Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oracle Linux - Check your kernel modules

Knowing and understanding what is running on your Oracle Linux system is vital for proper maintenance and proper tuning. As operating systems are seen more and more as something that is just there and should not be hindrance for development, as we see the rise of container based solutions and serverless computing it might look like that the operating system becomes less and less important. However, the opposite is true, the operating system becomes more and more important as it need to be able to facilitate all the requirements from the containers and functions running on top of it without human intervention or at least as less human intervention as possible.

This brings that, if you operate a large deployment of servers and you have to ensure everything is automated and operating at the best of performance at any moment in time without having to touch the systems or at least as less as possible, you need to optimize it and automate it. To be able to do so you need to be able to understand every component and be able to check if you need it or that you can drop it. Whatever you do not need, drop it, it can be a security risk or it can be a consumer of resources without having the need for it.

Oracle Linux Kernel modules
Kernel modules are an important part of the Oracle Linux operating system, understanding them and being able to check what is loaded and what is not should be something that you need to understand. Kernel modules are pieces of code that can be loaded and unloaded into the kernel upon demand. They extend the functionality of the kernel without the need to reboot the system.

Today, all necessary modules loading is handled automatically by udev, so if you do not need to use any out-of-tree kernel modules, there is no need to put modules that should be loaded at boot in any configuration file. However, there are cases where you might want to load an extra module during the boot process, or blacklist another one for your computer to function properly.

Kernel modules can be explicitly loaded during boot and are configured as a static list in files under /etc/modules-load.d/. Each configuration file is named in the style of /etc/modules-load.d/.conf. Configuration files simply contain a list of kernel modules names to load, separated by newlines. Empty lines and lines whose first non-whitespace character is # or ; are ignored.

Checking which kernel modules are loaded in the kernel can be done by using the lsmod command. lsmod will list all the modules. Basically it is a representation of everything you will find in the /proc/modules file however in a somewhat more understandable way. An example of the lsmod command on an Oracle Linux system running in a Vagrant box is shown below:

[root@localhost ~]# lsmod
Module                  Size  Used by
vboxsf                 38491  1 
ipv6                  391530  20 [permanent]
ppdev                   8323  0 
parport_pc             21178  0 
parport                37780  2 ppdev,parport_pc
sg                     31734  0 
pcspkr                  2094  0 
i2c_piix4              12269  0 
snd_intel8x0           33895  0 
snd_ac97_codec        127589  1 snd_intel8x0
ac97_bus                1498  1 snd_ac97_codec
snd_seq                61406  0 
snd_seq_device          4604  1 snd_seq
snd_pcm               113293  2 snd_intel8x0,snd_ac97_codec
snd_timer              26196  2 snd_seq,snd_pcm
snd                    79940  6 snd_intel8x0,snd_ac97_codec,snd_seq,snd_seq_device,snd_pcm,snd_timer
soundcore               7412  1 snd
e1000                 134545  0 
vboxvideo              42469  1 
ttm                    88927  1 vboxvideo
drm_kms_helper        120123  1 vboxvideo
drm                   343055  4 vboxvideo,ttm,drm_kms_helper
i2c_core               53097  3 i2c_piix4,drm_kms_helper,drm
vboxguest             306752  3 vboxsf,vboxvideo
sysimgblt               2595  1 vboxvideo
sysfillrect             4093  1 vboxvideo
syscopyarea             3619  1 vboxvideo
acpi_cpufreq           12697  0 
ext4                  604127  2 
jbd2                  108826  1 ext4
mbcache                 9265  1 ext4
sd_mod                 36186  3 
ahci                   26684  2 
libahci                27932  1 ahci
pata_acpi               3869  0 
ata_generic             3811  0 
ata_piix               27059  0 
video                  15828  0 
dm_mirror              14787  0 
dm_region_hash         11613  1 dm_mirror
dm_log                  9657  2 dm_mirror,dm_region_hash
dm_mod                106591  8 dm_mirror,dm_log
[root@localhost ~]# 

This could be the starting point of investigating and finding out what is loaded and what is really needed, what is not needed and what might be a good addition in some cases.

as you might not be checking your kernel modules on a daily basis you might not know which module is used for what purpose. In this case modinfo is coming to your reseque. If you want to know, for example, what the module snd_seq is used for you can check the details with modinfo as shown in the example below.

[root@localhost ~]# modinfo snd_seq
filename:       /lib/modules/4.1.12-61.1.28.el6uek.x86_64/kernel/sound/core/seq/snd-seq.ko
alias:          devname:snd/seq
alias:          char-major-116-1
license:        GPL
description:    Advanced Linux Sound Architecture sequencer.
author:         Frank van de Pol , Jaroslav Kysela 
srcversion:     88DDA62432337CC735684EE
depends:        snd,snd-seq-device,snd-timer
intree:         Y
vermagic:       4.1.12-61.1.28.el6uek.x86_64 SMP mod_unload modversions 
parm:           seq_client_load:The numbers of global (system) clients to load through kmod. (array of int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_class:The default timer class. (int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_sclass:The default timer slave class. (int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_card:The default timer card number. (int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_device:The default timer device number. (int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_subdevice:The default timer subdevice number. (int)
parm:           seq_default_timer_resolution:The default timer resolution in Hz. (int)
[root@localhost ~]#

As you can see in the example above the snd_seq module is the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture sequencer developed by Frank van de Pol and Jaroslav Kysela. Taking this as an example, you can argue. do I need the snd_seq module if I run a server where I have no need for any sound.

Unloading "stuff" you do not need will ensure you have a faster boot sequence timing of your system, less resource consumption and as every component carries a risk of having an issue.... with less components you have theoretically less possible bugs.

In conclusion
optimizing your system by checking which kernel models should be loaded and which could be left out on your Oracle Linux system. However, when you just use it for common tasks you might not want to spend to much time on it. However, if you are building your own image or investing time in building a fully automated way of deploying servers fast in a CI/CD manner you might want to spend time on making sure only the components you really need are in the system and nothing else.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Oracle Linux - Yum security plugin

Ensuring your Oracle Linux system is up to date with patches, and especially security patches can be a challenging task. Updating your system from a pure operating system point of view is not the main issue. A simple yum command will make sure that the latest versions are applied to your system.

The main challenge a lot of enterprises face is identifying which patches and updates are applicable and how they might affect applications running on the systems. For Oracle linux you will have an additional level of assurance that Oracle software will be working when applying updates from the official Oracle Linux repositories.

For software not developed by Oracle this assurance will not be that strict and you will face the same possible issues as you will have with other Linux distributions, like for example, RedHat.

A formal process of identifying what needs to be updated and after that ensuring the update will not break functionality should be in place. The first step in such a process is finding the candidates. A good way to find out which updates, security specific in our example, are available and could be applied is something that can be facilitated by yum itself

You can use the yum security plugin. Some of the options you can see mentioned below:

Plugin Options:
    --security          Include security relevant packages
    --bugfixes          Include bugfix relevant packages
    --cve=CVE           Include packages needed to fix the given CVE
    --bz=BZ             Include packages needed to fix the given BZ
                        Include security relevant packages, of this severity
                        Include packages needed to fix the given advisory

As an example you can use the below command which will show information on available updates.

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ yum updateinfo list
Loaded plugins: security
ELBA-2017-0891 bugfix         binutils-
ELEA-2017-1432 enhancement    ca-certificates-2017.2.14-65.0.1.el6_9.noarch
ELSA-2017-0847 Moderate/Sec.  curl-7.19.7-53.el6_9.x86_64
ELBA-2017-2506 bugfix         dhclient-12:4.1.1-53.P1.0.1.el6_9.1.x86_64
ELBA-2017-2506 bugfix         dhcp-common-12:4.1.1-53.P1.0.1.el6_9.1.x86_64
ELBA-2017-1373 bugfix         initscripts-9.03.58-1.0.1.el6_9.1.x86_64
ELBA-2017-2852 bugfix         initscripts-9.03.58-1.0.1.el6_9.2.x86_64
ELSA-2017-0892 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.1.1.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-1372 Moderate/Sec.  kernel-2.6.32-696.3.1.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-1486 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.3.2.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-1723 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.x86_64
ELBA-2017-2504 bugfix         kernel-2.6.32-696.10.1.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2681 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.10.2.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2795 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.10.3.el6.x86_64

In case you want to see only the security related updates with a severity Moderate you can use the below command to generate this list:

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ yum updateinfo list --sec-severity=Moderate
Loaded plugins: security
ELSA-2017-0847 Moderate/Sec. curl-7.19.7-53.el6_9.x86_64
ELSA-2017-1372 Moderate/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.3.1.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2863 Moderate/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.13.2.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2863 Moderate/Sec. kernel-headers-2.6.32-696.13.2.el6.x86_64
ELSA-2017-0847 Moderate/Sec. libcurl-7.19.7-53.el6_9.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2563 Moderate/Sec. openssh-5.3p1-123.el6_9.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2563 Moderate/Sec. openssh-clients-5.3p1-123.el6_9.x86_64
ELSA-2017-2563 Moderate/Sec. openssh-server-5.3p1-123.el6_9.x86_64
ELSA-2017-1574 Moderate/Sec. sudo-1.8.6p3-29.el6_9.x86_64
updateinfo list done
[vagrant@localhost ~]$ 

To list the security errata by their Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) IDs instead of their errata IDs, specify the keyword cves as an argument:

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ yum updateinfo list cves
Loaded plugins: security
 CVE-2017-2628    Moderate/Sec.  curl-7.19.7-53.el6_9.x86_64
 CVE-2017-2636    Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.1.1.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2016-7910    Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.1.1.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-6214    Moderate/Sec.  kernel-2.6.32-696.3.1.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-1000364 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.3.2.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-7895    Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-1000251 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.10.2.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-1000253 Important/Sec. kernel-2.6.32-696.10.3.el6.x86_64
 CVE-2017-7541    Moderate/Sec.  kernel-2.6.32-696.13.2.el6.x86_64

When checking (automated) what patches are applicable the question why is very reasonable. Meaning, you would like to have some more information on the background of patches. For this you can do a "yum updateinfo info" command or you can specifically query for a CVE ID. The CVE ID example is shown below in an example:

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ yum updateinfo info --cve CVE-2017-1000251
Loaded plugins: security

   kernel security and bug fix update
  Update ID : ELSA-2017-2681
    Release : Oracle Linux 6
       Type : security
     Status : final
     Issued : 2017-09-13
       CVEs : CVE-2017-1000251
Description : [2.6.32-696.10.2.OL6]
            : - Update genkey [bug 25599697]
            : [2.6.32-696.10.2]
            : - [net] l2cap: prevent stack overflow on incoming
            :   bluetooth packet (Neil Horman) [1490060 1490062]
            :   {CVE-2017-1000251}
   Severity : Important

   Unbreakable Enterprise kernel security update
  Update ID : ELSA-2017-3620
    Release : Oracle Linux 6
       Type : security
     Status : final
     Issued : 2017-09-19
       CVEs : CVE-2017-1000251
Description : kernel-uek
            : [4.1.12-]
            : - Bluetooth: Properly check L2CAP config option
            :   output buffer length (Ben Seri)  [Orabug:
            :   26796363]  {CVE-2017-1000251}
   Severity : Important
updateinfo info done
[vagrant@localhost ~]$

By using the yum plugin in a correct way and automate against it you can leverage the power of this plugin and implement (an automated) process that will inform you about candidates for installation on your production systems.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Oracle Cloud - IOT Enterprise Connectivity

Within the Oracle Cloud portfolio you will find the Oracle Internet Of Things (IOT) Cloud service. The IOT cloud service from Oracle provides a starting point for developing a IOT strategy within your company. Or, as Oracle likes to state: Oracle Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud Service is a managed Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that helps you make critical business decisions and strategies by allowing you to connect your devices to the cloud, analyze data and alert messages from those devices in real time, and integrate your data with enterprise applications, web services, or with other Oracle Cloud Services, such as Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service.

One of the main pillars within the Oracle IOT strategy, and a right one in my opinion, is that you will have to connect your IOT strategy to your Enterprise Solutions. Connecting them to your enterprise solutions can be for many reasons. For example, integrating it with preventive maintenance and/or customer satisfaction programs... just to name two options.

If you look at the above diagram you will notice that Enterprise Connectivity is placed as a central part of the Oracle IOT Cloud Service.

Oracle IoT Cloud Service provides a secure communication channel for pushing messages to your enterprise applications, and for your enterprise applications to push or pull messages from Oracle IoT Cloud Service. The Oracle IoT Cloud Service Client Software Enterprise Library and REST APIs enable your enterprise applications to send commands to your devices. You can further analyze the device data and alerts sent to Oracle IoT Cloud Service by integrating your IoT application to your enterprise applications, Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, or JD Edwards EnterpriseOne with Internet of Things Orchestrator instances. 

REST based API connections
The beauty of connecting an enterprise application with the Oracle IOT Cloud service is that this can be done fully based upon REST API's exchanging JSON based messages with each other. This means that you can leverage all the API best practices and could leverage all the microservice best practices. Communication will be based upon API's supported by workflows within the Oracle IOT cloud Service.

Using a combination of stream processing and REST based API's you can make sure that certain events you receive from connected devices result in a JSON message being send to your enterprise application (or for example, to a user his mobile device who has a mobile APP installed).

Communicating back to the IOT cloud works in the same way, you can have your applications interact with the Oracle IOT Cloud service and, for example, querying device data and metadata, or send commands to devices.

Building a new model
Having the option to connect from and to the Oracle IOT Cloud service in a loosely coupled way using REST API's makes that complete new models are possible. You will be able to read data coming from connected devices. However, you are also able to directly connect this to processes downstream as well and sending instructions back to devices from the backend systems.

Whenever you are working on a solution which will involve IOT components it might be worth it to have a good look at the Oracle IOT solution as this could potentially bring you a lot of value from day one. 

Oracle Cloud Access Security Broker

"A cloud access security broker (CASB) is a software tool or service that sits between an organization's on-premises infrastructure and a cloud provider's infrastructure. A CASB acts as a gatekeeper, allowing the organization to extend the reach of their security policies beyond their own infrastructure."

Oracle Cloud Access Security Broker is used for exactly that. The Oracle CASB Cloud Service is the only Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) that gives you both visibility into your entire cloud stack and the security automation tool your IT team needs.

Read more the Capgemini view on Oracle CASB via this link or view the presentation below., an overview created by Adriaan van Zetten and Johan Louwers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Oracle Jet - preparing Oracle Linux for Oracle Jet Development

Oracle JavaScript Extension Toolkit (JET) empowers developers by providing a modular open source toolkit based on modern JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5 design and development principles. Oracle JET is targeted at intermediate to advanced JavaScript developers working on client-side applications. It's a collection of open source JavaScript libraries along with a set of Oracle contributed JavaScript libraries that make it as simple and efficient as possible to build applications that consume and interact with Oracle products and services, especially Oracle Cloud services.

When developing Oracle Jet based solutions you can decide to use your local workstation for the development work, or you could opt to use virtual machine on your laptop. In this case we will be using a virtual Oracle Linux system which we created using vagrant and the Vagrant boxes provided by Oracle. To see a more detailed description on how to get Oracle Linux started with Vagrant you can refer to this specific blogpost.

Preparing your Oracle Jet Development system
To get started with Oracle Jet on a fresh Oracle Linux installation you will need to undertake a couple of steps outline below. The steps include;
  • Install Linux development tools
  • Install Node.JS
  • Install Yeoman
  • Install Grunt
  • Install Oracle JET Yeoman Generator

Install Linux development tools
for some of the Node.JS and Yeoman modules it i required to have a set of Linux development tools present at your machine. You can install them by using a simple YUM command as shown below:

yum install gcc-c++ make

Install Node.JS
The installation of Node.JS starts with ensuring you have the proper repositories in place. This can be done with a single command as shown below:

curl --silent --location | sudo bash -

After this you can do the actual installation of Node.JS using yum as shown below:

yum -y install nodejs

Install Yeoman
After the installation of Node.JS you should have NPM on your system and you should be able to install Yeoman. Yeoman is a generic scaffolding system allowing the creation of any kind of app. It allows for rapidly getting started on new projects and streamlines the maintenance of existing projects. Yeoman is language agnostic. It can generate projects in any language (Web, Java, Python, C#, etc.) Yeoman by itself doesn't make any decisions. Every decision is made by generators which are basically plugins in the Yeoman environment.

You can install Yeoman with a single NPM command as shown below:
npm install -g yo

Install Grunt
After the installation of Node.JS you should have NPM on your system and you should be able to install Grunt. Grunt is a JavaScript task runner, a tool used to automatically perform frequently used tasks such as minification, compilation, unit testing, linting, etc. It uses a command-line interface to run custom tasks defined in a file (known as a Gruntfile). Grunt was created by Ben Alman and is written in Node.js.

You can install Grunt with a single NPM command as shown below:
npm install -g grunt-cli

Install Oracle JET Yeoman Generator
After the installation of Node.JS you should have NPM on your system and you should be able to install the Oracle JET Generator for Yeoman.

You can install the Oracle JET Yeoman Generator with a single NPM command as shown below:
npm install -g generator-oraclejet

Verify the installation
To verify the installation you can use the below command to see what is installed by NPM and you can try and run Yeoman.

To check what is installed you can use the NPM command in the way shown below:
[root@localhost ~]# npm list -g --depth=0
├── generator-oraclejet@3.2.0
├── grunt-cli@1.2.0
├── npm@5.3.0
└── yo@2.0.0

[root@localhost ~]# 

After this you can try to start Yeoman in the way shown below (do not run yo as root).

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ yo
? 'Allo! What would you like to do? 
  Get me out of here! 
  Run a generator
❯ Oraclejet 
  Update your generators 
  Install a generator 
(Move up and down to reveal more choices)

If both are giving the result expected you should be ready to get started with your first Oracle Jet project.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Oracle Linux - ClusterShell

When operating large clusters consisting out of large numbers of nodes the desire to be able to execute a command on all, or a subset of nodes, comes quickly. You might want for example to run certain commands on all nodes without having to login to the nodes. When doing configuration solutions like Ansible or Puppet are very good solutions to use. However, for day to day operations they might not be sufficient and you would like to have the option of a distributed shell.

A solution for this is building your own tooling, or you can adopt a solution such as ClusterShell. ClusterShell is a scalable Python Framework, however it is a lot more than that. In the simplest form of usage it is a way to execute commands on groups of nodes in your cluster with a single command. That leaves open the option to do a lot more interesting things with it when you start to look into the options of hooking into the Python API’s and build your own distributed solutions with ClusterShell as a foundation for this.

Installing ClusterShell on Oracle Linux is relative easy and can be done by using the EPEL repository for YUM. Just ensure you have the EPEL repository available. If you have the EPEL respository for Oracle Linux installed you should be able to have the file /etc/yum.repos.d/epel.repo which (in our case, contains the following repository configuration:

name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch

name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch - Debug

name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch - Source

If you do not have this you will have to make sure you locate and download the appropriate epel-release-x-x.noarch.rpm file . As an example, you could download the file and install it as shown below:

# wget
# rpm -ivh epel-release-6-5.noarch.rpm

Now you should be able to use YUM to install ClusterShell on Oracle Linux, this can be done by executing the below yum command:

yum install clustershell

To test the installation you can, as an example, execute the below command to verify if clush is installed. Clush is a part of the full ClusterShell installation and being able to interact with it is a good indication of a successful installation.

[root@localhost /]# clush --version
clush 1.7.3
[root@localhost /]# 

To make full use of ClusterShell you will have to start defining your configuration and the nodes you want to be able to control with ClusterShell. The main configuration is done in the configurations file located at: /etc/clustershell . A basic installation should give you the below files in this loaction:

[root@localhost clustershell]# tree /etc/clustershell/
├── clush.conf
├── groups.conf
├── groups.conf.d
│   ├── genders.conf.example
│   ├── README
│   └── slurm.conf.example
├── groups.d
│   ├── cluster.yaml.example
│   ├── local.cfg
│   └── README
└── topology.conf.example

2 directories, 9 files
[root@localhost clustershell]# 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Oracle Linux - Install Ansible

Ansible is an open-source automation engine that automates software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. Ansible is based upon a push mechanism where you will push configurations to the servers rather than pulling them as is done by, for example, puppet. When you want to start using Ansible the first step required will be configuring that central location from where you will push the Ansible configurations.  Installing Ansible on a Oracle Linux machine is rather straight forward and can be achieved by following the below steps.

Step 1
To be able to install Ansible via the YUM command you will have to ensure that you have the EPEL release RPM installed which will take care of ensuring that you have the fedora YUM repository in place. This is due to the fact that the RPM's for ansible are placed on the fedora repository.

You can do so by first executing a wget to download the file and than install it with the RPM command:


rpm -ivh epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm 

If done correct you will now have something like the below in your YUM repository directory:

[root@localhost ~]# ls -la /etc/yum.repos.d/
total 24
drwxr-xr-x.  2 root root 4096 Aug 25 09:22 .
drwxr-xr-x. 63 root root 4096 Aug 25 08:36 ..
-rw-r--r--   1 root root  957 Nov  5  2012 epel.repo
-rw-r--r--   1 root root 1056 Nov  5  2012 epel-testing.repo
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 7533 Mar 28 10:13 public-yum-ol6.repo
[root@localhost ~]# 

if you check the epel.repo file you should have at least the "Extra packages for Enterprise Linux 6" channel active. You can see this in the example below:

[root@localhost ~]# cat /etc/yum.repos.d/epel.repo 
name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch

name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch - Debug

name=Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux 6 - $basearch - Source
[root@localhost ~]# 

Steps 2
As soon as you have completed the needed steps in step 1 you should be able to do an installation of Ansible on Oracle Linux by executing a simple yum install command.

yum install ansible

Step 3
In basic your installation should be done and Ansible should be available and ready to be configured. To ensure you have the installation right you can conduct the below test to verify.

[root@localhost init.d]#  ansible localhost -m ping
 [WARNING]: provided hosts list is empty, only localhost is available

localhost | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false, 
    "ping": "pong"
[root@localhost init.d]# 

Oracle Linux - inspect memory fragments with buddyinfo

The file /proc/buddyinfo is used primarily for diagnosing memory fragmentation issues. Using the buddy algorithm, each column represents the number of pages of a certain order (a certain size) that are available at any given time. You get to view the free fragments for each available order, for the different zones of each numa node.

The content of /proc/buddinfo as shown below will show you the number of free memory chunks. You have to read the numbers from left to right where the first column each value is 2^(0*PAGE_SIZE) the second is 2^(1*PAGE_SIZE) etc ect.

An example of the content of the buddyfile on Oracle Linux 6 can be seen below:

[root@jenkins proc]# cat buddyinfo 
Node 0, zone      DMA     15     32     84     24      6      5      2      0      0      0      0 
Node 0, zone    DMA32    604    342    165     64     28     10     15      2      1      0      0 
[root@jenkins proc]#

Friday, August 04, 2017

Oracle Linux - Intuition Engineering and Site Reliability Engineering with Elastic and Vizceral

IT operations are vital to organisations, in daily business operations a massive system disruption will halt an entire enterprise. Running and operating massive scale IT deployments who are to big to fail takes more than how it is done traditionally. Next to DevOps we see the rise of Site Reliability Engineering, originally pioneered by Google, and complemented with Intuition Engineering, pioneered by Netflix. You see more and more companies who have IT which is to big to fail turn to new concepts of operation.  By developing new ways of operation proven ways are adopted and improved.

Site Reliability Engineering
According to Ben Treynor, VP engineering at Google Site Reliability Engineering is the following;
"Fundamentally, it's what happens when you ask a software engineer to design an operations function. When I came to Google, I was fortunate enough to be part of a team that was partially composed of folks who were software engineers, and who were inclined to use software as a way of solving problems that had historically been solved by hand. So when it was time to create a formal team to do this operational work, it was natural to take the "everything can be treated as a software problem" approach and run with it.

So SRE is fundamentally doing work that has historically been done by an operations team, but using engineers with software expertise, and banking on the fact that these engineers are inherently both predisposed to, and have the ability to, substitute automation for human labor.

On top of that, in Google, we have a bunch of rules of engagement, and principles for how SRE teams interact with their environment -- not only the production environment, but also the development teams, the testing teams, the users, and so on. Those rules and work practices help us to keep doing primarily engineering work and not operations work."

Intuition Engineering
An addition to Site Reliability Engineering can be Intuition Engineering. Intuition Engineering is providing a Site Reliability Engineer with with information in way that it appeals to the brain’s capacity to process massive amounts of visual data in parallel to give users an experience -- a sense, an intuition -- of the state of a holistic system, rather than objective facts. An example of a Intuition Engineering tool is Vizceral developed by Netflix and discussed by Casey Rosenthal, Engineering Manager at Netflix, Justin Reynolds and others in numerous talks. In the below video you can see Justin Reynolds give an introduction into Vizceral.

Implementing Vizceral
For small system footprints using Vizceral might be interesting however not that important for day to day operations. When operating a relative small number of servers and services it is relatively easy to locate an issue and make a decision. In cases where you have a massive number of servers and services it will be hard for a site reliability engineer to take in the vast amount of data and spot possible issues and take split second decisions. In deployments like this it can be very beneficial to implement Vizceral.

Even though Vizceral might look complicated at first glance it is in reality a relative simple however extremely well crafted solution which has been donated to the open source community by Netflix. The process of getting the right data into Vizceral to provide the needed view of the now is the more complex task.

The below image shows a common implementation where we are running a large number of Oracle Linux nodes. All nodes have a local Elastic Beat to collect logs and data and ship this to Elasticsearch where Site Reliability Engineers can use Kibana to get insight in all data from all servers.

Even though Elasticsearch and Kibana in combination with Logstash and Elastic Beats provide a enormous benefit to Site Reliability Engineers they can even still be overwhelmed by the massive amount of data available and it can take time to find the root cause of an issue. As we are already collecting all data from all servers and services we would like to also feed this to Vizceral. The below image shows a reference implementation where we pull data from Elasticsearch and provide to Vizceral.

As you can see from the above image we have introduced two new components, the "Vizceral Feeder API" and "Netflix Vizceral". Both components are running a Docker Containers.

The Vizceral Feeder API
To extract the data we collected inside Elasticsearch and feed this to Vizceral we use the Vizceral Feeder API. The Vizceral Feeder API is an internal product which we hope to provide to the Open Source community at one point in the near future. In effect the API is a bridge between Elasticsearch and Vizceral.

The Vizceral Feeder API will query Elasticsearch for all the required information. Based upon the dataset returned a Vizceral JSON file is created compatible with Vizceral.

Depending on your appetite to modify Vizceral you can have Vizceral pull the JSON file from the Feeder API every x seconds or you can have a secondary process pull the file from the Feeder and place it locally in the Docker container hosting Vizceral.

If you are not into developing your own addition to Vizceral and would like to be up and running relatively fast you should go for the local file replacement strategy.

If you go for the solution in which Vizceral will pull the JSON from the feeder you will have to make sure that you take the following into account;

  • The Vizceral Feeder API needs to be accessible by the workstations used by the Site Reliability Engineers 
  • The JSON file needs to be presented with the Content-type: application/json header to ensure the data is seen as true JSON
  • The JSON file needs to be presented with the Access-Control-Allow-Origin: * header to ensure it is CORS compatible

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Oracle Linux - enable Docker daemon socket option

Installing Docker on a Oracle Linux instance is relative easy and you can get things to work extremely fast and easy. Within a very short timeframe you will have your Docker engine running and you first containers up and running. However, at one point in time you do want to start interacting with docker in a more interactive manner and not only use the docker command from the CLI. In a more integrated situation you do want to communicate over an API with Docker.

In our case the need was to have Jenkins build a Maven project with would build a Docker container with the help from the Docker Maven Plugin build by the people at Spotify. The first run we did hit an issue stating that the build failed with the below message:

[INFO] I/O exception ( caught when processing request to {}->unix://localhost:80: Permission denied
[INFO] Retrying request to {}->unix://localhost:80

The message need to be solved by taking two steps, (1) ensuring you have your docker Daemon listening on an external socket and (2) ensuring you set an environment variable.

Setting the Docker daemon socket option:
To ensure the docker daemon will listen, on port 2375 you have to make some changes to /etc/sysconfig/docker , location of this configuration file differs per Linux distribution however on Oracle Linux you will need this file.

You will have to ensure that other_args is stating that you want to run the daemon sockets. In the below example we have made the explicit configuration that it needs to run on the localhost IP and the external IP of the docker host.

other_args="-H tcp:// -H tcp:// -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock"

Setting DOCKER_HOST environment variable:
To make sure that Jenkins knows where to find the Docker API you will have to set the DOCKER_HOST environment variable. You can do so from the command line with the below command:

export DOCKER_HOST="tcp://"

Even though the above export works, if you would only need this for Jenkins you can also set a global environment var within Jenkins. Setting it in Jenkins when you only need it in Jenkins might be a better idea. You can set global environment variables within Jenkins under "Manage Jenkins" -"Configure System" - "Global Properties"

Now, when you run a build the build should connect to docker on port 2375 (not 80) and the build should finish without any issue. 

Oracle Linux - IPv4 forwarding is disabled. Networking will not work

Using Docker for the first time can be confusing, especially on the networking part. When you run Docker for the first time on a vanilla Oracle Linux instance you might be hitting a networking issue the first time you start a container and try to do network forwarding. By default IPv4 forwarding is disabled and should be set to enabled to make use of Docker in the right way.

The below error might be what you are facing when starting your first docker container on Oracle Linux:

WARNING: IPv4 forwarding is disabled. Networking will not work.

To resolve this issue you will to make changes to the configuration of your Docker host OS. In our case we run a Oracle Linux operating system with the Docker engine on top of it. To ensure you have forwarding active you will have to change setting in /etc/sysctl.conf . By default you will have the following:

# Controls IP packet forwarding
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 0

You will have to change this into 1 as shown below

# Controls IP packet forwarding
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1 

As soon as you have ensured the new settings are active, and only after you made sure they are active, your Docker containers should start without any issue.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Oracle code - Jenkins check if file is present in workspace

When using Jenkins to automate parts of your build and deployment work in a CI/CD manner you do want to include certain failsafe manners. A common ask is to check if a certain file is present in your Jenkins workspace. In our example, we do pull code from a Gitlab repository to build a Maven based project. One of the first things we would like to ensure is that the pom.xml file is present. In case the pom.xml file is not present we know that the build will fail and we will never come to a position in which we can build the required .jar file for our project.

To check if a file is present you can use the below example

if (fileExists('pom.xml')) {
    echo 'Yes'
} else {
    echo 'No'

As you can see this is fairly straightforward check which will check if pom.xml is present. In case it is not present it will print "No", in case it is present it will print "Yes". In a realworld example you do want to take some action on this instead of printing that the file is not present, you could have the desire to abort the build. The below example could be used to do so

    currentBuild.result = 'ABORTED'
    error('pom.xml file has NOT been located')

The above example code will abort the Jenkins job and will give the error that the pom.xml file has not been found. The more complete example is shown below:

if (fileExists('pom.xml')) {
    echo 'Yes'
} else {
    currentBuild.result = 'ABORTED'
    error('pom.xml file has NOT been located')

Ensuring that you have checks like this in place will make the outcome of Jenkins more predictable and can safe you a lot of issues in a later stage. In reality, a large part of some of our code in Jenkins is often to make sure everything is in place and is doing what it is expected to do. Checking and error handling is a big part of automation. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Oracle Code - Jenkins failed to build maven project

The first time I did try to build a Oracle Java project with Maven it resulted in an error. Which is not surprising, every time you try to do something the first time the changes that it will not work are relative high. In my case I intended to build a REST API build with Spring and compile it with Maven in Jenkins. The steps Jenkins should undertake where, get the code from my local gitlab repository and build the code as I would do in a normal situation. The code I used is exactly the same code as I have shared on github for your reference.

The main error I received when starting the actual build with Maven was the one shown below:

[ERROR] No goals have been specified for this build. You must specify a valid 
lifecycle phase or a goal in the format : or :[:]:. Available lifecycle phases are: 
validate, initialize, generate-sources, process-sources, generate-resources, 
process-resources, compile, process-classes, generate-test-sources, 
process-test-sources, generate-test-resources, process-test-resources, test-compile, 
process-test-classes, test, prepare-package, package, pre-integration-test, 
integration-test, post-integration-test, verify, install, deploy, pre-clean, clean, 
post-clean, pre-site, site, post-site, site-deploy. -> [Help 1]

If we look at my githib page you can already see a hint for the solution. In the documentation I stated the following command for creating the actual .jar file (the result I wanted from Jenkins)

mvn clean package

If we look at how the project was defined in Jenkins, I left the "goals" section empty. Added package to the goals section resolved the issue and the next time I started the job I was presented with a successfull completed job and a fully compiled .jar file capable of being executed and server me the needed REST API.

As you can see from the error message, a lot of other goals can also be specified.

Oracle Linux - Configure Jenkins for Maven

When you are working a lot with Oracle Java and you have the ambition to start developing your Java applications with Maven in a manner that you can automate a lot of the steps by leveraging Jenkins you will have to configure Jenkins. The use of Jenkins in combination with Maven can speed up your continuous integration and continuous deployment models enormously.

I already posted an article on how to install Jenkins on Oracle Linux in another post on this weblog, you can find the original post here. Originally the post was coming from a project where we did not use Maven, we did use Jenkins for some other tasks. However, now the need arises to use Maven as well.

Configuring Maven under Jenkins is relative easy, you can use the "global tool configuration" menu under Jenkins to make the needed configurations. Advisable is to not have Jenkins make the installation however install Maven manually and after that configure it into Maven.

The common error
The common error when configuring Maven is that you tend to define the location of mvn as the maven home the first time you look at this. In our case mvn was located in /usr/bin on our Oracle Linux instance. However, stating /usr/bin as the maven home resulted in the error : /usr/bin doesn’t look like a Maven directory

Finding the maven home
As we just found out that /usr/bin is not the maven home we have to find the correct maven home. The resolution can be found in the mvn --version command as shown below

[root@jenkins /]#
[root@jenkins /]# mvn --version
Apache Maven 3.3.9 (bb52d8502b132ec0a5a3f4c09453c07478323dc5; 2015-11-10T16:41:47+00:00)
Maven home: /usr/share/apache-maven
Java version: 1.8.0_141, vendor: Oracle Corporation
Java home: /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk-
Default locale: en_US, platform encoding: UTF-8
OS name: "linux", version: "4.1.12-61.1.33.el6uek.x86_64", arch: "amd64", family: "unix"
[root@jenkins /]#
[root@jenkins /]#

As you can see the Maven home is stated in the output. Providing the Maven home /usr/share/apache-maven to Jenkins will ensure you will have configured maven correctly.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oracle Linux - changing the amount of memory of your Vagrant box

Vagrant is an open-source software product build by HashiCorp for building and maintaining portable virtual development environments. The core idea behind its creation lies in the fact that the environment maintenance becomes increasingly difficult in a large project with multiple technical stacks. Vagrant manages all the necessary configurations for the developers in order to avoid the unnecessary maintenance and setup time, and increases development productivity. Vagrant is written in the Ruby language, but its ecosystem supports development in almost all major languages.

I use Vagrant a lot, really a lot, and especially in combination with Oracle LinuxOracle ships a number of default vagrant boxes from within which speeds up the development, test and experimental way of working a lot. Without having the need to manually maintain local clones of Oracle virtualbox images you can now use vagrant to extremely fast run Oracle Linux instances.  A short guide on how to get started with vagrant can be found in this specific blogpost on my blog.

When you run a box for a short time you might not be that interested in memory tuning as long as it works. However , if you need to run multiple boxes for a longer periode of time as part of a wider development ecosystem you do want to ensure that all the boxes fit in your development system and you still have some free memory left to do actual things.

A default box is taking a relative large part of the memory of your host. Tuning this memory to what it actually should be is relatively easy. In our example the Oracle Linux 6.9 box starts by default using 2048MB of memory. We wanted to trim this down to 1024. To state the exact amount of memory you need to configure some parts in your Vagrantfile config file.

The below example we added to the Vagrantfile defined the amount of memory that could be given to the box:

config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb|
  vb.memory = "1024"

This would make that the box will be given only 1024. Additional you can pass other configuration for example if want to provide only 1 cpu you could also add the below line right after the vb.memory line to do so.

v.cpus = 2

Understanding and using the Vagrantfile configuration options will help you in building and tuning your boxes in the most ideal way to have the best development environment you can imagine on your local machine.