Configuration Management

13 Best Free and Open Source Linux Configuration Management Software

System administrators are responsible for the maintenance and operation of a computer system and network. This is a major task with a huge number of decisions to be made regarding the configuration of the system.

Configuration Management is a term that may not be familiar to many Linux users. But for system administrators the concept will be well known. In a nutshell, Configuration Management software enables administrators to automatically manage the entire configuration of one or multiple computers. An IT team’s main responsibility is to maintain, secure, and operate an organization’s systems and networks. This, in itself, carries a huge responsibility. IT teams that maintain technology infrastructure, deploy applications, and provisioning environments with many manual tasks are inefficient. In modern environments, services are rarely deployed in isolation. Simple applications may need several services to run – such as a web server and a database. Deploying more complex systems, many services may need installing, configuring, and linked together.

AnsibleWhy is this type of software important? By having tools that automate the configuration and software infrastructure, an organization’s server administration costs are reduced. Furthermore, this type of software enables a large complicated infrastructure to be supported with fewer system administrators. There are also efficiency improvements made by helping to reduce the amount of repetitive tasks performed by the administrator. Moreover, configuration management software help organizations to be able to scale up their computer infrastructure more easily and to instill flexibility in server configuration.

Configuration Management tools work by changing the state of the system. The goal is to get a system from whatever state it is in, into the desired state. The state of a system is mostly described by all the configuration files in the file system, and by the programs and processes that are running. Configuration management software are the tools of choice for many system administrators and DevOps professionals.

The software featured in this article are declarative configuration management system. Here the system administrator decides what state the system is to be in, and a runtime pushes the system into that state.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart..

Ratings chart

Click the links in the table below to learn more about each configuration management tool.

Configuration Management
AnsibleSoftware provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment
SaltPython-based configuration management software and remote execution engine
ChefAutomate IT Infrastructure for Hardened, Consistent Configuration
PuppetCentralized configuration management for networks
CFEngineIT infrastructure automation and Continuous Operations framework
JujuSimple, secure devops tooling
pyinfraAutomates infrastructure super fast at massive scale.
RudderContinuous configuration for effective compliance
QuattorComplex set of tools for automated machine management
cdistConfiguration management tool that uses the Bourne Shell for scripting
ZooKeeperCentralized service for maintaining configuration information
RexFriendly automation framework
Bcfg2Produce a consistent, reproducible, and verifiable description

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments