If you’ve touched a server in the last 5 years or so you probably know that automation matters a lot. There are a lot of things that might prevent full automation when you deploy software into production, and the situation tends to be especially bad for commercial software. Maybe it’s defective installers, maybe it’s manual EULA acceptance or clickthrough agreements, account logins that you might need to reset, or maybe it’s software that’s not designed to work out-of-the-box as soon as you install it. Thankfully most of this stuff is slowly and steadily dying out.
With vFabric one of our goals was to enable fully automated deploys in a way that fits into the broader context of tools you’re either already using or seriously considering.
For vFabric 5 we’ve focused our attention on enabling automation on RHEL. For now Windows users are a bit out of luck, partly because the automation capabilities on Windows are not as developed as they are on Linux. Look for this to improve in the future though.
Using yum to install vFabric software on RHEL.
Step 1 is to attach your RHEL system to our public repo. The easiest way to do this is to add a special RPM we have created that creates the appropriate files:
rpm -Uvh http://repo.vmware.com/pub/rhel5/vfabric/5/vfabric-5-repo-5-2.noarch.rpm
Alternatively you can create /etc/yum.repos.d/vfabric-5.repo with these contents:
name=VMware vFabric 5 packages - $basearch baseurl=http://repo.vmware.com/pub/rhel5/vfabric/5/$basearch enabled=1 gpgcheck=1 gpgkey=file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-VFABRIC-5
You can also refer to the full documentation on the VMware web site. Once you’ve done this if you “yum search vfabric” you will get this listing:
All the various vFabric software is there and ready to be installed. Let’s install vfabric-gemfire and see what happens.
I get a summary of what will be installed including vfabric-gemfire and vfabric-eula. Let’s answer y to this question (equivalently we could have said yum -y) and see what’s next.
This is the standard vFabric EULA agreement you would click through on the website or if you ran the GemFire JAR installer. One option we have is to scroll to the bottom of this EULA, accept it, and be on our way. One other thing to note is that the EULA is only accepted once per OS, so if we install some more vFabric stuff we don’t have to go through this again.
Obviously, though, we can’t automate this. How can we do a true unattended install?
Doing a true unattended install on RHEL with yum.
We put a mechanism in place that allows the EULA to be “pre-accepted” through use of a particularly worded file. Here’s how it works.
If you put the text string I_ACCEPT_EULA_LOCATED_AT=http://www.vmware.com/download/eula/vfabric_app-platform_eula.html into a file called /etc/vmware/vfabric/accept-vfabric-eula.txt you will not be manually prompted to accept the EULA and vfabric software will install unattended. (You really should read the EULA we worked very hard on it.)
One of many ways to do that is as follows:
Here’s what a GemFire install looks like after you’ve done that:
No prompting. It’s pretty easy to see how you could integrate the entire process into a Chef recipe or a Puppet script, or even into more traditional software management systems. The repo is also set up so you can host it internally using Spacewalk, for example.
Other reasons to do yum installs.
There are a few other reasons to do yum installs of vFabric software, particularly when going into production. For instance, necessary user accounts will be created, init.d scripts will be created and so forth. Let’s take GemFire as the example again, if you installed it via its JAR installer all this work needs to be figured out by the end user. At this point in the evolution of IT operations the way init scripts should work and the way user accounts should be set up is pretty well baked, it’s not an area that users should be trying to innovate in, and it’s better to have all this stuff “just work” out-of-the-box when you install.