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#1 2012-12-18 11:46:00

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

I'm happy to inform that we decided to make ArchLinux a default distro for our student workstations (approx. 200) and main servers (12) at the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Sciences, Warsaw University of Technology. Previously we've been using Gentoo for those purposes. For workstations the new choice was obvious. For the servers - it was not. Honestly, we are a little disappointed with ArchLinux migrated to systemd. Personally, we are not convinced in systemd advantages and worry about possible future incompatibilities with other systems/distros and security issues. However, we finally decided that other advantages of the ArchLinux distribution outbalance any doubts related to systemd. We believe it's a good choice.
Thanks to ArchLinux developers; keep your good work!

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#2 2012-12-18 11:54:01

litemotiv
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2008-08-01
Posts: 5,026

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

Oh wow, that sounds like a maintenance nightmare. Good to hear though!


ᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ

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#3 2012-12-18 13:40:43

bluewind
Administrator
From: Austria
Registered: 2008-07-13
Posts: 165
Website

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

quayasil wrote:

Personally, we are not convinced in systemd advantages and worry about possible future incompatibilities with other systems/distros and security issues.

Given most distros will adopt systemd eventually you will actually gain compatibility. Our old rc scripts were mostly written by us and nobody else could really use them because every init system was different.


"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
-- Albert Einstein

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#4 2012-12-18 14:01:13

drcouzelis
Member
From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,471
Website

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

My reaction:

quayasil wrote:

I'm happy to inform that we decided to make ArchLinux a default distro for our student workstations and main servers at the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Sciences, Warsaw University of Technology.

Oh my gosh, are you crazy? I can barely keep up with managing ONE Arch Linux computer let alone a whole...

...Previously we've been using Gentoo...

...Ohhhhh.

May I ask why you chose to use such "leet" Linux distributions on your university network? What benefits do Gentoo and Arch Linux give you when managing that kind of network? I have no idea which distribution I would use. I'm just curious. smile

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#5 2012-12-18 14:28:39

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

bluewind wrote:
quayasil wrote:

Personally, we are not convinced in systemd advantages and worry about possible future incompatibilities with other systems/distros and security issues.

Given most distros will adopt systemd eventually you will actually gain compatibility. Our old rc scripts were mostly written by us and nobody else could really use them because every init system was different.

1. Linux is not the only Unix-like system in the world. There is a few commercial Unix systems, a *BSD family, ...
2. I don't think that the main Linux players (for example: Debian, Gentoo, RHEL) are planning to make it their default init subsystem very soon.
3. "Your old rc scripts were mostly written by you" - OK. But, forgive me if I'm wrong :-) , you didn't invented the FHS, files like /etc/inittab, /etc/rc.conf (how about /etc/fstab - let's see) etc, the sysvinit, runlevels nor even the concept of daemons ...

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#6 2012-12-18 14:28:45

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,425

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

Gentoo is lagging Arch - e.g. glibc 2.16 isn't yet marked stable. pcre and icu are further examples.

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#7 2012-12-18 14:34:33

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

drcouzelis: In fact if we could choose any *nix we'd decided to use FreeBSD. We decided that Gentoo and old ArchLinux (no-systemd) were the most FreeBSD-pretending Linuces (from the users' view) ;-)

Last edited by quayasil (2012-12-18 14:37:51)

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#8 2012-12-18 15:50:49

demaio
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2012-09-02
Posts: 63
Website

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

quayasil wrote:

I'm happy to inform that we decided to make ArchLinux a default distro for our student workstations (approx. 200) and main servers (12)

We are facing a similar big decision: Using Arch Linux as the distribution for a "thin client with good offline capabilities". The numbers are comparable (approx. 250 clients). The problem is that the clients are spread across the country and are not easily reachable by IT staff.

Our test setup and results (approx. 5 computers) so far:

  • We use a dual boot setup: One recovery partition with a bare minimum install (only base group + some tools) and a script to save and restore another partition. This other partition has a full installation with Xorg, LibreOffice, Firefox, rdesktop/RDP etc. Let's call this the "production system"

  • By default the production partition is booted by GRUB and the recovery partition can be manually selected from the GRUB menu

  • The recovery partition (when booted) is accessible by SSH (the production system also)

  • The "production" partition can be backed up with an rsync script and can be restored from the recovery partition if an upgrade of the production partition goes wrong and the production system does not boot anymore

  • Even the recovery partition can be backed up and updated from the production system (arch-chroot) if it can be guaranteed that the production system is booting the next time

  • The 5 computers are in a real-world test setup since a few weeks and well, it works ;-)

Some unresolved problems/questions remain:

How do we test possible updates for all clients? Maybe in a virtual test machine...
How do we update all or most of the clients at once? I'm thinking of a local/custom repository and using parallel ssh or something.
How do we deal with special setups (other packages, other configuration? Perhaps using someting like cfengine...
How should the user accounts be configured (we have LDAP)? Well, that's not an Arch specific problem ;-)

@quayasil perhaps we can share our thoughts/work and create a blog/wiki or something about such a setup if the results are usable?

Some thoughts?

Mario

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#9 2012-12-18 16:31:16

chris_l
Member
Registered: 2010-12-01
Posts: 387

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

drcouzelis wrote:

Oh my gosh, are you crazy? I can barely keep up with managing ONE Arch Linux computer let alone a whole...

I maintain my 3 home computers and my gf laptop which use arch tongue

On topic, usually, when a group, institution or enterprise buy computers, they buy several of the same model. That means same hardware, same system backups, etc.
So, once you configure one the way you like it, you just did configure them all. Next step is just to clone the hard drives.

Time to upgrade arch? you upgrade one of them, make sure everything works fine, and again, you clone the hard disks, or you create an script that does the manual changes/fixes you had to do.

Actually, using arch on for this, IMHO is a good idea. I can say I have done it, but with only 6 computers at my previous work.

demaio wrote:

How do we update all or most of the clients at once?

I think the previous lines responded that.

demaio wrote:

How do we deal with special setups (other packages, other configuration?

That depends how special they are. If they are too special (every one of those have a very different setup than the rest), pretty much is manual configuration on each one.

If I had to admin 200+ machines with arch, I would install a minimal system with virtualization and ssh only, that started a virtual machine with the actual system the user would use.
That way I could ssh to the host OS to do upgrades, etc. Obviously, the user's data should not go on the VM, but in the server, or at least on a different, real partition on the HD. That way, an upgrade would mean just to copy the new upgraded VM hard disk image on every single pc.


"open source is about choice"
No.
Open source is about opening the source code complying with this conditions, period. The ability to choose among several packages is just a nice side effect.

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#10 2012-12-18 17:11:17

firecat53
Member
From: Sammamish, Wa
Registered: 2007-05-14
Posts: 1,447
Website

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

I haven't used it, but discovered it yesterday...perhaps of some use in managing a large number of machines.
Salt Stack. Or perhaps something like Puppet. Let us know how it goes!

Scott

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#11 2012-12-18 17:48:02

chris_l
Member
Registered: 2010-12-01
Posts: 387

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

quayasil wrote:

2. I don't think that the main Linux players (for example: Debian, Gentoo, RHEL) are planning to make it their default init subsystem very soon.

Not debian or gentoo, but I heard RHEL 7 will use systemd, just like fedora does now.
That means scientific linux, centos and others will do it too.

Gentoo is a great, advanced and powerful distro. But how is a "main linux player" ?


"open source is about choice"
No.
Open source is about opening the source code complying with this conditions, period. The ability to choose among several packages is just a nice side effect.

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#12 2012-12-18 17:50:48

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

demaio wrote:

Some unresolved problems/questions remain:

How do we test possible updates for all clients? Maybe in a virtual test machine...
How do we update all or most of the clients at once? I'm thinking of a local/custom repository and using parallel ssh or something.

Fortunately we don't have such problem: our workstations are in one place, accessible via one 1Gbps/10Gbps LAN managed by us and use the same configuration. We simply prepare one template workstation and use disk cloning over LAN utility. Fast and simple.

Servers share the same basic configuration; kernel and services are masked and upgraded separately.

demaio wrote:

How do we deal with special setups (other packages, other configuration? Perhaps using someting like cfengine...

For servers we're working on some svn-based repository for configuration files.

demaio wrote:

How should the user accounts be configured (we have LDAP)? Well, that's not an Arch specific problem ;-)

We use pam_ldap and pam_nss (+pam_group on workstations and sh-enabled servers). We have separated dedicated authorization servers. File sharing is generally over NFS.

Last edited by quayasil (2012-12-18 18:04:50)

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#13 2012-12-18 18:01:00

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

chris_l wrote:

Gentoo is a great, advanced and powerful distro. But how is a "main linux player" ?

In the sense:
A main distro for some branch (Gentoo, Funtoo, Pentoo, Sabayon, VLOS, SRCD, ...) which introduces some distinct model for organizing the software and system management.
With a huge community of users and developers; single personal changes don't influence the system development goals.
Software developers often offer sources as well as packages, ebuilds, rpms etc for a few dedicated Linux distros. I'm mean: those taken into account.

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#14 2012-12-18 18:46:11

chris_l
Member
Registered: 2010-12-01
Posts: 387

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

@quayasil
Hey! So Arch is a main linux player too!
While I do respect them, and I respect their effort to achive their goals, I have never been a fan of arch distrolets. But I didn't realized that helped to had that status.

quayasil wrote:

A main distro for some branch(es)

It makes sense. Arch switched to systemd and even when one of them didn't like it, all of them had to do the switch too.
(ahh maybe I'm wrong about that. Is there any of them sticking to initscripts?)
Anyway, we have that stuff you mention.

Nice! arch and gentoo are main linux players! big_smile

EDIT: Ow, just for the record, while I don't like arch distolets, I really like unofficial ports of archlinux.
Like archlinuxarm, archlinuxppc, etc.
The big difference is that I feel those actually do offer something of value.

Last edited by chris_l (2012-12-18 19:51:33)


"open source is about choice"
No.
Open source is about opening the source code complying with this conditions, period. The ability to choose among several packages is just a nice side effect.

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#15 2012-12-18 19:14:57

opensrcrox
Member
Registered: 2012-08-10
Posts: 32

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

quayasil wrote:

... 2. I don't think that the main Linux players (for example: Debian, Gentoo, RHEL) are planning to make it their default init subsystem very soon.

Debian and Gentoo have Freebsd spins to consider .... that's one of the reasons for their decisions regarding systemd.
As chris_l mentioned above, RHEL 7 is purported to use systemd.

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#16 2012-12-18 22:26:59

quayasil
Member
Registered: 2008-11-09
Posts: 92

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

chris_l wrote:

@quayasil
Hey! So Arch is a main linux player too!

If you believe that https://www.archlinux.org/developers/ fulfills the condition  "with a huge community of [users and] developers; single personal changes don't influence the system development goals" :-)

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#17 2012-12-18 23:35:30

nomorewindows
Member
Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 3,004

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

You could always rsync or make NFS PXE clients and that would keep the maintainence down.


I may have to CONSOLE you about your usage of ridiculously easy graphical interfaces...
Look ma, no mouse.

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#18 2012-12-19 02:15:16

AndrzejL
Member
Registered: 2012-12-07
Posts: 160

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

Fajna zabawa sie szykuje quayasil.

Have fun.

Andrzej


The worst thing about censorship is ██████ ██ ████ ████████████ and ██████ ███████ ███ ███████████.

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#19 2012-12-19 02:36:03

fsckd
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2009-06-15
Posts: 3,548

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

AndrzejL wrote:

Fajna zabawa sie szykuje quayasil.

Have fun.

Andrzej

Care to explain?


aur S & M :: forum rules :: Community Ethos
Resources for Women, POC, LGBT*, and allies

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#20 2012-12-19 03:57:56

anonymous_user
Member
Registered: 2009-08-28
Posts: 3,058

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

AndrzejL wrote:

Fajna zabawa sie szykuje quayasil.

Google translation:

A fun game is afoot quayasil

Last edited by anonymous_user (2012-12-19 03:58:11)

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#21 2012-12-19 16:32:38

fsckd
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2009-06-15
Posts: 3,548

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

Thanks anonymous_user. smile


aur S & M :: forum rules :: Community Ethos
Resources for Women, POC, LGBT*, and allies

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#22 2012-12-19 23:14:13

AaronBP
Member
Registered: 2012-08-06
Posts: 140
Website

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

That wasn't conspiratorial sounding at all. I wonder if there's a secret handshake?

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#23 2012-12-22 01:25:13

AndrzejL
Member
Registered: 2012-12-07
Posts: 160

Re: ArchLinux chosen a default distro for our faculty.

fsckd wrote:
AndrzejL wrote:

Fajna zabawa sie szykuje quayasil.

Have fun.

Andrzej

Care to explain?

Sorry - It meant to be a Polish version of "This is gonna be awesome!" or "Sounds like a great fun!" smile.

I really should have thought about providing translation smile. Guess I was to tired to think...

Thanks.

Andrzej

Last edited by AndrzejL (2012-12-22 01:26:47)


The worst thing about censorship is ██████ ██ ████ ████████████ and ██████ ███████ ███ ███████████.

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