[Techtalk] Keeping Linux servers up to date

Raven Alder raven at oneeyedcrow.net
Mon Apr 7 18:02:37 EST 2003

Heya --

	For the sysadmins in the house... I'm just wondering if there is
a better way to handle software updates than I'm currently doing.

	At my day job, I admin a wide variety of Linux servers.
Everything from ancient to modern, with all sorts of things in between.
Many different distributions, many different flavors.  I have some
control over how new distros are installed, but not a whole heck of a
lot on what's already up and running in the lab.  And some of it is
oooold.  Like "Red Hat 6" old.

	Given that scenario, what do you think the best way to deal with
software updates and package management is?  I'm normally a "compile and
install from source" or apt-get sort of girl, but there are a number of
Red Hat and Mandrake boxes already in the lab, and I wonder if my "nuke
it from orbit, build everything by hand" approach is less scalable than
doing things by RPM for those boxes.  Also, the lab that these boxes are
in is not accessible to the Internet, so automated apt-get updates,
up2date, et cetera are not feasible.  Also also, many of these boxes do
not have compilers on them already (currently I'm staring down the
barrel of an old Mandrake box that's still on libc5 and has no compiler
and no ssh client, but needs to be updated anyhow).  So that makes
compiling from source somewhat more painful, as the compiler has to be
added first, and trying to find a gcc rpm for really old Linuxes is

	What I've been doing to date is pulling the tar.gzs and tar.bz2s
down to my 80 gig hard drive Linux desktop, and keeping a local
repository of source, Solaris packages, and rpms.  Then I can ftp/scp at
need from my machine here to whatever device needs updating.  (My
desktop is running an ssh server and a chrooted ftp server, both only
accessible from the RFC 1918-space network here.)  Is there a better way
to do this?  And what would you suggest for new Linux installs, given
that these boxes are supposed to be standard-esque test beds like Linux
servers that would be found in the wild?

	Any advice, commentary, pointers to good sources of rpms and
software updates, et cetera is appreciated.


"And I thought to myself, 'What one word absolutely means no, red light, whoa,
 stop?'  And I knew.  'Microsoft!", I said."
  -- Rick, on choice of safewords

More information about the Techtalk mailing list