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I'm very new to Ubuntu and Linux. I have a program that I've written in python that will take a long time to run on one machine; therefore, I've got four additional machines on the way. They will come pre installed with ubuntu. To run the program, I need lots of specific python and linux packages (e.g. scipy, pyobdc, etc.). As the program is updated and modified, I might need additional packages along the way. I also have a bunch of files 1 TB or so that the machines have to work with. Due to speed considerations, I'd like each machine to have those files stored locally.

Here's my question, what tools should I learn to work most efficiently with five machines?

I'd like it setup so that I can update all of them simultaneously. Because of the large amount of data that must initially be put on each machine, would I be best served to setup one machine completely and then clone that hard drive to each of the remaining machines drives?

What would be the most efficient way to update all the machines with any additional needed packages once I'm up and running?

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Quick and dirty: you could look into rsync for the synchronization of files. In the folder you sync you could have a Bash script. Then you could use crontab to syncronize and then run this script at regular intervals.

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