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Allowing Cached HTTPS Traffic From Drupal With Varnish And Pound

29th January 2015 - 11 minutes read time

Varnish is a web application accelerator that helps to speed up websites. It works by sitting in front of the web server and caching web pages that are served by it.

When a request for a web page is made Varnish passes this request on to the web server, which then responds to the request as it normally would. Varnish then caches the result of this request before sending it to the user.

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Adding iptables Rules With Ansible

16th February 2014 - 6 minutes read time

Many systems and applications require certain access to certain ports and protocols. When installing these systems using Ansible it is necessary to also open up the needed ports so that the systems can function correctly. As there is no iptables module in Ansible the shell command is needed to add the iptables rules.

As an example, here is a task that adds a iptables rule to allow Apache to communicate on port 80.

- name: Apache | add apache iptable rule
  command: /sbin/iptables -I INPUT 1 -p tcp --dport http -j ACCEPT -m comment --comment "Apache"
  sudo: true

Once this is in place you might need to save and/or restart iptables in order to get the rule to be permanently saved. The following two rules will save the iptables rule and restart the iptables service. Note that these commands are specific to Ubuntu and so might not work on your system setup.

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Installing sshpass On OSX Mavericks

16th February 2014 - 4 minutes read time

When setting up a server for the first time with Ansible you will need to pass ssh credentials to Ansible directly to set up ssh keys. This is done by the use of the sshpass program which allows Ansible to pass your user credentials directly to ssh in order to open a connection to the server. The sshpass program is easily installed on Linux systems with the apt or yum package managers, but on OSX you will need to install it manually.

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Vlad - The Vagrant LAMP Ansible Drupal development box

2nd February 2014 - 12 minutes read time

I’ve been using local development environments for years to work on websites. At one points I even setup some Phing scripts to create Apache hosts and databases locally so that I didn’t have to keep adding them myself. When I was first introduced to Vagrant I liked the idea of supplying a box with a project so that people could work on it without having to reconfigure their system for each project. What was missing was a good provisioning tool that wasn’t difficult to understand. I had looked at Puppet and Chef but they were just too complex and after a couple of hours of looking into each one I still wasn’t sure about how they worked.

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Ansible SSH Setup Playbook

14th January 2014 - 9 minutes read time

It is best practice to use Ansible with SSH keys in order to create the SSH connections to the servers. This does require a little bit of extra setup before hand in order to ensure that the server can be reached by Ansible via SSH keys alone. As I have been doing this quite a lot recently I decided to package the setup steps into an Ansible playbook.

When you first set up a Linux server you will find that you are usually given root access, and it is up to you to configure it after the fact in order to have an administrator user with the correct access. With this root user we will use Ansible to log into the host, create a new user, setup SSH key access and then alter the sudoers file so that the new user can perform Ansible tasks.

Assuming that the host we want to configure has an IP address of we can create an inventory file that looks like the following.

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Ansible: The Automation Engine

23rd December 2013 - 16 minutes read time

Ansible is a automation and provisioning tool that makes it easy to configure systems with the needed software, configuration options and even content. It is a command line tool, written in Python, that uses SSH connections to run these actions. This means that all you need to do is have a viable SSH connection to a machine and Ansible will run any actions you want to run. Ansible can either run single commands or use what is called a playbook to run several commands. Ansible playbooks are written in YAML, which makes understanding them quite easy.

I have tried to use other provisioning tools like Puppet and Chef in the past, but these have always been difficult to get to grips with. When I started using Ansible it wasn't more than 20 minutes before I was installing and configuring software on a server. The YAML files that Ansible uses makes it easy to see what is going on and have enough features to allow for some quite complex configurations.

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