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Hobbit newbie from BB: differences and what may I lose from migrating?

I am considering moving to Hobbit from BB for our
web/database/applications development group at UCLA and have lots of
questions. I would greatly appreciate if someone could go section by
section and answer what they can. If there is somewhere that I can
search the mailing list archives, definitely point me there first as I
am sure many of these questions have been answered in the past.

First, after reading through whatever I could find on the website I am
still a little bit confused about configuration and setup. With BB, you
install and configure each client and server on the local machine,
except for the universal bb-hosts. Is this the same on Hobbit, or does
Hobbit use a central configuration file that is modified only on the
server to configure clients? I am trying to figure out the difference
between installing, maintaining and configuring BB and Hobbit setups.
Hobbit looks alot more complex to setup, but once I get my feet wet is
it any harder than BB?

Second is performance. I know this list may be biased toward Hobbit, but
is it actually faster? We have about 50-100 clients on BB and I did not
notice any performance issues. Hobbit looks like it is very complex, so
does this mean it uses a lot of resources on the client and server? What
speed/ram server is usually the minimum recommended for a dedicated
Hobbit server? Would something like a dual Pentium II 266mhz have any
performance issues as a server, if it does nothing else? What about for
clients? We have still have some testing, stating and production servers
left that are singe chip Pentium III 700-850 mhz, and even a couple
Pentium II's. Just need to make sure all the resources used for things
like graphs are taken from the server and not each client.

Third is plugins. Are BB plugins compatible with Hobbit? Also how hard
are plugins to write for Hobbit? I don't know if these even exist for
bb, but I ultimately would like to integrate plugins that 1) monitor
legato tape backup, 2) run nmap to see what ports are open/can be seen
from an external machine, 3) run 'lshw -html' to show a list of all the
hardware on the system, 4) monitor uptime, 5) monitor OS and kernel
versions (uname -a and head -n 1 /etc/issue), 6) maybe some more
router/network monitoring stuff and 7) maybe some kind of LVS
monitoring. I am not a programmer, but many of these can be done with
either existing commands or can be done on BB with existing plugins and
some (like lshw -html) are mostly static.

Fourth is relay. By this I mean monitoring systems on a private
subnetwork that are only accessible to the Hobbit server by going
through an intermediate server. Is this possible with Hobbit and is it
any more difficult to do than on BB?

Fifth is portability. BB is very portable, I can make a 'model' client
for say Red Hat and tar it and distribute it very easily to every server
I have using only a few commands. Is Hobbit the same, or are there
client dependencies or other things that may make this more difficult.

Sixth is development. How active is the development of Hobbit, how big
is the community, etc? How many people can attest to having fully
functional hobbit setups, how long has it been around and how often are
new releases usually made? Also I saw something this morning about a
Windows client -- how stable is that? How stable is the Solaris version?
Is there a client for Mac OSX? Is Hobbit like BB in the sense that you
can change paths to system binaries like grep and sed to allow easy use
on other UNIXes like OSX? When will 4.2 be officially released as a
production version? Since we have a working BB setup for now, I need to
decide if I should try to start migrating now or if I should wait some
time for Hobbit to develop more before I migrate from BB.

That's all for now. Sorry about so many questions, but I need as much
clarification and background knowledge as possible before I start trying
to convince my boss why we should dedicate the time and effort to try
out and ultimately move to Hobbit when BB "just works" without giving us
any problems. If we do adopt hobbit, I will definitely reciprocate with
help to newbies as I learn Hobbit better and will recommend it to many
other people on campus as I have previously done with BB.

Jordan Mendler
Systems Analyst, UCLA