auto configuration systems

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Xen
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auto configuration systems

Xen
I just want to ask here colloquially.

The promise of Linux is of course that you can modify your own system.

But if you do; you run into the issue of perpetuating your changes.

Keeping configuration alive through many installs is not very useful;
and hence you seek a way to regenerate config or to reapply it from some
config system that you design or use from someone else.

I am sure there are millions such systems in the world because everyone
pretty much develops his own thing :p.

But are there any well known such systems that you use?

For example I had a set of patches that would turn off systemd
cryptsetup because it doesn't support keyscripts; the installer script I
created for it would just check everything and the end result would be a
re-applying of all changes without destroying anything.

Because the script did all the checking, there was no headache for me.
But this was a one time thing, and you look into formalizing the process
so it doesn't take so much effort the next time. Then at some point you
have a system in which you declaratively can specify patches or
whatever, or changes, or commands, and you have a form of manifests and
you just run a script that checks all the manifests and runs all the
scripts and if you have this integrated very well it means that on a new
system you can just "run all manifests" and presto you have the same
system again.

One example is that in KDE (Kubuntu) there would be a problem with the
KWallet not realizing that there was no KDE4 wallet to migrate; but
still trying, and you required a manual config change to make it stop
nagging and all of these things can be very tiring to have to apply by
hand.

Other stuff may be installing a custom grub (if you have no package for
it yet) or typical services (ie. in /etc/systemd/system) that you design
for your system, or stuff in /etc/initramfs-tools/hooks, etc.

Many of these elements is stuff that stays with you over time. You can
manually back up those files (or create a file list you can feed to tar
and it will archive up all of these individual files or directories) or
you can also just recreate the files or copy them from some config
"unit" you have for regenerating system configs.

I have done at least in different situations:
- the tar list
- a single "redo config" script
- a manifest system (rudimentary)
- a script that can find and replace occurrances in an existing config.

And I know there are some that have developed these systems in-house and
are using them company-wide, for instances. Lately it seems to be about
yaml files? I don't know.

(I even at some point created a system that can automatically download
reliable persistent links on the internet in terms of (mostly) open
source sources or packages such that in the face of calamity or whatever
you would be able to easily regenerate some (modified system) config
including compiled binaries from the web all just for the sake of not
having to repeat stuff manually in case calamity does strike (or you
just want to move something to a different system). )

Making backups of "permanent files" is all nice and dandy but having
regeneration "recipes" that can be automatically executed is like a much
more condensed and meaningful collection of artifacts that does not get
mingled with: default configuration options, pecularities of a current
system, etc.

In addition perhaps to it being usable by others (or yourself).

And I was meaning to say this is all rather unfinished and incomplete
and rudimentary.

So my question would have been: do you use any complete systems like
that?

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Re: auto configuration systems

Chris Green
On Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 12:02:11PM +0200, Xen wrote:
> But if you do; you run into the issue of perpetuating your changes.
>
> Keeping configuration alive through many installs is not very useful; and
> hence you seek a way to regenerate config or to reapply it from some config
> system that you design or use from someone else.
>
I work quite hard to keep the 'installation' standard - i.e. the bulk
of what's in /etc and /usr I try to keep 'as installed'.

All (well, very nearly all) of the customisation is in /home
(specifically the ~/.config and ~/.local directories).

So, when I update I lose very little, if any, of my configuration.
The only thing I need to 'remember' if I do a clean install as opposed
to an upgrade is the extra things I have installed.

Things like web pages (and a wiki) are in my home directory with
symbolic links from /srv.  

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
Hi,

for this purpose you are simply using the wrong distro. I've got Ubuntu
installed to help users with some Linux domains, mainly Linux
pro-audio. Ubuntu's policy has advantages and pitfalls.

To make a long story short, my daily Linux and audio DAW is Arch Linux.
Arch Linux doesn't have such a policy as Ubuntu has got, to auto-start
everything that could be auto-started. Other than Ubuntu, Arch Linux
follows upstream as close as possible, IOW there aren't split packages
or any other unusual surprises, such as e.g. distro specific patches.
Arch Linux is a real rolling-release, not like Debian with a freeze.
Arch Linux doesn't have any releases.

What you need to do is migrating to another distro, IOW to Arch Linux
or another distro with a similar policy.

By migrating to a distro that fits closer to your approach, you at
least wouldn't need to run that many "manifests" and you unlikely would
need to edit those "manifests" that often. Depending on what concrete
you try to archive, you might not need any "manifests" at all.

Regards,
Ralf


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Re: auto configuration systems

Tom H-4
On Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 7:08 AM, Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> for this purpose you are simply using the wrong distro. I've got Ubuntu
> installed to help users with some Linux domains, mainly Linux
> pro-audio. Ubuntu's policy has advantages and pitfalls.
>
> To make a long story short, my daily Linux and audio DAW is Arch Linux.
> Arch Linux doesn't have such a policy as Ubuntu has got, to auto-start
> everything that could be auto-started. Other than Ubuntu, Arch Linux
> follows upstream as close as possible, IOW there aren't split packages
> or any other unusual surprises, such as e.g. distro specific patches.
> Arch Linux is a real rolling-release, not like Debian with a freeze.
> Arch Linux doesn't have any releases.
>
> What you need to do is migrating to another distro, IOW to Arch Linux
> or another distro with a similar policy.
>
> By migrating to a distro that fits closer to your approach, you at
> least wouldn't need to run that many "manifests" and you unlikely would
> need to edit those "manifests" that often. Depending on what concrete
> you try to archive, you might not need any "manifests" at all.

This is all illogical. Unless someone wants to use the exact defaults
of all upstreams, it's not more difficult to set your own configs when
using Ubuntu than when using Arch.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:37:26 -0400, Tom H wrote:
>This is all illogical. Unless someone wants to use the exact defaults
>of all upstreams, it's not more difficult to set your own configs when
>using Ubuntu than when using Arch.

The OP doesn't want the default settings from upstream, but the OP
wants to have much control with less work. So a real rolling release
distro following upstream, _instead_ of providing distro specific
patches,  _instead_ of splitting software to different packages from one
to the next release, _instead_ of auto-starting everything that could
be auto-started, even for new, unneeded services of new hard
dependencies _is much_, much easier with less work to customise, than
Ubuntu.

Regards,
Ralf



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Re: auto configuration systems

Xen
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 12-04-2017 18:53:

> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:37:26 -0400, Tom H wrote:
>> This is all illogical. Unless someone wants to use the exact defaults
>> of all upstreams, it's not more difficult to set your own configs when
>> using Ubuntu than when using Arch.
>
> The OP doesn't want the default settings from upstream, but the OP
> wants to have much control with less work. So a real rolling release
> distro following upstream, _instead_ of providing distro specific
> patches,  _instead_ of splitting software to different packages from
> one
> to the next release, _instead_ of auto-starting everything that could
> be auto-started, even for new, unneeded services of new hard
> dependencies _is much_, much easier with less work to customise, than
> Ubuntu.

No I agree with Tom.

The amount of extra detail going into using Arch would probably be much
more -- AND you would still be customizing stuff.

You see what you say above only works if you would those "upstream"
versions EVERYWHERE and never deviate from it; but even that is not the
point, the point is that individual patches are meant to change
upstream, whether they come from upstream or from a distro.

Particularly if it is just configuration; ie. you can have LDAP
configuration or autofs configuration or whatever. You may require fixes
here and there. The situation doesn't change just because you use Arch,
it just becomes worse I think.

Regards.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
Lets say you always install package "foo" and one day there is a
hard dependency to package "bar". Package bar contains a service to
start "bard", something that's bad for your needs.

When using Ubuntu "bard" gets automatically started, so you need to
disable it.

When using Arch Linux the hard dependency gets installed, too, but
"bard" doesn't get automatically started, so you have nothing to do,
you still could use your script to set up everything.

Apart from this the Arch package management provides features Ubuntu
doesn't provide and vice versa the Ubuntu package management provides
features Arch Linux doesn't provide. Now take an educated guess what
the target group of Ubuntu is and what the target group of Arch Linux
is. The tools are made to fit to the users needs.

However, I don't try to change your mind, to migrate to Arch Linux. You
asked a question, I gave an answer based on my experiences with Ubuntu
and Arch Linux.

Regards,
Ralf


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Re: auto configuration systems

Xen
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 12-04-2017 19:26:

> Lets say you always install package "foo" and one day there is a
> hard dependency to package "bar". Package bar contains a service to
> start "bard", something that's bad for your needs.
>
> When using Ubuntu "bard" gets automatically started, so you need to
> disable it.
>
> When using Arch Linux the hard dependency gets installed, too, but
> "bard" doesn't get automatically started, so you have nothing to do,
> you still could use your script to set up everything.
>
> Apart from this the Arch package management provides features Ubuntu
> doesn't provide and vice versa the Ubuntu package management provides
> features Arch Linux doesn't provide. Now take an educated guess what
> the target group of Ubuntu is and what the target group of Arch Linux
> is. The tools are made to fit to the users needs.
>
> However, I don't try to change your mind, to migrate to Arch Linux. You
> asked a question, I gave an answer based on my experiences with Ubuntu
> and Arch Linux.

Sure but disabling services is not the worst thing in the world.

That wasn't even on my list of things to automate ;-).


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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:06:52 +0200, Xen wrote:
>The amount of extra detail going into using Arch would probably be
>much more -- AND you would still be customizing stuff.

There's always a learning curve and I can't grant that Arch, Gentoo or
what ever else satisfies you.

On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:02:11 +0200, Xen wrote:
>So my question would have been: do you use any complete systems like
>that?

If somebody should recommend such a system, do you expect that the
learning-curve to use this software for a distro with a target group
that does less customisation is less effort, than switching to a distro
made for users who generally customize their installs?

On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:02:11 +0200, Xen wrote:
>Lately it seems to be about yaml files? I don't know.

The Snap-thingy does use a yaml based protocol, so you could easily
test if it's something you like to use for your purpose.


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Re: auto configuration systems

Xen
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 12-04-2017 19:47:

> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:06:52 +0200, Xen wrote:
>> The amount of extra detail going into using Arch would probably be
>> much more -- AND you would still be customizing stuff.
>
> There's always a learning curve and I can't grant that Arch, Gentoo or
> what ever else satisfies you.
>
> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:02:11 +0200, Xen wrote:
>> So my question would have been: do you use any complete systems like
>> that?
>
> If somebody should recommend such a system, do you expect that the
> learning-curve to use this software for a distro with a target group
> that does less customisation is less effort, than switching to a distro
> made for users who generally customize their installs?

I was asking if anyone used a system like that. Apparently, you do not.

If you say that Arch users generally customize their installs then how
come you are not aware of any such system being used and how come you
can insist that doing customization in Arch would take less effort?

You speak contradictory things here. You first said that Arch required
less customization, now you say the people do more.

If they do more, an even bigger demand for such a system would exist.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 20:40:59 +0200, Xen wrote:

>Ralf Mardorf schreef op 12-04-2017 19:47:
>> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:06:52 +0200, Xen wrote:  
>>> The amount of extra detail going into using Arch would probably be
>>> much more -- AND you would still be customizing stuff.  
>>
>> There's always a learning curve and I can't grant that Arch, Gentoo
>> or what ever else satisfies you.
>>
>> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:02:11 +0200, Xen wrote:  
>>> So my question would have been: do you use any complete systems like
>>> that?  
>>
>> If somebody should recommend such a system, do you expect that the
>> learning-curve to use this software for a distro with a target group
>> that does less customisation is less effort, than switching to a
>> distro made for users who generally customize their installs?  
>
>I was asking if anyone used a system like that. Apparently, you do not.
>
>If you say that Arch users generally customize their installs then how
>come you are not aware of any such system being used and how come you
>can insist that doing customization in Arch would take less effort?
>
>You speak contradictory things here. You first said that Arch required
>less customization, now you say the people do more.
>
>If they do more, an even bigger demand for such a system would exist.

My Linux, Ubuntu as well as Arch Linux, are both customized Linux. I
already mentioned that before. However, I now have no doubts that Arch
Linux and similar distros won't fit to your needs.

Good look with finding the software that allows you to auto-customize
Ubuntu.

Regards,
Ralf


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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
> You first said that Arch required less customization, now you say the people do more.

You are wrong, the context is that to customize Arch Linux, you don't
have to worry about that much issues, you don't have to do that much
work, as when you wish to customize Ubuntu. This is by the nature of
those distros. Ubuntu and its policy are aimed to provide OOTB
user-friendly desktop environments, based on a release model. Arch Linux
is what the user makes out of it, it's aimed for customisation. I gave
an example in regards to the different auto-start policies of Arch and
Ubuntu and why each approach has it's advantage and disadvantage,
depending to the approach.

However, since you are even unable to understand what I explained, I
suspect you better stay with Ubuntu, since migrating to another distro
requires at least minimal agility.

Regards,
Ralf


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Re: auto configuration systems

Xen
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 13-04-2017 12:19:

> My Linux, Ubuntu as well as Arch Linux, are both customized Linux. I
> already mentioned that before. However, I now have no doubts that Arch
> Linux and similar distros won't fit to your needs.
>
> Good look with finding the software that allows you to auto-customize
> Ubuntu.

You know Ralf, instead of mocking and/or being sarcastic you could also
just answer the question.

I was not _looking for_ such a system for myself most directly. I was
_inquiring_ whether other people use it or not.

You give no such answer whatsoever and only proclaim that Arch Linux
would have less of a need for it. I question that because obviously the
amount of work will be more, not less, with the exception of not having
to turn unwanted services off.

The whole idea of "works out of the box" is LESS WORK so how you can
claim that going to Arch Linux will save me work is beyond me.

> However, since you are even unable to understand what I explained, I
> suspect you better stay with Ubuntu, since migrating to another distro
> requires at least minimal agility.

Yes, well why don't you insult my intelligence.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:40:05 +0200, Xen wrote:
>> However, since you are even unable to understand what I explained, I
>> suspect you better stay with Ubuntu, since migrating to another
>> distro requires at least minimal agility.  
>
>Yes, well why don't you insult my intelligence.

It's not an insult. In my experiences people often want to stay with
something they are used to and then try to change it in a way, it
wasn't designed for, instead of becoming used to something that is
intended for what they want to do.

There's a saying, "Arch is what you make it", but there are other
distros aimed for what you want to do, too.

There are reasons why distros such as Gentoo [1] and Arch Linux [2] are
provided.

Ubuntu's concept is to provide something OOTB that doesn't require
customisation [3], so the policy is not optimised for customisation.

[1] "Gentoo is a free operating system based on either Linux or FreeBSD
that can be automatically optimized and customized for just about any
application or need." - https://www.gentoo.org/get-started/about/

[2] "The repository system also allows users to easily build and
maintain their own custom build scripts, packages, and repositories,
encouraging community growth and contribution. [...]
To summarize: Arch Linux is a versatile, and simple distribution
designed to fit the needs of the competent Linux® user. It is both
powerful and easy to manage, making it an ideal distro for servers and
workstations. Take it in any direction you like. If you share this
vision of what a GNU/Linux distribution should be, then you are
welcomed and encouraged to use it freely, get involved, and contribute
to the community. Welcome to Arch!" - https://www.archlinux.org/about/

[3] "Ubuntu today

Ubuntu today has nine flavours and dozens of localised and specialised
derivatives. There are also special editions for servers, OpenStack
clouds, and mobile devices." - https://www.ubuntu.com/about/about-ubuntu


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Re: auto configuration systems

Tom H-4
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
On Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 12:53 PM, Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:37:26 -0400, Tom H wrote:
>>
>> This is all illogical. Unless someone wants to use the exact defaults
>> of all upstreams, it's not more difficult to set your own configs when
>> using Ubuntu than when using Arch.
>
> The OP doesn't want the default settings from upstream, but the OP
> wants to have much control with less work. So a real rolling release
> distro following upstream, _instead_ of providing distro specific
> patches, _instead_ of splitting software to different packages from one
> to the next release, _instead_ of auto-starting everything that could
> be auto-started, even for new, unneeded services of new hard
> dependencies _is much_, much easier with less work to customise, than
> Ubuntu.

If you don't use the exact upstream defaults, it'll as much work to
set up Arch and Ubuntu. There's no escaping that.

If you disable "Recommends", Arch and Ubuntu probably pull in more or
less the same number of packages.

It doesn't matter whether you're using a rolling release or not.

It doesn't matter whether there are distro-specific patches.

It doesn't matter whether an upstream package foo is installed as foo
and provides bar and baz on Arch and it's installed as foo and
foo-common and one provides bar and the other baz.

It doesn't matter whether services are auto-started. I've never used
it with systemd (I assume that it still works) but you can set up
"policy-rc.d" (echo "exit 101" > /usr/sbin/policy-rc.d ; chmod +x
/usr/sbin/policy-rc.d) to prevent daemons to be "enabled when
installed". Anyway, whether on Arch or Ubuntu, if a service is
installed and not enabled and another depends on it, it'll be
auto-started (unless you mask it, but the latter's an extra step).

Simply because Arch promotes itself as highly customizable, etc,
doesn't mean that it's true.

Simply because Debian prmotes itself as the Universal OS (or something
along these lines) doesn't mean that it's true (except that it might
be available on more architectures than other distros, but I don't
think that this is how users interpret this expression).

The catch phrases are intended for believers and for people who want
to feel superior, but it's pure propaganda, and, as such, pure BS.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Tom H-4
In reply to this post by Xen
On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 8:40 AM, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I was not _looking for_ such a system for myself most directly. I was
> _inquiring_ whether other people use it or not.

There are systems like "ansible" that I use and "chef" that I've used
but they wouldn't make sense for a single laptop. You're better off
using your own shell scripts.

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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Tom H-4
On Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:25:04 -0400, Tom H wrote:
>Anyway, whether on Arch or Ubuntu, if a service is installed and not
>enabled and another depends on it, it'll be auto-started (unless you
>mask it, but the latter's an extra step).

That is wrong! This only happens for Ubuntu and not for Arch Linux. I'm
customising Linux of several distros since more than a decade now.
Apart from this service example, Arch provides features that are an
advantage when customising a Linux install, OTOH Ubuntu has got an
advantage, if somebody expects an OOTB install that fits to the needs of
many users.

Simply compare the Ubuntu package management with the Arch package
management. What you can do easily with pacman.conf on Arch Linux
requires much more effort, when doing the same for Ubuntu. The basic
prerequisites for Arch packages are completely different, to the good
and to the bad, it all depends on the users requirements. An example,
Arch packages usually don't include the versions of the required
dependencies, but just the dependencies without the version information.
However, to explain why it is good and bad at the same time is
off-topic, resp. it requires a deep understanding of the different
policies to understand this and to explain all this is too much for
this thread.

Ask at a distro independent list or forum, what distros users prefer to
customise their installs, you'll notice that Arch and Gentoo are the
most used distros, for very good reasons.

Even if you ask what distros are used for some domains, pro-audio comes
to mind, you get clear answers.

There was a query on the Linux audio user mailing lists. Most users in
Linux pro-audio prefer either, Ubnutu or Arch Linux over all other
distros and most of the experts who tailor their installs prefer Arch
over Ubuntu.


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Re: auto configuration systems

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, 2017-04-14 at 16:47 +0200, Ralf Mardorf wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:25:04 -0400, Tom H wrote:
> > Anyway, whether on Arch or Ubuntu, if a service is installed and not
> > enabled and another depends on it, it'll be auto-started (unless you
> > mask it, but the latter's an extra step).

Note! We were talking about packages, that could one day have an
additional hard dependency, that provides an unwanted service. We were
not talking about a service that requires a new service to work, just
about a package.

> That is wrong! This only happens for Ubuntu and not for Arch Linux. I'm
> customising Linux of several distros since more than a decade now.
> Apart from this service example, Arch provides features that are an
> advantage when customising a Linux install, OTOH Ubuntu has got an
> advantage, if somebody expects an OOTB install that fits to the needs of
> many users.
>
> Simply compare the Ubuntu package management with the Arch package
> management. What you can do easily with pacman.conf on Arch Linux
> requires much more effort, when doing the same for Ubuntu. The basic
> prerequisites for Arch packages are completely different, to the good
> and to the bad, it all depends on the users requirements. An example,
> Arch packages usually don't include the versions of the required
> dependencies, but just the dependencies without the version information.
> However, to explain why it is good and bad at the same time is
> off-topic, resp. it requires a deep understanding of the different
> policies to understand this and to explain all this is too much for
> this thread.
>
> Ask at a distro independent list or forum, what distros users prefer to
> customise their installs, you'll notice that Arch and Gentoo are the
> most used distros, for very good reasons.
>
> Even if you ask what distros are used for some domains, pro-audio comes
> to mind, you get clear answers.
>
> There was a query on the Linux audio user mailing lists. Most users in
> Linux pro-audio prefer either, Ubnutu or Arch Linux over all other
> distros and most of the experts who tailor their installs prefer Arch
> over Ubuntu.
>
>


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Re: auto configuration systems

Xen
In reply to this post by Tom H-4
Tom H schreef op 14-04-2017 14:28:
> On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 8:40 AM, Xen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> I was not _looking for_ such a system for myself most directly. I was
>> _inquiring_ whether other people use it or not.
>
> There are systems like "ansible" that I use and "chef" that I've used
> but they wouldn't make sense for a single laptop. You're better off
> using your own shell scripts.

Aye, thank you. These indeed sound like some hugely complex systems.
They almost have the same website; Chef looks a little bit nicer or more
accessible,

But I think you're absolutely right that the investment probably
wouldn't pay off for a long time unless you were actually managing a
business (and a bigger one at that?).

Regards.

But thanks for the answers!

I just wonder if there are any smaller, more down to earth systems?

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Re: auto configuration systems

Tom H-4
In reply to this post by Ralf Mardorf-2
On Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 10:47 AM, Ralf Mardorf <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:25:04 -0400, Tom H wrote:
>>
>> Anyway, whether on Arch or Ubuntu, if a service is installed and not
>> enabled and another depends on it, it'll be auto-started (unless you
>> mask it, but the latter's an extra step).
>
> That is wrong! This only happens for Ubuntu and not for Arch Linux.

The rationale for "systemctl mask ..." as opposed to "systemctl disable
..." is that, with the latter, a service can be disabled but can be
started as a dependency.

This is similar to "/etc/modprobe.conf" and "/etc/modprobe.d/" where:

- if you use "blacklist foo", foo won't be loaded but it can be loaded
manually or as a dependency

- if you use "install bar /bin/true", bar won't be loaded

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