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 ;-)
In this place, we collect all links that - direcly or indirectly - relate to m23. You will find various press articles, tutorials, recordings of talks and user reports here. Down at the bottom, we also put together a list of our favourite Linux links.
Have fun browsing!
m23 in the news (German)
Looking up m23
Important Linux links
An important link is still missing? You have written a blog post about m23 and you would like to share it with us? Then write us a short message using the contact form in the upper right corner so we can add it here!
Linuxtag is over again, and we are happy to have met interesting people and to have had exciting conversations at our booth. If you couldn't come to Linuxtag yourself, you can now take a look at our little slideshow presenting pictures from our booth. Be aware that the slideshow might take some time to load and will only run in modern browsers (current Firefox recommended for best performance)
We still have a few free tickets for the LinuxTag in Berlin (22.5-25.5) which we would like to use to invite you to our booth 135(b) in hall 7.1a.
If you would like to get one of those Linuxtag e-tickets, send us an email with your email address where we will send the e-ticket - and, as the number of tickets is limited, please add a short explanation why you would like to visit us at the m23 booth. We will give the tickets to the people sending us the most interesting / funniest / best reasons. You can send us a normal email or you can use the contact form ("Send message to developer") in the upper right corner of the m23 web site.
Furthermore, the workshop "Linux-OS und Software installieren und managen mit m23" (Install and manage Linux operating systems and software with m23), which had originally been planned as a talk, will take place on May, 23rd 2013 from 10.00 to 11.00 am in Room Weimar 5. As the talk was converted into a workshop at very short notice and we are still in the midst of our preparations for our booth, Hauke will model it as a kind of interactive talk / workshop where we will talk about the things you are interested in. Hauke will bring a notebook with an installation of an m23 server, so he can show everything directly in the software. You can, of course, also bring your own m23 server ;-)
Have fun and see you in Berlin!
LinuxTag in Berlin: with "Fresh Blue" there is now a new theme for the m23 web interface and on the client side, Linux Mint 13 with its desktops Mate and Cinnamon was added.
And if this isn't already a reason to try / update m23, there are of course still a whole lot of other changes and improvements, including the option to install the m23 server on a Raspberry Pi or a new kernel including additional drivers.
The range of supported distributions has been extended by Linux Mint 13 (based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS). In contrast to Ubuntu, the standard desktop is not Unity but Mate, which is a continuation of Gnome 2 or the Cinnamon desktop, which offers a familiar working environment based on Gnome 3 (including a start menu). Apart from these advantages, Linux Mint 13 comes with extended multimedia capabilities.
The m23 interface has gotten its first substantial "face lift" including the new theme "Fresh Blue" (which you can find under "Server settings" → "Select theme"). Aside from the complete rework / redesign, there is now the possibility to output the current client BASH script in every client's control center (for example for error analysis). Another innovation is the option to save the packages of a client as an offline package source and to save the list of packages installed on this client as a package selection at the same time. Using this option, the complete software status of a system can be "frozen" and installed independently from the original package source. While implementing this, we also changed the internal functions for the administration and creation of package sources over to the API 2.0 and reworked the package sources architect.
The support for Raspberry Pi as m23 server platform initially started as a "fun project", but now it runs so stable that you can use the "Pi" for smaller environments where you do not need to install or administer many m23 clients at once. To make this work, the m23 server had to be adapted to Debian Wheezy (which wasn't even released at that time), which turned out to be surprisingly easy. All but one of the adjustments are specific to Wheezy and not to the Raspberry Pi. Of course, there are some cutbacks with this minimal solution: The virtualisation does not work on the m23 Raspberry Pi server and the m23 development kit (MDK) can only be used with restrictions. The m23 functionalities accessible from the web interface are available as usual.
"Under the hood" there has also happened a lot: For example the update of the m23 boot media which now use the Linux kernel 3.2.38 and BusyBox 1.21.0. At this place, there were also added several firmware packages. The m23 API 2.0 has been extended by several new classes, like the class Cm23Admin, which can administer the administrators of the m23 server (including the web interface theme of their choice), or the CObjectStorageManager, which saves PHP objects to make it possible that those can also be retained and restored outside a session. There are also some new HTML functions, some of which use AJAX. Aside from the interface and the m23 core functions, the MDK now contains menu items for the creation and the separate administration of release version and developer version, for choosing the active version and to merge both versions.
Of course, we have also fixed several bugs, two of which have already been incorporated as a regular update into the release version because of the separation between developer version and release version. One adjustment became necessary as the scripts in the Ubuntu LTS kernel packages have changed in a way which prevented an automatic installation. The other corrects the GPG signature of the m23 installation packages.
The new version is available as update via the m23 interface, via APT, as ISO to burn an m23 server installation CD, as preinstalled virtual machine and as Raspberry Pi image file (the last three can be found in the download section).
Give m23 your reference!
Send message to developer
patch 100643: Fixed signing of
fix: mkRelease: Now uses the
correct user for signing the
patch 100618: Wake on lan fix.
fix: CLCFG_interfaces: Now uses
correct path to ethtool (Thx FP).
patch: Workaround for Ubuntu kernel
question and added missing cron.
cha: ubuntu /
"cron" to the base package list.
Now creates empty
/boot/grub/menu.lst for disabling
the new non debconf Ubuntu kernel
cha: index.css: Now aligns contents
of subtables on the top of each
cha: menuBootCD.hlp: Renamed to
m23 was updated with the m23 update manager 6273 times. All m23 files were downloaded from Sourceforge 24695 times with a total size of 5988.58 GB.