System Installation Suite Massive Installation for Linux
The first hurdle that a user or administrator must overcome when migrating to Linux is the installation. In the not so distant past, this was a near Herculean task. Today, with a myriad of Linux distributions available, many focusing on the end user experience, installation of a single machine has become much easier. In some instances it is even Mom proof. This has given rise to a new issue, however, as these methods of installation tend to be distribution specific, and tend to have a single machine view of the world.
System Installation Suite attempts to solve the massive installation problem, i.e. how does an administrator handle installation and maintenance of hundreds or thousands of nodes at once, in Linux. The solution is agnostic of Linux distribution and architecture, and presents a uniform interface on every Linux platform. It does this through the creation of installation images, which are built on a centralized server somewhere. These images are then deployed over the network to client machines. The use of installation images, which are in fact fully instantiated Linux systems stored on an image server, gives rise to some interesting possibilities for system management and maintenance. The design process that went into System Installation Suite, and the possibilities that it provides for will be discussed further in this paper.