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I was looking up here for some comparisons between CFEngine, Puppet, Chef, bcfg2, AutomateIt and whatever other configuration management systems might be out there, and was very surprised I could find very little here on Server Fault. For instance, I only knew of the first three links above -- the other two I found on a related google search.

So, I'm not interested in what people think is the best one, or which they like. I'd like to know the following:

  1. Configuration Management System's name.
  2. Why it was created (as opposed to using an existing solution).
  3. Relative strengths.
  4. Relative weaknesses.
  5. License.
  6. Link to project and examples.
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  • Please mark your question as community wiki. Nov 8 '10 at 12:31
  • @Graeme See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/392/…. Nov 8 '10 at 12:47
  • thanks, I wasn't aware of that. I should hang out on meta more often. :-) EDIT: just noticed how old that is too...... I should really hang out on meta more often! Nov 8 '10 at 15:06
  • @Graeme Don't feel so bad. The important change, which is the relevant fact here, is dated October 14, this year. And I was only aware of it because I follow @codinghorror on twitter. Nov 8 '10 at 18:01
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Configuration Management System's name: Cfengine Community 3

Why it was created: visit http://cfengine.com/techFaq#create

Relative strengths:

  • is very small in size (5MB) with few dependencies
  • allows you to choose freely both between templating and differential modification of the system for integrated management
  • handles organizational complexity very well, i.e. does not require "one model for all"
  • high scalability, high speed, but low RAM usage
  • is not based on SSL and its vulerabilities for communication
  • has extensive documentation, large installation base and user community
  • is knowledge oriented
  • has commercial reporting options for compliance audits
  • is the dominant choice in banks, oil and government

Relative weaknesses: steep learning curve

License: GPL v3

Link to project and examples: Lots of tutorials and guides: http://cfengine.com/manuals

4

I found the link below to be very useful. It compares many of these tools.

http://distrinet.cs.kuleuven.be/software/sysconfigtools/tool

3
  1. Name: Chef
  2. Why created? From the FAQ (as opposed to existing solution: also in the FAQ)
  3. Relative strengths: config management library, system integration framework, flexible, open source, persistent data store for nodes and other data, search indexes, strong community, server is a highly scalable lightweight web application, Opscode provides a chef-server-as-a-service. Also summarized on Opscode's web page for Chef.
  4. Relative weaknesses: steep learning curve, lots of moving parts in open source server (api, webui, search indexes, data store).
  5. License: Apache 2.0 Software License
  6. Project: Chef Wiki

Examples:

Disclosure: I work for Opscode.

3

Microsoft SCCM

It was created in the mid 90's as SMS.

Strengths:

  • Quick setup
  • Integrates with AD
  • Flexible
  • Let's you focus on the lifecycle of desktops and servers, rather than more tactical things. Has a robust but complex desired configuration management feature.
  • Great reporting
  • Cross platform, supports Windows, OS X, and some Linux/Unix flavors

Weaknesses:

  • Requires AD.
  • Expensive if you aren't implementing a full Microsoft stack

License:

Commercial. Server license includes MS SQL Server, client licenses are licensed individually for each device or via the Microsoft Core CAL bundle. (bundle requires an EA)

2

Wikipedia is your friend too: Comparison of open source configuration management software

What's included:
1. Basic properties
2. Platform support
3. Short descriptions

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    I saw that, but it's just not enough. That's why I came here. Now, the answers given so far are very much what I'd like to see, even if they cover just a small part of what's available. BESIDES, I'm not limiting myself to open source. Jan 4 '11 at 12:29

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