[kwlug-disc] Centralized configuration tools

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Tue Nov 24 15:55:57 EST 2009

Paul Nijjar wrote, On 11/24/2009 1:11 AM:
> Neat. I still don't understand the configuration management wars, but

The wars exist because there is no magic wand that you can wave on 
your computer to magically grok your network. Let alone have that 
magic wand spawn sub-magic wand subroutines that go out and sub-wand 
every other device on your network to compel cooperation with yours.

At least until we have end to end homogeneous environments. e.g. Your 
computer, the switch it connects to, your receptionist's computer, the 
router both go through, and so on and so forth. i.e. Until everything 
runs Windows. And the only reason I say that is in that scenario MS is 
the central decider of the 5W's of how to manage something and can 
embed the necessary hooks in their OS's. If it were that prevalent, 
you could substitute Red Hat or Debian for Windows in the above. I 
expect you have already encountered how such is unfortunately not 
true, with SNMP implementation across all devices.

So, ultimately, you are trying to bring a bunch of disparate devices 
and software under one single management umbrella, with varying 
degrees of inconsistent success, frequently depending upon common 
agreement of what to implement, and whether it happens or not. KDE vs. 
Gnome is an example. And a rather more successful example, at that, 
than most. KDE/Gnome is pretty universally implemented 
(implementable?) across Linux distros, probably many *nixes (e.g. Mac) 
(?), and is making inroads into Windows. I'm not expecting AIX or 
IBM's mini's / mainframes any time soon though. (Let alone the 
management thereof.) Perhaps a similar example to what you are 
observing are the various virtualization 'clients' out there 
currently. [Especially when there used to be only 2 or 3.]

Part of the problem then, inherent to the above, is if what you're 
looking to capture on a remote machine does not have embedded within 
the OS the exposure of it, you have to install a client piece of 
software on the foreign computer, and that creates its own logistical 
issues. Especially as you're usually remote, and must be root to do 
so. Only root having the necessary permissions to interact at the 
lowest hardware / service levels to extract events and / or extract 
and impact configuration.

And, there is always debate as to what to implement, let alone that 
the world is a moving target. e.g. Home Servers - MythBuntu and LMCE 
are arguably both home servers, yet don't 100% share feature sets. 
There is no common agreement as to what is, and what is in a 'home 
server.' Moreover (I'm supposing), LMCE being older, added Myth and 
Asterisk to its home control functionality, while MythBuntu built on 
Myth instead of home control, and added Asterisk to it. Home control 
not being any part of MythBuntu's feature set. [Due less that they 
don't agree it should be part of a home server, than lack of resources 
to implement it, and, of course, even in home control systems you 
(re)encounter this lack of common definition and implementation. A 
light switch not even having any concept of temperature that a 
thermostat does, and the light switch not even willing to understand 
why temperature would be useful to anything - temperature not being 
part of a light switch's world view.]

Put another way, we have "configuration management wars" for the same 
reasons we don't have world wide 10-digit phone dialling. Although 
they're working on it. The schemes to do so being kludgey and 
confusing. Or, for the same reasons we're not already all running IPv6.


If only I had a magic wand, the world would be a better place. By my 
definition, only, of course.

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