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I'm considering a number of desktop distros for use in our office. It seems like SLED matches what I want more than any other distro, especially home user focused distros. In an attempt to learn more about it, I made a SUSE Studio account and got to playing just to learn what I can.

I have at least an above average amount of Linux experience. I run it on my home machines exclusively (running ArchLinux) and manage our Linux server at work just fine. My knowledge is a bit lacking in Linux server/workstation interactions, especially when it comes to SUSE (which I haven't used before).

Now my goal here is threefold:

  1. All workstations should be running an identical OS with identical software. This part seems easy. If I make a SUSE Studio appliance for all our machines and use that, mission accomplished.

  2. I should be able to make system-level changes remotely to all our machines at once (as opposed to SSHing them one by one). I haven't played with it much but I've read that YaST is designed to do such things?

  3. I want user information to be stored on our (non SUSE) server. This is where things get especially fuzzy for me. If each workstation's software is identical then in theory if the user's home folder is stored on the server, a user could log in from any machine on the network and have all their stuff right there. This also greatly simplifies the backup process since all user data is in one spot (/home on the server). I don't know if this is a bad idea or not but it seems really cool. In SUSE Studio I only saw options to manually add users so I don't know of SLED supports anything like this out of the box or not.

I'd appreciate if somebody could clear up my confusions here and point me down the right path to have smooth server-workstation integration in our office.

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my answer, which since I'm no suse or expert in any of the things I'm about to mention, is in comments. 1. sounds good? 2. have you looked at something like chef or puppet for changing multiple systems. 3. maybe a good use case for an ldap, kerberos, and nfs setup. –  xenoterracide Oct 31 '10 at 7:44
    
Yes, what xenoterracide proposes would be my approach, too. This is also what is used (nfs mounted /home, kerberos authorization, puppet for configs) in our university network with about 100 OpenSuse computer pool machines. –  fschmitt Oct 31 '10 at 20:11

1 Answer 1

  1. Installation of the same software is just half the way. You have to keep it the same over time (additional software, updates, service packs, ...). Therefor you could use some tools from SUSE. SMT (Subscription Management Tool) is the free version and ZENworks is the more costly option. When I'm right, both need a SUSE server to run on.

  2. You could use puppet or chef as already mentioned in the comments. Another option is a cluster shell or something like this, but this is only a solution for small environments and very little changes in the systems. Another way is to use ZENworks from SUSE when you want to spend the money. YaST is definitely no option for this.

  3. The comments already said nearly everything needed. One more point, would be automount, to get the user filesystems mounted.

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