Small Linux workgroup-related questions


New Member
Feb 8, 2022
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I do some volunteer job in educational institution in my country as a part-time system admin, both for experience and for pleasure.
Currently we have a set of ~25 Centos 6 (partly v7) based workstations with some pretty 'strong' servers (16G RAM, 8 cores Xeon).
I have a set of questions like "what is a best practice ..." so I would appreciate if you could share your experience in that field.

1. Currently all workstations are managed through NIS. It is used for automatic volumes mounting (NFS with didactic materials, VM for tests and so on), auth, hosts resolution (/etc/hosts) and so on. Currently I plan migration to Oracle Linux as Centos 6 is really outdated, so I consider to change NIS to something more powerful with basically the same functionality as NIS also is pretty old. Is it a good idea to migrate from NIS to LDAP? What is used to control a set of Linux workstations like AD in MS does? What would you recommend to choose in order to control auth, mounts, hosts, groups for a group of purely Linux hosts? If not, does NIS has any web UI as only Webmin comes to my mind?

2. I need to make all workstations look alike as close as possible in order to have similar config on each machine. I managed to bash script a small helper for my daily routines, but are there any tools helpful with such tasks, when you need to execute the same action over a set of fixed machines? Tasks are simple, like scripts modification.

3. Is there any tool that can highlight changes in the current system different from clean installation or some 'golden image' installation? The point is in the config files (/etc/*). Basically I need to distinguish all differences students make in the workstation so I can be sure that it operates correctly. I know about rights, ownerships and so on, but there is some software that requires full rights (777) and it's config should remain intact during studies for at least a week. Now I am working with find utility, but may be there is something more sophisticated.

4. Just from your experience: is Centos 6.0 worth (and safe) to update to 6.10? I mean: is upgrade inside a 6* branch usually safe? I need to have some further tests about upgrade to 7 or 8 as there is some outdated technical software which I am not sure is 100% compatible with 7/8 version, but I want to get most of 6th branch at least. What do you think of Oracle as a substitution for Redhat/Centos - does it worth messing with it?

5. And at last (but not the least): sometimes I need to install some software with yum, and sometimes it conflicts with existing things. Is it possible to make a snapshot with yum/dnf, so I could revert to previous state simply, without uninstalling a big deal of garbage? Yum/DNF does not support this, but may be there is a way?

Thank you!

I can't really help with your questions, But would remind you that Centos support is being dropped by RedHat/IBM and Centos 7 will be end of life in 2024 so now may be a good time for you to consider alternative OS's to replace Centos.
This page gives some suggestions.

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