Originally Published: Thursday, 13 April 2000 Author: Scott Nipp
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Software Administration on Linux?

The most efficient and stable operating system ever created would be nothing without applications. Maintaining a large variety of applications in a corporate environment can be challenging to say the least, however, Linux has some wonderful features that can help to greatly simplify this job.

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Applications are the heart and soul of what any operating system is really about. Can the operating system run the applications that you need? The most efficient and stable operating system ever created would be nothing without applications. Maintaining a large variety of applications in a corporate environment can be challenging to say the least, however, Linux has some wonderful features that can help to greatly simplify this job.

Eliminate the need to install and maintain an application on every system on your network. Many operating systems require that an application be installed on the local system in order to function properly. This means that you have to not only install the software on every system, but also when an upgrade comes out? Linux, like Unix in general, offers you the ability to install an application on a server and then simply run the application straight off of that server. Unlike some other systems, the application resides on the network resource, but is actually run from the local system meaning that as the number of users increases the application performance doesn't decrease dramatically.

By having a single installation of an application troubleshooting and upgrading is greatly simplified as you now have only a single install to worry about. This type of software installation also allows you to make the software read-only, which reduces the chances that a user may inadvertently damage the software in some way. This all boils down to one application, one installation.

The various scripting utilities that come with most Linux distributions can also help to greatly simplify software administration. It is possible, and not overly difficult, to create a script that checks for, and downloads, software updates for any applications you wish. This would allow an administrator to arrive in the morning to find e-mail from his system notifying him that a new version of some application was downloaded last night. This does not necessarily mean that you may want to implement the new version immediately, only that you are made aware immediately.

This same type of scripting can be used to monitor web sites for news related to your various applications, security issues, performance tips, and more. Scripts can prove extremely useful in maintaining software in a business environment.

The scheduling utilities provided in Linux, namely "cron" and "at," can also be very useful in software administration. These utilities can allow you to perform software upgrades at low usage times, like 3:00 AM. This allows the administrator to upgrade a software package in the dead of night when the least number of users will be impacted.

Another common use of these utilities is to clean up garbage files that cannot only eat up disk space, but also impact system performance. Nightly or weekly searches in common locations for "core" files can also help to catch problems that users may not report. Suffice to say, these scheduling tools can prove to be a great boon to administrators in software maintenance.

Any operating system is only as good as the applications that are available for it. Furthermore, these applications must be able to meet your needs in order to make a specific operating system a viable alternative for your organization. Linux has some very popular and powerful applications available today, and more coming all the time. Linux also provides some very powerful tools and functionality to help you administer these applications. Software administration is just one more area in which Linux is able to hold its own next to the major commercial operating systems.

Scott Nipp is a Technical Solutions Consultant at Sprint Enterprise Network Services.

The views, information and opinions provided in this article are expressed and held solely by the author. Neither Sprint Enterprise Network Services nor Sprint Corporation or any of its affiliates assume any responsibility for any opinion or statement of fact presented in this article.





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