System Administration

Our infrastructure is code and contributions to it are handled just like the rest of OpenStack. This means that anyone can contribute to the installation and long-running maintenance of systems without shell access, and anyone who is interested can provide feedback and collaborate on code reviews.

The configuration of every system operated by the infrastructure team is managed by Puppet in a single Git repository:

All system configuration should be encoded in that repository so that anyone may propose a change in the running configuration to Gerrit.

Making a Change in Puppet

Many changes to the Puppet configuration can safely be made while only performing syntax checks. Some more complicated changes merit local testing and an interactive development cycle. The system-config repo is structured to facilitate local testing before proposing a change for review. This is accomplished by separating the puppet configuration into several layers with increasing specificity about site configuration higher in the stack.

The modules/ directory holds puppet modules that abstractly describe the configuration of a service. Ideally, these should have no OpenStack-specific information in them, and eventually they should all become modules that are directly consumed from PuppetForge, only existing in the system-config repo during an initial incubation period. This is not yet the case, so you may find OpenStack-specific configuration in these modules, though we are working to reduce it.

The modules/openstack_project/manifests/ directory holds configuration for each of the servers that the OpenStack project runs. Think of these manifests as describing how OpenStack runs a particular service. However, no site-specific configuration such as hostnames or credentials should be included in these files. This is what lets you easily test an OpenStack project manifest on your own server.

Finally, the manifests/site.pp file contains the information that is specific to the actual servers that OpenStack runs. These should be very simple node definitions that largely exist simply to provide private data from hiera to the more robust manifests in the openstack_project modules.

This means that you can run the same configuration on your own server simply by providing a different manifest file instead of site.pp.


The example below is for Debian / Ubuntu systems. If you are using a Red Hat based system be sure to setup sudo or simply run the commands as the root user.

As an example, to run the etherpad configuration on your own server, start by ensuring git is installed and then cloning the system-config Git repo:

sudo su -
apt-get install git
git clone
cd system-config

Then copy the etherpad node definition from manifests/site.pp to a new file (be sure to specify the FQDN of the host you are working with in the node specifier). It might look something like this:

# local.pp
class { 'openstack_project::etherpad':
  ssl_cert_file_contents  => hiera('etherpad_ssl_cert_file_contents'),
  ssl_key_file_contents   => hiera('etherpad_ssl_key_file_contents'),
  ssl_chain_file_contents => hiera('etherpad_ssl_chain_file_contents'),
  mysql_host              => hiera('etherpad_db_host', 'localhost'),
  mysql_user              => hiera('etherpad_db_user', 'username'),
  mysql_password          => hiera('etherpad_db_password'),


Be sure not to use any of the hiera functionality from manifests/site.pp since it is not installed yet. You should be able to comment out the logic safely.

Then to apply that configuration, run the following from the root of the system-config repository:

puppet apply -l /tmp/manifest.log --modulepath=modules:/etc/puppet/modules manifests/local.pp

That should turn the system you are logged into into an etherpad server with the same configuration as that used by the OpenStack project. You can edit the contents of the system-config repo and iterate puppet apply as needed. When you’re ready to propose the change for review, you can propose the change with git-review. See the Development workflow section in the Developer’s Guide for more information.

Accessing Clouds

As an unprivileged user who is a member of the admin group on puppetmaster, you can access any of the clouds with:

export OS_CLIENT_CONFIG_FILE=/etc/openstack/all-clouds.yaml
openstack --os-cloud <cloud name> --os-cloud-region <region name>

Adding a New Server

To create a new server, do the following:

  • Add a file in system-config: modules/openstack_project/manifests/ that defines a class which specifies the configuration of the server.

  • Add a node pattern entry in system-config: manifests/site.pp for the server that uses that class. Make sure it supports an ordinal naming pattern (e.g., not just, even if you’re replacing an existing server) and that another server with the same does not already exist in the ansible inventory.

  • If your server needs private information such as passwords, use hiera calls in the site manifest, and ask an infra-core team member to manually add the private information to hiera.

  • You should be able to install and configure most software only with puppet. Nonetheless, if you need SSH access to the host, add your public key to system-config: modules/openstack_project/manifests/users.pp and include a stanza like this in your server class:

    realize (
  • Add an RST file with documentation about the server in system-config: doc/source and add it to the index in that directory.

SSH Access

For any of the systems managed by the OpenStack Infrastructure team, the following practices must be observed for SSH access:

  • SSH access is only permitted with SSH public/private key authentication.
  • Users must use a strong passphrase to protect their private key. A passphrase of several words, at least one of which is not in a dictionary is advised, or a random string of at least 16 characters.
  • To mitigate the inconvenience of using a long passphrase, users may want to use an SSH agent so that the passphrase is only requested once per desktop session.
  • Users private keys must never be stored anywhere except their own workstation(s). In particular, they must never be stored on any remote server.
  • If users need to ‘hop’ from a server or bastion host to another machine, they must not copy a private key to the intermediate machine (see above). Instead SSH agent forwarding may be used. However due to the potential for a compromised intermediate machine to ask the agent to sign requests without the users knowledge, in this case only an SSH agent that interactively prompts the user each time a signing request (ie, ssh-agent, but not gnome-keyring) is received should be used, and the SSH keys should be added with the confirmation constraint (‘ssh-add -c’).
  • The number of SSH keys that are configured to permit access to OpenStack machines should be kept to a minimum.
  • OpenStack Infrastructure machines must use puppet to centrally manage and configure user accounts, and the SSH authorized_keys files from the openstack-infra/system-config repository.
  • SSH keys should be periodically rotated (at least once per year). During rotation, a new key can be added to puppet for a time, and then the old one removed. Be sure to run puppet on the backup servers to make sure they are updated.

GitHub Access

To ensure that code review and testing are not bypassed in the public Git repositories, only Gerrit will be permitted to commit code to OpenStack repositories. Because GitHub always allows project administrators to commit code, accounts that have access to manage the GitHub projects necessarily will have commit access to the repositories. Therefore, to avoid inadvertent commits to the public repositories, unique administrative-only accounts must be used to manage the OpenStack GitHub organization and projects. These accounts will not be used to check out or commit code for any project.

Root only information

Some information is only relevant if you have root access to the system - e.g. you are an OpenStack CI root operator, or you are running a clone of the OpenStack CI infrastructure for another project.


Off-site backups are made to two servers:

  • TBD

Puppet is used to perform the initial configuration of those machines, but to protect them from unauthorized access in case access to the puppet git repo is compromised, it is not run in agent or in cron mode on them. Instead, it should be manually run when changes are made that should be applied to the backup servers.

To start backing up a server, some commands need to be run manually on both the backup server, and the server to be backed up. On the server to be backed up:

sudo su -
ssh-keygen -t rsa -f /root/.ssh/id_rsa -N ""
bup init

And then cat /root/.ssh/ for use later.

On the backup servers:

sudo su -
BUPUSER=bup-<short-servername>  # eg, bup-jenkins-dev
useradd -r $BUPUSER -s /bin/bash -d /opt/backups/$BUPUSER -m
cd /opt/backups/$BUPUSER
mkdir .ssh
cat >.ssh/authorized_keys

and add this to the authorized_keys file:

command="BUP_DEBUG=0 BUP_FORCE_TTY=3 bup server",no-port-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-X11-forwarding,no-pty <ssh key from earlier>

Switching back to the server to be backed up, run:

ssh $

And verify the host key. Note this will start the bup server on the remote end, you will not be given a pty. Use ^D to close the connection cleanly. Add the “backup” class in puppet to the server to be backed up.

Restore from Backup

On the server that needs items restored from backup become root, start a screen session as restoring can take a while, and create a working directory to restore the backups into. This allows us to be selective in how we restore content from backups:

sudo su -
mkdir /root/backup-restore-$DATE
cd /root/backup-restore-$DATE

At this point we can join the tar that was split by the backup cron:

bup join -r bup-<short-servername> root > backup.tar

At this point you may need to wait a while. These backups are stored on servers geographically distant from our normal servers resulting in less network throughput between servers than we are used to.

Once the bup join is complete you will have a tar archive of that backup. It may be useful to list the files in the backup tar -tf backup.tar to get an idea of what things are available. At this point you will probably either want to extract the entire backup:

tar -xvf backup.tar
ls -al

Or selectively extract files:

# path/to/file needs to match the output given by tar -t
tar -xvf backup.tar path/to/file

Note if you created your working directory in a path that is not excluded by bup you will want to remove that directory when your work is done. /root/backup-restore-* is excluded so the path above is safe.

Launching New Servers

New servers are launched using the launch/ tool from the git repository This tool is run from a checkout on the puppetmaster - please see system-config: launch/README for detailed instructions.

Disable/Enable Puppet

You should normally not make manual changes to servers, but instead, make changes through puppet. However, under some circumstances, you may need to temporarily make a manual change to a puppet-managed resource on a server.

OpenStack Infra uses a non-trivial combination of Dynamic and Static Inventory in Ansible to control execution of puppet. A full understanding of the concepts in Ansible Inventory Introduction and Ansible Dynamic Inventory is essential for being able to make informed decisions about actions to take.

In the case of needing to disable the running of puppet on a node, it’s a simple matter of adding an entry to the ansible inventory “disabled” group in system-config: modules/openstack_project/files/puppetmaster/groups.txt. The disabled entry is an input to ansible –list-hosts so you can check your entry simply by running it with ansible $hostlist –list-hosts as root on the puppetmaster host and ensuring that the list of hosts returned is as expected. Globs, group names and server UUIDs should all be acceptable input.

If you need to disable a host immediately without waiting for a patch to land to system-config, there is a file on the puppetmaster host, /etc/ansible/hosts/emergency that can be edited directly.

/etc/ansible/hosts/emergency is a file that should normally be empty, but the contents are not managed by puppet. It’s purpose is to allow for disabling puppet at times when landing a change to the puppet repo would be either unreasonable or impossible.

There are two sections in the emergency file, disabled and disabled:children. To disable a single host, put it in disabled. If you want to disable a group of hosts, put it in disabled:children. Any hosts we have that have more than one host with the same name (such as in the case of being in the midst of a migration) will show up as a group with the name of the hostname and the individual servers will be listed by UUID.

Because of the way static and dynamic inventories get merged by ansible, the emergency file needs to stand alone. If you need to disable a group of servers from OpenStack you need to not only add it to disabled:children, you need to add an emtpy group into the emergency file too.

Disabling puppet via ansible inventory does not disable puppet from being able to be run directly on the host, it merely prevents ansible from attempting to run it. If you choose to run puppet manually on a host, take care to ensure that it has not been disabled at the puppetmaster level first.


To disable an OpenStack instance called temporarily without landing a puppet change, ensure the following is in /etc/ansible/hosts/emergency


To disable one of the OpenStack instances called temporarily without landing a puppet change but leaving the other running, find its UUID via OpenStack tools and ensure it’s in the emergency file.


To disable a group of hosts in the emergency file, such as all of the pypi hosts.


To disable a staticly defined host that is not an OpenStack host, such as the Infra cloud controller hosts, put the following in groups.txt.


Cinder Volume Management

Adding a New Device

If the main volume group doesn’t have enough space for what you want to do, this is how you can add a new volume.

Log into and run:

export OS_CLOUD=openstackci-rax

openstack server list
openstack volume list

Change the variables to use a different environment. ORD for example:

export OS_CLOUD=openstackci-rax
  • Add a new 1024G cinder volume (substitute the hostname and the next number in series for NN):

    openstack volume create --size 1024 "$"
    openstack server add volume "" ""
  • or to add a 100G SSD volume:

    openstack volume create --type SSD --size 100 ""
    openstack server add volume "" ""
  • Then, on the host, create the partition table:

    sudo parted $DEVICE mklabel msdos mkpart primary 0% 100% set 1 lvm on
    sudo pvcreate ${DEVICE}1
  • It should show up in pvs:

    $ sudo pvs
      PV         VG   Fmt  Attr PSize    PFree
      /dev/xvdX1      lvm2 a-   1024.00g 1024.00g
  • Add it to the main volume group:

    sudo vgextend main ${DEVICE}1
  • However, if the volume group does not exist yet, you can create it:

    sudo vgcreate main ${DEVICE}1

Creating a New Logical Volume

Make sure there is enough space in the volume group:

$ sudo vgs
  VG   #PV #LV #SN Attr   VSize VFree
  main   4   2   0 wz--n- 2.00t 347.98g

If not, see Adding a New Device.

Create the new logical volume and initialize the filesystem:

sudo lvcreate -L1500GB -n $NAME main

sudo mkfs.ext4 -m 0 -j -L $NAME /dev/main/$NAME
sudo tune2fs -i 0 -c 0 /dev/main/$NAME

Be sure to add it to /etc/fstab.

Expanding an Existing Logical Volume

Make sure there is enough space in the volume group:

$ sudo vgs
  VG   #PV #LV #SN Attr   VSize VFree
  main   4   2   0 wz--n- 2.00t 347.98g

If not, see Adding a New Device.

The following example increases the size of a volume by 100G:

sudo lvextend -L+100G /dev/main/$NAME
sudo resize2fs /dev/main/$NAME

The following example increases the size of a volume to the maximum allowable:

sudo lvextend -l +100%FREE /dev/main/$NAME
sudo resize2fs /dev/main/$NAME