it does. Yay for descriptive naming!

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You should check out Puppet here is a linux.com article on its setup and use

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Hmm, Puppet looks pretty interesting. I'll take a look over it if pconsole starts failing me, since I already have it running and it's easier than learning Puppet's language. Thanks for the suggestion though! –  Chris Bunch May 1 '09 at 16:04

You may try Capistrano. Originally it is a Rails deployment tool, but it grew to do many things with remote machines.

For a more complete aproach to administration of multiple machine you may want to try Chef.

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I guess I'll copy and paste my answer from Stack Overflow, which people seemed to like. . .

The issue of how to run commands on many servers at once came up on a Perl mailing list the other day and I'll give the same recommendation I gave there, which is to use gsh: http://outflux.net/unix/software/gsh

gsh is similar to the "for box in box1_name box2_name box3_name" solution already given but I find gsh to be more convenient. You set up a /etc/ghosts file containing your servers in groups such as web, db, RHEL4, x86_64, or whatever (man ghosts) then you use that group when you call gsh.

[pdurbin@beamish ~]$ gsh web "cat /etc/redhat-release; uname -r"
www-2.foo.com: Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS release 4 (Nahant Update 7)
www-2.foo.com: 2.6.9-78.0.1.ELsmp
www-3.foo.com: Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS release 4 (Nahant Update 7)
www-3.foo.com: 2.6.9-78.0.1.ELsmp
www-4.foo.com: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.2 (Tikanga)
www-4.foo.com: 2.6.18-92.1.13.el5
www-5.foo.com: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.2 (Tikanga)
www-5.foo.com: 2.6.18-92.1.13.el5
[pdurbin@beamish ~]$

You can also combine or split ghost groups, using web+db or web-RHEL4, for example.

I'll also mention that while I have never used shmux, its website contains a list of software (including gsh) that lets you run commands on many servers at once. Capistrano has already been mentioned and (from what I understand) could be on that list as well.

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Don't overlook pssh and dsh either; they're both much like gsh that @Philip Durbin mentioned.

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Also take a look at func. Func lets you use a module architecture to control different aspects of a system, from dealing with packages, to running commands, etc. It works on a client/server module over SSL and has a fairly flexible authentication scheme as well.

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Along with that, Func is being built by Red Hat, and is likely to see expanded use in future Fedora/RHEL products. This is definitely one to watch, as I expect it will become the de facto standard solution for this type of problem. –  Christopher Cashell Jun 12 '09 at 19:13

Other tools are:

RunDeck could also be descriped as the lightweight ControlTier.

These tools not only give you a cluster shell, but also a web frontend and you can save your jobs for future use.

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You could also try ssh [user@]hostname [command] and then loop through the host names.

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This doesn't really satisfy the "at once" part (it's serialized, not in parallel), but as that doesn't seem to be a requirement from the question's body this may also be a decent solution. –  voretaq7 Dec 19 '11 at 22:00

You can also try Cluster SSH (cssh). I haven't used it, but there's an article on LinuxJournal.com called "Manage Multiple Servers Efficiently" that talks about it.

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If you are on a KDE desktop, konsole has the "Send Input to all sessions" option. It applies to all the sessions opened in the same konsole window.

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Use dish, simple and very powerful ! This script changed my life :) One script to rule them all !


The diligence shell 'dish' executes commands via ssh/rsh/telnet/mysql simultaneously on several systems. Changing password, updating configuration, copying files, checking status, etc. on hundreds of nodes is made then simple. Dish is similar to the IBM's 'dsh' (distributed shell) but furthermore allows remote execution of commands requiring authentication. Compared to other open source packages which include a distributed shell (or similar tools) like ClusterIt, dancer's shell, parallel distributed shell, or C3, dish is a slim and easy to use remote-shell wrapper for cases where a flexible solution is needed. You can browse the dish's manual page on-line here.

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Latest salt release (0.17.0) introduces salt-ssh. It uses ssh as transport layer, and it allows you to execute commands on multiple machines at once (I have to say that it is really quick):

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I've used ClusterSSH and it works. However, beyond a certain number of terminals, it doesn't scale well.

I'm surprised no one has mentiond xargs. Xargs is perfect for most things. In fact, I've gotten so comfortable with it that I never use clusterssh anymore.


echo -n host1 host2 host3 host4|xargs -d" " -n1 -P30 -I+ ssh + "sudo service apache2 restart"

(Restart apache on all web hosts.)

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