• Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Sun Microsystems
  • BT
  • IBM
  • Yahoo! Inc.
  • Zimbra
  • Atlassian Software Systems
  • Disney
  • EnterpriseDB
  • Etelos
  • Ingres
  • JasperSoft
  • Kablink
  • Linagora
  • MindTouch
  • Mozilla Corporation
  • Novell, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • OpSource
  • RightScale
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • Tenth Planet
  • Ticketmaster
  • Voiceroute
  • White Oak Technologies, Inc.
  • XAware
  • ZDNet

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Using Puppet: Real World Configuration Management

Location: D136 Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ***..
(3.33, 6 ratings)

Configuration management is the oft-misunderstood (and possibly black) art of managing your IT environment, infrastructure, and costs. Done well it can reduce operational errors and outages, simplify your environment, and help maintain the sanity of your IT staff.

Puppet is part of the bright future of configuration management for heterogeneous Unix systems. It combines automation, a powerful abstraction language, and uses a client-server model that can scale to suit enterprise-size environments. Puppet is written in Ruby and authored by recovering system administrator-turned-developer Luke Kanies.

This session explains why configuration management is important, the benefits configuration management will deliver, and how all of this can be achieved using Puppet. The session also explains emerging best practices in configuration management and addresses:

  • What is configuration management? Or why am I here?
  • Benefits, risks, and challenges: build fire resistant infrastructure rather than fight fires
  • Best practice: how do we do this configuration management magic right?
  • Where does Puppet fit in and why should management pay for its implementation?
  • Why using Puppet will save you money and help staff retention (although is unlikely to stop world hunger)
  • Real world configuration management using Puppet: code, examples, explanations, and using Puppet in anger
  • Measuring the results and pocketing the returns
  • Where to from here: some ideas about the future (may include wild-arse guesses)
Photo of James Turnbull

James Turnbull


James Turnbull works for the National Australia Bank as a Security Architect. He is also a member of the Linux Australia executive team and the Treasurer of Linux.conf.au 2008.

He is the author of three books:

  • Pulling Strings with Puppet: Systems Administration Made Easy about the Ruby-based Puppet configuration management tool.
  • Hardening Linux, which focuses on hardening Linux bastion hosts including the base operating system, file systems, firewalling, connections, logging, testing your security and securing a number of common applications including e-mail, FTP and DNS.
  • Pro Nagios 2.0 focuses on enterprise management using the Nagios open source tool.

James has previously worked as an Executive Manager of IT Security at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the CIO of a medical research foundation doing Web-based clinical trials, managing the architecture group of an outsourcing company and in a number of IT roles in gaming, telecommunications and government.

He is an experienced infrastructure architect with a background in Linux, Unix, AS/400, Windows, and storage systems. He has been involved in security consulting, infrastructure design, SLA and service definition and has an abiding interest in metrics and measurement.

Photo of Luke Kanies

Luke Kanies

Puppet Labs

Luke has been publishing and speaking on his work in Unix administration since 1997. He has focused on tool development since 2001, developing and publishing multiple simple sysadmin tools and contributing to established products like Cfengine. He founded Reductive Labs in 2005 as a response to the stagnation in sysadmin tools, to be a vehicle for changing the way we interact with and manage our computers. He is currently focused on Puppet, an open-source automation framework written in Ruby, and he is always researching and developing new ways to make it easier to talk to computers on your terms. He has presented on Puppet and other tools around the world, including at OSCON, LISA, Linux.Conf.au, and FOSS.in.

OSCON 2008