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Users interested in deploying the increasingly popular Gentoo Linux distribution should also get familiar with an open source project called GEMS - Gentoo Enterprise Management System.
Many users are finding Gentoo as one of the easier Linux distributions to use to strip out unwanted packages and software modules, and otherwise modify before installing - such as taking an e-mail server package off of the image if deploying the system for file-and-print only. Gentoo's popular Portage software distribution system allows users to configure a Gentoo machine with 10,000-plus packages to choose from.
GEMS makes this task easier to do on a large scale, the software's developers say. The GEMS master application is based on PHP and MySQL, and ties into the Portage system for software distribution.
Setting up a central GEMS master machine allows administrators to download a main Gentoo software image to networked machines, and track all software, configurations and packages installed on Gentoo machines across the LAN. The software also ties into Gentoo Linux Security Advisory notices, and can alert administrators if packages deployed on network machines are associated with any warnings. For Gentoo machines that were not installed via the GEMS master machine, the software can also collect machine inventory data on preconfigured PCs and servers.
Machines that are managed by a GEMS master server must run a few local tools and software, including PHP, CURL (for remotely fetching files) and other agents.
For a complete rundown of GEMS, including system requirements, and to download the software, click here.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.