Day 3: Conference: VACM and SystemImager

Greg Pryzby, from VA Linux Systems, gave his experience with supporting machines with the help of VACM and SystemImager.


The two issues with server maintenance that Greg tackled were loading lots of servers and remotely controlling machines that are hosted in collocation facilities. The tools that VA has written for that purpose are SystemImager and VACM.

Now, you still have to rack up the machines (unless you pay someone to do it for you :-)).
However, you now only have to install a couple of machines, one that contains the server image and the other one that is a serial port server.

SystemImager is based on rsync and is an equivalent of ghost on steroids for linux. It's based on pull technology and it supports loading about 20 machines right now, more once multicast is supported.
Loading can be done with PXE (network), a file on a hard drive, a floppy or a CD-Rom.
Updates are handled by updating one server, and updating the server image from it. The result can then be propagated to all the clients.

VA Cluster Manager (VACM) connects into a server management serial port on the servers, and lets you control the machine (power/reset and bios) with Intelligent Power Management Interface (IPMI).

You can of course get console access if the IP network fails, and in addition to power control, get sensor data. In addition, modules were added to see system resources.

Both tools are freely available on Sourceforge: SystemImager and VACM

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