Choosing an open source configuration management software – Part 1

I started to work for a new company as IT Administrator one month ago. Since there is a lot of hard work to do, all concerning network changes and network services I of course started to look around a bit for couple of mostly open source tools that could come in handy during network administration.

Yes, I am talking about configuration management software like Cfengine which is apparently the most known one as it is being used by IT Administrator since 1993.

I was also using Cfengine for about 3 year in SuSE and then in another job where Cfengine helped us administrators keep deploying most recent configuration files to all of those more than hundred servers. But everything has its pros and cons.

What are they ? Well, I’ve seen Cfengine being in trouble many times. For example it might be beyond its limitation to want it install a lot of RPM packages at once. In this case Cfengine certainly led to segfault after installing first few packages from the list. Once all packages having installed and just few of them were changed or added Cfengine coped well with it without harm.

I’ve also seen Cfengine being in trouble many times when it somehow started more than once over itself and thus was kind of locked along with RPM database which couldn’t be used anymore by anything else. The problem used to be caused again by performing lot of changes at once when it semi-died and other Cfengine process was run over it (although it shouldn’t as it has lock files)

Cfengine wasn’t a bad configuration management software at all but every IT administrator who fully used its features must have hit its weak spot after while.

When I was thinking about future plans concerning configuration management software I didn’t even know there are more powerful tools like Cfengine. I stumbled upon this website with configuration management software. After reading few articles by googling “cfengine vs others” and such I found Puppet as Cfengine’s big competitor and I decided to give it a try.

Compared to Cfengine, Puppet is pretty young project with its first release in 2005. Only thing which some administrators might not be familiar with is a need to install Ruby in what whole Puppet is written. That’s all what’s needed to run Puppet.

To be continued…

Posted in network administration software, Network Topology

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