5.2.8. HOWTO Manage Workstation Infrastructures

This chapter describes example code used to manage client workstations with a SIMP system including the GUI, repositories, virtualization, printing, and Virtual Network Computing (VNC).

The examples in this chapter assume the production Puppet environment is being configured and site-specific manifests are being added to a local site profile module at /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/modules/site/manifests. Install Extra Puppet Modules

The examples on this page use SIMP modules that are part of SIMP Extras and may not be installed on the Puppet server by default. The following is an example class, site::workstation_packages, that may be written to site/manifests/workstation_packages.pp and applied to the Puppet server to install the extra modules, when RPMs are being used to distribute the modules:

class site::workstation_packages {

  $package_list = [

  package { $package_list :
    ensure => installed,
} Create a Workstation Profile Class

Below is an example class, site::workstation, that may be written to site/manifests/workstation.pp and used to set up a user workstation. Each included site:: class is described in the subsequent sections.

class site::workstation {
  include 'site::repos'
  include 'site::gui'
  include 'site::virt'
  include 'site::print::client'

  # make sure any repos are installed before they
  # are needed.  Include dependencies to
  # other classes if needed.
  Class[Site::Repos] -> Class[Site::Gui]

  # Make sure everyone can log into all nodes.
  # If you want to change this, simply remove this line and add
  # individual entries to your nodes as appropriate
  pam::access::rule { "Allow Users":
    comment => 'Allow all users in the "users" group to access the system from anywhere.',
    users   => ['(users)'],
    origins => ['ALL']

  # Install additional packages on the workstations.
  # Example list of General Use Packages
  package { [
  ]: ensure => installed,
     require => Class[Site::Repos]
} Workstation Repositories

The site::repos class below should be written to site/manifests/repos.pp and contain the yumrepo resources required to install the extra software needed:

class site::repos {
  yumrepo { 'myrepo':
    # whatever parameters you need
} Graphical Desktop Setup

The following example class, site::gui, may be written to site/manifests/gui.pp and used to set up a graphical desktop.

class site::gui (
  Boolean $libreoffice = true
) {

  include 'gdm'
  include 'gnome'
  include 'vnc::client'
  # Browser and e-mail client are not installed by default.
  include 'mozilla::firefox'

  Class['Gnome'] -> Class['Site::gui']

  # SIMP gnome package provides a basic interface.
  # Add gnome extensions for the users.
  package { [
     ensure => installed,

  # GUI applications
  if $libreoffice {
    package { 'libreoffice': ensure => installed }
} Virtualization on User Workstations

The following example class, site::virt, may be written to site/manifests/virt.pp and used to allow users to run libvirt virtual machines.


The libvirt::polkit class being called sets which users are allowed to use libvirt from the command line.

# If you want users to be able to run VMs on their workstations
# include a class like this.
# If this is installed, VM creation and management is still limited by PolicyKit

class site::virt {
  include 'libvirt::kvm'
  include 'libvirt::ksm'
  include 'swap'
  include 'network'

  #set up a local bridge on the network
  network::eth { "em1":
    bridge => 'br0',
    hwaddr => $facts['macaddress_em1']

  network::eth { "br0":
    net_type => 'Bridge',
    hwaddr   => $facts['macaddress_em1'],
    require  => Network::Eth['em1']

  #add virt-manager package
  package { 'virt-manager': ensure => 'latest' }

  # Create polkit policy to allow users in virsh users group to use libvirt
  class { 'libvirt::polkit':
    ensure => present,
    group  => 'virshusers',
    local  => true,
    active => true

  #Create group and add users.
  group{ 'virshusers':
    members => ['user1','user2']


To set specific swappiness values use Hiera as follows:

# Settings for swap for creating/running virtual machines
swap::high_swappiness: 80
swap::max_swappiness: 100 Printer Setup

Below are example manifests for setting up a printing environment. Setting up a Print Client

The following example class, site::print::client may be written to site/manifests/print/client.pp and sets up client-side printing:

class site::print::client inherits site::print::server {
  polkit::local_authority { 'print_support':
    identity           => ['unix_group:*'],
    action             => 'org.opensuse.cupskhelper.mechanism.*',
    section_name       => 'Allow all print management permissions',
    result_any         => 'yes',
    result_interactive => 'yes',
    result_active      => 'yes'

  package { 'cups-pdf': ensure => 'latest' }
  package { 'cups-pk-helper': ensure => 'latest' }
  package { 'system-config-printer': ensure => 'present' }
} Setting up a Print Server

The following example, site::print::server, may be written to site/manifests/print/server.pp and sets up server-side printing:

class site::print::server {

  # Note, this is *not* set up for being a central print server.
  # You will need to add the appropriate IPTables rules for that to work.
  package { 'cups': ensure => 'latest' }

  service { 'cups':
    enable     => 'true',
    ensure     => 'running',
    hasrestart => 'true',
    hasstatus  => 'true',
    require    => Package['cups']
} Using hostgroups to Apply the Settings

Once the workstation profile has been created and tested, one way of applying the profile to all workstations is to use the SIMP hostgroups Hiera configuration capability.

To use hostgroups, you will need to edit the site.pp in the target Puppet environment site manifest.

Adding the following to /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/manifests/site.pp will make all nodes whose names start with ws followed by any number of digits use the data/hostgroups/workstation.yaml. All other nodes will fall back to the default.yaml.

case $facts['hostname'] {
  /^ws\d+.*/: { $hostgroup = 'workstation' }
  default:    { $hostgroup = 'default'     }

The workstation.yaml file will include settings for all the workstations.

The following example includes the GUI settings discussed here, in addition to settings for NFS mounted home directories. See Exporting Home Directories for LDAP Users HOWTO Configure NFS and for more information.


# Set the run level so it will bring up a graphical interface
simp::runlevel: 'graphical'
timezone::timezone: 'EST'

# Settings to mount home server
simp_nfs::home_dir_server: <home server's IP address>

# The site::workstation manifest will do most of the work.
  - site::workstation
  - simp_nfs Graphical Remote Access

This section describes how to install x2go and VNC software on nodes to access the desktop remotely. x2go and MATE

Follow the instructions in Install Extra Puppet Modules to install the following Puppet modules on the Puppet server:

  • pupmod-simp-x2go

  • pupmod-simp-mate

  • pupmod-simp-gnome

  • pupmod-simp-dconf

The x2go RPM and its dependencies have been included on the SIMP ISO in version 6.3 and later. If you are not installing from the ISO you will need to enable the EPEL repo or download the RPMs manually.

To configure the x2go server on a system so it can be accessed remotely, add the following in the target node’s Hiera data or corresponding workstation hostgroup:

x2go::client: false
x2go::server: true

# Optional settings
  '-clipboard': 'both'

  - 'x2go'
  - 'mate'


MATE is used here for EL 7 systems since x2go cannot yet process GNOME 3 sessions natively with any kind of consistency.

MATE was removed from EL8 and a suitable replacement has yet to be integrated into SIMP.

For more details, see the x2go wiki

To install the client on a system, add the following in the client node’s Hiera data:

x2go::client: true
x2go::server: false

  - 'x2go'

The x2go client on the client node can then be used to access the server node with any user that has permission to log on via SSH.

The documentation for how to configure the x2go client can be found on the x2go wiki. VNC Setup

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) can be enabled to provide remote GUI access to systems. VNC Standard Setup

Follow the instructions in Install Extra Puppet Modules to install the following Puppet modules on the Puppet server:

  • pupmod-simp-vnc

To enable remote access via VNC on the system, include vnc::server in Hiera for the node.

The default VNC setup that comes with SIMP can only be used over SSH and includes three default settings:

Setting Type

Setting Details


Port: 5901

Resolution: 1024x768@16

Low Resolution

Port: 5902

Resolution: 800x600@16

High Resolution

Port: 5903

Resolution: 1280x1024@16

Table: VNC Default Settings

To connect to any of these settings, SSH into the system running the VNC server and provide a tunnel to<VNC Port>. Refer to the SSH client’s documentation for specific instructions.

To set up additional VNC port settings, refer to the code in /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/modules/vnc/manifests/server.pp for examples.


Multiple users can log on to the same system at the same time with no adverse effects; however, none of these sessions are persistent.

To maintain a persistent VNC session, use the vncserver application on the remote host. Type man vncserver to reference the manual for additional details. VNC Through a Proxy

The section describes the process to VNC through a proxy. This setup provides the user with a persistent VNC session.


In order for this setup to work, the system must have a VNC server (vserver.your.domain), a VNC client (vclnt.your.domain), and a proxy (proxy.your.domain). A vuser account must also be set up as the account being used for the VNC. The vuser is a common user that has access to the server, client, and proxy. Modify Puppet

If definitions for the machines involved in the VNC do not already exist in Hiera, create an /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/data/hosts/vserv.your.domain.yaml file. In the client host files, modify or create the entries shown in the examples below. These additional modules will allow the vserv system to act as a VNC server and the vclnt system to act as a client.

VNC Server node

# vserv.your.domain.yaml
  - 'gnome'
  - 'mozilla::firefox'
  - 'vnc::server'

VNC client node

# vclnt.your.domain.yaml
  - 'gnome'
  - 'mozilla::firefox'
  - 'vnc::client' Run the Server

As vuser on vserv.your.domain, type vncserver.

The output should mirror the following:

New ‘vserv.your.domain:<Port Number> (vuser)’ desktop is vserv.your.domain:<Port Number>

Starting applications specified in /home/vuser/.vnc/xstartup Log file is /home/vuser/.vnc/vserv.your.domain:Port Number.log

Remember the port number; it will be needed to set up an SSH tunnel! Set up an SSH Tunnel

Set up a tunnel from the client (vclnt), through the proxy server (proxy), to the server (vserv). The table below lists the steps to set up the tunnel.

  1. On the workstation, type ssh -l vuser -L 590***<Port Number>*:localhost:590***<Port Number>***proxy.your.domain**

    • This command takes the user to the proxy.

  2. On the proxy, type ssh -l vuser -L 590***<Port Number>*:localhost:590***<Port Number>***vserv.your.domain**

    • This command takes the user to the VNC server.

Table: Set up SSH Tunnel Procedure


The port number in 590<Port Number> is the same port number as previously described. For example, if the <Port Number> was 6, then all references below to 590<Port Number> become 5906. Set up Clients

On vclnt.your.domain, type vncviewer localhost:590{Port Number} to open the Remote Desktop viewer. Troubleshooting VNC Issues

If nothing appears in the terminal window, the X Windows may have crashed. To determine if this is the case, type ps -ef | grep XKeepsCrashing

If any matches result, stop the process associated with the command and try to restart vncviewer on vclnt.your.domain.