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 ;-)
Even though, inherent to its functional principle, m23 cannot be boring, we have prepared a Linux / OpenSource / free media / m23 - advent calendar for you this year. Of course, it doesn't contain dull chocolate, but presents you - after you have found and clicked the right number (you need to move the mouse over the penguin) - with a BAfH pretext and something worth knowin, interesting or creative from the subject area of Linux, Open Source, free media or m23. Although it is in German, you might find the linked information useful.
We will start, following tradition, at the first of December - and from the 25th on, you will again have to rely on the BAfH pretexts in your m23 server ;-)
Hint: Just reload the iframe (where the penguin is located), if the number for the current day will not open in your browser. Then it should work :-)
Have fun :-)
Before starting the development of the next m23 version 13.3, we have made several smaller improvements, adaptations and bug fixes for the current version m23 rock 13.2 and released those in the course of several updates for the m23 server. So we now have some kind of m23 13.2.1 ;-)
Among other things, we laid the foundation for the m23 command line (m23-cli), to make many functions, which could until now only be accessed from the m23 web interface, accessible from a Linux shell or from scripts in the future. For this, a module format was developed, which can provide arbitrary m23 functions to the m23 cli.
We also introduced an option for m23 Ubuntu / Linux Mint clients, which determines if normal users can get root permissions via sudo. Up to now, it was possible - as is typical for Ubuntu - that users can get root permissions with their own passwords and sudo.
Aside from the functional novelties, we also added some eye-candy: CSS effects in the tables now highlight the current line and in the group overview, the line colors alternate to improve readability.
As the list of the available kernels can be very long - depending on the selected distro - the generic kernels are now on top of the lists - as in most cases, they are the best choice ;-). Another adaptation takes care of updating the list of available kernels, which is usually cached for 15 minutes, if the list could not be retrieved from the repository server.
Corrections now allow to correctly merge the changelog from the stable and the development branch, and to upload them to the m23 project page and that the mass installation shows the usual dialog. In addition, the option to deactivate the SSL certificate check for wget and the display of the "Update"-button were corrected. Another modification makes it possible, that package names from the package list files are added correctly to the installation job and at the same time, characters which don't belong are filtered from the file.
The updates are available via the m23 interface or APT.
GNOME 3, KDE 4.8.4, LXDE, TDE 3.5.13 and XFce 22.214.171.124 can be used and installed automatically using m23.
But this is by far not everything which is new: The new m23 version also contains support for the integration of Linux Mint 15 and a function to Ex-/Import package selections and extended options for handling external DHCP servers which are not controlled by m23.
Up to now, it was only possible to save package selections in the database of the m23 server. Now we introduced the option to save them in simple text files which can later be imported. This is useful, for example, to transfer package selections between multiple m23 servers or to construct a package list with the tools of the respective distribution and to import it afterwards.
For the vexed subject "external DHCP server" there is a new solution strategy, inspired by the iX article "Linux-Clients mit m23 zentral verwalten (Central administration of Linux clients with m23)". From m23 13.2 on, the settings of all m23 clients which are supposed to boot via network can be exported in the notation of an ISC DHCP server, so that the administrator (or an automated script) can add these settings to the configuration of a DHCP server which is not controlled by m23.
Two new functions allow to deactivate the verification of SSL certificates for the client-server-communication. One of them deactivates the verification specifically for a single client and the other globally for all clients. Even if I do not think that the deactivation is a good idea, it can be necessary in some special cases, where without it, no jobs and feedbacks can be sent between client and server.
We also introduced the merging of installation jobs for normal packages. All jobs with identical priorities are combined into one installation job. This helps speed up the completion of many single jobs and makes sure that every package is marked for installation only once.
For developers, there is the new chapter "Using new Debian/Ubuntu releases with m23" in the "Development guide", where the adaptation of m23 for installation and administration of new, not officially by m23 supported, Debian and Ubuntu versions is described. This could be interesting especially for those of you who employ Ubuntu beyond the LTS versions which are supported by m23. Please let me know if you have been successful with an adaptation :-)
The halfSister API was extended by new commands, which allow for the integration of halfSister distributions for use in future developments. Now there is only the implementation of the respective functions in the distribution-specific m23HSAdmin scripts left to do. Any volunteers? ;-)
The new version is available as update via the m23 interface, via APT, as ISO to burn the m23 server installation CD as preinstalled virtual machine and as Raspberry Pi image file (the last three can be found in the download section).
At this page, our users have their say: By providing their reference, they show that they employ and support m23.
If you would also like to support us by entering your reference, please complete the m23 questionnaire.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to check all entries for authenticity. If you or your enterprise are wrongly mentioned in an entry here, please send us a message via our contact form so that we can remove the corresponding reference.
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cha: update.php: Now shows the live
log right after clicking the update
fix: UPDATE_running: Now uses
cha: MSR_clientSettings: Now trims
the input values.
cha: DHCP_activateBoot: Now uses
PXE as default, if no boot type is
cha: createRFSBins: Added the tools
resize_reiserfs, resize2fs and
new: FSEnlargeWrapper: Enlarges the
file system on a given partition to
match the size of the partition.
cha: IMG_clientRestore: Now adds
FSEnlargeWrapper to the BASH code
if restored by dd.
cha: HTML_newStatusBar: Now uses 5
seconds as default refresh time.
fix: imaging / halfSister /
clientConfig.php: Added 100 percent
for the status bar.
new: CLIENT_resetStatusBar: Resets
the percent points to 0 for the
pending jobs on a client.
fix: halfSister / clientConfig.php:
new: PKG_addHSUser: Adds a job for
creating an user on a halfSister
cha: HS_sysAddUser: Now has
parameter for user and group IDs.
cha: m23AddUserInstall.php: Now is
placed under /m23/inc/distr/
debian/packages with symlink to
: New parameter to recalculate the
remaining percent value of the
status barfor better fitting.
new: debian / halfSister /
Updates the compressed package
new: debian /
the description of a package.
Added translation for 'error'.
Now calls PKG_updatePackageInfo
with correct parameters.
cha: PKG_updatePackageInfo: Now
updates the package index only
every 5 hours, when not forced.
PKG_updatePackageInfo: Now writes
the time when the status file was
last modified to a new parameter.
: Returns the time point when the
package information was changed
m23 was updated with the m23 update manager 6376 times. All m23 files were downloaded from Sourceforge 25492 times with a total size of 6387.01 GB.