In another of the “How do you do _____ with Linux?” series of questions, I have been doing presentations and having lots of discussions about how can you manage more than a few (10-25) Linux machines, (typically servers) ahem, intelligently.

Styles of Managing Systems

It’s all about styles and methods. First think of the two main management “styles” that people typically use:

  • Command Line – Oh Sweet Mystery of…., er, ahem. Cough. Yes, it’s no secret that I use and love the command line a great deal, but it’s just so darned useful! When you do something every day the same way, repeatedly over and over, it’s supposed to be turned into a script, the Universe demands that you know how to write a script.
  • Graphical User Interface – Yes, there are times when the GUI is the best thing, new users, something you haven’t done for 3 weeks and don’t expect to do again for another considerable stretch, that’s when a GUI wizard-thing is very handy.

These styles are just that, a style of managing Linux machines, you can use whichever makes the most sense for you, but remember that but almost more important are the “methods” of managing Linux machines.

Methods Of Managing Systems

SUSE Linux Enterprise offers built-in 3 methods for managing systems remotely

  • 1 to 1 – This is you at a console session using ssh or VNC to remotely connect to a machine and run tools that are resident on that machine. This can work for up to about 25 or so production machines, but doing something repeatedly on box after box gets tiresome, and errors will likely occur.
  • 1 to many – This is you sitting in front of a console session where a management tool like Zenworks Linux Management (ZLM) or a competing product’s management interface with the capability to have an agent on the managed machines (physical and virtual) that lets you do remote console/GUI, software management, imaging, patching/fixing/upgrading all from that single seat.
  • Orchestration – The ability to apply an overall management grid application that can provision, deploy, migrate and manage tasks to sets of virtual and physical machines that have an agent installed. The grid is fully and atomically configurable, ie: you can manage an individual machine’s tasks, or manage thousands of machines automatically.

I would recommend you take a look at the Zenworks Linux Management product, it’s a must-have for anyone who has SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hat systems, it can manage both easily.