REVIEW: Quick Assessment of Canonical's Landscape Management tool for Ubuntu Infrastructures

Kristian Erik Hermansen kristian.hermansen at
Wed Oct 10 18:52:38 UTC 2007

Although a very young product, Landscape will be a great tool for any
administrator managing a slew of Ubuntu machines.  This is exactly the
tool I wish I had when I was running a small Linux lab for IBM while a
student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst a few years ago.
Rather than this great tool, I was forced to write custom scripts to
manage all the machines.  Well, I did have fun with it.  One time, I
was able to make the 30+ machines perform a symphony using the beep
command :-)  One LUG member and I even went so far as to create a
mapping in Python to allow basic music composition, and to assign
which hosts would play what part.  It was really cool, and just like
being a conductor.  It was even cooler when we piped logs through
festival to warn users when something bad was happening.  Anyways,
that was just one of the things that kept us busy.  If we have
Landscape, we could have actually been doing our homework instead!

So, what's nice about Landscape is that it allows and admin access to
all the machines in the group.  You can queue up tasks, and they will
run on the hosts you assign.  You have the power.  You can even kill
processes remotely.  For instance, just to test it out, I ran
gnome-calculator, then went to the web interface, and queued it to end
the process.  A few moments later, and my client received the request
and the process died.  Very cool.

Additionally, the client sends out info about the hardware.  So, if
you need to keep track of inventory, this would be a very useful
feature.  I mean, who wants to go around and physically gather serial
numbers anyways, right?!?!

And just to mention the infrastructure, we all know that Mark
Shuttleworth is addicted to Python.  So, it is true that Landscape is
also built this way, just as Launchpad presumably has tons of Python
code within.  The web service runs on top of the Python Twisted
framework, which is a wonderful platform to build on and allow rapid
development.  I myself have fallen in love with Python and Twisted
allows developers to create applications with a amazing number of
features in very little time.  I used Twisted when I worked at Cisco
to build some cool networking tools.  These days, hellanzb is a past
time of mine, and hellanzb is built on top of Twisted as well.  Many
good things from such a simple tool.  Go Python!!!

So, this is my very naive review of Landscape.  It is still in the
early stages (beta), but I think it is safe to say that we can expect
great things in the future from this offering by Canonical.  Saving
administrators time and energy will mean they are happier and more
productive.  Maybe I wouldn't have gotten in so much trouble during my
college years had I utilized Landscape :-)
Kristian Erik Hermansen

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