The Volution software components examine and take action on the objects stored in the LDAP database according to a defined action schedule set up by the administrator. We recommend installing an SNMP console prior to installing Volution because one isn't included with the Caldera product now, and you'll need one to collect SNMP trap information from the machines you are managing. But this isn't a major hurdle to using the product because many Linux distributions include an SNMP console in their commercial bundles.
In the Volution universe, Linux machines assume the role of server, client, directory source or RPM source. Unfortunately, Volution does not cover all Linux systems but supports Caldera's e-Desktop 2.4 and Server 2.3.1, Red Hat's 6.1/6.2, TurboLinux's 6.0, SuSE's 6.4 and Linux-Mandrake's 7.1 (client only). Because of the RPM limitation, Debian and Windows clients aren't covered by Volution. Servers must use a specific Apache Web server daemon, ApacheJServer1.1.1, which is supplied in the Volution bundle.
We set up 11 clients and two servers (see "How we did it") using Volution's Version1.0 distribution CD and a single directory source. Most of the work involved in using Volution occurs when you are building relationships between the devices on your network. Volution's browser console interface doesn't lend much clarity to how you accomplish this task. We took the supplied examples and rapidly populated information about the Volution client computers, then started building policies that would take inventories of their hardware and software.
The strength of Volution lies in its object-oriented construction. We quickly built a management/monitoring platform from objects that we created. The objects consisted of computers, groups of machines and several software repositories. We then generated policies such as system health monitoring and software distribution. We found Volution's printing policies to be very useful. Managing printing policies is often tedious in Linux, and Volution offers a method for managing network print job capturing, queuing, indirection and job control management.
Once we built the base platform, the product worked quietly in the background while remaining easily accessible and changeable. The product's software distribution tasks were useful for new installation of packages, but we found that updating existing client packages was occasionally problematic. Some software packages were updated incorrectly while others were not updated at all. We looked through the RPMs and the installation dependencies and couldn't find a reason for the occasional Volution action of ignoring an update on a client. Also, the primary console daemon, csmd, became deaf/mute on two occasions during simple browser access. Killing the daemon and restarting it corrected the problem, and we could find no damage or related consequence.