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Scalable Systems

Management with
Nick Jones and Stephen McNally
HPC Operations Group
August 2, 2010
National Institute for
Computational Sciences
 NICS is a collaboration between UT and ORNL
 Awarded the NSF Track 2B ($65M)
 Phased deployment of Cray XT systems
 Staffed with 25 FTEs, funding for 15 more
 Total JICS funding ~$92M

#4 Top500
June 2010
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 Challenges that System Administrators Face
 Why Puppet?
 Puppet Installation and Configuration
 Managing Your Infrastructure with Puppet
 Advanced Puppet Topics
 Hands On Exercises

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 GlobalMeetingWireless

 Passcode: TG10
Challenges that
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What do Systems Administrators do?
 Watch YouTube
 Eat Fritos and Mountain Dew
 Have big warm fuzzy secret heart
 Rearrange Netflix queue

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Case Studies : Your Prototypical
 Has to manage lots of servers
 Responsible for installation, maintenance,
updates……the whole shebang
 Let‟s call him (or her) “Geppetto”
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Case Study 1 : Sudo
 Organization gets new interns
 Need to give interns sudo privileges on
appropriate machines

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Case Study 1 : Sudo
 The old way:
– Edit the sudoers file on one server
– Use scp, pdsh, rsync or some combination of the
above to deploy to necessary systems

 Pitfalls:
– What if you have different distros, and they store
the sudoers file in different locations?
– How do you detect errors?

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Case Study 1 : Sudo
 The Puppet way:
– Edit the sudoers file on one server
– Every other server automatically pulls down the
updated Puppet file and installs it into the proper
location for its distro

 Advantages:
– Easy
– Centralized
– Logged

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Case Study 2 : iptables
 Need to collaborate with outside group
 Must allow them SSH access to internal

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Case Study 2 : iptables
 The old way:
– Update the iptables rules to allow access from the
right ip ranges
– Copy the rules to each machine
– Restart iptables on each machine, and check that
the rule worked

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Case Study 2 : iptables
 The Puppet way:
– Update the iptables rule to allow access from the
right ip ranges
– Tell Puppet to ensure that the iptables service is
– Each client machine automatically pulls the
updated iptables rule
– Each client intelligently knows that iptables must
be restarted after a rule update, and it does this
automatically using dependencies

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Case Study 3 : Doomsday
 Centralized web server goes down due to
hardware failure
 Must get the website back up quickly

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Case Study 3 : Doomsday
 The old way:
– Multiple sysadmins get stressed out
– Reinstall the server and reconfigure by hand
– Restore Apache configs by hand from tape or other
backup (you did backup right?)

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Case Study 3 : Doomsday
 The Puppet way:
– Take any other spare server
– Change the MAC address in DHCP to the new
– Puppet automatically enforces and deploys the
new configuration on the new server
– Installs and updates all necessary configurations,
including ensuring that the proper services are

Why Puppet?
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What is Puppet?
 Puppet is a configuration management utility
 Puppet is not the only configuration
management utility

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Puppet Competitors
 cFengine
 Bcfg2
 Chef
 …..and the list goes on

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Puppet vs cFengine
 cFengine focuses on managing textfiles
 Puppet focuses on managing constructs like
users, services, and packages

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Puppet vs cFengine
 Puppet is model driven
– The lowest layer is responsible for resource
– Eg. User on Solaris vs User on Linux

 The language handles high level relationships
– Think users instead of /etc/passwd

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Puppet Language
 Puppet uses Ruby
 Puppet‟s Language is declarative
 You specify the configuration – Puppet
handles the implementation
– Must use detailed specification
– Need things like dependencies to get the full power
of Puppet

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Image: Official Puppet Documentation
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How does Puppet work?
Image: Official Puppet Documentation
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 Puppet configurations are idempotent – they
can safely be run multiple times
 By default, Puppet runs every 30 minutes

 Unlike say --- kickstart --- Puppet can detect
the current state of the system
 Won‟t make changes unless necessary

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Cross Platform Abstraction
 Puppet doesn‟t care about specifics unique to
your system
 All handled automatically (facter!)

 Manage users, files, packages, etc. the same
way regardless of OS or distro

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 Providers fulfill resources
– Example: package management
– Both „yum‟ and „apt‟ are valid package managers

 Puppet uses „providers‟ to abstract package
management away from the user

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 How does Puppet know about your system?
– Using the Ruby library Facter
– Facter supports a large number of predefined facts
– Custom facts can be defined

-bash-3.2$ facter
architecture => x86_64
domain =>
facterversion => 1.5.7
fqdn =>
hardwareisa => x86_64
hardwaremodel => x86_64
hostname => example
id => jones
interfaces => eth0,eth0_kraken_una,eth1
….and more
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 Centos
 Debian 3.1 and later
 Fedora Core 2-6
 Fedora 7 and later
 Gentoo Linux
 Mandriva Corporate Server 4
 RHEL 3 and Later
 Oracle Linux
 SuSe Linux 8 and later
 Ubuntu 7.04 and later

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 FreeBSD 4.7 and later
 OpenBSD 4.1 and later
 Mac OS X
 Solaris 2.6
 Solaris 7 and later
 Windows Support (in beta)

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Installing Puppet
Table credit: Turnbull, Pulling Strings with Puppet
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Installing Puppet
Table credit: Turnbull, Pulling Strings with Puppet
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Installing Puppet
Table credit: Turnbull, Pulling Strings with Puppet
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Puppet Installation
and Configuration
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Manual Installation of Puppet
Puppet is a client / server based application

Puppet clients are often referred to as nodes, clients, or hosts

The Puppet server is often referred to as the puppetmaster


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Manual Installation of Puppet

Currently Reductive Labs offers support for the following operating systems:

Linux: CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, RHEL, Oracle Linux, SUSE,
and Ubuntu

BSD: FreeBSD, and OpenBSD

Other Unix: Mac OS-X, and Sun Solaris

Windows: None currently

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Manual Installation of Puppet
•The Puppet client must be installed on every system – even
your Puppetmaster

•Most platforms will use the default package manager to install

•If you use a package management system (i.e. - yum) you will
automatically get most prerequisite libraries

•Facter is not installed by default when using the package

•Reductive Labs provides source tar balls in case you want to
torture yourself

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Installing Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
Ensure that your package manager (yum) is configured to
communicate with the EPEL repo.

# rpm -Uvh

# yum repolist

Should list epel in the left hand column
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Installing Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
# yum install -y puppet (installs the client)

# yum install -y puppet-server (installs the server)

# yum install -y facter

# yum install -y ruby-doc (optional if you want –help to work with ruby

These installs will also process other dependencies such as ruby and

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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•Once yum installation is complete you must configure Puppet

•The /etc/puppet directory will be created after installation

•Create a simple manifest in /etc/puppet/manifests/ called

•The puppetmaster daemon needs a syntactically correct file to


node default {

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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•The default config file is located at /etc/puppet/puppet.conf

•It is initially created with a basic set of options

•These options control the behavior of the Puppet suite

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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•Sample puppet.conf file (to see all values use # puppet –

# cat /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
vardir = /var/lib/puppet
logdir = /var/log/puppet
rundir = /var/run/puppet
ssldir = $vardir/ssl
tagmap = /etc/puppet/tagmail.conf
reportfrom =
classfile = $vardir/classes.txt
localconfig = $vardir/localconfig
report = true
reports = tagmail
autosign = /etc/puppet/autosign.conf

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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•The puppet client config looks for a system named “puppet”

•Add an entry to DNS for the puppet master (recommended)
puppet IN CNAME puppetmaster

•You could also change the config to point to a specific system
(not recommended)

•Start the puppetmaster daemon
# /etc/init.d/puppetmaster start && tail –f /var/log/messages

•Ensure the puppetmaster daemon starts on boot
# /sbin/chkconfig puppetmaster on 2345

•Basic puppetmaster installation is complete
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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•To complete the configuration we must configure the client to
run on the puppetmaster

•Manually start the puppet client once to test
# /etc/init.d/puppet once -v

•This will generate a certificate request to the puppetmaster
# puppetca --list (will show the waiting certificate requests)

•Multiple ways to resolve this
1. Setup puppetmaster to automatically sign all certificates
2. Setup puppetmaster to only sign specific certificates
3. Perform manual certificate signing each time

•We use option #2

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Setup Certificate Autosign Option #1
•To setup automatic certificate signing you must specify so in
the /etc/puppet/autosign.conf file

•An example of autosign.conf file that accepts every new
certificate request

# cat /etc/puppet/autosign.conf


•Pro’s – will automatically sign certs, when reinstalling a system
the autosign.conf file doesn’t need to be updated

•Con’s – security risk, not good to automate the certificate
signing mechanism

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Setup Certificate Autosign Option #2
•To setup restrictive automatic signing we will use the
/etc/puppet/autosign.conf file

•Example autosign.conf file

# cat /etc/puppet/autosign.conf

•Pro’s – adds additional control to certificate signing, provides
greater security than option #1, is a good balance of security
and automation

•Con’s – the autosign.conf file must be kept up to date
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Setup Certificate Autosign Option #3
•Manual certificate signing doesn’t require the autosign.conf file

•Once the certificate request has been made you should be
able to see a list of the waiting requests on the puppetmaster by
# puppetca --list

•To sign a specific request run the following:
# puppetca --sign
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Setup Certificate Autosign Option #3
•You may verify the signed cert by running:
# puppetca --list --all

•The “+” sign denotes a signed certificate

•Pro’s – most secure way to sign certificates
•Con’s – can get cumbersome when scaling your puppet
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Configure Puppet on CentOS / RHEL
•After the certificate is accepted you can retest by starting the
puppet client
# /etc/init.d/puppet once –v

•In syslog you will see entries similar to the following:

puppetd[18704]: Starting Puppet client version 0.25.4
puppetmasterd[18047]: Compiled catalog for in
0.25 seconds
puppetd[18704]: Finished catalog run in 2.96 seconds

•Puppet client should start and should finish the catalog run
without any errors

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Installation is complete!
Basic Puppet installation is complete!
(seriously, we aren’t joking)

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Managing Your
Infrastructure with
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NICS Puppet Infrastructure
manifests/ modules/
site.pp host1/
Files Folders
Placeholder Names
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Sample site.pp

•There are many ways to configure your Puppet environment

•Here’s one way to setup your /etc/puppet/manifests/site.pp file:


import “classes/*.pp” #This will import every .pp
#file in the classes directory

import nodes #This will import the nodes.pp file that #lives in

•You can also set enterprise wide environment variables here
instead of specifically defining them within each node

•Environment variables can be used in templates
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Classes vs. Modules

•Why use the classes directory and the modules directory?

•Classes are more global and usually contain many different

•Modules are the smallest unit of measure that Puppet builds

•Here are some sample classes that we use:

badservices.pp, cluster.pp, disable_accounts.pp, diskcheck.pp,
homedirs.pp, hpss.pp, infrastructure.pp, ipmi.pp, packages.pp,
python_env.pp, rootmail.pp, security.pp, snmp.pp,
subversion.pp, yumconfig.pp, yumreposerver.pp
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Building Puppet Modules

•We store all of our modules in /etc/puppet/modules

•This is referenced in our /etc/puppet/puppet.conf file under the
puppetmaster section

•Here are some of the modules we have created over time:

accounts, iptables, named, oncalldb, postfix, rt, syslogng, amie_gold, cron,
openssl, postgresql, dhcpd, grid_tools, lustre, moab, networking, otp, psacct,
subversion, drupal, nfs, passwd, puppet, sudo, cacti, httpd, mysql, pbstools,
splunk, sysctl, console, infiniband, ldap, mailman, nagios, ntp, php, ssh,

•You don’t have to create all of your modules up front

•Work on one application (module) at a time until everything is
in Puppet

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Building Puppet Modules

•This method of storing modules separately in
/etc/puppet/modules assists in management

•We can store module specific files within the module instead of
all together

•If you’re working on a module, you can stay in that module until
you are finished and ready to test

•Inside each module, we have two main directories: manifests
and files

•The file directory houses the module specific files

•The manifest is where the module’s definition lives (init.pp)
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Sample module init.pp

•Below is a simple example of the named (DNS) class:

class named {
package {
bind: ensure => installed;
bind-chroot: ensure => installed;
service { "named":
enable => true,
ensure => running,
require => [ Package["bind"], Package["bind-chroot"] ];
file { "/var/named/chroot/etc/rndc.key":
path => "/var/named/chroot/etc/rndc.key",
source => "puppet:///named/var/named/chroot/etc/rndc.key",
require => [ Package["bind"], Package["bind-chroot"] ];
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Module Files

•What goes in the files directory?

•These files can be anything from configuration files to custom

•Gives the system administrator the ability to control any file

•This doubles as a security measure and as a standardization

•We store our files in the same directory structure as the final

•The “puppet” user must be able to read the files

•Simplifies system administration

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Sample Infrastructure Class

•Our infrastructure.pp class uses several different modules

class infrastructure {
include puppet
include yumconfig
include syslog
include security
if $ntp_server {
include ntp::server
} else {
include ntp
include ldap
include console
include badservices
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What is a template?

•Puppet templates are flat files containing Embedded Ruby
(ERB) variables

•An example ssh_config template follows:

Protocol <%= ssh_Protocol %>
<% if ssh_ListenAddress != "" %>
ListenAddress <%= ssh_ListenAddress %>
<% end -%>

SyslogFacility <%= ssh_SyslogFacility %>
RSAAuthentication <%= ssh_RSAAuthentication %>
PubkeyAuthentication <%= ssh_PubkeyAuthentication %>
UsePAM <%= ssh_UsePAM %>
X11Forwarding <%= ssh_X11Forwarding %>
NoneEnabled no
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ERB variable declaration

•Ruby ERB variables can be set in different places

•They can be specified in the class that calls them:

class resolv {
$searchpath = ""
$nameservers = ["", ""]

file { "resolv.conf":
name => "/etc/resolv.conf",
content => template("resolv-template.erb")
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ERB variable declaration

•Or you can set them for each node in

node server1 {
$searchpath = ""
$nameservers = ["", ""]
include resolv
node server2 {
$searchpath = ""
$nameservers = ["", ""]
include resolv

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Hands on Exercises

•Install and configure Puppet client/server

•Create a basic MySQL client module

•Create a basic MySQL server module
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Install and Configure Puppet client /
•Using the handouts install and configure the Puppetmaster and
Puppet client

•These systems are CentOS 5.5 virtual machines

•Login and pw will be given
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Create a module
•Now that we have Puppet up and running, create a MySQL
client module using the handout

•Once you have created the MySQL client module, we would
then like to work through creating a MySQL server module
Advanced Puppet
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Module Dependency

•Module dependencies can serialize module installation

•Handy when an application needs to have certain files in place
before installing the rest

•Puppet runs in a “shotgun” manner

•Different pieces of each class are installed a completely
different times

•This is where module dependency comes in

•Example: YUM repositories and application specific installs
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Intra-module dependencies

•Most of the time dependencies are in the context of the same

•The application must be installed before it is configured

class rt {
package {"rt3":
ensure => installed,
file {
source => "puppet:///rt/etc/rt3/",
ensure => present,
owner => apache, group => apache, mode => 640,
require => Package[rt3];
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Inter-module dependencies

•The more complex your Puppet environment becomes the
greater the need for inter-module dependencies are.

•This is where a specific resource defined in module “A” is
dependent on a resource in module “B”

class rt {
package {
ensure => installed,
require => Yumrepo[epel];
ensure => installed;
ensure => installed;

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Module Inheritance

•Inherit statements do exactly what they sound like they do

•Come in handy when you only need to change something
specific for a node or two

class ntp::verne inherits ntp {

file { "/etc/sysconfig/ntpd":
ensure => file,
source => "puppet:///verne/etc/sysconfig/ntpd",
owner => root,
group => root,
mode => 0644,
notify => [ Service[ntpd], ],
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Optimize your MySQL modules for
use with dependencies

•HINT - The MySQL server module should have an inheritance
from the MySQL client module
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Proper Cluster Management

•Clusters should be managed with “classes” not “modules”

•Here’s an example of our /etc/puppet/manifests/cluster.pp

class cluster {
include puppet
include yumconfig
include syslog
include sysctl
include ntp
include homedirs
include ldap
include console
include psacct
include security
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Proper Cluster Management

•More recent version of Puppet support ruby regex

•Here’s an example of how to efficiently manage a cluster of 10

node /^clusternode[0-9]+/ {
$disable_ipv6 = False
include cluster
include kernel-utils
boot_kernel { "2.6.18-164.15.1.el5": }

•To test out your ruby regex use:
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Nick Jones

Stephen McNally