Operating systemsm23 supports:
m23 supports Debian, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, CentOS and openSUSE. The choice of the Linux distribution is a matter of taste and a question of the functional range. m23 gives the administrator the chance to choose the right distribution for each client individually which can be installed automatically. m23 allows to manages all clients via the same m23 administration interface, no matter which distribution is installed.
Free partitioning and formatting
In addition to the automatic partitioning and formatting, m23 supports individual harddrive setups. The resulting partitions can be used for the operating system, to store data and for swapping. The m23 interface includes all necessary functions for deleting, adding and formatting of partitions and for assigning them to mountpoints, installation or swap usage. In addition, it is possible to reuse the existing partition layout for the installation.
Support for software RAIDs
Partitions or entire harddrives can be combined into software RAIDs. m23 supports the RAID levels 0, 1, 4, 5, 6 and 10. These RAID levels have advantages and disadvantages in relation to speed increase and data reliability. RAIDs can be used like normal partitions to install operating systems to or to use them as swap or storage space. You can install the Linux kernel and its modules on a separate (non-RAID) partition to be able to install an operating system on all possible RAID levels.
User management with LDAP
User accounts can be managed with a central LDAP server. This increases the ease of use in environments with many clients and a lot of users. The OpenLDAP server is shipped with the m23 server and can be administered via the highly integrated phpLDAPadmin. m23 can use existing LDAP entries for new m23 clients or add extra entries on adding an m23 client.
NFS for storing home directoriesAn NFS server for storing the user's home directories is a good supplement to an existing LDAP server. Using an NFS server simplifies the making of backups dramatically in contrast to a lot of clients storing the home directories on local harddrives. As a benefit of this combination the user has the alternative to log in into any client and find her or his own desktop and files.
Thousands of software packages like office packages, graphic tools, server applications or games can be installed via the webinterface. Software installation or removal jobs are carried out at boot time or while the client is in normal use.
Graphical desktopsSupport for:
The m23 clients can be installed as workstation with the graphical user interfaces KDE, Gnome, XFce, LXDE and pure X11 or as a server without graphical subsystem. In most server setups, the server doesn't need a user interface because most of the server software runs in text mode. If you choose the Ubuntu distribution you can also install Unity, for Linux Mint Mate or Cinnamon and for Kubuntu "Kubuntu desktop" (KDE based).
Imaging: Installation using image filesAn image file of a partition or entire harddisk can be used to install other clients. These image files are taken from installed clients with all their software packages and settings. The creation of these image files is included in the m23 administration interface for your comfort. Image files can be compressed to save storage space and bandwidth on rollout. An image file can be used to install any number of clients. After the end of the transfer, the client will be adjusted like a client that was installed from software packages. This is done on Debian, Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu clients. These "image clients" can be managed like "normal clients" with m23, this includes software installation and other administrative tasks.
Personal data and additional settings can be backupped and restored with the integrated software BackupPC. This is necessary for all personal data which is not handled by m23.
A client can be reinstalled with excactly the same software selection and configuration as it was installed with m23 before. This is done with the recovery feature directly from the m23 interface. The recovery includes the complete installation with partitioning and formatting. All settings done with m23 will be restored. Manual changes need a recovery from a backup medium.
The m23 rescue system is a minimal Linux environment that can be booted on the clients via the network. You can use it for on-location maintenance or via an SSH console. The administrator has full access to the client and can do all administrative work. Additional tools (e.g. the client log) support the administrator with his/her fault analysis.
The free virtualisation solution VirtualBox OSE is now (optional) part of m23 and can be installed directly on the m23 server as well as on the managed m23 clients. Required for virtualisation is a current Debian system (Debian Lenny or Squeeze). Virtual m23 clients which act on the network just like normal m23 clients are managed via the m23 server as usual. These virtual clients can be partitioned and formatted like a normal PC and of course the operating system and additional software can be installed as well.
VirtualBox OSE packages are available for 32 and 64 bit machines, that can be installed directly via the m23 web interface on the m23 clients. These m23 clients are virtualisation hosts for virtual m23 clients after the installation. Virtualisation may be useful to use the existing ressources of your computers better (e.g. office PCs that usually wait for user input most of the time or on a web server).
You can check the usage of harddisk and memory on the virtualisation host in the "VM creation dialog" before you create a new virtual m23 client. So you can take care not to assign too much harddisk space or memory to the VM. The newly created VM runs through the usual 3-step-setup after the creation is done.
Virtual m23 clients can run in graphical mode or without visible output. A modified VNC server was integrated for the graphical output to replace the VRDP feature of the non-free VirtualBox edition. It can be used to access the virtual clients from the boot on and allows to engage if problems occur. The VNC session contains the VirtualBox window with the running virtual m23 client and is based on the lightweight window manager flwm. An analog clock, a terminal and a button to shut down the session together with the VirtualBox machine are visible too.
The m23 interface and the entire m23 system can be improved with extra functions.
The MDK (m23 Development Kit) is a powerful environment to adjust m23 to your needs. E.g. you can create your own m23 server installation CD or build new network boot images with new modules.
Using the m23 extension halfSister, the ambitious administrator can easily make his or her favourite Linux distribution installable with m23, like it was already done with CentOS, openSUSE and Fedora.
How does it work?
m23 differentiates between servers and clients. An m23 server is used for software deployment and the management of the clients. Computers which are administered by the m23 server are the clients.
The client is booted over the network during the installation of the operating system. It is possible to start the client with a bootrom on its network card, with a boot disk or with a boot CD. The client's hardware is detected and set up. The gathered hardware and partition information is sent to the m23 server. Afterwards, this information is shown in the m23 administration interface. Now the administrator has to choose how to partition and format the client. Other settings include e.g. the distribution to be installed on the client.
A GPG key management was integrated into the m23 webinterface, too. After a data fault the restore script will first install an "empty" m23 server and use the backup to bring it into a previously saved state. A short guide showing the restoring steps can be printed out directly from the m23 web interface (and should be before an emergency occurs!).
A variable firewall makes sure that only safe values will be handed to the database. This should make SQL injection attacs impossible.
The IP management allows you to connect network settings to a MAC address, so that the necessary values are sent to the respective device via DHCP. Aside from this direct assignment, IP ranges can be defined, within which the IPs can be assigned dynamically (e.g. to notebooks). Specific settings (e.g. client name, MAC address) or specific IP ranges can now be blocked, so m23 cannot wrongly use these for m23 clients.
Copyright and usage notice for this textYou are allowed to use this text entirely, partly or in a modified form (e.g. for a press article or for product description in CD shops).
This text is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. And of course we would be very happy, if we got a copy of your article or a URL where to find it ;-)
This year, we've been at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (March 21-22) for the first time :-)
Beforehand, everyone who had already been there told us that this event was one of the best. After those two days we spent there, we can confirm this emphatically. It worked out wonderfully and was very well organized. We would like to praise and thank everyone who made this happen. Keep going :-)
We'd also like to thank our T-shirt sponsor getDigital.de, who again supported our project by supplying geeky T-shirts for our lotteries on both days :-) The winners were obviously very happy.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the big number of visitors and the many interesting conversations. The Linux-Tage at Chemnitz have preserved the community atmosphere which was common to many Linux-Tage in the past™. They are proof that big Linux events still have a right to exist, even if most information is available via the internet at any time.
Thanks to the good organization of the premises by the team of the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage, all participants in the workshop "Administration of & Co. in text mode" could partake in a concentrated and efficient way. But not only did the participants learn something during the workshop, also Hauke was able to collect a bunch of ideas for the next run of the workshop.
Have fun and maybe we'll meet again at Chemnitz in 2016!
We are happy to be part of the Chemnitzer Linux-Tagen (21.3. und 22.3.) with an m23 booth for the first time :-)
At our booth, we will demonstrate m23 (live) on virtual machines and will be answering all your questions and be available for technical discussions. So if you always wanted to know why your enterprise / organisation etc. really needs to use m23, visit us at our booth ;-)
On Sunday, March 22 2015, you can take advantage of participating in Hauke's workshop "Administration von Debian & Co. im Textmodus" (administration of Debian and its derivatives in text mode). As there is only a limited number of seats available, you should hurry to reserve yours! ;-) Reservation deadline is on March, 13th 2015.
This workshop is addressed to everyone who has to / wants to work with Debian or Debian-based distributions (Ubuntu, Linux Mint, ...) in some way or other. For the workshop, it is not important whether you want to administer your home server or desktop, your virtual server for your home page or the machines at your workplace.
We will focus on administration using the command line tools, as those don't only allow you to get a deeper understanding of your distribution, but they also allow to administer the system in case of a severe problem and to fix that problem. And of course, it's just good practice for an administrator to have some (at least basic) knowledge of the administration options on the command line.
We will cover the following topics (and more): network configuration, software management as well as identifying errors (and fixing them). The frequently occurring cases "repair broken boot manager" and the classical problem "lost password" will of course also be practised together.
This workshop is based upon 19 years of practicale experience with Linux, and 13 years of them with Debian.
Please bring the following: laptop with VirtualBox installed, and imported Debian admin workshop appliance, as well as a working WiFi (if possible, additionally network card + cable) and the workshop PDF.
Have fun - and hope to see you soon in Chemnitz!
In this year's Thomas-Krenn Open Source Förderung (Thomas-Krenn Open Source promotion), the m23 project has ended in the third place :-) At this point, we would like to thank Thomas-Krenn again for the prize and congratulate the other winner projects.
For our prize money, we compiled a selection of hardware from Thomas-Krenn, which we want to use for being able to execute a whole bunch of virtual client installations at the same time. In the long term, we are planning to automate most Tests using the newly introduced test framework "AutoTest", to avoid doing all those tests manually, which was the case until now. We hope to spend less time on manual testing and at the same time to be able to expose a larger range of functions to continuous testing.
We will publish a small report on the new hardware after having tested it extensively.
Our sincere thanks are given to Thomas-Krenn and, of course, to our users for their support :-)
The latest version of m23 extends the spectrum of supported client distributions by adding support for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Linux Mint 17 Qiana. For Linux Mint, the desktop environments Mate, Cinnamon, Xfce and KDE are available - for Ubuntu, there are a minimal KDE/Kubuntu Desktop, Unity (3D), Xfce, the Lubuntu Desktop and Gnome.
Even while adding support for the two new distributions - and especially the desktops - accounts for most of the time needed to build this new release, there have also been made other improvements to m23. Among these you will find the improved user authentification by LDAP or the new testing framework "AutoTest" which automatically checks the m23 server installation ISOs.
LDAPFrom this m23 version on LDAP users (on clients with Debian 7.x, Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17) will automatically be added to the local groups to which local users would also be added. This ensures that users logged in via LDAP can also access the client's resources (for example the sound card). Also, when adding an LDAP user via the m23 interface, the corresponding LDAP group is created or the user is added to the group with the number of the admin's choice.
AutoTestAutoTest is a new framework which was developed to automate repetitive testing tasks (which occur before the release of a new m23 version). Currently, it does not yet contain all the features we have planned, but it's enough to install the m23 server installation ISO on a virtual machine in VirtualBox without any user action. AutoTest defines the parts of a testing process using an XML file. Each part consists of a trigger event (for example a sequence of letters on the VM's screen), one or more actions (for example emulated keyboard strokes) and the following comparison with letter sequences on the screen which signal success, warnings or fatal results of that action. The output picture on the VM's screen is interpreted using the gocr character recognition.
The test definition file also contains the parameters used to create the VM (for example RAM and hard disk size). A test can be executed on a local machine (on the same computer with the same user as the one starting AutoTest) as well as on a remote machine (in a running X- or X2go-session).
Future versions of AutoTest will also allow to automagically test the m23 web interface, for example to add a new client and install it.
m23 command line interfaceThe m23 command line tool (m23cli) was extended by four features: It can now output the contents of a package sources list and a client's MAC address. One m23cli plugin lists all clients' IP addresses in one group. Another one checks if the clients can be accessed by network.
Odds and endsDebian based clients now do a "dist-upgrade" after the installation of the base system to update the software which is in the compressed operating system archive. If the hardware detection cannot find a harddisk (either because the driver module is missing or because there really is no harddisk), an error message in the partitioning dialogue in the m23 interface now alerts the user and stops further setup of the client. The recovery method "Set status to "Add"" does no longer add the task "reboot" or "shutdown". The new script "fixPHPFilePermissionsAndCR" (in /m23/bin) allows that the Apache user can access the PHP scripts in /m23 and that they use the correct end of line markers for BASH. When installing a language pack, this automatically required the installation of k3b. From this version on, k3b will automatically be removed again if it has not been installed before the language pack was added. The m23 virtualbox functions were modified to be able to get status informations from all VirtualBox versions.
Bug fixesOf course, we have also fixed some (small) bugs ;-) A change to the function which suggests a free IP address (used in the "Add client" dialog) now only refers to the currently valid (and not some previously used) IP range of the m23 server. At the start of the mass installation, the debconf settings are now also replicated and the second DNS server of the model client is also added to the real clients' settings. In the file list of the package architect, the file size of files bigger than 2 Gb on 32bit m23 servers is now shown correctly. And, lastly: In the HTML version of the user manual, all quotation marks are now supposedly in their correct place ;-)
The new version is available as update from the m23 interface, via APT, as ISO file to burn the m23 server installation CD, as preinstalled virtual machine or as Raspberry Pi image file (the last three can be found in the download section).
Give m23 your reference!
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fix: DHCP_activateBoot: Fixed
writing of the PXE entry.
Checks, if a sources list contains
a distribution that supports EFI.
Gets a list with all sources lists
that support EFI.
an error message, if the client
uses EFI and the choosen sources
oesntSupportEfi: Checks, if the
client uses EFI and the choosen
sources list doesn't.
cha: client_distr.php: Now uses
cha: CLIENT_showAddDialog: Now
chooses amd64 architecture, if UEFI
booting is selected.
cha: CClient::setBootType: Now
shecks, if client should be booted
via EFI and if is uses another
architecture than amd64.
cha: CLCFG_efi: Configures the
client for UEFI booting.
able: Now an EFI partition is only
possible, if there is an EFI boot
fInUefiMode: Now returns the maybe
unchanged type for
m23 was updated with the m23 update manager 6606 times. All m23 files were downloaded from Sourceforge 27708 times with a total size of 7571.41 GB.