must remember … most installation tools aren't that good

Autoyast, kickstart, …
All of them suffer from the “hey lets do it all for you”. Don’t get lured into this. Assume they are singing a siren’s song. I’ll argue that autoyast is lightyears ahead of anaconda by virtue of it not *^*&$^*&) forcing you to reboot the machine in the event of a control file error, you can recover.
But the point I need to stress, despite (likely) vehement protests to the contrary … One should spend as little time as possible inside distro configurators, and push as much of this work to outside tools as possible.
I am so happy I developed our finishing scripts. They are enabling me to do things that are, basically, impossible to do in these environments.
They aren’t perfect, not trying to be all things to all people. But they get the job done, cleanly, efficiently, and most importantly, they give you a real mechanism to debug/retry them. Unlike anaconda (one should never EVER under any circumstances, volunteer to drop into a python debugger in the middle of an install … never ever).
These tools are quite useful in cloud creation/setups, as well as our storage clusters, and compute clusters. Work on all distros. If we pushed it a little, we could get them to work in windows HPC (but we just don’t see demand for that).

2 thoughts on “must remember … most installation tools aren't that good”

  1. I agree they can be a mixed bag. Have been working with Ubuntu’s implementation of kickstart and Debian’s pre-seed for auto installing a small cluster (50 nodes) and while both demand a certain amount of trial and error (and some things just don’t work as documented) – they both all you to hook in arbitrary commands/scripts at the start and end of the install which are ideal for doing your own pre and post-install magic .. I’d agree this is the best way to go if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty.

  2. One approach I’ve found a great deal of success with is just doing a default install of the OS and then cleaning things up afterwards. Here we use Bcfg2 but you could use any other configuration management tool like Puppet or CFEngine and have them reconfigure the whole system for you.

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