Managing Ubuntu with Canonical Landscape

Landscape Gardener

Warnings by Email

To remove the need to continually log on to Landscape and check for updates or upgrades, you can enable email notification, which is initially disabled. To enable this feature, go to the Alerts menu item, below which you will find a list of potential warning messages. Next, select the alerts you want to receive via email in the future and confirm the details by pressing the Subscribe button. You can use the same approach to disable the alerts if needed.

Once a message condition is true – for example, because updates exist or a computer has not been in touch with Landscape for an extended period of time – the system will notify the email address stored in the account. By the way, there are no other ways of notifying; Canonical might think about adding some messaging alternatives.

Automatic Updates

This manual management approach might work fine, if you only had a few computers. But, what if you need to manage hundreds or thousands of Ubuntu computers? To automate actions, Canonical has introduced profiles that cover three applications: Package, Removal, and Upgrade. The first of these automates the package configuration on computers, which mainly includes package dependencies and version numbers, and is designed to make sure that Landscape does not install any packages or software that could conflict with others.

To create a new Package Profile , you need to define a title and describe the package configurations. To do so, select a computer and decide whether to import a CSV file with the dependencies, enter them manually, or define them on the basis of the packages installed on the computer. If you choose the latter, Landscape will show you the list of installed packages and dependencies for the selected computer.

On the editing side, delete the entries that you do not want to restrict. In our lab, I also stipulated that Apache must not have a version number of 2 or greater, because the configuration files would need to be modified manually as of that version. I also defined restrictions for other packages in this Apache example, assuming that an in-house development needs specific package versions.

I then assigned the package profile to a group and associated it with the Apache tag, which I also set when registering the servers on which Apache was installed. At this point, Landscape knows that the Apache tag needs to be applied to all computers in the selected group.

Cleaning Up Removed Computers

To create a Removal application, click Removal Profile , where you define the automatic mechanism and conditions under which Landscape removes a computer from your account. This action is handled by reference to the amount of time that elapsed since a computer last contacted Landscape. In addition to the name, you thus need to configure the number of days after which the computer should be removed. You can also define the group to which to assign the profile, and whether a computer needs to have a specific tag assignment for this to apply.

The benefit here is that an enterprise can manage its field force's laptops via Landscape. When staff change devices or receive new ones from time to time, you would normally need to remove the obsolete devices manually from Landscape, because they use a license and are unnecessary ballast on your system. In the lab, I set this to three days and refrained from starting a virtual machine for that period of time. On the fourth day, Landscape removed the computer.

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