= provisioning linux on a large scale to bare metal servers. =

Anybody have any tools to recommend for provisioning several racks of bare metal servers with linux OS? I have used both Satellite Server just a standard pxe boot/kickstart server for doing this manually, but usually we are only doing a few servers at a time. Wondering if anybody had suggestions of tools for a large scale deployment?
Razer, FOG, CloneZilla, and others come to mind

I do a multi-stage approach when bringing up Linux stuff, where I boot the machine, sling an image that has baked in Ansible SSH keys. From there, use playbooks to get them configured, and if there is a CM tool that is used other than Ansible, like Salt or Puppet, install/configure that

On the VM side, I have a number of images that I use as templates. I just clone one of those depending on what is needed, provision that, and off to the races

I'd see about setting up a PXE environment. This can take a lot of work, so look around

I guess you're asking for something off-the-shelf. I'm always interested in a better mousetrap, but ours is custom, though relatively simple

Our provisioning routines interact with the CMDB/Inventory extensively, and leverage a few other quirks of the environment. But the fundamental task is simple: netboot a kernel+initrd, check in with the CMDB for instructions while offering some safeties and guidance on the console, before formatting filesystems and untarring the base operating system in a procedure that's basically the same as thirty years ago

Roughly speaking, the commissioning routines should be able to find this specific server hardware in the CMDB as "new hardware, to be commissioned" so they know to just begin the installation. There are a number of safeties in the process so that someone doesn't accidentally netboot a laptop and come back from lunch to find their machine wiped and a fresh Linux install running. For example, if the commissioning routine finds any partition tables (even ESP) and isn't manually over-ridden, then it logs results and exits

We make significant use of IPMI to control server hardware, but there's always going to be client and server hardware without those features, so we have some other systems for hardware-agnostic console access, basically IP-KVMs

In a past life, I used Cobbler. It worked

*okay*, but it had enough fundamental security problems that I was wary about using its more powerful machine control features, which seriously limited its usefulness as a data center management tool. It might be better now

I briefly used MaaS for a personal project that ultimately didn't get off the ground. It seemed to work well enough, but it had an opinionated approach to machine management and provisioning that might not fit if you already have existing tools for this and are just looking for a hardware/OS provisioning tool

I don't have any personal experience with it, but xCAT was frequently recommended for the provisioning and management of large-scale clusters

It's definetely not going to be as good as some off the shelf tool but you could use a pxe server in a docker container and then use Wake On LAN to boot from the network. That can all be wrapped up into a tidy ansible script so it can be run on-demand. I did it once for several servers on a smaller scale and also use it for a homelab setup. Absolutely not going to be as good as a professional tool but it gets the job done

Happy to link the code if it's something you want to look at

I've used just ansible in the past. Depending what servers you have, they should have remote management and ansible can use that to provision a custom iso that the machine boots off of

But it would depend if you want inventory management or something like that. Though ansible has great support for netbox

Maas is also nice. But if you're not booting Ubuntu you'll have to pay

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