If a new administration tool works as advertised, Ubuntu Linux may become much easier for businesses to install, manage and troubleshoot on an enterprise scale. The new tool, dubbed Landscape, arrives March 5 from Canonical.
I first heard about Landscape during the Ubuntu Live event in mid-2007. At the time, I speculated that it could become a great tool for managed service providers (MSPs) to remotely administer Ubuntu-based networks. I still think Landscape could eventually connect with MSPs, as I point out on MSPmentor.net, our sister site.
But first and foremost, Landscape strives to make Ubuntu desktops and servers far easier for network administrators to manage.
According to a press release, Canonical says Landscape is designed to offer:
- Enhanced system management. For instance, administrators can see a package inventory for each computer; and they can install, upgrade, or remove packages from one or more computers.
- Improved system monitoring. To wit, Landscape monitors system health and performance, and graphs that data to help administrators pinpoint bottlenecks or other problem areas.
- Improved system support: Landscape, for instance, can exchange information with Canonical’s support team to help diagnose and resolve trouble tickets.
I can’t say if Landscape works as advertised. On paper, it reminds me quite a bit of Microsoft’s original Systems Management Server (SMS) push in the mid-1990s, which was designed to move the world more rapidly to 32-bit Windows desktops.
SMS hit quite a few bumps in its early years. We’ll see if Landscape enjoys a smoother reception within businesses.
I wouldn’t compare with MS SMS, which tries to build extra functionality which doesn’t exist in Windows. Landscape more centralizes existing functionalities (e.g. package management).
As for me, Landscape is too basic: besides centralizing management, it doesn’t offer extra functionalities, like e.g. a central management directory.
Serge you’re absolutely right that Landscape does not add new technology to an individual Ubuntu system. So you can “add users” on an individual system, and you can add users through Landscape. But the point is to provide an easy to use and efficient system for administrators who are managing a number of machines, not a single laptop.
Take security updates as an example. It’s perfectly possible to remotely connect into say 25 laptops and update them. If any of them are with road-warriors then you can probably call them and ask them to connect to the Internet so that you can access them. Landscape is designed to make the whole process much more efficient, it tells you what updates are available and then applies them without the administrator needing to do anything. If a user isn’t online it will wait for them to pop up and immediately tell the system about the required updates.
Steve, I wholehartly agree with you. It is a plus. But not a big one. If I really have to manage that many hosts, I can easily write some scripts that will handle this.
My thinking is a bit that bringing out Landscape as it is now, is a little of a missed opportunity to deliver something really new. The extra value doesn’t make me want to pay for such a service.
I’m not saying Landscape is a bad product. Just that it doesn’t give me enough extra value.
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Uh, is this re-inventing the wheel?
I’ve been using Webmin for system administration for a few years now, and have never had a problem, or found it missing a function that I needed. Webmin has it all – Apache2, Postfix, mySQL, PostgreSQL, etc., etc.
AND, clustering with grouping for cron jobs, user management, apt installs, reboots, etc., etc. Clusters also include monitoring all servers, etc.
ALL with full security running in its own HTTPS – no Apache2 required.
AND, yes – there is a DEB install, although after the 1st time everything is upgraded directly from the Webmin site.
There’s really a lot! – Take a look at http://www.webmin.com
I think this is a brilliant idea. Not only to make life a bit easier for those who administer a higher than normal volume of boxes. But also that now Ubuntu will have an actual product that can be shown to people.
The difference is, Landscape is a Ubuntu product, it’ll have the branding. A bit like when I do my handout of Ubuntu CD’s for people to try. It’s always more successful when I hand out the official Ubuntu ones that I get from their brilliant ShipIt website. Compared to handing out a few burnt CD’s with me scribbling “Ubuntu” on it with a CD pen. It’s the same software, why should it matter. But it does.
So, as much as webmin can do all the same things. Ubuntu isn’t claiming to have reinvented the wheel. They have released their own product that can do it, with their own branding and not some other projects ideas. This will allow better integration as it will fit into the system better.
Regardless of how revolutionary (or not) it is, it’s one more step forward in providing a solution that people don’t have to go and read about and discover for themselves. I’m sure the product will be well marketed from Canonical.
Thanks for reading