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For a particular service, users are added/removed via web to a mySQL table. I need to replicate those users on several ubuntu servers (as regular shell users), preferably through Puppet. Currently I would use a shell script to read the table and create a users.pp manifest (but it gets tricky to deal with removed users). Is there a more efficient way?

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You probably moved on a long time ago, but did you ever find anything? Have you considered just switching your authentication over to ldap or some other centralized systems. –  Zoredache Aug 16 '12 at 5:45
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Yes, agreed that you should be using LDAP instead of this. However, if you really want to use MySQL data to drive local user creation (which is not a great idea...)

Use the MySQL Hiera backend: https://github.com/crayfishx/hiera-mysql

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