Ubuntu: MAAS - Using as an offline solution for imaging?



Question:

I've been looking at playing around with MAAS for building cloud networks but is there any reason why this couldn't been used to build a local network as well?

I was thinking that if you had a MAAS machine and plug in a number of laptops into that MAAS network then MAAS could be used to build all those laptops to a certain spec

So in theory this could be a replacement for clonezilla or fog ghosting machines?


Solution:1

Yes. There is no difference between loading an image with some other system and loading it with MaaS. The only issue I might see is that MaaS is linux server centric, and there don't seem to be any good tools for building custom images for it. Thus, it doesn't lend itself to loading Desktop or Windows.

A work around might be to build "Fast Installer" images, which I understand to be the equivalent of actual images, as opposed to installing from scratch. The downside to that is you would have to find or write scripts that can interact with the non-linux target OS to tell it machine name, security, domain membership, etc.

[edit]

Here is a link to a sight that explains how you install windows with MaaS:

http://wiki.cloudbase.it/maas


Solution:2

MAAS uses the curtin (or fast path installer) to install images, this copies the image onto the local disk and reboots into it. So, technically it is possible to install any image and it would install it.

However, MAAS uses cloud-init in any operating system image to customise the server on booting.

This is a requirement of any image that MAAS deploys using the fast-installer. Any operating system is capable of running cloud-init, including Windows, but it must be pre-installed into the image so that it is compatible with MAAS boot process.

MAAS can therefore deploy any Windows, Linux Desktop or Linux Server image as long as cloud-init package is already installed in the image.

Preparation of images is already done for Ubuntu, in the standard cloud image. There is a package for creating CentOS or RH based images available in Launchpad here: https://launchpad.net/maas-image-builder

Windows images are created by cloudbase and instructions are provided here: http://wiki.cloudbase.it/maas

The only comment I would have about building portable hardware with MAAS is that MAAS expects to manage servers in data centres or at least hardware that is permanently connected.
Laptops are not a good fit for MAAS and Cloud-init in general, most things would actually work once timeouts were reached, but this would delay the bootup sequence.

Also, MAAS expects to be able to control the hardware power with IPMI or another similar technology, laptops do not come with.

A home network or classroom network with machines permanently connected on a wired network would work well though. A good use of MAAS would be to deploy machines in the classroom according to which OS you need to run for an upcoming lesson.


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