Feeds

Group policy for Unix

Quality Unix-based GPO support shock

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Blog I was raised in the Red Hat world of Linux, starting with Red Hat 2, moving to Mandrake, and returning to Red Hat once more. Since then I have been using it through every iteration and have dabbled in Debian and Gentoo based distributions as well. Each camp has evangelical believers, but I tend to stick with Red Hat not because I think it is “better” than other distributions, but because it was what I was raised on.

Similarly, I have been dealing with Macs for a very long time. Mac business networking and management has come a long way, but it still isn’t a platform geared towards business use. It is possible to use Macs in an enterprise environment; there are thousands of businesses around the world that do. But, like Linux, Macs have spent so much time “empowering” the user of the computer that they have largely ignored empowering the administrators.

While I love Linux, and frankly couldn’t imagine a world without it, the lack of out-of-the-box support for policy-based management eats at me. Sure, if I wanted to write a bunch of scripts, and then write a script to deploy those scripts, I could. For more than 10 years, that sort of management is exactly how I have dealt with keeping herds of Unix boxen in line.

In Windows, if the configuration is stored in the registry - which it is for virtually every application - then you can manage it via a Group Policy object (GPO). If the .adm doesn’t exist to support your application, then knocking one together is often simpler than writing scripts to manage an application in Unix.

I wanted to compare Unix GPO setups to Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) and Novell’s offerings, but I find that all the really good ones don’t so much “compare” to these directory services as “integrate with them.” The comparisons that can be made are largely “what kinds of things can I manage via GPO on Unix systems?”

When you create a GPO for a Windows system, you aren’t pushing a script out to the target system to get the job done. You are pushing out something much closer to an INI file: a simple list of variables, and their new values. GPOs are “inverse scripts”. The “script” that makes the configuration changes is a fundamental part of the Windows operating system.

Policy management for Unix is different. In Unix, every GPO system is little more than an abstraction layer between the systems administrator and a series of scripts that will execute on the target system. There is no common chunk of code that will read a list of variables and apply changes to a centralised database such as the Windows registry. Instead, configuration changes on Unix are stored either in text files or databases of formats unique to the application or module.

So policy management in Unix is much more difficult. Any vendor who attempts this task is choosing to learn how to modify configurations for every application and module that its policy sets support. Vendors also tend to offer you the ability to write your own policy scripts and integrate them into the system. It is a vastly more complicated undertaking than the Microsoft approach. Until I saw it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it was feasible.

And so to policy-based management for Unix-based devices. Similar to Microsoft’s AD-plus-GPO approach to management, there are now mature GPO based systems available for Unix.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype
Box-hugger is not a dirty word, Minister. Box-huggers make the cloud WORK
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.