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Updating Free Software in the Enterprise?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the one-is-easy-one-hundred-isn't dept.

Upgrades 367

wallykeyster asks: "I'm an IT Director for a small private university in the U.S., and we are largely a Microsoft shop. We pay over $15,000 each year for our Campus Agreement so that we can upgrade the desktop OS to our version of choice, run Office, and have some Client Access Licenses. I would like to move to FOSS solutions, but I'm having trouble finding support for Enterprise management. For example, OpenOffice and Firefox (both of which I use personally) would be easy first steps, but IE is updated automatically via our SUS server (and settings pushed to clients via group policies) and Office updates will be included soon. How are other larger organizations (i.e. more than 200 desktops) dealing with software deployment and updates? Is anyone using Zen with Novell Desktop Linux?"

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I have your solution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546744)

You could just stick with Microsoft, its better than Linux anyways.

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Re:I have your solution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546841)

I suggest you look at all of the package managers including Gentoo's portage which can be applied to other distributions.

Portage can handle binary packages and can be "pushed"

Easy... (5, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546746)

Run a local Debian package repository, only put updates you want in it, point your system's sources.list at the local repository, and add the following to the crontab for every system you deploy:

0 3 * * * /usr/bin/apt-get update; /usr/bin/apt-get upgrade -yq

Re:Easy... (2, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546812)

Exactly, or chkconfig --levels 345 yum on if that's your distro's bent.

You handle user settings with networked home directories and dot-files, which you can script modifications to if you so desire.

Re:Easy... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546813)

0 3 * * * /usr/bin/apt-get update; /usr/bin/apt-get upgrade -yq

You might want to add a day of the week. Do you really want to have hundreds of computers hitting the servers every night? Do you even need to do it that frequently? I'd mix it up a bit.

Re:Easy... (1)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546824)

Yeah, this is pretty much the Proper Debian Way for handling this. I think there's actually a sub-package to do this more specifically, but all in all this is a good solution.

Re:Easy... (3, Informative)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546982)

You may be thinking of cron-apt [debian.org] . I use it on my system at home, and it does a pretty good job.

Re:Easy... (5, Informative)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546834)

I believe his intention is to keep with Windows as the OS.
He does mention starting with the easy ones.

How do you perform a Windows based rollout, and make sure your settings are updated.

Is there possibly a portion of the group policy which would run an msi/executable update?

Re:Easy... (4, Informative)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546904)

Run a local Debian package repository, only put updates you want in it, point your system's sources.list at the local repository, and add the following to the crontab for every system you deploy:

That's good for professor and permanent student workstations. But for lab machines, what you want is systemimager. I used to admin a lab as an undergrad and it was great. I had two "golden clients" from which came the two images I used. Then if a machine got messed up or if I did an update of some kind, I just told all the machines to reboot and grab their new omages from the server. It also supports letting you specify certain parts of the directory to not send and/or receive. All in all, a very powerful piece of software.

Re:Easy... (5, Interesting)

DaGoodBoy (8080) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547051)

No No NO! Just say 'no' to imaging... Debian supports preseeded configured values to be passed to a blank system during its install and a very easy method to run a script before and after the second stage installer. Do yourself a favor and actually track the tweaks you perform on a client when you build a system. Document them and put them in the install scripts. Then you can rely on the hardware detection method built into the Debian installer to allow you a diverse hardware ecology, consistent packages and a sliding target going forward as the repository ages.

Just my $0.02 from a fellow sysadmin who has left imaging and never looked back!

DaGoodBoy

Radmind (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12547045)

You can also use something like radmind [umich.edu] . If you are using any sort of *nix desktops. It is much easier than having a Debain repo. Plus it would use a lot less bandwidth and is tested and used in Universities mainly.

There are also things called login scripts in the Windoze world when it comes to updating things like OpenOffice.org and Firefox. . .

now comes the pissing contest (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546747)

about how that isnt a "large" organization and how they handle soo much more blah blah blah i have a huge penis so their.

if that is what you want to say. go slam your head a car door instead, no one cares.

rpm upgrade (2, Informative)

unk1911 (250141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546748)

just use an RPM upgrade utility and crontab...?

Re:rpm upgrade (5, Funny)

pegr (46683) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546795)

Guys, he said he was an IT Director. Please don't go confusing him with crontab this or apt-get that...

At least tell him to find his favorite geek to explain it to him...

Re:rpm upgrade (5, Funny)

wallykeyster (818978) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547027)

Believe it or not, some IT management rises from within, some have undergrad degrees in Comp Sci, and some run FreeBSD, OS 10.3, Windows 2000, and Windows XP on boxes at home.

Re:rpm upgrade (1)

unk1911 (250141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546803)

oh wait debian doesn't have rpm's. nevermind. just use whatever the debian equivalent of an rpm is

Give up already! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546754)

They cancelled the show people. Enterprise is not getting an update. Let's stop kicking the dead horse already!

FP ! (1)

marcomuskus (628509) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546755)

FP !

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re (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546763)

u all suck faggots

small colleges (2, Interesting)

guildsolutions (707603) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546768)

Unfortunatly I work for a small college in Maryland, our updates are all still done manually by hand. We still use norton ghost to do all of our mass deployments. Moving forward to something like this, that would ease my own burdon would definitly be a step in the right direction, however we have neither the budget or willingness to pay for such services. We make do with what we have, it works for us to this point, but things definitly could be better.

We have aproximatly 550 PC's on two completely differnt networks (facualty and students)

Re:small colleges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546801)

wow that is insanely inefficient, even at my school with 250-500 computers they make better use of their time than that.

Re:small colleges (2, Insightful)

team99parody (880782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546919)

however we have neither the budget or willingness to pay for such services. We make do with what we have, it works for us to this point, but things definitly could be better.

Do you have classes (in either IT, CS, MIS, or similar) that claim to teach real-world skills? If so, a project to automate such an effort would be a wonderful class project for you guys to undertake.

Even if the class isn't about IT, this project can be used as a case study - for example, a class about software methodologies and software lifecycle mangement - or even a business class evaluating build-vs-buy tradeffs.

Re:small colleges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546954)

You obviously have a big budget, if you can spend thousands on Microsoft every year, so just pay someone to do the updates...

If your budget shrinks some day, you can start automating then :)

Re:small colleges (3, Interesting)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546987)

By hand?

I'm the IT Manager (nice job title for the only computer guy at the company) at a small print company (less than 50 PC's) and I simply use SUS on an old (OLD server 200MHz Pentium 1 MMX machine) to select updates that I think are needed and apply them to the windows machines.

SUS is a free download from Microsoft. The downside to it at the moment is that it's Windows 2000/XP/2003 only at the moment. I hear MS is adding the ability to apply Office updates through it too in v2.

rsync and ssh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546774)

nuff said..

And if you need GUI stuff..
add perl or pygtk for GUI admin (both of which work well even on Windows for this type of stuff)..
Java or .NET is an option, but I think overkill for this type of stuff.

mod_perl/mod_python and/or PHP for web admin.

Updating Free Software in the Enterprise? (2, Funny)

Kufat (563166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546778)

It's GNU/LCARS, dammit!

We use Altiris (3, Interesting)

nycsmart1 (654214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546779)

Very easy. Create Rapid install package and deploy. We updated firefox to 1.0.4 the other day to 80 clients in a matter of minutes.

Is anyone repackaging FOSS for distribution? (2, Interesting)

ddkilzer (79953) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546780)

Is any repackaging FOSS for distribution through "standard" tools on Windows? That's the conclusion I've come to in order to support distribution of updates.

Re:Is anyone repackaging FOSS for distribution? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547025)

We have some FOSS tools for Windows being packaged and pushed out through SMS/Active Directory etc. (I'm not in charge of that bit, so I'm only peripherally aware on what goes on). Generally, anything with an MSI is easy to package (for example, ActiveState Perl). We also use OpenSSH and Putty etc. which the IS department have packaged.

It's Just Another Package as far as all that stuff is concerned.

Re:Is anyone repackaging FOSS for distribution? (4, Informative)

quantum bit (225091) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547072)

I repackage Firefox into an msi for group policy deployment. I used to use Winstall LE that came with Win2k server, but eventually I learned enough about how msi works to be dissatisfied with that (it often gets lots of unrelated registry changes since so much background crap always happens in windows). Now I just build them by hand.

MakeMSI [labyrinth.net.au] is a good tool for rolling your own, though it's best if you have some knowledge of how the tables work. Often I'll use Orca to tweak/double check things.

Firefox was a bit of a pain to package the first time because of all the subdirs, but it's really light on the registry keys and for updates it's mostly a matter of just dropping in the new files.

$15,000 a year... (5, Funny)

duh_lime (583156) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546782)

would pay for a lot of students to do the work by hand.. And they'd learn something.

OK.. there are better ways, but at least the money is not going to the Evil Empire.

Re:$15,000 a year... (2, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546930)

I actually tried this *once*. It seemed like a great idea on paper. I would train people to do something useful, and they could go to potential employers and pretend to have some sort of useful experience.

It was awful, and I will never do it again. I ended up spending all my time fixing stupid mistakes, and it was more work than just doing it myself. Especially since the ultiumate solution was to convert to linux, and set up a server to dish out rpm's and schedule updates via crontabs.

Re:$15,000 a year... (1)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546947)

...unless these students get paid and buy a XBox 360 straight away.

Re:$15,000 a year... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546977)

Mod the parent up. I'm amazed that universities spend a lot of money on software to prevent their students from learning stuff.

IMHO every university would be better off making class projects to build rather than buy infrastructure. Having such projects is useful in zillions of areas outside of CS - the Business guys can use it as a practical case for analyzing build-vs-buy efforts; the CS guys can study the theory of whatever is being done; the MIS/IT guys can get practical hand-on experience... and as people graduate they can create spinnoff companies that turn into large donations back to the universities.

Re:$15,000 a year... (3, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547007)

Not really, assuming: 1) You're paying students $8/hour 2) You work students 15 hours/week (they gotta study sometime) = $6240 I can do 2 students with room left over for a trained chimp (we'll assume $2,500 worth of bannanas and computer repair bill from feces thrown at computer). With 2 students you could probably upkeep a small university ok (say 150 computers per student) after that I'd put the students to work finding an automated solution.

Stand *nix tools (3, Informative)

rminsk (831757) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546786)

rsync, rdist, and yum. Well yum is not to standard.

Re:Stand *nix tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546956)

Or Mandrake and urpm. (Man-Driva now, I guess) When I used Mandrake, the pay options for auto update and all that were great and there were free urpm servers that worked well too (for DeCSS and the whatnot). Haven't tried it since the name change.

Network. (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546805)

What I did for other schools was having /usr/local mounted on a file server with all the Linux applications installed so we just installed it once and they were all uptodate. But that may not work for all casses. Companies such as IBM have tools that can help keep Linux systems uptodate as well as Windows systems. Like IBM Director. Or you can find an OSS project and see if you can get a contact with a smaller consulting firm to help keep your OSS up to date and well managed.

Re:Network. (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546981)

This is a traditional approach which I've seen done successfully at a number of sites. Often, the remote filesystem contains the definitive software installation, while some alternate, possibly coarser, mechanism is used to maintain the installation locally.

It scales better if you (a) automount the remote filesystems, and (b) use in conjunction with cachefs.

If you notice performance problems, you may elect to deploy a set of workgroup servers, or you may find it worth the effort to switch to something like cfengine and install everything locally.

do what we do (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546818)

run all your applications off of an NFS server..
that way, you only upgrade one copy on the server.

-Dirtbag

Re:do what we do (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546937)

Doesn't always work when applications have dependencies that aren't a part of the standard distro.

Re:do what we do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12547001)

I think he meant to nfs mount /usr. Problem solved (excepting things in /bin, /sbin and /lib).

At $15,000 a year...... (3, Insightful)

ARRRLovin (807926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546825)

......You're getting off EXTREMELY cheap. If you switch to a different OS, or OSS, you'll easily spend more than that (many times more) in hiring people to support the new infrastructure.

Re:At $15,000 a year...... (2, Informative)

tisme (414989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546892)

I completely agree. Imagine the stress of changing and the downtime (something always goes wrong). My campus switched from Microsoft Windows/Office to Linux/OpenOffice in one faculty and the computers were down for over a week. After the change a massive education process had to be started. While everything is working now.. the transition was not easy and people are still having to adjust.

Re:At $15,000 a year...... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546983)

ummm, don't you think someone is already being paid to do all the various labor-intensive things about running labs?

Ubuntu is the answer (0)

puiahappy (855662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546826)

I am using SuSE 9.3 Pro whit ZEN but just for a few days. Anyway i was using SuSE 9.2 and i can say that the YOU(Yast Online Update) is working just fine. If you intend to use Free Software use Ubuntu [ubuntulinux.org] is free for home or comercial use as well. Just try it it has even free shipping [ubuntulinux.org] .

apt-get update.... (1)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546830)

Or you can just use synaptic.

zen is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546833)

I have used Zen in its various forms since it was managewise. i once tried the m$ offering (SMS ?) and realised at once there was no competition.

Its a shame that Novell solutions that work are overlooked by people in favour of m$ offerings that dont deliver....
I would like a FOSS solution tho !

cfengine (3, Informative)

ALecs (118703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546836)

I've used GNU cfengine for automated updates at a company I used to work for. Basically, you write rules about how the system shoudl look and cfengine enforces them.

However, we used to automate updates, apply system patches and rebuild the world if necessary. With about 5 lines changed to a single server, I could force all the workstations to re-install themselves overnight.

We also used this system to push out passwd file updates (poor-man's centralized auth).

http://www.cfengine.org/ [cfengine.org]

There's no need... (0, Redundant)

The Jabberwock (882129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546846)

...to update any software aboard the Enterprise. Haven't you heard? She's been decommissioned.

Re:There's no need... (0, Offtopic)

The Jabberwock (882129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547003)

People should really check the timestamps on things before they apply the REDUNDANT label. Five minutes really isn't long enough a period to justify this. The previous post along the same lines as mine wasn't visible at the time I began my reply.

Zenworks for Linux/RedCarpet (5, Interesting)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546849)

Zenworks for Desktops (ie Windows) is now a pretty advanced and mature product. It works pretty damn well. Zenworks for Linux is pretty immature by comparison. I've seen Novell making LOTS of noise about it, but then again, they would. From what I've seen though, its the only enterprise-grade software from a major vendor to offer a central control system. Most others are very fragmented.

W0t? (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546851)

What about apt? apt-proxy [sourceforge.net] ? apt torrent [sianka.free.fr] , if you don't want to hammer your servers?

Seriously, why would anyone *doubt* that delivering software is much better than linux? If there's something wrong in windows, is software packaging and delivery. Did you realized how you 3rd party programs don't have methods to update automatically? (hell, lots of programs even need to be uninstalled by hand before installing the new version, no "upgrade" support)

In Linux, you have things like APT. With APT, you can update ALL your software, not just the a few Microsoft apps. You can configure it like tou want, adding several lines from different servers in your sources.list, setting priorities in apt.conf, use P2P to automate it with a cron job. We are years ahead of Microsoft in this are, IMNSHO.

hmmm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546858)

I thought they cancelled Enterprise? What is there to update?

Oh wait.. that enterprise...

Same boat (5, Insightful)

Jett (135113) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546859)

I'm in the same boat where I work. I'm trying to get Firefox officially supported, the biggest sticking point is the lack of an easy method to push updates. I think this is one of the biggest reasons Firefox isn't widely deployed in the corporate environment yet, sure it's easy to install it yourself and update it yourself - but that's not a solution in a controlled environment.

Re:Same boat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546931)

How about.. www.frontmotion.com/Firefox

Re:Same boat (1)

whoppers (307299) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547060)

I'm not that much of a techie anymore, especially on the latest *nix, but couldn't you just deny internet access to configurations that aren't up to date with the latest "approved" configuration. This way you could force folks to install the updates themselves and maybe *gasp* take responsibility for their actions and learn a little about computers.

Fix their computer once, you'll be fixing it for life. Teach them to fix it themselves and they'll either quit using computers or never talk to you again.

Gentoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546862)

emerge --sync emerge -uD world

Solutions... (1)

cthrall (19889) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546867)

At a former job, we were moving to an internal RPM server that updated itself via a trusted external source...you could also run a local YUM [duke.edu] server.

Unsure from your post... (1)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546873)

...if you're talking about Linux desktops, Windows desktops or both.

If Linux, then follow the advice of the poster who told you to use Debian -- its package management is, IMNSHO, The Best, Ever! (tm) for Unix. If you can't go with Debian, then look at using rsync. We use that here (maybe 50 FreeBSD workstations and servers), and it's great: add stuff to The One True Machine and it shows up the next morning. We synchronize the usual suspects this way: /usr/local, /usr/X11R6.

If Windows...well, I presume you've got AD or some such. We don't (I'm trying to get away w/o a MS server in the house), and I've just come across wpkg [sourceforge.net] . Looks pretty good, with two caveats:

  1. You need silent installations of things. MSIs or silent .exes are good, anything with a window is bad.
  2. The documentation is most charitably described as "scant". (Hoping to add to it at some point.)
Initial tests are pretty damned promising, though, and it works when run over SSH -- you don't need to be logged in, standing in front of the computer, or any of that nonsense. Almost makes me think of Windows as a real OS.

Re:Unsure from your post... (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547052)

Thanks for the info on wpkg. It drives me nuts that I can install the new firefox on a server and rsynch it out to the linux machines, but I have to wander from machine to machine for the windows installs. I dunno if wpkg can automate this, but maybe it can automate some of our other installs.

Totally obvious (2, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546878)

Pay 15K per year to have a working supported enterprise management solution, or

Pay 45K per year to hire someone to manage a homegrown house of cards "solution" based on rsync, rpm, apt-get, crontabs and other such industry stalwarts.

I think the choice is clear!

Re:Totally obvious (2, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547043)

Pay 45K per year to hire someone to manage a homegrown house of cards "solution" based on rsync, rpm, apt-get, crontabs and other such industry stalwarts.

While I agree that the 3X differential in cost may be too high for this person's institution just to migrate, the "house of cards" comment is laughable. Centralized software management has been done successfully for years on *nix platforms and is done for a much lower cost than what you cite in yorur comments.

But we also manage large *nix server farms for research and maintain Solaris, AIX, HP-UNIX and other varieties of non-Microsoft OSs. The incremental cost of adding Linux administration for our workstations is a 1/4 of what you cite.

As always, YMMV.

Re:Totally obvious (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547089)

the "house of cards" comment is laughable.

Well, in my experience most of the stuff that's tied together with little scripts, general purpose utilities and dependencies tends to be brittle, even on Unix. Perhaps most importantly, it tends to be mostly unmaintainable.

The incremental cost of adding Linux administration for our workstations is a 1/4 of what you cite.

Yes, but it sounds like you already have an infrastructure in place. I didn't get that from the submission.

Re:Totally obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12547088)

You've GOT to be kidding (or inexperienced).

Managing software installs on any kind of Unix is much simpler than doing so on Windows, simply because of the enforced split between user-owned files and centrally-controlled files. For workstations, a single admin should be able to maintain thousands of Linux/Unix workstations, with the limit actually being not software-maintenance but hardware-maintenance.

Today's tools make self-updating systems robust and easy to set up. The posters above made very good, very robust suggestions - yum, apt-get, rsync. Those three separate solutions are highly reliable, very simple, and very robust. They are not a "house of cards" and the work involved in maintaining and updating a few applications certainly shouldn't keep any qualified admin busy.

In the case of Redhat/CentOS, the big ones (Open Office and Firefox) are already included in the distribution, so updates require no work at all.

The original poster, however, did not make it clear whether he's looking to use FOSS software for the OS as well, or just for the applications.

Updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546880)

I work at a school district and we use Scriptlogic Desktop Authority for mapping drives, printers, configuring email profiles and managing windows updates. Maybe this is what you are looking for - im not sure....

www.scriptlogic.com

What a shameless plug - and i dont even get anything for it..

I would think very carefully (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546884)

before venturing into the unknown with a system that currently works for the sake of saving a few thousand dollars. If the savings were greater or there was areadily accessible tried and test means then go for it. But for the sake of a few grand, if it works I would leave well enough alone.

I just updated FF on a couple hundred macs... (0, Redundant)

mattyohe (517995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546886)

in about 10 minutes.

Re:I just updated FF on a couple hundred macs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546942)

Umm...good for you. Are you expecting to get a cookie?

How does this help the poster? Or, for that matter, anyone?

Please think also "free software on WINDOWS"!!! (2, Insightful)

Heraklit (29346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546888)

Befor you all start shouting about a Debian repository and mounting /usr/local/from-server, please consider:

The question is most probably about updating free software on Windows desktops!

Re:Please think also "free software on WINDOWS"!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12547055)

The obvious answer is VB SendKeys, and one confused user wondering why his pc is jumping around on it's own.

Re:Please think also "free software on WINDOWS"!!! (1)

Chemicalscum (525689) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547069)

No ! He talked about using Novell Desktop Linux.

$15,000 fo 200+ Desktops (1)

mikejz84 (771717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546889)

$15,000 for that many desktops seems....well...very reasonable. I can understand you wanting to move to a FOSS, but in the end most of your students and faculty are use to Microsoft crap (I mean software...) and the price seems fair as compared to headaches of users when they don't get it.

Wow! How things have changed! (1)

PSargent (188923) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546907)

It used to be that Microsoft could never be considered for "enterprise" (I HATE that word) type instalations becuase there was no way that software could be centrally managed.

Now we have questions asking how you do it on a unix. You do it the same way it's been done for decades, and that's to have a central reposistory which is mounted by all workstations. You install and run your software to/from here.

Main problem is no package manager that I know of is able to cope with such a concept :rolleyes:, so you have to get your hands dirty.

Can someone say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546916)

...up2date? The RedHat tool that's been around forever and automagically updates systems to the latest version of whatever?

MS Shop (1)

BenTheManager (723975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546917)

I also run a small MS shop, servicing about 150 desktops and about 15 servers, all MS.

I too have been looking to make a migration, but there is no straight forward solution.

We also use SUS and Group Policy to push updates and security settings.

If a migration was to be feasable, a stepped approach would have to be taken.

First start changing client apps on Windows desktop, then change desktop OS. Such as Firefox for IE, Openoffice for MS Office. It would be very helpful to be able to use Group Policy and SUS for maintaining those apps!

Same on server side, port .Net apps to Mono running on Apache on Windows (yikes!) than move OSs. The other option would be to port the app and run on new server. Course, one of the apps has been done with Java, so no probs there. :)

I know I can run Samba for shares and printers and the like, but what about services like MS Exchange. Apps will have to be moved from MS SQL Server to Postgres or the likes.

Big job! Plenty of costs involved. Then there's training! Talk about vendor lockin.

Re:MS Shop (1)

j-cloth (862412) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547038)

Am I missing something completely obvious? Why are you not using group policy to push out whatever software you want? Group Policies do not have to be 100% MS.

apt-get upgrade <list>? (0, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546918)

Debian's apt-get lets me crontab an 'apt-get upgrade', but that upgrades every package in the system. The "Debian way" seems to be to maintain a local package repository, in the versions I want, and upgrade against that. But how do I automate the upgrade of just those packages? Is there any apt tool that lets me maintain just a local list of packages to maintain at the "latest" version (including dependencies, of course)?

downgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546922)

Wasn't the Enterprise's software downgraded from "Enterprise" to "ToS"????

yeah I'm trolling today... I'll admit it.

I think everyone misunderstood what is being asked (1)

dyfet (154716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546924)

I gather what is being asked is how to manage updates of specific free software packages (firefox, openoffice) that are deployed on a microsoft windows platform. I see lots of people mentioning apt-get and such, but I don't believe that is what is being asked here.

Zenworks 7 (5, Informative)

G Money (12364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546929)

We currently use Zenworks 6.6 to manage ~2000 NLD and SLES systems for system patching. It works great for that purpose. It doesn't offer more than very basic inventory management and reporting yet. I say yet because I'm on the beta for the next version and it is amazing. It makes managing Linux dekstops and servers ridiculously easy. If you've used Wen for Windows, they've basically pulled all the same functionality into the Linux realm. Imaging, patching, configuration management, security policies, reporting, inventory/asset management, remote access (vnc or ssh), everything is all wrapped into one bundle. Some of the other pieces we use are at our site [suserd.com] if you're interested in other open source and commercial packages we use. It's not much more than basic marketing material at this point but feel free to ask any questions.

This has got "duh" written all over it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546933)

Let's assume you have 300 PC's, that's $0.96 per desktop per week for IT infrastructure which appears to be working well. If you were having all sorts of problems I'd suggest otherwise but given the information you've supplied I'd argue that your dislike of Microsoft (or preference for FOSS) is getting in the way of your ability to think logically. Remember the first rule of engineering: it it ain't broke don't fix it

it's all free, built in, and automagic everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546938)

we are in the process of moving all of our i.t. infrastructure to ubuntu for clients and debian for servers.

we can purchase ubuntu support services, and finding support for debian is fairly straight forward as well, although we have inhouse expertise.

all 16 000 debian applications are updated for security patches automatically, as are all 2000 - 5000 supported apps under ubuntu.

it's all built in, it's all basically click and go, and you pay for none of it.

it is highly recommended to run your own mirrors however, if you have that many machines you will want one of your own mirrors pulling in from the debian and ubuntu repositories, then distributing the patches to the rest of your desktops automatically from there.

there are also push/pull components you can install, usually those require linux profficiency, but just incase some microserf tries to tell you linux doesn't have 'push patch' capability they are wrong. it's also free.

don't forget that setting up automated backups for your linux workstations is also available, there are many backup utilitys, some like bacula are enterprise class and free as well.

obviously labour costs money, but once this stuff is setup, it require little to no maintenance.

- your friendly neighbourhood cio

Software in the Enterprise... (0, Redundant)

slapout (93640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546943)

...I thought that show was cancelled...oh wait, nevermind....

Firefox & GPedit & firefox.msi (2, Informative)

kbrosnan (880121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546946)

FirefoxADM is a way of allowing centrally managed locked and/or default settings in Firefox via Group Policy and Administrative Templates in Active Directory Latest news about FirefoxADM at http://spaces.msn.com/members/in-cider/ [msn.com]
http://sourceforge.net/projects/firefoxadm [sourceforge.net]

Unoffical Firefox MSI builds can be found at
http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/ [frontmotion.com]

Official Firefox Msi installers will be avaible in the 1.1 release nightly msi builds can be found at http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/nig htly/latest-trunk/ [mozilla.org] the nighlies are not ready for general use yet, but are availbe for testing.

Google is your friend (4, Informative)

NewbieV (568310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546948)

This website [frontmotion.com] has downloadable MSI packages that will integrate Firefox into AD and GPO, as well as a howto.

This thread [oooforum.org] will show you how to do the same for OO.o, but only for the 2.0 beta version.

cfengine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12546953)

If you manage 1,000s of Linux machines and are not using CFengine, you have not been enlightened.
CFengine wiki [cfwiki.org]
Allow it to use the built-in package management utilities for your distribution, but manage it from a central location.

.zip files (1)

Symb (182813) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546961)

Naive question. You might want to smack your windows admins into reading the books they use to make their shelves look informed.

Use active directory assigned installs. Use zap files and batch files if there is no MSI. Set an upgrade policy in the installation. One GPO per installation/upgrade.

Next on slashdot, CEO wants to be CIO, but there is no 'I' in team. What are other slashers doing about the missing 'I'?

More journalistic slobber from the net's finest sensationalists.

I know about Zen (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546973)

> Is anyone using Zen with Novell Desktop Linux?

Yes, I am. What I can say is that Zen on Linux, is kind-of slow, not as agile and feature rich as its Windows counterpart. All in all, it provides a good first step since improvements will always be done.

I assume you're still using MSFT desktops. (1)

TheLinuxWarrior (240496) | more than 9 years ago | (#12546979)

So I would say that you should either create MSI packages of OpenOffice and FireFox (and of course, whatever other FOSS apps you want to use), then deploy via GPO, or perhaps consider using SMS for app deployment.

I know that my last two assignments have been large organizations and both have used SMS.

I read "Updating Free Software on the Enterpise" (2, Interesting)

k_stamour (544142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547000)

Visons of Picard beating the tar out of Data and the bridge screaming something about "Blue screen of death no more!....Compile me Kernel 18.2.3e!!!!! MAKE IT SO!"

Enterprise management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12547017)

Larger corporations use Solaris in combination with Tivoli and BMC CTSA (Control-SA).

Or they use thin clients like SunRay that boot off of a central server (usually a Solaris server).

Updates (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547026)

This is only really a question in the Microsoft world. In the Unix world it's old hat. Possibilities:

  1. Have a central fileserver with all your software on it, have all the workstations mount that central store to a known location and add the appropriate directories to the PATH (or use them as the target of desktop menus and links). Then all you have to do is update the central server and all workstations automatically see the updates. Extra points for the small scripts to insure that each workstation is logged out and the central server unmounted before the update and that everything's remounted after the update.
  2. Remember that in Unix the console is just another terminal. Have a script that ssh's out to each workstation in turn and performs the update on the workstation
  3. Remember that in X11 the local display is no different from a remote display. ssh out to each workstation, run the GUI installer and install the update on each workstation from the comfort of your desk. Then write a nastygram to your software vendor asking why they insist on a manual GUI for installation and why can't they provide a nice scriptable installer?
  4. Set up a cron job on each workstation that will poll a central server for updates at regular intervals and update any packages found. Your workstation distribution probably includes an update utility (eg. up2date, rpm --freshen, apt-get and so on).

ZenWorks (1)

Azul (12241) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547028)

I was about to suggest you use Zenworks right before I read you mention it in your question. I would advise you to give it a try: it was designed precissely to provide the functionality you seem to be looking for.

Not only it lets you automatically update software (other posts have pointed out that you can trivially do this in Debian-based distributions with a cron job) but it will also help you easily define default settings for each application and group of users.

Disclaimer: I work at Novell.

There is pyhton... (1)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547056)

We really don't know what your network, servers or desktops look like. I know that Sharp in the US has a large installtion of Slackware based servers. IBM uses Linux, and so do a lot of universities I know that the SuSe Enterprise edition is really great and you can use a local repository for all the updates or use another site etc... Let's say you ahve 20% servers and 70% dekstops and 10% laptops. The servers can be updated by using something called CSM which can run comnads and do installs etc. It uses ssh to connect to the machine and send the commnads etc.. Or you can write your own tool using perl or bash or python. Now for desktops you can have some sort of network install image and everytime you need to update them you can have them copy the image from the server to the local machine, or use scripting to set up or use some sort of cron set of jobs to check if they are updated available on an nfs mounted disk ( shared file system ) and install the packages. And laptops can be doen on a per user basis or have scripts that check if they are on the site lan and if they are run a script for updates and backups. Etc... In college I used to admin about 35 servers and 80 desktops and 40 latops and all of them ran Linux. Servers and desktops would get backed up every night and updated only when there was a critical fix using a specific perl script on an NFS moutned disk. And then there was the special / specific apps directory that was nfs mounted and was updated by hand etc. And the 40 laptops would all check when they were plugged in if they were on the site lan, needed and update and then they would update themselves. Now obviously all this was not secure, you can run any mallicious code if you code write to the common nfs server that held the repository and the scripts etc... I would say if you have a very big installation 1000+ computers I would reccomend you use a commercial software that does this sort of work. If you are small about 100 computers you can use an in house set of scripts ( get those students to write something ) or buy a commercial application. Over all there are many ways to do this sort of task the main thing is to have a good idea and knowledge of everything that is required. Then and only then do you design it. I mean you can do the whole thing for less than what you are doing now. If you have a good set of script writers you can do a lot of neat stuff. If you could give a better representation of the services and the type of computers you have things can be a lot of easier. Updating FOSS is the easy part making it all work nicely and integrating is the true essence of insanity :)

Firefox MSI (1)

asv108 (141455) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547084)

If you want to continue to use windows and windows deployment tools, there is an msi package for firefox. [frontmotion.com]

Is it worth it? (0)

demon_2k (586844) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547091)

I don't think it's worth upgrading free software in entorprise.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Specially with linux, newer package versions may cause more problems to someone who wants a stable and/or secure system. Unless the new packagas have some new features you cannot live without, or has bug fixes. It's not worth touching. Entorprise value stability and security over almost all alse.

The same way it has always been done... (2, Insightful)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12547093)

Unix upgrades have been centrally managed since some time before the dinosaurs, using tools like rsync and NFS shares.

Nowadays, with RPM and DEB package managers, you also have the option to put all packages on a central FTP server and then schedule an update using the native update utility eg. apt, rpm or urpmi.

So, my reaction to anyone claiming that there is 'no support' for Unix, or that Unix is 'hard to manage' or that Unix 'doesn't have enterprise tools'. Is one of incredulity - like where have you been the past 500 years, man??? Sleeping???

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