Datacenter Management Software

Dan Hanks danhanks at
Sat Oct 27 21:00:42 MDT 2007

On 10/24/07, Derek Carter <goozbach at> wrote:
> Barry Roberts wrote:
> > On Tue, 2007-10-23 at 16:11 -0600, Mike Lovell wrote:
> >> I have a question about software for managing LOTS of machines in a
> >> datacenter.
> >
> there's another product called Cobbler. It's a redhat product so I don't
> know if your debian stuff will work with it.

Cobbler essentially wraps kickstart, PXE, DHCP, managing distro trees
and such all together in one package (though I think it's targeted
toward RH-style distros like Fedora, RHEL, and CentOS). Haven't used
cobbler myself, but looks pretty nice. I believe FAI (mentioned in a
previous post) is integrated with cfengine, so that combo may work
well for you.

We use cfengine where I work, and while it has its warts, it is quite
powerful and useful (that power can be good and's not hard to
b0rk your entire cluster real quickly :-). It has a bit of a learning
curve, but once you get over the initial hump, you can automate just
about anything with it.

But if you're just starting down this path, I'd recommend puppet
( instead of cfengine. It's
still somewhat new, but is seeing more and more uptake. It was written
by a guy who used cfengine for a number of years and got fed up with
it. It's written in Ruby and has a nice OS abstraction layer, such
that (for example) you can say, I need package foo installed on these
machines, and puppet will figure out for you how to install that
package (apt on Debian, yum on Fedora, whatever equivalent exists on
MacOS, etc), so you don't have to worry too much about OS-specific

bcfg is another such tool, but I don't know too much about it.

-- Dan

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