Introduction

"ssh in a for loop is not a solution" – Luke Kanies, Puppet developer

The lives of system administrators and operations staff often revolve around a series of repetitive tasks: configuring hosts, creating users, and managing applications, daemons, and services. Often these tasks are repeated many times in the life cycle of one host, from building to decommissioning, and as new configuration is added or corrected for error or entropy.

The usual response to these repetitive tasks is to try to automate them with scripts and tools. This leads to the development of custom-built scripts and applications. In my first role as a systems administrator, I remember creating a collection of Control Language (CL) and Rexx scripts that I subsequently ...

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