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I'm asking cause I've got a bunch of devices (ARM as well as x86 / AMD64), and I'm thinking of unifying the operating systems on them (for ease of management). I mean to install debian (stable or testing/sid is a bit of a tricky question - but not the one I'm asking here!), and I was wondering what disadvantages it would have to "simply" install the identical packages to all machines / keep the packages in sync across machines (I realise this might not work across architectures - this too is not my question here though..).

So - beside the obvious "waste" of disk space, and the added nodes on the filesystem (and the increased messiness), what disadvantages would this "syncing" of my installations have ?

PS - just to round this off - the advantages I'd hope for are: ease of management (ie in the same vein as putting the same OS on all of the devices), and having any applications I use available on all systems (at the snap of a finger :P - ie without having to install manually at times).

Thanks (in advance), and looking forward to what people have to say!

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Some disadvantages I can think of are:

  • conflicting packages: for example you are forbidden to install both postfix and sendmail on the same Debian system.
  • Packages that start servers by default (like ntp). This will expose unnecessary servers on the systems that don't require those servers. Sure, you can disable them whilst leaving the package installed, but it seems riskier and more work.
  • Lack of some packages under certain architectures preventing a fully unified installation — you've already thought of this one.
  • Tight disk space on smaller (embedded?) systems can't accommodate all of the packages.

+1 to unified cookie-cutter system installations in general though!

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