Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (Sarge) at GSI

Christopher Huhn

GSI IT department, C.Huhn@gsi.de

Woody installation

  • Woody installation 2002/2003
  • Server installation: cloning over NFS
    • One size fits all

Woody installation

  • Configuration management: shell scripts
    • Who dunnit? No revision control, no one to blame
  • Centralisation achieved by central NFS mount /usr/local
  • Sparse documentation
    • Know-how often only implicit
  • Administration techniques don't scale well
    • particularly in relation to the number of admins

Woody client

  • "Groupserver" concept:
    • classic NFS root concept
    • shared read-only /usr
    • Client system - almost - completely on server (except for /var and /tmp)
  • Old server hardware
    • Hardware maintenance painful
  • Important binaries writeable (i.e. /sbin/init)
  • No automatic upgrade for anything outside /usr
    • I. e. no automatic security updates for /bin, /sbin binaries
    • No automatic distribution of /var or /etc files

Into the future ...

  • http://www.infrastructures.org/ - Site management best practices
    • System administration should not work like craftsmen
    • Infrastructure architects
    • Configuration as condensed and central as possible
  • FAI: Fully Automatic Installation framework
    • Plan your installation and FAI installs your plan
    • Debian-centric but very flexible

Into the future ...

  • Cfengine - configuration management framework
    • centralised and pull-based
    • description of the intended configuration state
    • not a sequential list of actions to be performed
  • Use of Debian tools (Package management, Debconf) whereever appropriate
  • Debian repositories used:
    • Debian, Debian-Security, Backports.org, Debian volatile, GSI repository

Into the future ...

  • More services - increased diversifaction
  • Devide installation and configuration into host classes
  • Keep It Small and Simple - only install what's required for a service
  • Installation and configuration system excellence indicator:
    • Reinstallation to service production state should be
      • completely unatteneded and
      • faster than a restore from tape backup

... back to the past?

  • NFS root reinvented:
    • Single system image
      • Shared by all clients
      • managed with cfengine
      • completely distinct from the server system
    • read-only root filesystem
    • unionfs filesystem
    • All host-specific files in a central Subversion repository
      • Accessed via WebDAV/davfs


  • Improved security
    • Difficult (impossible?) to hack
    • Updates even when the box is down
      • ready for dual boot / multi boot
  • Improved reliability?
  • Improved performance (new hardware)
  • Instant installation (~ 2 minutes)
    • Can be performed by the operators
  • Ease of administration
    • Condensed and centralised

... and Cons

  • Completely reliant on the network
  • Inferior performance compared to local installation?
  • Installation time irrelevant if installation request response time is in size of days?

On and on and on and on ...

  • Create NFS root image with FAI
  • Move to 64bit
  • Upgrade to Etch
    • Ubuntu?
  • GSI Knoppix CD?
  • failover NFS-Cluster
    • load-balancing?
  • Build a complete test environment

Fabric management

GSI Linux infrastructure framework


-- ChristopherHuhn - 06 Jul 2006
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Panorama-Sonnenuntergang_bei_Koenigswalde.jpgjpg Panorama-Sonnenuntergang_bei_Koenigswalde.jpg manage 44.8 K 2006-07-10 - 18:04 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
Server_cloning-1.pngpng Server_cloning-1.png manage 19.1 K 2006-07-10 - 16:11 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
Server_cloning-2.pngpng Server_cloning-2.png manage 32.1 K 2006-07-10 - 16:11 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
Server_cloning-3.pngpng Server_cloning-3.png manage 45.1 K 2006-07-10 - 16:11 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
Server_cloning-4.pngpng Server_cloning-4.png manage 58.8 K 2006-07-10 - 16:11 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
infrastructure.pngpng infrastructure.png manage 36.7 K 2006-07-10 - 15:09 ChristopherHuhn Infrastruktur-Framework
unionfs-0.pngpng unionfs-0.png manage 61.3 K 2006-07-10 - 17:40 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
unionfs-1.pngpng unionfs-1.png manage 60.6 K 2006-07-10 - 17:40 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
unionfs-2.pngpng unionfs-2.png manage 59.7 K 2006-07-10 - 17:40 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
unionfs-3.pngpng unionfs-3.png manage 60.0 K 2006-07-10 - 17:40 ChristopherHuhn batch upload by christo@lxg0815
Topic revision: r10 - 2007-10-23, ChristopherHuhn
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