Server Wishlist

I wrote these comments in response to Søren Hansen’s post about the future direction of Ubuntu Server development. I’m thankful for the recent discussion started by Thierry Carrez.

My wishlist:

Automatic installation. I’m using network preseeding to install servers and desktops, and it works like a charm. I’ve got apt-cacher in the mix, and when I install a new machine, it pulls only the updates from the Internet. I keep a custom repository, and have been successful in setting things like /etc/network/interfaces by making a small .deb packages to make these customizations. Setting up and adding to the custom repository is a pain, because I don’t understand the tools well enough yet — especially signing the packages so I don’t get security warnings.

Ability to review updates. I’d like a simple way, either through a chroot or virtualization, to subject updates to a vetting process before making it available for installation. Again, repository management tools are needed.

High Availability. Even in a small office, downtime is expensive. I’d like to see packages like drbd-primary and drbd-secondary, where you install each on a different machine, and you have simple redundant storage. Same for essential services like dns, dhcp, internet gateways, font servers, etc.

Guided networking schemes. When setting up a local network, there should be sensible defaults and alternatives to a standardized addressing scheme. IP addresses to use 192.168… or 10.0…? Internal services available at gateway.lan, dns.lan, printers.lan?

File-based LAN configuration. The underpinnings of configuration could be based on files, which can be altered and administered through custom .debs. A database-driven front-end could be used to help define the network, which spews out custom .debs to be distributed through the dpkg updating already in place. If you want to migrate to LDAP or some other “registry” type scheme, have it read from existing files like dnsmasq reads /etc/hosts as a starting point. Don’t force complexity on the network, offer it as alternatives to a simple, robust default.

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