• Introducing kitchen-salt, a salt provisioner for test-kitchen

    Over the last week I’ve been working on kitchen-salt, a SaltStack provisioner for Test Kitchen, this allows you to perform integration testing on salt-formula. Test Kitchen will create a VM (through Vagrant, LXC, OpenStack, ec2 etc), install a version of salt of your choosing, apply a given set of states & then optionally allow you to perform some automated validation of the states via the supported testing frameworks (bats, serverspec etc).
  • SHOCKER: Vagrant base box using RPMs

    I’ve been using some of the base boxes available from http://www.vagrantbox.es/ as a starting point for lots of Vagrant VMs recently, but came unstuck when the version of puppet in use on the base box was substantially different from our production environment (2.7 v 2.6.8 in our production environment). (I was working on alt_gem, an alternate package provider for maintaining gems outside the RVM in use by puppet) At first I thought it would be simple enough to downgrade puppet on one of my Vagrant VMs, but then I discovered that nearly all of the CentOS/Red Hat vagrant boxes install ruby & puppet from tarballs, which is balls frankly, shouldn’t we be using packages for everything?
  • Faking Production – database access

    One of our services has been around for a while, a realy long time. It used to get developed in production, there is an awful lot of work involved in making the app self-contained, to where it could be brought up in a VM and run without access to production or some kinds of fake supporting environment. There’s lots of stuff hard coded in the app (like database server names/ip etc), and indeed, and there’s a lot of code designed to handle inaccessible database servers in some kind of graceful manor.
  • The New Toolbox

    In days gone by, any computer guy worth his salt had a collection of boot floppies, 5.25″ & 3.5″, containing a mix of MS-DOS, DR-DOS, Toms Root Boot & Norton tools. These days passed and the next set of essentials was boot cd-r, containing BartPE, RIPLinux, Knoppix etc. People quickly switched to carrying these tools USB sticks, smaller, easier to change, great when the dodgy PC you were trying to breathe life into supported USB booting.
  • Portadown – Open Source Hotspot

    I’m just back from the Open Source Solution Centre’s Information Evening at the Seagoe Hotel, Daniel Bled has obviously worked hard at sharing his passion for open source software, he and the rest of the team from Southern Regional College & InvestNI put on an evening they should be proud of. Daniel did a sterling job of trying to convey the Open Source philosophy to the gathered non-technical, business oriented audience.
  • WRR DNS with PowerDNS

    I had an interesting challenge in work recently, we have 3 data centres running our applications, currently the RR DNS system does what it’s supposed to, spreads the data round each of the 3 DCs evenly. This works fine when all of your data centres have a similar capacity. But ours don’t. This causes problem when your load/traffic gets to the point where one of the DCs can’t cope. Now, there are many expensive and complicated solutions to this, this how ever isn’t one of them, it’s quite simple, has it’s weaknesses, but as you’ll see it’s also quite elegant.
  • hat in the ring

    Well, I’ve just gone & thrown my hat in the ring to speak at BarCampBelfast, if anybody actually wants to here my proposed talk, it’ll be 5 slides I prepared for the first Mobile Monday Belfast, I prepared two sets, one business & one techie, Mobile Monday got the business slides 🙂