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Xandros Desktop Management Server Illustrates a Maturing Linux Market - page 3

The Need for Enterprise Desktop Administration

  • January 6, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

The core concept of xDMS is to create repositories which contain the specific Xandros Linux distributions that you want to administer from an xDMS server. The first step in using xDMS is therefore to build a repository that contains information about the Linux distribution that you are deploying. These are created using the xDMS Repository Builder (/usr/bin/xdmsrb), for which an icon is provided on the default xDMS desktop. Double-clicking this icon starts the Repository Builder in a superuser context using the kdesu application.

xDMS automatically creates a repository for itself when installed as the default operating system on your xDMS server. To create a repository for an actual end-user Xandros distribution, insert that distribution's installation CD and select the File, Import command. The Import Wizard displays, as shown in Figure 2, enabling you to specify whether you are importing an entire distribution or only specific DEB packages into your xDMS repository. Figure 3 shows the xDMS Repository Builder importing information about Xandros Desktop OS 2.6 distribution, Business Edition.

At the present time, xDMS can only create complete repositories for Xandros Desktop OS Business Edition 2.6. However, the DEB package import feature makes it easy for a system administrator to create custom versions of a distribution by adding collections of packages for standard Open Source applications that you want to distribute to all systems on your site.

Every Xandros Desktop OS product includes pre-compiled sets of compatible applications on an Applications CD that can quickly and easily be added to a default distribution using this feature. Being able to add customized DEB packages also makes it easy to add and deploy locally-built DEB packages for site-specific applications.

To add custom packages, you select the File, Import command, select the DEB packages radio button from the dialog shown in Figure 2, browse to the location of those packages, and select the ones that you want to import. After importing one or more DEB packages, the Repository Builder enables you to assign them to a parcel, which is Xandros' term for a logical collection of packages. The idea of parcels enables you to create sets of related and required packages for things like compilers and sophisticated editors for development systems.

If you want to create a customized distribution such as a developer-oriented distribution that includes compilers, debuggers, emacs, and other essential tools, you can use the Repository Builder's Installation Units tab after importing your distributions and optional packages. Select the appropriate Product from the drop-down list at top, and xDMS displays the pre-defined "versions" of that distribution that you can install. (These are "Complete desktop," "Standard desktop," and "Minimal desktop" for Xandros Linux distributions.) You can then use right-click menus to copy an existing Installation Unit and modify its properties, adding and removing packages and parcels in order to define your customized distribution.

Besides simply importing distributions and packages, the Repository Builder also enables you to create a snapshot of a system that was installed using xDMS. This is extremely handy if you want to pre-define users, printer configurations, and so on.

The final step in creating a repository is to create the media that you will use to install Xandros Linux from your xDMS server. To do this, select File, Create Boot Image. You can create floppy-based, CD-based, or network boot (PXE) images. Floppy and PXE images are delivered via DHCP and LDAP.

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