a centralized host capability database
for autonomous administration

hostcap is a simple database and a set of tools to help system administrators maintain information about hosts in a heterogeneous, networked environment.
Centralized capability database: By using hostcap, the ``capabilities'' of all the hosts in the local network (such as hostnames, IP addresses, physical locations, hardware types, OS versions) can be conveniently collected in a single, central place. Data sets such as the NIS and DNS tables are generated automatically using the hostcap database as input.
Simple textual database format: Hostcap employs the standard 4.4BSD capability database format and library, a generalized and improved replacement for the classic UNIX termcap database.
Hostcap database query tool: Users can inquire the hostcap database using a simple query language to find out, for example, which hosts running Solaris 2.5 are located in room XYZ, or which hosts in a given subnet have more than N megabytes of memory. The same query tool can be used by system administration scripts to apply operations such as installing files to a subset of all hosts in the network.
Autonomous administration: Arbitrary portions of the hostcap database, so-called hostgroups, can be delegated to the staff responsible for the respective sections of the network. These hostgroups can be administered autonomously without requiring root permission.

Life before hostcap. How the host database has made life easier for our department network's technical staff (and for our users as well).

A matter of format. A short description of the generalized capability database (formerly termcap) provided by modern BSD UNIX systems, and how we are using it to describe hosts rather than terminals.

Each one according to his capabilities The complete list of host capabilities that we are currently using in the host database.

Inquiring minds. Asking questions about hosts: the hostcap command and its query language.

Life with hostcap. How hostgroups can be used to delegate portions of the host database (autonomous administration).

Host database roadmap. All the shell and Perl scripts, Makefiles, and configuration files that make up the hostcap package.

You may also want to have a look at the manual page for the hostcap command (which, incidentally, has been translated to HTML automatically from the troff source using the unroff program available from this site as well).

There also is a set of transparencies about hostcap (in PostScript format), but you may want to skip them unless you can understand text written in the German language.

The source code for the hostcap command will be available here soon.

Oliver Laumann   ·