Ansible for DevOps is $0.99 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2016!

I decided to discount Ansible for DevOps on LeanPub to $0.99 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The book has already been purchased by over 8,000 people on Amazon, LeanPub, and the iBooks Store, and is the only book available that covers the latest version of Ansible—and is continuously updated!

I've written a lot about the process of self-publishing, in case you're interested. I'm hoping to keep updating Ansible for DevOps every quarter or so indefinitely, to make it the best resource now—and as long as possible—for learning infrastructure automation!

Using Ansible through Windows 10's Subsystem for Linux

Ever since I heard about the new 'Beta' Windows Subsystem for Linux, which basically installs an Ubuntu LTS release inside of Windows 10 (currently 14.04), I've been meaning to give it a spin, and see if it can be a worthy replacement for Cygwin, Git shell, Cmder, etc. And what I was most interested in was whether I could finally point people to a more stable and friendly way of using Ansible on a Windows workstation.

In the past, there was the option of running Ansible inside Cygwin (and this is still the best way to try getting Ansible working in an older Windows environment), but this always felt kludgy to me, and I hated having to recommend either that or forcing Windows users to do a full Linux VM installation just to run Ansible commands. I finally updated my PC laptop to the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and installed the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and lo and behold, Ansible works!

How I test Ansible configuration on 7 different OSes with Docker

The following post is an excerpt from chapter 11 in my book Ansible for DevOps. The example used is an Ansible role that installs Java—since the role is supposed to work across CentOS 6 and 7, Fedora 24, Ubuntu 12.04, 14.04, and 16.04, and Debian 8, I use Docker to run an end-to-end functional test on each of those Linux distributions. See an example test run in Travis CI, and the Travis file that describes the build.

Note: I do the same thing currently (as of 2019), but now I'm using Molecule to tie everything together; see Testing your Ansible roles with Molecule.

Require a minimum Ansible version in your Playbook

It's helpful to be able to enforce a minimum required Ansible version in Ansible playbooks. Ansible Roles have long been able to specify a minimum Ansible version—but only for Ansible Galaxy and ansible-galaxy-related dependency management.

I've found more and more that users who installed Ansible further in the past (in the 1.7.x or 1.8.x era) are now using some of my newer projects that require Ansible 2.0 (there are so many nice new shiny things!), and they're running into errors like:

ERROR: [DEPRECATED]: include + with_items is a removed deprecated feature.  Please update your playbooks.
Ansible failed to complete successfully. Any error output should be
visible above. Please fix these errors and try again.

The problem, as it turns out, is that these users are running a version < 2.0, but it's not very obvious based on that error message!

Self-Publish, don't write for a Publisher

I'm not a writer. I'm a software developer who communicates well. Because I'm a developer and software architect, I spend time evaluating solutions to find the best one. There are often multiple good options, but I try to pick the best among them.

When I chose to write a book two years ago, I evaluated whether to self-publish or seek out a publisher. I spent a lot of time evaluating my options, and chose the self-publishing route.

Because I'm asked about this a lot, I decided to summarize my reasons in a blog post, both to posit why self-publishing is almost always the right option for a beginning author, and to challenge publishers to convince me I'm wrong.

AnsibleFest 2016 Review and Ansible Roles for Fun and Profit video online!

It's been a few weeks since AnsibleFest San Francisco, and Ansible just posted the video recordings of all the sessions from AnsibleFest SF 2016! I was honored to be able to speak about Ansible Roles at this year's west coast AnsibleFest, and I also arrived a little early so I could participate in the Ansible Contributor Conference on July 27.

Ansible Roles - Jeff Geerling presenting at AnsibleFest SF 2016
Picture from my session courtesy of The Appnel Group.

Speaking about Ansible Roles at AnsibleFest SF 2016

I'm excited to announce that I'll be speaking at AnsibleFest San Francisco 2016, on July 28th, giving a session titled Ansible Roles - for Fun and Profit!

Image from AnsibleFest London
Image from AnsibleFest London, earlier in the year.

AnsibleFest is the major bi-annual Ansible conference, full of case studies, sessions and announcements. I'm excited to finally be able to attend, as I've been an avid user of Ansible since 2013, even to the point of writing one of the most popular introductory books on Ansible, Ansible for DevOps.

Reintroducing the sanity of CM to container management

Recently, Ansible introduced Ansible Container, a tool that builds and orchestrates Docker containers.

While tools that build and orchestrate Docker containers are a dime a dozen these days (seriously... Kubernetes, Mesos, Rancher, Fleet, Swarm, Deis, Kontena, Flynn, Serf, Clocker, Paz, Docker 1.12+ built-in, not to mention dozens of PaaSes), many are built in the weirdly-isolated world of "I only manage containers, and don't manage other infrastructure tasks."

The cool thing about using Ansible to do your container builds and orchestration is that Ansible can also do your networking configuration. And your infrastructure provisioning. And your legacy infrastructure configuration. And on top of that, Ansible is, IMO, the best-in-class configuration management tool—easy for developers and sysadmins to learn and use effectively, and as efficient/terse as (but much more powerful than) shell scripts.

From Ansible Container's own README:

Highly available Drupal on a Raspberry Pi Cluster - phptek 2016 session

Raspberry Pi Dramble Cluster with Mini Raspberry Pi Zero Cluster

Another year, another field trip for the Pi Dramble—my 5-Raspberry-Pi cluster! I presented a session titled Highly available Drupal on a Raspberry Pi Cluster at php[tek] 2016, which just so happens to have moved to my hometown, St. Louis, MO this year!

For this presentation, I remembered to record the audio using a lav mic plugged into my iPhone, as well as iShowU to record what was on my screen. Sadly, I didn't have a secondary camera to capture the Pi Dramble itself, but you can glance at all the other 'Let's build a Pi Cluster' videos if you want to see it in action!

Here's a video recording of the presentation:

Setting a Static IP address with Raspbian Jessie Lite on the Raspberry Pi

In the midst of my work upgrading the Raspberry Pi Dramble to Raspbian Jessie Lite, I noticed one of the basic components of the architecture—static IP addresses for all the Raspberry Pis—was not working correctly anymore. My Ansible playbooks configured the /etc/network/interfaces file correctly, so it would define a static IP address for the eth0 interface (the built-in Ethernet port on the Pi):

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback

iface eth0 inet static

allow-hotplug wlan0
iface wlan0 inet manual
wpa-roam /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
iface default inet dhcp

In the past, with Raspbian Wheezy, everything worked fine, and the Pi would (after a reboot) use the static IP address


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