All posts by Jamie Duncan

Red Hatter and chronic tinkerer

and you think the code is the hardest part

Well, you’re pretty much right. BUT.

I’ve been working, on and off, on a project called soscleaner since last December-ish. It’s a pretty straight-forward tool. It takes an existing sosreport and obfuscates data that people don’t typically like to release like hostnames and IP addresses. The novel part is that it maintains the relationships between obfuscated items and their counterparts. So a hostname or IP address is obfuscated with the same value in all of the files in an sosreport. It allows the person looking at the ‘scrubbed’ report to still perform meaningful troubleshooting.

It’s not a big enough problem to get a true company or engineer’s attention, but it’s too big for a hack script. So I decided to try and tackle it. And I have to say that the current iteration isn’t too bad. It doesn’t what it’s supposed to pretty reliably, and all of the artifacts to make it a ‘real program’ are in place. Artifacts like:

  • issue tracking
  • wiki
  • README and Licensing Decisions
  • publishing binary packages (RPMs in this case, right now)
  • publishing to language-specific repositories (PyPi in this case, since it’s a Python application)
  • creating repositories (see RPM’s link)
  • submitting it to a Linux distro (Fedora in this case, for now)
  • writing unittests (a first for me)
  • creating some sort of ‘homepage
  • mailing lists

All of this has been an amazing learning experience, of course. But my biggest take away, easily, is that all of the things that wrap around the code to actually ‘publish’ an application is almost as hard as the coding itself. I am truly stunned, and I have a new appreciation now for the people who do it well every day.

git2changelog – converting your git logs into a spec file changelog automatically

Especially when it comes to application development, I’m a bit lazy and a general malcontent. I love solving the problem, but I hate dealing with the packaging and versioning and all of the stuff that makes something usable.  One of the things I always have trouble with is keeping track of my spec file changelog when I am rolling something into an RPM.

To help ease that I put together a small script that will take a git repository’s log between any two tags and output it in a format that is acceptable in an RPM spec file.

To do this I started with the Fedora Packaging Guidelines for Changelogs. This gave me the proper formatting to adhere to for my script.

Next I used the changelog in the sosreport package for inspiration. It’s available in its spec file.

The script I wrote is designed to run inside of a git repository.  If you can come up with a better way to collage this data from the .git directory then please feel free to share. So I’ve stuck it in a git repo so you can grab it if you want.

https://github.com/jduncan-rva/git2changelog/

The output of my soscleaner app looks like this:

$ ./git2changelog -b 0.1-8

* Sat Jun 07 2014 Jamie Duncan <jamie.e.duncan@gmail.com> - HEAD:UNRELEASED
- 2f78c26 =review - added comment in _skip_file to likely remove a now useless if clause
- Merge pull request #11 from bmr-cymru/bmr-libmagic-fixes : Commit 4427b06
- Convert python to use native libmagic python-magic bindings : Commit 7db6a99
- Rename __init__ options argument for clarity : Commit f1353ea
- cleaning up the magic import - fixes #10 : Commit 554af49
- removing shebang from py module : Commit f70b856
- more cleanup : Commit 6ee1339

* Wed Jun 04 2014 Jamie Duncan <jamie.e.duncan@gmail.com> - 0.1-12
- 47b3a47 =adding dist flag to spec file
- clean up : Commit 400a74a
- getting in with the guidelines : Commit ea1ad7c
- more spec refinements : Commit 64eb638
- more spec refinements : Commit 34eadd4
- making source ref in spec file a URL : Commit aefdd9b
- bringing spec file inline with Fedora standards : Commit 767e1d2
- updating macros in spec file for koji : Commit e4b46ea
- adding spec file : Commit e6738c0

* Tue Jun 03 2014 Jamie Duncan <jamie.e.duncan@gmail.com> - 0.1-11
- ab0050b =updating changelog
- packaging cleanup : Commit d4a3428
- tweaking for rhn-support-tool : Commit 06a151f
- minor cleanup of an unused module and a repetitive line or 2 : Commit 7eb1726
- Update README.md : Commit 97f047f
- cleaning up tarball paths. fixes #9 : Commit caa6536
- cleaning up tarball paths. fixes #9 : Commit e4e1cef
- updated README.md : Commit f6c064a
- updated README.md : Commit a070ebd
- fixing issue where checking compression type could error out because of capital letters where i thought it would always be capitalized : Commit cbf0e7d
- removing some cruft : Commit fdf82eb
- removed some old chmod bits that became un-needed when it became required to run as root : Commit cb15d97
- removed xsos option that never existed in the first place. we should just use xsos for that. : Commit ed5992e
- removed xsos option that never existed in the first place. we should just use xsos for that. : Commit 5c2dc32
- removed xsos option that never existed in the first place. we should just use xsos for that. : Commit 1df7e0d
- Merge branch 'master' of github.com:jduncan-rva/soscleaner : Commit e462b7b
- minor cleanup : Commit 5fc8ce2
- Updating README.md with better File Creation explanations : Commit bac8368
- Updating README.md with better usage examples : Commit 6589b4c
- Updating README.md : Commit 7dce4a9
- disallowing octects > 3 digits - to help cut down on false positives : Commit 319591f
- no longer matches IP addys starting with a 0 : Commit 0223d82

If you specify and ‘end tag’, then you won’t see the untagged commits in HEAD.

I don’t hate the word cloud anymore, maybe

Since it hit the scene in earnest a few years ago, I’ve despised the word ‘cloud’ in the context of what I do for a living. I’ve warned people prior to using it in presentations, proclaimed my joy for having not used the word and bashed it most every time it was mentioned.  I’m here to say that my position on ‘the cloud’ has matured now. I don’t hate the word. But I do hate how most people in the world are defining it.

My own definition has taken a long time to develop. I’ve known it was a powerful concept for some time. I’ve also known most of the IT world has been talking about of the side of their neck when they made their salaries by talking about it. I particularly enjoy people proclaiming they know all about the ‘next generation of cloud’ when we were all still defining the first one. At any rate, to define ‘cloud’, I first have to define ‘PaaS’ to my own satisfaction.

PaaS (noun) – short for Platform As A Service. It provides a complete application platform for users or developers (or both) by sufficiently abstracting those services away from their underlying technology platforms. 

A little wordy, I know, but we need to be specific here. Not only must a PaaS provide a platform, but it must do it in a way that abstracts developers and users from administration of the platform.  It must also handle all of the tertiary services (DNS, port forwarding, scalability, inter-connectivity, etc.) that administers usually have to handle after the fact.

PaaS lets developers develop, and lets administers admin.

So what is cloud?

cloud (noun) - an implementation of a PaaS solution that is seamlessly and automatically scalable to handle load demands and they grow and shrink.

So you start with a PaaS and you build it out so it will grow and shrink automatically as needed for it work load.

What is NOT a cloud?

  • provisioning virtual machines really quickly
  • setting up a PaaS that is brittle and confining for developers and users
  • writing 3 or 4 scripts to help automate your virtualization infrastructure
  • almost everything being marketed as a cloud today

To define a cloud you have to define PaaS. PaaS is defined as that slick layer of magic that abstracts the application away from everything the application runs on or in. A cloud is a seamlessly scalable instance of a good PaaS.  Easy, isn’t it? Step 3, profit!