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We have a cluster of machines and I found ssh automatic login very helpful. I also found Capistrino very helpful. Are there any other tips/tricks you found useful?

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Wow, talk about your open-ended question... –  womble Jul 14 '11 at 6:30

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System configuration automation, such as Puppet or Chef, eases the installation and configuration documentation burden considerably. Don't just use it to install packages or anything that trivial; instead, really use the system's entire feature set to (for instance) automatically configure your monitoring system, backups, DNS server, licencing information (if relevant), and all the other anciliary gubbins that go along with bringing a machine online.

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Also look into pdsh. –  Scott Smith Jul 14 '11 at 6:46
    
Blindly running commands on a bunch of machines simultaneously can easily cause all sorts of problems. –  womble Jul 14 '11 at 10:49
    
Clearly you've managed more servers than I. Clearly. At what point did I ever suggest anyone "blindly[sic] run commands" on anything? –  Scott Smith Jul 19 '11 at 23:24
    
That's what pdsh does. –  womble Jul 19 '11 at 23:34
    
There's nothing blind about pdsh. –  Scott Smith Jul 20 '11 at 0:54

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