Introduction

About a year ago I wrote a blog about the Landscape system management tool from Canonical, used to manage your Ubuntu servers and desktops from a single centralized location. It’s an easy-to-use, intuitive management tool with some useful features that should make administration of your Ubuntu environment a lot easier.

A few months ago Canonical released an updated version of Landscape (v12.09) and made some nice improvements over the previous release. Amongst the most noteworthy is support for Ubuntu 12.04, enhanced role-based access, improved system hardware inventory and support for MAAS (Metal-As-A-Service), which I will briefly cover here.

Installation

The steps to install this new release are the same as before. Canonical provides a step-by-step list of instructions on how to install and configure your systems. You can choose to either register your systems to a Landscape server hosted by Canonical, or you can install your own Landscape Dedicated Server (LDS) in your environment.

In my previous blog I mentioned one gotcha during the client registration process to LDS having to do with configuration of non-root CA signed SSL certificates. This gotcha is still there, so be sure to follow the workaround described in the blog. Or even better, here is a script I wrote to register your systems to LDS, which includes the workaround for the SSL certificate.

Using Landscape

At a glance, Landscape lets you see an overview of all your Ubuntu servers. Figure 1 is a sample screen with a few servers, which can be bare-metal or virtual:

Figure 1 – Summary of registered servers

Clicking on each server allows you see all its properties, including hardware configuration, packages installed and graphs for CPU loads and disk & network usage. In addition, as seen in Figure 2, you can create users remotely, run custom scripts and schedule installation of updated deb packages, among others.

Figure 2 – Server information at a glance

If you are familiar with Red Hat’s Network Satellite Server (RHN), you might be a bit disappointed as Landscape does not offer the same set of features as RHN. For example, Landscape doesn’t offer an errata overview and you will not be able to manage the list of deb repositories that each system is subscribed to (akin to Software Channels in RHN).

A new feature in Landscape v12.09 is the ability to add and manage Provisioning Servers, which allows you to implement MAAS. I did not test this feature, but if you’d like to know more about it, you can visit here.

Conclusion

Overall, Landscape is a useful tool for basic management of your Ubuntu environment. It does not have the same level of features as other enterprise-level tools such as Red Hat’s RHN, but then again, there is no additional cost for using Landscape since licenses are already included as part of the Ubuntu Advantage support program.

Useful Links:

  • For a complete list of what’s new in Landscape release 12.09, see here.
  • For more information about Landscape, see here.
  • For questions about using Landscape with PowerEdge systems, contact our linux-poweredge mailing list.