Pieter Barrezeele, X-Tend

The lack of a freely available centralised software to manage software installations on large homogeneous deployments is a problem for the administrators of such deployments as keeping such a deployment can be very time consuming and prone to errors because of the repetitive work.

To tackle that problem we're building system that is using some existing open source tools such as APT, Python, Jabber/XMPP and consequently, XML. The goal is to end up with a platform independent setup: by using the APT libraries, we gain the support for RPM-based, Debian-based systems and even Solaris-based systems. With this system, the managed network will be inventorised, can be kept up to date and individual machines or groups of machines in the network can be furnished with new software installations.

The setup will consist of a central server containing a web interface, a message driving engine (jabber) and a database component. For very large setups these three setups can be decoupled. For distributed setups, the message driving setup can be replicated to different networks (for a secured DMZ setup, for instance). On the client side, a small python agent will contact the jabber server to communicate device info for the inventory and listen for incoming commands such as upgrade requests.

In the current status, we have an experimental but functional Proof-of-Concept client agent to which installation, removal, upgrade and configuration settings can be pushed.

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