SystemImager 3.9.4 (-unstable) released

SystemImager is software which automates Linux installs, software distribution, and production deployment.

SystemImager makes it easy to do automated installs (clones), software distribution, content or data distribution, configuration changes, and operating system updates to your network of Linux machines. You can even update from one Linux release version to another!

A lot of new cool features have been introduced in this release!!!

The most important is the introduction of host groups. Host groups allow to consistently speed-up the typical management operations on your clients, specifying a single name (the group name), instead of remembering the complex set of host ranges that identify the same logical entity. This also reduce the risk of errors due to accidental oversights/omissions of hosts.

The command si_clusterconfig(8) can be used to both show or configure groups and their properties. You can even associate an image to all the clients that belong to a group or you can define group-based overrides. Group names can be also used in pre-install/post-install scripts to identify the target nodes that need to execute the scripts. There'll be soon a page on wiki to explain all the potential advantages of groups and the best practices to use them, but the concept is really simple and for now you can easily play with them reading the si_clusterconfig(8) manpage and the comments, simply using this command.

Another major improvement is the new tftpbooting layout. Now the default path is the more LSB-compliant directory /var/lib/tftpboot (instead of /tftpboot). Anyway, don't worry, if you still prefer the old path simply edit the configuration parameter TFTP_DIR in /etc/systemimager/systemimager.conf. Moreover, the tftpboot path is a symlink to the autoinstall boot directory (default is /usr/share/systemimager/boot). This means that you don't have to care anymore about synchronizing BOEL or UYOKs kernel + initrd.img from the autoinstall boot directory to /tftpboot, because they're in the same place. And, last but not least, you can associate different boot packages (kernel + initrd.img) to different clients (even with different architectures) directly by the command si_mkclientnetboot(8) and the --flavor and --arch options.

We have improvements also from the the monitoring engine and the Tk-based monitoring GUI. The monitoring daemon (si_monitor) now is able to keep track of thousands of parallel auto-installing clients, using a new thread-based object serialization model for message passing (implemented with perl threads and the "Storable" perl module, that means fully portable across the different GNU/Linux distributions). The monitoring interface has strong improvements in terms of reactiveness and now has a clickable header to sort the monitored clients by their different properties with a single click.

There is also the usual list of bug fixes that I don't report here, because it's too long and too boring ;-) (see the detailed changelog below if you're interested). I spend only a word for the most important bug fix, that regards the support to all the filesystem LABELs and UUIDs (commonly used in the recent distributions, like Ubuntu). Since this depends on a recent bug fixed in SystemConfigurator ( there's the unofficial pre-release systemconfigurator-2.2.9.svn681, shipped together with the SystemImager packages (see the download page) - we think it's simpler than manually patching it, for now... but hopefully there'll be systemconfigurator-2.2.10 soon that will include this fix.

Due to all this major improvements we can consider 3.9.4 as the first release candidate of SystemImager 4.0.0 (BTW we've also a new amazing boot screen!). This means that testing and bug reporting is really appreciated now, in order to have a more stable and powerful 4.0.0 soon... If you think to have found a bug, please, don't be shy and send a mail to or (for developer issues).

You can download source and binary packages here:

The detailed changelog is available here:

You can find information about our email lists, IRC, bug reports, etc at:

Have fun! ;-)
-the SystemImager team

Posted by Andrea Righi 2007-09-01

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