automation

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.

Ansible Java role - Travis CI Docker-based test results

Automating Your Automation with Ansible Tower

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of Ansible for DevOps, a book on Ansible by Jeff Geerling. The example highlights the effectiveness of Ansible Tower for automating infrastructure operations, especially in a team environment.

Throughout this book, all the examples use Ansible's CLI to run playbooks and report back the results. For smaller teams, especially when everyone on the team is well-versed in how to use Ansible, YAML syntax, and follows security best practices with playbooks and variables files, using the CLI can be a sustainable approach.

But for many organizations, there are needs that stretch basic CLI use too far:

Highly-Available Infrastructure Provisioning and Configuration with Ansible

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of Ansible for DevOps, a book on Ansible by Jeff Geerling. The example highlights Ansible's simplicity and flexibility by provisioning and configuring of a highly available web application infrastructure on a local Vagrant-managed cloud, DigitalOcean droplets, and Amazon Web Services EC2 instances, with one set of Ansible playbooks.

tl;dr Check out the code on GitHub, and buy the book to learn more about Ansible!

Secure your servers from Shellshock Bash vulnerability using Ansible

Now that all Server Check.in infrastructure is managed by Ansible (some servers are running CentOS, others are running Ubuntu), it's very simple to update all the servers to protect against vulnerabilities like Heartbleed or today's new Shellshock bash vulnerability.

For CentOS (or RedHat)

$ ansible [inventory_group] -m yum -a "name=bash state=latest" [-u remote_username] [-s] [-K]

For Debian (or Ubuntu)

$ ansible [inventory_group] -m apt -a "update_cache=yes name=bash state=latest" [-u remote_username] [-s] [-K]

If you have a different method of patch management, or you need to apply the fixes manually, then this method won't apply—but for most infrastructure using normal system-provided packages, using the above commands will get the fixes with minimal effort.

A little further explanation:

Testing Ansible Roles with Travis CI on GitHub

This post was originally written in 2014, using a technique that only easily allows testing on Ubuntu 12.04; since then, I've been adapting many of my roles (e.g. geerlingguy.apache) to use a Docker container-based testing approach, and I've written a new blog post that details the new technique: How I test Ansible configuration on 7 different OSes with Docker.

Since I'm now maintaining 37 roles on Ansible Galaxy, there's no way I can spend as much time reviewing every aspect of every role when doing maintenance, or checking out pull requests to improve the roles. Automated testing using a continuous integration tool like Travis CI (which is free for public projects and integrated very well with GitHub) allows me to run tests against my Ansible roles with every commit and be more assured nothing broke since the last commit.

Using Ansible Galaxy

Ansible Galaxy Logo

Ansible Galaxy was launched just a few short months ago, and already has over 500 roles maintained by over 225 users. The idea behind Galaxy is to give greater visibility to one of Ansible's most exciting features: reusable Roles for server configuration or application installation.

Galaxy is still in beta, and likely will be for a while longer, but if you have Ansible 1.4.2 or later installed, you can use the ansible-galaxy command to get started.

Easily manage Apache VirtualHosts with Ansible and Jinja2

Server Check.in's entire infrastructure is managed via Ansible, which has helped tremendously as the service has grown from one to many servers.

Ansible Borg Cow
cowsay and Ansible were made for each other.

One pain point with running Apache servers that host more than one website (using name-based virtual hosts) is that the virtual host configuration files quickly get unwieldy, as you have to define the entire <VirtualHost /> for every domain you have on the server, and besides Apache's mod_macro, there's no easy way to define a simple structured array of information and have the vhost definitions built from that.

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