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Even a site with a small network of computers is likely to have hundreds of configuration files. The content of these files determines how the overall system works and what it does; this is what makes the difference between a lab of student machines and the same set of hardware providing a Web service. Working out what to put in the configuration files takes a lot of skill and experience. Any mistakes are likely to cause some kind of failure or security breach. A system administrator will usually be responsible for setting these files up correctly and updating them as the system and the requirements change. This is system configuration. This booklet is a practical guide to using LCFG for managing real-world site configurations. LCFG is not for everybody. It takes a lot of commitment and effort to adopt. It requires an ongoing maintenance effort, and it works best where there is a particularly disciplined approach to site management. However, the rewards can be huge. Your configurations are much more likely to be correct (and hence secure) and up-to-date. Maintaining them will take less effort, and that effort can be less skilled. Even extreme changes to the site configuration will be much easier: people often find that LCFG-managed configurations are in a constant state of flux, but this is simply because LCFG is able to respond instantly and reliably to changes in requirements.

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