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4.1 General considerations

In order to use any system administration tool successfully, you have to make peace with your system by deciding exactly what you expect and what you are willing to do to achieve the results. You need to decide what you will consider to be acceptable and what is to be considered completely untenable. You need to make these decisions because otherwise you will only be confused later when things don't go the way you expected.

Experience shows that the most successful policies for automation involve keeping everything as simple as possible. The more uniform or alike your machines are, the easier they are to run and the happier users are. Sometimes people claim that they need such great flexibility that all their machines should be different. This belief tends to be inversely proportional to the number of machines they run and generally only applies to very special development environments! Usually you will only need one or to machines to be special and most can be made very similar.

Site configuration is about sharing and controlling resources. The resources include disks (filespace), files, data, programs, passwords and physical machines. Before planning your sitewide configuration you should spend some time deciding how you would like things to work.

In the remaining parts of this chapter, you will find some hints and tips about how to proceed, but remember that when push comes to shove, you must make your own choices.

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