14 Sep 2015
Day .5? Day 0? Something like that. The Reckoning, a who’s who of the various movers and shakers in ‘the community’, put on by John Troyer and his wife Kat Troyer. Unlike the big conferences, The Reckoning is not in support of any given vendor, or to drive any specific technology. Rather, it is aimed at community and professional development.
Day .5 - Unconference
The day .5 unconference got the event under way. We started with 10-15 minutes of finding topics of interest to those in attendance. Which wasn’t all that hard once we got moving. From there, we broke into two smaller discussion groups, and things really got moving.
While one could list in bullet points the various things that were talked about, I think that would fail to catch both the energy and genuine sentiment of those present. On the whole, professional development, transitioning from engineering to management, mentorship, and the like… all front of mind for those in attendence.
Day .5 - Dinner / Speaker 1 Kurt Collins
After the unconference broke up, and then into even smaller discussion groups, dinner was served. Lots of great conversations. At my table specifically, a discussion or two about roosters, quasi-therapeutic retention techniques (Origami, graphic not taking, etc). We also spent quite a few minutes on bitcoin and tdcs.
After dinner, we returned to the front room where we met Kat Troyer who led us in a small, but important grounding / mindfulness exercise. We also touched on the code of conduct, and the spaces built into the schedule to take care of ones self. As an introvert, I can’t tell you how important this is, vs some of the larger conferences.
After the introduction, John introduced us to Kurt Collins. Done interview style, John interviewed Kurt on stage. First talking about some of Kurt’s background, his first Atari, Commodore, and how he got his start into programming. From there the conversation drifted into the evolution or tipping point. That is technology / code is eating the world. One no longer hails a taxi, you call an Uber from your phone. You can order dinner from Amazon, and more. That led into a discussion of how if one is in a tradition IT shop, how do you yourself cross the gap, and how do you help your organization do the same?
We then spent some time talking to Kurt about his nonprofit effort, the Hidden Genius Project, an amazing project, geared at training and mentoring black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. He shared what could have been a horror story. That is, a change pushed to ‘production’, 3 minutes before an investor demo. shudder. Kurt and his cofounders realized the change broke the application, however, instead of fixing it, they let the kids use their soft skills to work around it in their pitch, which went off well.
Day .5 - Geek Whisperers
The Geek Whisperers, a great little podcast, got up on stage and closed us out. They chatted about the conference itself, the unconference, and then we shared stories. Stories of when we needed a mentor, when we took a leap, and more.
Day .5 - Summary
All and all day .5 (day 0? day 1?) was a new and wonderful kind of interesting.
29 Aug 2015
This started as a series of VMworld protips, however, they apply equally well to most tech conferenes. These are pulled directly from my tweet stream, without much in the way of context:
- VMworld ProTip: Lost gadgets happen. Put some contact info on your backgrounds: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/iphoneandipodtouchapps/ss/Wallpaper.htm be prepared to remote wipe.
- VMworld ProTip #24: Netflix, Spotify, etc… don’t be that dude on the wifi…
- Nigel Hickey @vCenterNerd: #VMworld ProTip #769: Get your spouse/partner setup with @spousetivities. Don’t lock them up in the hotel, please. Let them explore too!
- VMworld ProTip #25: USPS “If it fits it ships” boxes are your friends on the return trip.
- VMworld ProTip #47: Everyone has a plan till they show up. Schedule works as a high level guide, but VMworld happens.
- VMworld ProTip #94: No, that isn’t a free wifi network. Tunnel like a mofo.
- VMworld ProTip #93: Practice Good charging hygine: https://lockedusb.com/ and others.
- VMworld ProTip #92: Always Be Charging, and if you’ve extra: share.
- I am John White @johna_white #VMworld ProTip #8675309: Don’t stare at your phone or tablet before the session, say hello to your neighbor.
- VMworld ProTip #33: Again on people: Do Not eat alone. Also do not eat with your travel group. Meet people, share war stories, etc.
- Scott S. Lowe @scott_lowe RT @cody_bunch: #VMworld ProTip #31: Help people. < FTFY :-)
- Nigel Hickey @vCenterNerd #VMworld ProTip #768: Spend time in the Hang Space and do not skip that. Great place to network with friends & find new ones! //@cody_bunch
- VMworld ProTip #52: The community has a lot of micro-celebs. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to that blogger you’ve followed for ever
- VMworld ProTip #32: On the people part, meet, connect, and follow-up with at least three. Build your own micro-community.
- VMworld ProTip #31: Everyone there knows something you don’t. The inverse is also true. /Help/ people.
- VMworld ProTip #92: Pace yourself, and make time for yourself. Go for a walk or nap if you need to get away.
- VMworld ProTips? ProTip #48 - Bring cough / vitamin C drops. You will need them.
08 Aug 2015
In April this year, I kicked off a ‘Mentorship Program’, and while I don’t much like the title of program, as that tends make one think it’s more formal than it really is, I think it’s time I kicked up and invited in another round of folks into the program.
First some background:
For what is left of 2015, and maybe a bit more, I’ll ‘mentor’ you towards some end of your choosing. Be it professional, personal, or both. In practical terms, this means at a minimum this means: 1 hour a week on Skype (hangouts, phone, etc) to talk about where you are currently, what you are working on, etc.
These are 1 - to - 1 mentorships, that is, you and I working on helping you get to that next step.
Class H2 - 2015
Ok, so we’re starting late to be calling it H2, as there is just under 5 months left in the year. But, who knows, we did huge things last round in just three. So, This ‘class’ if that’s what we’ll call it, will again be five individuals (you are likely one of them), who would like some help, advice, a coach / mentor (it is a mentorship program, no?). You are currently thinking about, or looking to work on that next thing, or need a push to help you get to that next level career wise. Whatever it is, I’m here to help.
Having described it some in the prior paragraphs, the only real qualifiers for you are:
- You have to be willing to hustle, to do things, to make changes
- Don’t be an asshole
- Have some way for us to get in contact on the regular.
Why do this with me? Umm, well, I do things, and over the past few rounds have helped a few handfuls of folk get down their path as well.
Well, here’s the kicker. The selection process, if there are more than 5 sign-ups, involves me looking over the applications, reading a bit about you, and perhaps asking some additional questions.
In case there are more than 5, what do? In that case, after I have done a first round of selections, I will send out emails notifying everyone, and asking for permission to share your information with other folks who would also make good mentors. It would then be between y’all to sort out the details from that point.
That’s all there is to it. Disclaimer: It’s a Google form, who’s only recipient is me (insofar as these things can be guaranteed).
03 Aug 2015
Another post inspired by ask.openstack.org
The question was:
If there are two instances(os:nova:server), how can I specify the boot order?
The Heat Orchestration Template, or HOT, specification provides a ‘depends_on’ attribute, that works generically on Heat resources. That is, depends_on a network, depends_on another instance, database, Cinder volume, etc.
In the OpenStack docs they provide the following example:
Or for multiple servers:
depends_on: [ server2, server3 ]
03 Aug 2015
This post comes about by way of ask.openstack.org
Red hat is mandatory to become expert in openstack ?
While not entirely clear or very specific question wise, here’s the answer I put forth:
So, attempting to extract some context from your question to provide a better answer, I’ll attempt to go two routes:
1) “Is RedHat Linux mandatory…”; and
2) “Is RedHat OpenStack mandatory…”
The short answer to these questions, is that no, no specific Linux or OpenStack distribution is required to become an expert. That being said, some familiarity with Linux will give you a good foundation for working with OpenStack. Additionally, an OpenStack distribution will help ease the learning curve associated with learning OpenStack.
There are plenty of OpenStack distribution independent resources available (the #vBrownBag and OpenStack Cookbook among them).
Hope this helps.
Full-Disclosure, I am associated with both the OpenStack Cookbook and the #vBrownBag podcast.
A few links to this end as well:
28 Jul 2015
Pi Hole? Cloud? What?
The short intro is that the Pi-Hole is a Raspberry Pi project designed to set your rPI up as a DNS server that blacklists and blocks ADs. This is great and all, but rather limiting if one does not have a Pi (or their Pi is currently in use in about a million other ways).
Before we get too deep into things, you’ll need to get some requirements into place first. Specifically, you’ll need some manner of Ubuntu 14.04 host. As I’ve stated we’re doing this in the cloud, I’ll be using an 8GB ‘standard’ instance for this.
Once you have the host available, log in and run apt-get update/upgrade:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y
As an optional next step, harden the instance some:
curl https://gist.githubusercontent.com/bunchc/fa5787f9a398ee0c70e1/raw/265dc8a61ce63e53e0f97eb0099a7bd2fd0d71c8/user_data_hardening.sh | sudo bash
Note: Go read that script first. Because:
Do the thing
The actual do things part here is two fold. First is to install the Pi-Hole bits onto your cloud instance. The second is to then set said cloud instance as your DNS server.
|This step is relatively straight forward, but involves that nasty curl
||sudo bash bit again, so again I strongly strongly recommend reading the script. At a high level the script does a few things:
- Installs OS updates
- Installs dnsmasq (DNS server)
- Installs lighttpd (http server)
- Stops said services for modification
- Backs up the original config files
- Copies new ones into place
- Creates and runs gravity.sh
- Creates chrometer.sh
gravity.sh is where the magic happens. This script, found here. Said script grabs and parses a few rather large lists of ad serving domains, and adds them to your DNS blacklist.
For more, and very specific details, the Jacob, who created the Pi-Hole, has an excellent write-up.
Some additional niceties
Now that you’ve got Pi-Hole installed, there are a few things I do to keep things updated & humming along. That is, running
gravity.sh once is a good start, but in the arms race of Internet advertising, one needs to keep moving. To do this, I create a cronjob to run gravity.sh weekly, make sure we’re up to date:
sudo echo "47 6 * * 7 root /usr/local/bin/gravity.sh" >> /etc/crontab
Using the Pi-Hole
Setting your DNS server should be relatively straight forward. However, to ensure you do not forget a device or two, and capture all other devices as they come and go, I’ve found it preferential to configure this on your edge device (Say your Wifi router or so) .
In this post we showed you how to use the Pi-Hole setup, but instead of on a Raspberry Pi, we built it on a generic Ubuntu 14.04 box “in the cloud” so it’ll be available to you everywhere.
25 Jun 2015
This was supposed to be a long, interesting, change the way you think kind of post. Instead, I got distracted by CI/CD & Infosec, and what that might mean to apply that in conjunction with DevOps to allow for some manner of continuous attestation against an infrastructure. Bloody Squirrels.
22 Jun 2015
Following on from my RHEL and CIS with Ansible post, comes qutie a bit of work to proceed down the Ubuntu path in applying CIS benchmarks with Ansible. Before we get too deep, however, it is important to call out that this Ansible role is still based on the RHEL benchmarks, just applied to the applicable systems in Ubuntu. This is because the benchmarks for RHEL have been further developed and harden many parts of the system the Ubuntu benchmarks didn’t touch.
To begin with, we’ll use the adapted Ansible role from here. Like so:
git clone https://github.com/bunchc/ansible-role-cis /etc/ansible/roles/cis-ubuntu
From there, create a playbook.yaml that contains the following:
- hosts: all
- group_by: key=os_
- hosts: os_CentOS
- hosts: os_Ubuntu
Your playbook file contains three sections. The first uses a ‘group_by’ task to separate hosts out by operating system. The last two sections then apply the right CIS role according to the OS reported back in.
Finally, apply the playbooks as follows:
ansbile-playbook -i /etc/ansible/hosts ./playbook.yaml
15 May 2015
Nothing much new here, excepting before a day or so ago, I was completely unfamiliar with Ansible. Now I’m slightly less so, but felt this needed to be written down before I forgot. Who knows, maybe it’ll help you as well.
Center for Internet Security Benchmarks & You
The CIS puts out a number of testable security benchmarks. If you’ve not read one of these, there are some… 400 or so items that are scored as part of the benchmark. The benchmark also has various levels, and when you follow the guidance, will allow you to produce some manner of attestation that you have followed the guide and produced a reasonably secure system. At least, that’s the idea.
In the world where the productivity of an operator or administrator (when did that pendulum swing back?) is measured in the tens of thousands per admin on staff, and with these being ‘cattle’ and being cycled constantly, hardening these against each of these checks gets to be… interesting.
As I’ve written on before this can be handled at in userdata. Additionally, you can do this in a very OpenStack way using Heat. This can also be done in a config management tool of your choice, like Salt.
In this case, and after a long winded way of getting here, we’re going to use the Ansible CIS role from here.
Now assuming you have the various ssh bits taken care of per the ansible docs, you will need to do the following:
On the box to receive the role:
sudo yum install -y libselinux-python
On the ‘control’ node, you will need to create a playbook.yaml as follows:
- hosts: all
Once that’s saved, you can run the following:
ansbile-playbook -i /etc/ansible/hosts -C ./playbook.yaml
This will run the playbook in a ‘read only’ or test mode and will tell you what is out of compliance and where. To push the changes, remove the -C, like this:
ansbile-playbook -i /etc/ansible/hosts ./playbook.yaml
In this post we’ve talked about the CIS hardening benchmarks as well as some practices for how to harden cloud servers in an automated way. We wrapped up showing you how to do this using Ansible against a RHEL or CentOS style server.
Many thanks to Major Hayden for getting this out there.
15 May 2015
Each summit seems to get a bit bigger, a bit better, at least in terms of podcasting. This year, there is apparently quite a line up headed to Vancouver:
There are also rumors that The Cloudcast will be there.