Today we released Landscape 1.2. We have come a long way since the 1.1 release, with many new features that were incrementally added to the service in these last few months. So we will do something a bit different today in this blog post.

First we will recap what was accomplished in this 1.2 series, and then we will list what changed specifically in this last release.

Reviewing Landscape 1.2

Landscape 1.2 was mostly about customization. We wanted people to not be constrained and forced to use only specific features, but to be able to expand on their own.

The script library was the first such feature, allowing administrators to run scripts anywhere. Later it was incremented with attachments, giving administrators much more freedom. Being such a powerful feature, script execution is still disabled by default in the client part of Landscape, but it’s easily enabled during installation or afterwards.

Secondly, we wanted to make Landscape work more for the administrator. Instead of polling the Landscape pages to see what has to be done, what about letting Landscape warn you? This is how alerts were born. This feature was also later refined, allowing control over which set of machines are subjected to each type of alert.

Finally, we also wanted to make Landscape more useful for people without a subscription to the service. The idea was to provide a quick summary of the system during logins, so that an administrator could quickly check if everything was ok. landscape-sysinfo was born, and with a fully modular architecture it can be easily expanded with more plugins.

As a bonus, the client part of Landscape (including the new landscape-sysinfo tool) is officially part of Ubuntu starting with the 8.10 “Intrepid” release. This includes an integration with the installer, meaning that administrators can have a fully configured Landscape client right after installation.

Even with all these features being added to Landscape, there is always some time to fine tune existing ones and add some other, smaller, enhancements. Some are just small, but helpful, details, like adding a “Select All” button to a page. Others are a bit more visible, like the reboot/shutdown option. The point is that Landscape is always evolving. One day things are exactly how they were before, and in the next day the administrator can be presented with a new exciting feature that makes his job easier.

To end this quick review, here is the full list of major features that were added to Landscape 1.2:

  • Alerts: via email or just in the dashboard, get alerts for package upgrades (security or otherwise), new pending computers or pending actions that require explicit approval from the administrator;
  • Script library: administrators can now store scripts inside Landscape itself for quick retrieval and deployment. Attachments can also be stored and used from within the script, opening up lots of new scripting possibilities;
  • System status during login: new client side tool called landscape-sysinfo which shows a quick summary about the system where the administrator is logging in (only available for text logins, such as a terminal or ssh);
  • Inclusion in Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid”: not only is the client part of Landscape part of the distribution, there is also integration with the installer.

Thanks to all that sent feedback to the Landscape team, it is really appreciated!

Specific changes for this release

These are the specific changes in this release compared to the previous one:

  • client fix to avoid a situation where dpkg would stop asking for a question, thus halting the whole package operation
  • fix for a server error when an activity would be cancelled when it was no longer undelivered
  • set and export a sane PATH variable for scripts
  • set secure flag on cookies so they are only sent over an https connection
  • set a limit for the number of pending computers