VirtAPI-Stack Review Part 1 – What happend in the last six months?

I announced the VirtAPI-Stack during the last “30 Posts in 30 Days” Challenge. Let us do a recap, what did we achive in the past 6 months?

VirtAPI-Stack description:

Let us start with a short description, what was that VirtAPI stack again? This is a combination of four different projects to solve one common problem: How do you do unattended linux installations in a large scale environment like a datacenter?

  • installimage – bash scripts for deploying every linux system
  • LARS – Live Arch Rescue System
  • VirtAPI – API for KVM Cloud Nodes and Instances
  • arch-package-builder – Toolbox to create a continuous Delivery Platform with Jenkins-CI for Arch Packages
  • Marmoset – Python based API to deal with LARS, installimage and PXE/DHCP servers

The installimage:
Today we will talk about the installimage. What exactly is this? A collection of bash scripts that creates partitions on your system, with mdadm raid and LVM2 if you like. Then it unzips a packed image of $yourmostloveddistro and throws it on the disk, does a bit of chroot stuff aaaand your system is ready. This works with Fedora, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu; Suse and CoreOS. There is also support for Arch Linux, in which case an actual installation is performed. The cool thing is that installimage allowes you to use a guided installation with a lot of help and comments, but also to automate every step.

What happend?
We validated the complete installimage against shellcheck! I started this in the middle of October 2015, we finished it in February 2016 I think. We did a huge refactoring, added several hundred quotes and created a styleguide based on our decisions which I would like to share with you:

What else happened? We finally got a which describes the project itself and every file in it in detail. We also created a flowchart to visualize the data flow, this was needed because it isn’t obvious to new people joining the team. Speaking of the team…, we’re already 18 people in the VirtAPI-Stack Github organisation, most of us are always present in our IRC channel #virtapi. We got code for the installimage from 6 different people, everybody else probably reviewed or helped by design decisions. Besides that we also did some general improvements. We removed legacy code, for example wrapping and parsing ifconfig and switched to ifdata and iputils2. A lot of iteration and ls parsing got removed, we try to use local instead of global variables as often as possible and we added Arch support. You can now start your installimage from an Arch system! (before that, only Debian was tested).Hetzner Online GmbH is the original author of the script. We contributed our changed back to them and vice versa to ensure compatibility.

Prospect for the future:
What will come in the next six months? Two companies will implement VirtAPI in their stack, one of them is Host Europe Group. We’re working on a report hook to create notifications for each installation step which will allow you a better forecast of the estimated installation time and better debugging solutions. Support to manage hardware raid and a few others are also on the agenda.

You’re interested in this project and would like to contribute or only use it? Let us know and join our IRC channel! You’re annoyed by foreman because it is too slow? You don’t want to manage Kickstart XML stuff + debootstrap but have to support both worlds? Let us know and we help you implementing the installimage!

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