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Provisioning on Bare Metal the LinMin Way


It’s one thing to install Linux or Windows on a system of your own, it’s an entirely different thing to install Linux or Windows on a couple of dozen to a couple of thousand PCs. That’s where LinMin comes in with the newest version of its flagship bare metal installation program, LBMP (LinMin Bare Metal Provisioning) 5.2
The fundamental fact of LinMin Bare Metal Provisioning is it does just what it says: It lets you install Windows and a variety of Linuxes, including Red Hat, Novell, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora and Asianux, on PCs and servers without operating systems. All together, LinMin can install and provision Lover 50 different versions and architectures of Linux and Windows.

What’s new in this version is that it has a fully automated installation process. According to the company, “With a single command, LinMin detects all networking attributes, then downloads, installs and configures a database, network services and other required software components, and presents to the administrator a fully configured provisioning and imaging server in about 5 minutes.” I’ve tried it myself. It works as advertised.

You can set up LBMP in two basic ways. You can set up a model system first, and then let LinMin duplicate its settings on other computers, or you can use a mirror an existing system and use it to provision other servers or PCs.

You can also, of course, use it to set up a variety of different systems. For example, you can set up SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 SP2 executive and line-worker desktops, while setting up SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) directory and file servers for your core intranet and Ubuntu 8.04 Web and E-Mail servers for your Internet edge servers. This makes setting up, and then managing, a business’s computer infrastructure much easier.

This new version also comes with a new API (Application Programming Interface). The API is designed to enable you to automate and integrate LBMP’s functionality. For example, a Web hosting and dedicated server hosting company can use the API to automatically trigger the provisioning of systems with the customer’s choice of operating system and applications as soon as the customer fills out an online ordering form and his credit card clears.

As LinMin points out in its press release, “Even non-IT software can trigger the deployment of new systems or the repurposing of existing ones. For example, Human Resources information systems can now instruct LinMin Bare Metal Provisioning to prepare office or technical desktops and laptops for new employees.”

“IPNetZone has come to rely on LinMin for both the provisioning and imaging of servers in our various co-location sites,” said James Karimi, CTO of IPNetZone, a New York-based network management provider in a statement. “LinMin’s new API will enable us to offer even better responsiveness to customer requests for additional and/or differently-configured Linux and Windows servers.”

“Now, with the new LinMin API, customers can optimize IT resources (physical, virtual and human) around business processes, not the other way around,” said Laurent Gharda, LinMin’s CEO and founder in a statement, “LinMin’s ability to install applications and management agents during the provisioning process is even more valuable with the API, bringing a closed loop process to customers’ existing environments: automatically select an appropriate and available physical or virtual system, invoke the LinMin API, and after the system is provisioned, these agents identify themselves to their respective management, monitoring, policy enforcement, availability, compliance and other applications that then take control of the system.”

You can access the API either via a Web-based graphical user interface that can be integrated into other Web-based applications, or with a traditional programmatic interface, giving customers maximum flexibility. The example GUI can also be used as a “teaching mechanism” with the option to view in real time the API-compliant commands that get issued to and the responses received from the LinMin Bare Metal Provisioning server. This enables software developers to quickly develop API calls with real-time debugging, reducing implementation times.

LBMP is available for purchase and download now. LBMP is priced at $250 for up to 10 client systems, $1,000 for up to 100 client systems and $1,875 for up to 250 clients systems. Annual subscriptions are also available for $100, $400 and $750 respectively.

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