Author Archives: Dave Lee

Admin Admin Podcast #084 Show Notes – Git your stack here!

  • Al couldn’t make it for this recording cry
  • Jon broke his QNAP NAS with Debian. He doesn’t go into any details, and will leave it to another show (as long as he can remember what he did until then)!
  • Stu has been blogging, now on Consul, Saltstack and Prometheus on LOTS of different platforms.
  • Jerry started a new job. The CTO at his new firm is possibly a listener! His NAS has failed, and he’s building a ZFS mirror to move the data to. He used Syncthing to move the data off to another drive, and is using Backblaze to run a backup.
  • We discuss possible other uses of Syncthing, in particular, one YouTube creator talks about how he uses SyncThing for his video editing workflow (part 2).
  • Jon also mentions that he’s been watching some of Martin Wimpress’ YouTube channel, and in particular, the series where he created the Desktopify script for turning a Raspberry Pi Ubuntu Server image into a Desktop Flavour.
  • We talk about “Hashistack” (referring to the collection of tools released by Hashicorp, which are “Terraform“, “Packer“, “Consul“, “Vagrant“, “Vault” and “Nomad“). All the hosts provide summaries of how each of these tools work (except Nomad) and why you might use them.
  • We discuss using Git.
    • Jon talks about DangItGit (and a slightly more rudely named version of that site), and mentions a comic on XKCD about Git.
    • Then he mentions some of the things about git which may give it a bit of a bad name, like SubModules.
    • He also mentions that you can use “hooks” which are scripts that run before or after certain actions (like a commit or a push), and Stu talks about how he’s used that in the past.
    • Stu also talks about some of the tools in Github and Gitlab which are similar to hooks, that run when Github or Gitlab actions occur (like a pull/merge request being raised, or an issue being opened).
    • Stu also talks about CI/CD pipelines and Gitlab runners.
    • Stu and Jon talk about Pull Requests (Github terminology) and Merge Requests (Gitlab terminology). We all talk about Issues and Wikis within Github and Gitlab.
    • Jon talks about what a Fork is.
    • Stu reminds us that Git is not the only version control system, and that Subversion (SVN) is also out there. Jerry mentions CVS. Jon mentions Mercurial (HG) and we talk about where version control systems have come from.
    • We diverge into how Blockchain is similar to Git… and why it isn’t the same.

We’re a member of the Other Side Podcast Network. The lovely Dave Lee does our Audio Production.

We want to remind our listeners that we have a Telegram channel and email address if you want to contact the hosts. We also have Patreon, if you’re interested in supporting the show. Details can all be found on our Contact Us page.

Admin Admin Podcast #083 Show Notes – Parameterize This

  • Jon has reinstalled his QNAP NAS with Debian.
  • Jerry has been running Folding@Home with in his K8S environment.
  • Jon mentioned BOINC which he erroniously mentioned was what Folding@Home uses – it’s not, but there are other BOINC projects and that you can run, and that you can run BOINC on Android. You can’t run Folding@Home on Android.
  • Stu was blogging about managing Arista EOS with Ansible, and that he’s working on his next posts, firstly managing the MikroTik RouterOS in the same way, and also he’s looking at building a OpenBSD based equivelent too.
  • Al has been working with Terraform. He’s moving from using ARM templates to using Terraform Configuration Files.
  • Jerry suggests building a VM to a patched image, and then deploying the patched image instead of just building up a machine from a stock market image.
  • Al is doing something like that already.
  • Jon suggests some naming conventions with regards to Terraform configuration files. He also suggests using modules in Terraform. Stu and Jerry do the same thing.
  • Stu mentions that Terraform modules can be used with git tags.
  • Stu also suggests not provisioning EVERYTHING with the same directory of configuration files.
  • The team reviews the operations of the Terraform binary.
  • Stu mentions that Terraform has a lifecycle setting which may prevent accidental deletion of resources.
  • Al is also moving to using Ansible to post-provision the virtual machines.
  • Jon talks about how Ansible Tower and it’s upstream open source project, AWX, works, including scheduling, credential abstraction and the availability of web hooks.
  • Al talks about how he’s looking to use Ansible against his environment, and looks for some better practices in using Ansible.
  • Jerry suggests using inventory and roles. Stu suggests using tags to only run parts of the playbook. Jon uses conditionally included roles instead of using tags.
  • Jon explains about Ansible Galaxy, Roles and Collections, based on his attendance of a talk about the Ansible roadmap at Red Hat Summit. Stu mentions using ansible-galaxy to create role template directories.

Astute members of the community will notice that we’re now a member of the Other Side Podcast Network.

We want to remind our listeners that we have a Telegram channel and email address if you want to contact the hosts. We also have Patreon, if you’re interested in supporting the show. Details can all be found on our Contact Us page.

Admin Admin Podcast #082 Show Notes – The Four Amigos

TRIGGER WARNING: We mention the current Covid-19/Coronavirus situation a few times in the podcast, but without really going into any details about it.

We add Stu to our permanent line-up! Welcome Stu!

Al started a new job. He’s doing Agile working, with sprints and standups. They’re On-Prem and in Azure. He’s considering looking at Ansible with AWX to standardise their builds. He’s started using Slack, and noted that the company he works for uses Slack rather than Email for most conversations.

We talk about using GMail instead of Exchange. Jon mentions about a blog post talking about improving workflow in GMail following a comment in the Bad Voltage community slack.

Jerry mentions that Slack’s free plan has a limit on the number of messages you can recall. Stu mentions that his company were using Slack, but that they’ve started the migration to MS Teams. Jon mentioned that the backgrounds in Teams videocalls can be changed, or set to a blur. [New Path?]

Jon explains what CI/CD/CD stands for and explains what it can be used for. He also mentions that he wrote some AWX deployment scripts as part of a Gitlab and AWX demo which might be useful. He also mentions that he recorded a video about how AWX works.

Jon explains that he’s been writing documentation at work, and that outside work, he’s building a card playing game script that is based on the code he wrote for talk scheduling at OggCamp and inspired by the code he wrote for CCHits.net. Al also notes that Laravel is good for a PHP framework, and mentioned that Jon suggested it to him…

Al mentions playingcards.io as an alternative to writing his own game, and said he uses that to play Cards Against Humanity. Jon counters with houseparty.com .

Al then said that he’s using Git at work, which is the first time he’s using Git at work, rather than just in his personal life. Jon asks if Al’s signing his commits, and suggests using krypt.co to perform Two Factor Authentication (2FA) where you pair your phone to a browser and use the phone as the U2F authenticator, and it also has a mode where you can also pair the phone to enable signed git commits and use the phone as an separate SSH key provider too, if you turn the “developer” switch on in the phone app.

Stu talks about bypassing AWS network architecture moving to linux based routers, moving Prometheus/Consul into production, and why they’re doing that, and about some blogs he’s been writing about automating network products with Ansible. Jon talks about the Ansible modules moving out from Ansible core, and into Ansible Collections. Jon mentions looking at Nebula instead of changing the AWS network architecture, and explains how this works with NAT environments. He makes reference to a Pull Request he’s raised to add more documentation. We talked about Nebula in Episode 80.

Jerry has just got a new job, which is a permanent role, making a change from his previous freelance environment. Until that job starts he’s been writing some documentation on Disaster Recovery for sysadmin with VProtect, and also been looking at providing some support to a developer to provide configuration management tooling and new images with Packer [ ].

Al mentions that another podcast (the Mike Tech Show) had a question about using appliances that need IPv6, when you don’t have IPv6, like several of the hosts have with PlusNet. Jon used Hurricane Electric to create an IPv6 gateway. The downside to this was that the connection became much more flakey because you’re effectively using Hurricane Electric as a VPN provider. Stu mentions that this is likely to be because of “Happy Eyeballs“. We talked about Jon’s IPv6 gateway in Episodes 73 and 72.

Jerry mentions that he had an interesting situation because of his printer and was being detected on it’s IPv6 address, not on the IPv4 address. Jon makes some suggestions on alternatives using trunking or VLANs. We discuss how complicated our networks are, and what our partners/spouses will do if we’re not available in case of a disaster with that network.

We want to remind our listeners that we have a telegram channel and email address if you want to contact the hosts. We also have Patreon, if you’re interested in supporting the show. Details can all be found on our Contact Us page.

Admin Admin Podcast #081 Show Notes – Contain your enthusiasm

With the guys all back together, they talk about the Fully Automated Install (FAI) system, Kubernetes, and their recent projects.

Jerry mentions K3S – a simple Kubernetes (K8S) deployment, Jon mentions he’s reimaging Windows on his Laptop, and has been working on his AWX (he says Ansible Tower, but means AWX) install and configure Github Repo. Al has a new Job doing DevOps on Azure and mentions CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery or Deployment) and Azure DevOps. The new job will be more Agile, and be working in Sprints.

Al talks briefly about SnapRaid and MergeFS. With the assistance of Stuart, who previously guest hosted, they have been building a dashboard for Prometheus with Node Exporter and Grafana that shows a lot of the automated tasks that Al previously received by email, and now he just has that as his opening tab on his browser.

Jerry talks about what he’s done with K3S. Jon mentions he also has done some stuff with K3S and that he has that published in a Git Repo. The Git Repo he’s created also includes a script to deploy to multiple machines and to include MetalLB to make K8S provide a load-balanced connection across multiple K3S nodes, without needing an external load balancer. MetalLB also lets you advertise addresses over BGP.

Jerry says that Plex can use multiple nodes to transcode. He also wants to mount persistent volumes with NFS, and so he’s experimenting with K8S to do this. Jon mentions Rook to do cross-cluster persistent volumes, and it can use Ceph to do that.

Al asks why use Kubernetes rather than Docker. Jerry and Jon give their viewpoints. Jon mentions a blog post called “‘Let’s use Kubernetes’, now you have 8 problems” and some courses on Pluralsight about the Container big picture, as well as deep dive courses on Docker and Kubernetes. Jerry mentions Podman.

Jon talks about the youtube video he recently recorded, and the inspiration for it, in a video by podcaster Chris Hartjes he found on Pluralsight. The video is about Vagrant, Ansible and Inspec. Alan Pope (@Popey from the Ubuntu Podcast and the User Error podcast) suggested publishing the video on Lbry too, which Jon did. Jon talks a little about Lbry. Jerry and Al talk about how they consume content, and Jon talks about his motivation (mostly because of a comment from Reggie from The Coolest Nerds in the Room Podcast).

We talk about a question from Yannick in the Telegram group, which is where he asks if we can advise on “Setting up a secure access to your home network : the bad way, the better way and the best way”. We talk about SSH, running VPNs (like OpenVPN) using PFSense, or using Raspberry Pis (using PiVPN). Streisand (which provides tools like IPsec with IKE, OpenVPN, OpenConnect, and Tor).

Jerry talks about FAI – the Fully Automated Install project that he has used at work as a tool to build Debian based systems and CentOS based systems.

We mention that we have a Patreon account, and encourage our listeners to join us in our Telegram group.

Admin Admin Podcast #080 Show Notes – Fired up about monitoring

In this episode, possibly the shortest since Jon joined the team, we have a conversation with Stuart (Mastodon | Twitter), who is a member of our Telegram community. We’re also missing Al.

Stuart talks about Prometheus, and compares it to Nagios. He talks about the differences between how Prometheus collects data, particularly how Prometheus talks to local exporters to collect metrics, rather than polling data every 5 minutes. He lists a collection of exporters from a whole range of products (too many to list here!) and then Jerry and Stuart discuss rewriting native data sources into a format that Prometheus works.

Stuart has linked to some additional sources of information about Prometheus:

Moving on with the show, we cover for the fact we’re missing Al by asking two questions on his behalf, the first covers how we believe Al is suffering from Alert Fatigue, and how he can collect results from scripts that run on his servers in a specific way. Stuart explains how he’d use Prometheus for this, Jerry mentions that he’d collect logs for later parsing and only forward logs in the case where the script has failed to run successfully. Jon mentions that he’d consider using Monit to run the tasks, as that will notify if the job fails to run. He also suggests using triggers for bash scripts to send an email on failure, and changing email titles based on the outcome of the task.

He also asks about monitoring disks on a homemade NAS. Jon mentions he’s used Monit with SmartMonTools (similar to this page) to monitor disk statuses in the past. Jerry and Stuart also mention that he could be using Prometheus for this. We also discuss that this may in fact be built into the NAS he’s trying to build. We discussed monitoring with Lucy in Episode 77.

Jon talks about the testing he’s been doing with Nebula, which is a meshed overlay VPN (Virtual Private Network) product, and compares it to a Hub-and-Spoke (or Star) VPN topology. He compares it, briefly, with ZeroTier and mentions that he needs to do more exploration into ZeroTier.

Jerry asks Stuart some questions about SaltStack, and compares it to Ansible.

As always, we’d encourage any listeners to join our Telegram Group, or contact us using the other links! We also have a Patreon which you can use to support the show if you’re so inclined.

Admin Admin Podcast #075 Show Notes – Highly Available Updates

In this show we read your feedback, we answer your questions and talk about what we’ve been up to!

Want to join the community talking about this podcast on Telegram? Join us!

Al’s back!

Jerry has been subcontracting freelance work out to people, and talks a bit about how and why he started doing that. He also talks about how he’s using Selenium to sign up for free train wifi, using the Selenium IDE Firefox plugin and having a headless browser using Selenium Side-Runner.

Al asks about how to update systems after there was a security incident on his email system. Jon mentions a Firefox plugin which watches for page changes. (He credits this find to Steve Gibson, but he couldn’t find the one Steve mentions. He found this one instead: check4change.  Jon describes an Ansible script for running Apt upgrades but notes that it doesn’t perform reboots if they’re required, Jerry also mentions Unattended Upgrades and Yum-Cron.

Jon refers to a Fortigate Playbook policy Ansible script that he’s written (but isn’t endorsed for use by his employer – use at your own risk!) He describes change management boards. Jerry mentions you can convert an XLS to a CSV and that Ansible will handle CSV files.

Jon also mentions about the fact he’s learning to use Terraform for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service – basically Azure/AWS). He wrote a blog post about how he got started with Terraform on Azure. Jon mentions about a talk with HashiCorp and RedHat talking about how Ansible and Terraform can work together. Jerry explains how you can chain the output of Terraform to start an Ansible task.

Al talks about the Phoenix Project as an Audiobook, and asks for recommendations on further Audiobooks to listen to. Jon recommends the “#CauseAScene Podcast“.

We then answer a question from a member of the Admin Admin Podcast community about High Availability:

Scenario is a CentOS7 guest VM on a single ESXi host (no vCentre/HA) located at customer site.

Users connect to a friendly URL via web browser which is mapped via A record pointing to a static IP within customer block of IP’s associated with customer broadband.

The solution works well but has several points of failure as this single CentOS7 server running on a non-HA ESXi host not to mention customer Internet reliance.

If wanted to make this highly available either onsite or via AWS/Azure how would you go about this whilst also keeping this secure.

Main Components

  • Apache Web Server
  • PHP Code – Customer Bespoke Internal Website
  • MySQL/MariaDB – Database

How would you go about breaking these up into either individual VM’s? IE multiple web servers and separate PHP and Database servers.

I would imagine you would then also require a front-end load balancer or reverse proxy.

Is this something you might look at using Docker for and how would this impact database state and backups to ensure no data is lost.

We discuss feedback we received by email:

Hi chaps

In a recent episode you asked for feedback, so I thought I would drop a quick line to say that I enjoy listening to the show and look forward to it every other month. 60-90 minutes is about the right length and I think having a topic each time (e.g. IPv6) works well.

I can’t think of anything to offer for improvements – just more of thesame please!

Cheers

Jon replied:

Are there any subjects you want us to cover in the next few episodes?

To which the response was:

Anything to do with Ansible or AWS would be of interest to me, as I use Ansible for all my servers and I’d like to get into AWS as it’s becoming something that clients are asking about.

Based on this email, we briefly discuss differences between Azure and AWS networking compared to Physical networking.

We also discuss another email feedback (trimmed on the podcast, but represented in full here):

Hi guys !

I just finished listening to episode 73 where Jon talked about the difficulties he had with certbot and some exotic architecture.

Here at work, we also had to figure out a way to secure many websites, hosted on various kinds of servers, and running on a variety of operating systems.

The best solution we came up with is to use nginx as a reverse proxy. That proxy handles the TLS part, and it’s the only place our certificates are located. Its exposes the .well-known directory and redirects traffic to the proper servers. If we need to add or remove cyphers for security reasons, all of our websites are protected at once.

We also have a wildcard certificate for our company’s domain. I’ll take frenchguy.ch as an example. This cert is actually valid for 2 domains : frenchguy.ch and *.frenchguy.ch

Each time we need a new subdomain, we create it in our DNS and point it to the reverse proxy. We can then forward traffic to a whatever server we want inside our network, even exotic ones.

This has many advantages :

  • there is only one place where the certs needs to be stored – easy to backup, no need to run around the network when time comes to renew the certs ;
  • the cert is a wildcard so we can have as many subdomains as we want ;
  • the only server exposed to the internet is the reverse proxy, not the actual web servers ;
  • the traffic can be forwarded to old servers that do not support the new TLS protocols, or have old vulnerable cyphers – yes, I’m talking about you IIS ! ;
  • the traffic is forwarded over HTTP, so we can reduce the load on the web servers ;
  • there is no need to modify the actual webserver, in particular, no need to expose the .well-known directory ;
  • servers can be moved around, migrated from one architecture to another, etc.. without having to bother about certificates or encryption.

That’s how we did it at work, it works like a charm for us, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. If someone as another way to solve that problem I’d be glad to hear it !

Thanks for the great show, it’s always a pleasure to listen to.

Yannick
a.k.a. The frenchguy from Switzerland

We thank Dave Lee (@thelovebug) for doing our audio production, we thank our Patreons and we mention OggCamp (get your tickets now!), and note that we all plan to be there! Hope to see you there!