SUE: Standard Unix Environment at CERN

Paper: 302
Session: F (talk)
Speaker: Reguero, Ignacio, CERN, Geneva
Keywords: configuration management, system management

SUE: Standard Unix Environment at CERN

by Lionel Cons, Ignacio Reguero, Rainer Tobbicke

CERN, European Laboratory for Particle Physics
Computing and Networks Division
CH-1211 Geneva 23. Switzerland.


This paper presents the SUE system done at the Unix Workstation Support
section of CERN Computer and Network division in order to automate the
system configuration management of large numbers of Unix systems.

SUE controls the choice of system components and configurations,
simplifying installations, reducing the possibility of erroneous
configurations thus easing problem solving, decreasing the need for Unix
system manager skills by individual workstation owners and also decreasing
the load on support staff.

SUE is available in Solaris 2, HP-UX 9 and 10, AIX 4, and DEC-UNIX 3.2.

SUE is implemented mostly in Perl though it supports other languages. The
current implementation relies on the availability of a distributed file
system such as AFS.

SUE has been installed in a large number of systems in the CERN site
including 221 Solaris, 163 HP-UX and 200 AIX.


There are presently at CERN around seven hundred Sun's and HP's
workstations each, two hundred IBM's, three hundred and fifty DEC's and
fifty SGI's, giving a total of about two thousand UNIX workstations
and servers. Some seventeen hundred X-terminals are also registered.
More than 5000 users have a UNIX login account.

Offering Unix system support in this environment is a challenging task,
moreover the reduced manpower available for the service drive us to an
increased focus in automated system installation and configuration
management. This goes together with a standardization effort required in
order to rationalize the support tasks.

Our goal is to offer a managed system configuration. This includes
automated installation procedures with no user intervention providing a
ready-to-use system with the default CERN Unix environment. We want to
achieve this goal in several Unix flavours thus helping to hide some of
the differences among these flavours.

What is SUE

SUE stands for Standard Unix Environment. It is a set of software
components, configuration files and utility programs which together form a
ready-to-use, site-customized Unix system.

SUE is structured in features and profiles.

SUE features

A SUE feature encapsulates a particular piece of configuration or

Examples for features are network, mail and hepix.

network: configures the IP network mask, IP broadcast address, the
default IP gateway or mandatory IP routes, and the CERN domain name

mail: each node is to be able to send and receive electronic mail via
the CERN electronic mail gateway(s).

hepix: the necessary hooks for the HEPiX user environment scripts to
be called for every user upon login are installed.

Here follow the typical operations that may be supported:

update - insures that a feature is correctly configured.

daily, weekly, monthly - intended for feature-specific housekeeping
activities, e.g. cycle log files, clean /tmp directory, etc.

init - to be invoked upon system boot, designed to start
feature-specific daemons.

install - The SUE install command is used to install features or
to re-install them at the latest available level.

Features can depend on other features.

SUE Profiles

A profile is a set of features. This is implemented as a feature which
only contains a include file. Installing a profile feature installs all
the features (or profiles) listed in the profile's include file.

The minimum set of features to be installed on every SUE machine is called
base profile.

The default profile which is installed when SUE is installed without any
parameters is called cern.

More profiles can be defined for particular user groups, e.g. atlas, cms
or sp2. SUE can therefore be used to install different flavours of
configurations while maintaining a common base.


Ignacio Reguero:
CERN, European Laboratory for Particle Physics,
CN Division, CH-1211 Geneva 23. Switzerland.