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automation Archives - AWS Managed Services by Anchor

Hopping mad: bitten by the leap second bug

By | Technical | No Comments

It’s been an exciting weekend for those running Linux systems, with many popular websites taken offline as a result of a kernel bug relating to the addition of a leap second at the end of June. This follows hot on the heels of an outage that saw many Instagram users tragically unable to upload pictures of their breakfast. There’s no shortage of stories in the media about the problem if you care to look around, but we were rather disappointed by the lack of coverage with much substance. We’ve also not yet found an explanation that can be understood by someone who isn’t intimately familiar with the internals of the Linux kernel. So we put on our detective hat and started looking. Update: if you are familiar with the innards…

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You can’t spell Twingle without “win”

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You can’t spell Windows without “win” either, and that’s what we’ve been working on recently. Regular readers will recall that we talked about tingle recently, a tool we developed to automate linux package updates. That’s not worth much on its own, which is why we also discussed integrating it with our other systems. The end result is reliable package updates that Just Work, require practically no attention from sysadmins, and notify the customer of impending reboots as a courtesy. twingle is that same great automated-updates taste, in an exciting new Windows-themed package. twingle solves the same problems, but for slightly different reasons. Many of our Windows-related woes could be solved by having all the servers in an Active Directory (AD) domain, but that’s not an option for us. The logic…

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A stronger tingling sensation

By | Technical | No Comments

If you’re just joining us, you should probably have a quick read of the previous post in which I talked about tingle, a tool to help you think less when it comes to installing package updates. Now that we have a tool to make updates quick and easy, we need to use it. The critical thing here is making it work for us, not the other way around. As an example, one of the reasons RHN is no good for our Redhat systems is that it relies on a daemon periodically checking-in to the RHN server, so you don’t have a firm enough idea of just when your updates are going to happen. There’s a number of goals that we need to fulfil. Some are business matters, and others are…

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That tingling sensation

By | Technical | No Comments

This is the first post of a two-part set. We’re talking about keeping your system up to date, specifically Linux ones. Maybe you religiously check for updates and apply them every Monday. Maybe you’re a bit perverse and start your morning with a black coffee and a quick emerge world. Or maybe you’re lazy (like me) and only bother doing it whenever you login and see “66 packages can be updated”. Whatever you do, keep doing it, and regularly. But what do you do when you have hundreds, maybe thousands of machines that need updates applied? (Hint: we’re lazy, so the answer is always “make a robot do it”) We used to apply updates manually, which worked well when there weren’t so many servers to deal with, and you can…

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Anchor Presenting at DevOps Meetup – Thursday September 15th

By | Company News, Technical | No Comments

Just a short post to let you all know that Anchor’s David Basden and Chris Collins will be presenting their software which is being used in our on-going projects to automate everything relating to Anchor dedicated server builds. The software, which has been released as open source on github as was discussed in brief in the previously two blog posts The automation waltz and Automate all the things. The event will be held at 7pm, next Thursday, 15th September at the Orient in Sydney and will give you the fantastic opportunity to have a beer and chat with the authors of the software as well as like minded people with both developer and systemadmin backgrounds. Comprehensive details as well as registration for the meetup can be found at September DevOps…

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AUTOMATE ALL THE THINGS!

By | Technical | 2 Comments

You can’t walk two metres down the street without someone going on about how cool and hip “The Cloud” is these days, being able to spin up hundreds of identical Linux VMs easily. Tools to build and configure lots of identical systems or VMs are plentiful. But what if there is no “standard build” or even anything close, with different hardware, networking, software, distro, services, firewalls etc. every time, but you don’t want to spend all your time doing custom server builds and configuration? Being a provider that specialises in customised hosting solutions, not only do most of our server builds have custom requirements, but we also have to configure lots of our own internal systems to deal with the eccentricities of each new server that we bring up. We…

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The Automation Waltz

By | Technical | One Comment

When you have a bunch of machines involved in a process, you need to ensure that various stages in this process have executed. If the target host is unavailable, you want a guarantee that the job will execute when the host becomes available again.  This is well beyond the capabilities of ssh in a for-loop. In trying to solve this problem, we had assessed tools like mcollective, but came to the conclusion that they were inappropriate for our environment.  mcollective in particular was removed from consideration as it was designed for a more homogeneous environment than the one here at Anchor. When we realised we needed a different solution, a few of us gathered around a whiteboard and started enumerating our requirements.  The result was Orchestra, which we’re releasing today under the BSD License….

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Bringing the Mountain to Mohamed

By | Technical | 2 Comments

I have never in my life been asked, “How do porcupines make love?”. However, I know the answer very well: “very carefully”. In the same vein, when migrating the mass of data that makes up Github, you take your time and you work very, very carefully. Since this sort of migration doesn’t happen every day, and it’s not something you want to be learning on the job, I thought I’d write down my experiences for posterity. SCRIPT IT! As a big fan of automation, there wasn’t much chance that this whole thing wasn’t going to be scripted up the wazoo. We just need to copy the filesystem data across, dump the database and load it into the new site… and we’re done. Right? HA! Not likely. To give you an…

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SaaS (Socks as a Service)

By | Technical | No Comments

http://www.blacksocks.com/ I came across this rather amusing company a little while ago. They’ve been around since before the turn of the millennium but I somehow hadn’t stumbled upon them until now. What with everything turning web2.0-ey nowadays, I’d say they’ve got themselves a nice little niche. In case you’re too busy to visit (or too much of a slacker, TL;DR!), the concept is simple: you pay a yearly subscription fee (they call it a “sockscription”), and they keep sending you pairs of nice new black socks. It’s a very cute idea that has wide-ranging appeal and applicability. It also abides by one of the general rules for sysadmins, which is to automate whatever you can; the less time you waste thinking about repeatable tasks, the more time you have for…

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