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I'm looking for a secure and flexible way of pushing custom updates to my users' Ubuntu 11.10 x64 machines.

I'm looking to push updates that will run scripts for adding new software, adjusting settings, etc etc etc..basically any changes I'd like to make to an Ubuntu machine, only on all of my users' systems. Of course I'd also like to control if/when these systems get the usual Ubuntu updates.

There's lots of info out there on setting up repos for updating a particular app; hoping someone could point me in the right direction for best methods of updating/reconfiguring Ubuntu systems and applications overall. Many thanks!

EDIT: Already aware of Landscape, and while very well suited for my needs it's out of our (non-existant) budget.

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I do not know exactly what you want but my initial suggestions would be to learn how to use ssh (security) and you might want to look at thin clients – bodhi.zazen Dec 29 '11 at 3:04
The thin-client approach would be great but unfortunately the machines are scattered around the country. Puppet might be along the right lines but looks extremely complicated for what I'm looking to do, namely run scripts to install new applications and run other basic Terminal functions, and control what Ubuntu updates get applied to my users' machines. Thanks for the prompt reply! – brklynmark Dec 29 '11 at 3:35
Personally I would run ssh + keys. Perhaps someone will have a better suggestion to you. – bodhi.zazen Dec 29 '11 at 4:33

You're asking a really open ended question but here goes, you're probably looking for configuration management. Ubuntu includes Puppet for this purpose, though there are other tools such as Chef that are also available.

Since you're not asking a specific question, I can point you to the quick start documents for Puppet:

The quick answer here is you have a machine called a "puppetmaster" and then you'll install the puppet client on all the machines you want to manage. The machines will check in periodically and execute whatever recipes they're told to execute that you write and put on the puppetmaster.

This can be anything from installing packages to running customized scripts, it's really up to you to decide how you want to use it.

After you've picked a tool feel free to just ask specific questions here, you'll find activity in the tag.

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