The 6 Best Automation and Orchestration Tools for Linux


Whether you have a few PCs or a large IT infrastructure, orchestration and automation tools can help you bring in a lot of efficiencies and enable you to simplify the management of complex tasks and workflows.

The main orchestration and configuration software can handle all sorts of repetitive workloads such as OS and application installation, removal, updates, etc. Here are some of the most common orchestration and automation tools for Linux.

Ansible is an open-source configuration and automation tool for managing and maintaining your IT infrastructure. It is ideal for automating the deployment, configuration, and updating of applications on your PCs.

Some key features of Ansible include:

  • Agentless: You do not need to install Ansible-related software on managed systems. This makes it easy to start with Ansible and reduces the overhead of managing agents on multiple systems.
  • Easy to use: It uses a high-level language called Ansible Playbooks to define the desired state of your IT infrastructure. Written in YAML, Ansible Playbooks are easy to read and understand.
  • Idempotent: Ansible is idempotent, which means that it can be safely run, multiple times, without changing your systems if they are already in the desired state.
  • Extensible: Ansible has a large library of pre-written modules for managing common tasks such as installing packages, managing services, and configuring applications. In addition, you can write your own modules to add new functionality.

In case you are wondering, the Ansible platform is mainly developed and maintained by Red Hat. It is written in the Python programming language.

Ansible is widely used by individuals and organizations of all sizes. If adopted, it can help in reducing the time and effort required to maintain your Linux systems, and ensure that they are consistently configured and compliant with best practices.

Yet another open-source configuration management and orchestration tool, Puppet allows you to define the desired state of your IT infrastructure, including the packages, services, and applications you need on your PCs.

A key feature of Puppet is ensuring the state of your IT infrastructure matches the defined or desired state.

In addition to configuration management, Puppet also provides orchestration capabilities that allow you to automate complex tasks and workflows across your infrastructure.

Puppet is highly scalable and efficient and you can use it to manage both small and large IT infrastructures.

cloud-init is an open-source tool mainly used for configuring and customizing cloud instances. For example, installing and setting up VMs in cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Of course, you can also use it with local or on-prem virtualization software such as VirtualBox and VMware.

Other common tasks that you can automate with cloud-init include installing packages and applications, user and group administration, network configuration, and writing files.

cloud-init reads its configuration data from a variety of sources, including cloud-specific metadata files, configuration files on the instance’s file system, and from user data files.

The platform is developed by Canonical and was originally only supported on Ubuntu, but it is now available on all major Linux distros including FreeBSD.

Salt is a configuration management and orchestration tool for Linux and Unix-like systems. It allows you to automate the process of managing and maintaining your PCs. It is ideal for installing software, managing services, and other administrative operations.

Salt mainly follows the server-client model, where you have to configure and install software on the PC that will be managed by Salt. The server is called the “master” and the clients are known as “minions.” Salt also supports agentless architecture.

It utilizes the ZeroMQ communication method, which allows for high-speed communication, allowing Salt to perform tasks on thousands of systems in parallel, making it very efficient and scalable.

Similar to Ansible, Salt utilizes YAML for defining your infrastructure state. However, Salt has a steeper learning curve. If you intend to manage large IT infrastructures then Salt could be your ideal solution.

Chef is a powerful and lightweight orchestration and automation tool. You can use Chef to manage and configure your IT infrastructure.

Similar to other main-stream tools, it allows you to define the desired state of your IT infrastructure, including the configuration, services, and software packages you need to install. Chef then ensures that the actual state of your infrastructure matches the desired state, making it easy to manage and maintain your systems.

Chef uses a high-level language known as Chef Infra Language to define your server or PC state. Written in Ruby, Chef Infra Language is relatively easy to read and understand.

In addition to configuration management, Chef also provides automation capabilities that allow you to automate complex tasks and workflows across your IT infrastructure. For example, you can use it to manage your server lifecycle and perform rolling updates across multiple live systems.

Chef is scalable and efficient and you can use it to manage IT infrastructure of all sizes, from a few to thousands of servers.

Terraform is an open-source tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. Like cloud-init, it is mainly used with cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Terraform also supports on-prem IT infrastructure.

Terraform utilizes the DevOps methodology known as “infrastructure as code,” which is simply a model for deploying your IT infrastructure. It uses a high-level configuration language called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL).

A great feature of Terraform is version control, and it encourages collaboration with other team members via version control systems like Git.

You can use terraform for automating tasks such as creating, updating, network configurations, and managing storage accounts in the cloud in a safe and predictable manner.

Terraform is easy to learn and at the same time is very flexible, reliable, and scalable. It is ideal for small to large-scale IT infrastructure.

Automate Repetitive Tasks on Linux

We’ve looked at some of the most prominent tools you can use to manage the entire lifecycle of your Linux servers and PCs, from installing the OS to managing software and services.

With Linux, you can take your automation to a whole new level by automating mundane tasks using Linux cron jobs.


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