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central management of different clients
13-02-2015, 09:21 AM,
#1
central management of different clients
Hi Guys,

sorry for my English, I'm not a native speaker. Thank you for your greate image, it is easy to use.

I configured more than one Raspberry Pi as Thin Clients with your Image (RPi-TC X) and they are in a network. I use it for rdesktop connections to a Terminal Server. So my question is, if there is any software (maybe for Windows) for central management. Maybe you know tools where you can manage and handle the different thin clients in the network. (How many clients are online, central shutdown, ...)

Thank you very much for your time,

firewire
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13-02-2015, 11:55 AM,
#2
RE: central management of different clients
There is no central management, but for some options like "central shutdown" you can make some script that, via ssh connection to the clients, just shutdown the rpitcs.
You can follow this howto:
http://askubuntu.com/questions/191257/ho...local-host
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13-02-2015, 07:54 PM, (This post was last modified: 15-02-2015, 03:37 PM by greavette.)
#3
RE: central management of different clients
My two cents...

I've thought about a central management system as well would be useful for managing the various Pi's we use but it always comes down to the question "What exactly do I want this management system to do?". There are many systems out there to assist you. I've employed the RPI-Monitor: http://store.raspberrypi.com/projects/rpi-monitor which serves up a webpage giving you stats on the Pi and the added benefit of Shellinabox so you can, from the webpage, ssh in and issues any command you need on your Pi.

I also use bash scripts which I keep in sync on my Pi by mounting a share from the Pi and updating the script if need be (can even automate this through a cron job if you wanted)..for now I just do this manually.

You can also add in Pi Apps to your phone which gives you a status of the Pi and lets you reboot it. There might even be such Apps that allow you to manage multiple Pi's at once (I haven't had the need for this yet as I use SSH since it gives me much more flexibility).

Take a look at RPI-Monitor and other similar sites...these can be used from Windows using any type of browser.

If you find anything useful please share!
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16-02-2015, 02:43 PM,
#4
RE: central management of different clients
Thank you for your replies. I tried the RPi-monitor and it's really cool, thank you for that. I also took a look at other monitoring tools, and I hope I will find the best one for our usage. Because greavette, you are completely right, the question is what exactly this system should do.
We are looking for a management system, where you can control all RaspPi's in network, maybe update all of them or transfer them a new script and so on.
But this Monitoring tools, especially the RPi-monitor are a good approach, thanks for that.
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16-02-2015, 08:35 PM, (This post was last modified: 18-02-2015, 06:07 PM by greavette.)
#5
RE: central management of different clients
Another monitoring software I've tested is called raspctl - http://raspctl.com/. It has a tab that allows you to create your own custom commands..a nice feature if you have specific repetitive commands for your Pi. The developer is also very responsive to questions and assistance (I had some issues setting it up...if you want to give this a run I can dig up what I found and post it here).

The more and more I thought about central management the more I came to the realization that the monitoring tools I had found didn't quite do what I wanted. I wanted one tool that would give me the following abilities:
  • Remote Assistance to each Pi Client (vnc access and/or send message to Pi Client)
  • Create custom instructions/scripts from one location and deploy to many Pi clients.
  • Create custom desktop shortcuts from one location and deploy to many Pi clients.
  • add/update new users
  • Reboot Pi Clients


This is when I came to find an LTSP server might be what I need to use in our Thin Client Environment. I installed an awesome project called Pi-LTSP - http://pi-ltsp.net/. It creates a Fat Client images (running in Ram) that gets deployed to the Raspberry Pi. The Pi SD Card has boot files (30 mb in total size) that point to the LTSP server. Since the O/S runs in Ram, once the Pi has the image deployed form the LTSP server, you can remove the SD Card and the Pi keeps on running (less corruption and read/write issues on the SD Card). Epoptes is installed on the LTSP server so you have remote management, screen sharing, logoff/reboot/shutdown ability as well as message sending abilities all from the LTSP server. In the chroot I've installed rdesktop and x11vnc (for vnc access to each Pi Thin Client) as well as SSH access (albeit root which is a little risky). It's tested quite well for me so far but more testing is definitely required before I move our office to using it. It's not a perfect solution (single point of failure to the LTSP server and networking issues to the LTSP serve could cause stability issues with the Pi Fat Clients) but it does afford me the central management I need. The developer is very responsive to providing assistance and has mentioned plans to auto update the SD Card Files on each Pi Fat Client (deployed from the LTSP server) as well as build in a discovery process for each Pi to look for an LTSP server (thereby no hardcoding of LTSP server address...not quite clustering but would work if one server goes down, turn on your backup and keep on trucking).

As I learn more about using LTSP I will try and share it with this community.

I forgot to mention that RPI-Monitor has a feature (addon) called Friends. Seems you can link Raspberry Pi's through the RPI-Monitor webpage. I haven't tried it yet but it might be a good way to switch between each Raspberry Pi using the RPI-Monitor webpage.
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17-02-2015, 11:36 AM,
#6
RE: central management of different clients
Thank you, also the monitoring tool "raspctl" works really well. The only problem I have is the autostart. I don't know why, but raspctl doesn't start automatically. The value of "autostart=" in /etc/supervisor/conf.d/raspctl.con is true, but after a reboot I have to execute the core.py.

Yeah, the abilities you mentioned are interesting and exactly these things I thought about.

The LTSP opportunity sounds really interesting. I will try it within the next few days and will inform you about my experience.

Oh, thanks I didn’t see this add-on, great. I also have a question about RPi-monitor, maybe you know a solution. I activated the add-on “shellinabox”, I also installed this package on the client, but I always have to accept the ssl certificate in an own tab. Only afterwards shellinabox works within the RPi-monitor. If I disable ssl in the rpimonitor conf files, the shellinabox add-on doesn’t work at all within the rpimonitor.

Thank you for your time!
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17-02-2015, 06:28 PM, (This post was last modified: 18-02-2015, 05:58 PM by greavette.)
#7
RE: central management of different clients
Hi firewire,

Ah yes, raspctl didn't start properly for me either after a reboot. Turns out that supervisord logfile is created in Ram (to reduce writes to SD card) and upon restart this logfile didn't exist:

Code:
logfile=/var/log/supervisord.log

What I did was create a bash script to run when my Pi boots to check and create this logfile for me. It's been a while since I've used raspctl but here is a starting point for your script (you may need to tweak this...I can't guarantee it will work with slight modification:

Code:
#!/bin/bash
Logfile=/home/pi/scripts/supervisorlog.log

if [[ ! -e /var/log/supervisor/ ]]; then
    mkdir /var/log/supervisor/
     echo "$(date "+%m%d%Y %T") : supervisor log folder was missing and has now been created" >> $Logfile
else
    echo "$(date "+%m%d%Y %T") : supervisor log folder exists" >> $Logfile
fi

#check if raspctl is running
if pgrep supervisor >/dev/null 2>&1
  then
     echo "supervisor is running" >> $Logfile
   else
     echo "supervisor is not running" >> $Logfile
     /etc/init.d/supervisor start >> $Logfile
fi
exit 0

My Bash Foo is not that strong so please test it and modify it to suit your needs.

I really like Pi-LTSP project and in my testing so far it's meeting a lot of my needs. I'm still not sure how well it will stand up to being a reliable connection for me (still early days but in my testing it does keep it's rdesktop connection overnight without disconnecting). Performance seems similar to what I see when running rpitc on my Pi. There is an issue with losing the connection between the Pi and the LTSP server is there is an interruption to the LTSP server (but really there should be no need to reboot that sever on a regular basis). Single point of failure to the LTSP is also a concern but using an LTSP cluster or when the developer puts in place the ability for a Pi Client to 'Discover' the LTSP server will greatly benefit the use of Pi's with this system. What I would really like to see (and I've asked Gibbio if this is possible) is the rpitc image used in the LTSP server so rpitc gets deployed to each Pi Client (thereby accessing all the goodness that Gibbio has put into rpitc!).

Regarding shellinabox...I've noticed this as well. I also needed to access the shell first using an ssl connection (https://ipofrpitc:4222. I accept the cert first. Then I can go to the Ip of RPI-Monitor (http://ipofrpitc:8888). I've only begun using RPI-Monitor so I haven't investigated how to get around this (even though it's not a big deal...but would be nice to not have to do this).

If you learn anything more, please share! Smile
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18-02-2015, 01:52 PM,
#8
RE: central management of different clients
Hey greavette,

thank you very much, I fixed the autostart problem of RaspCTL. The solution with the supervisor logfile worked.

Yeah, I think a oppertunity with the rpitc image and the LTSP server would be really great. Unfortunalety I couldn't try the LTSP variant at the moment.

Regarding shellinabox, I already know the problem but I can't find a solution. I tried to disable ssl, that isn't a problem, you only have to add the following argument in the /etc/default/shellinabox file:

Code:
SHELLINABOX_ARGS="--disable-ssl"

After that, you can open shellinabox in the browser without a certificate. But with the RPi-Monitor you will got a ssl error, because in the background the add-on opens a https-iFrame, and without ssl it isn't https. But I can't find the location where I can change this configuration.
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18-02-2015, 06:03 PM,
#9
RE: central management of different clients
Hi firewire,

Glad to hear you got RaspCTL up and running. It's an interesting little project that does have some benefit.

I think RPI-Monitor might be more useful for me as an Admin tool in that I have full access to the shell for whatever instruction I want and the addons look useful as well.

Interesting what you've discovered with regards to the ssl error. We may have to open an issue with the developer of RPI-Monitor to get their input to solving this. I don't open my Pi Clients to the WAN in our office so to access our office network I VPN in first so using http for my situation works fine for me.

Thanks for the update!
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17-03-2015, 09:27 AM,
#10
RE: central management of different clients
Just for your information I wrote small Windows batch scripts, where I control the different Raspberry Pi's with tools like plink or pscp. With this method I'm able to configure many clients with one batch. If you want more information do not hesitate to ask.
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