Puppet is a system for replicating configurations to many servers, and it makes managing a Linux1 server farm ridiculously easy. One server runs a master process, while the others run a client which connects to the master2 to get the correct configuration. Clients are identified by hostname, so if your servers don’t have resolvable names you’ll need to put them in the hosts file on the master.
Puppet uses a declarative syntax built on top of ruby for defining rules. The documentation is mediocre at best, so you may struggle at first learning how to write the rules. Just read through the example recipes and test it out with a non-production server. The easiest way I found to test a rule is to run
sudo puppetd --test
on the server that should be getting the configuration. It will tell you there if there are any errors.
The version of puppet in Ubuntu 9.10 doesn’t support defining node names with regular expressions, so you might want to grab the version in Debian sid.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to split up modules and organize my node definitions, so if you’ve used Puppet leave a comment and let me know what you think.