Mar
10
2019
Generate a random root password aka Ansible Password Plugin

I was suspicious with a cron entry on a new ubuntu server cloud vm, so I ended up to be looking on the logs.

Authentication token is no longer valid; new one required

After a quick internet search,

# chage -l root

Last password change                                    : password must be changed
Password expires                                        : password must be changed
Password inactive                                       : password must be changed
Account expires                                         : never
Minimum number of days between password change          : 0
Maximum number of days between password change          : 99999
Number of days of warning before password expires       : 7

due to the password must be changed on the root account, the cron entry does not run as it should.

This ephemeral image does not need to have a persistent known password, as the notes suggest, and it doesn’t! Even so, we should change to root password when creating the VM.

Ansible

Ansible have a password plugin that we can use with lookup.

TLDR; here is the task:

- name: Generate Random Password
    user:
      name: root
      password: "{{ lookup('password','/dev/null encrypt=sha256_crypt length=32') }}"

after ansible-playbook runs

# chage -l root

Last password change                                    : Mar 10, 2019
Password expires                                        : never
Password inactive                                       : never
Account expires                                         : never
Minimum number of days between password change          : 0
Maximum number of days between password change          : 99999
Number of days of warning before password expires       : 7

and cron entry now runs as it should.

Password Plugin

Let explain how password plugin works.

Lookup needs at-least two (2) variables, the plugin name and a file to store the output. Instead, we will use /dev/null not to persist the password to a file.

To begin with it, a test ansible playbook:

- hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: False
  connection: local

  tasks:
    - debug:
        msg: "{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null') }}"
      with_sequence: count=5

Output:

ok: [localhost] => (item=1) => {
    "msg": "dQaVE0XwWti,7HMUgq::"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=2) => {
    "msg": "aT3zqg.KjLwW89MrAApx"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=3) => {
    "msg": "4LBNn:fVw5GhXDWh6TnJ"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=4) => {
    "msg": "v273Hbox1rkQ3gx3Xi2G"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=5) => {
    "msg": "NlwzHoLj8S.Y8oUhcMv,"
}

Length

In password plugin we can also use length variable:

msg: "{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null length=32') }}"

output:

ok: [localhost] => (item=1) => {
    "msg": "4.PEb6ycosnyL.SN7jinPM:AC9w2iN_q"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=2) => {
    "msg": "s8L6ZU_Yzuu5yOk,ISM28npot4.KwQrE"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=3) => {
    "msg": "L9QvLyNTvpB6oQmcF8WVFy.7jE4Q1K-W"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=4) => {
    "msg": "6DMH8KqIL:kx0ngFe8:ri0lTK4hf,SWS"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=5) => {
    "msg": "ByW11i_66K_0mFJVB37Mq2,.fBflepP9"
}

Characters

We can define a specific type of python string constants

  • ascii_letters (ascii_lowercase and ascii_uppercase
  • ascii_lowercase
  • ascii_uppercase
  • digits
  • hexdigits
  • letters (lowercase and uppercase)
  • lowercase
  • octdigits
  • punctuation
  • printable (digits, letters, punctuation and whitespace
  • uppercase
  • whitespace

eg.

msg: "{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null length=32 chars=ascii_lowercase') }}"

ok: [localhost] => (item=1) => {
    "msg": "vwogvnpemtdobjetgbintcizjjgdyinm"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=2) => {
    "msg": "pjniysksnqlriqekqbstjihzgetyshmp"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=3) => {
    "msg": "gmeoeqncdhllsguorownqbynbvdusvtw"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=4) => {
    "msg": "xjluqbewjempjykoswypqlnvtywckrfx"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=5) => {
    "msg": "pijnjfcpjoldfuxhmyopbmgdmgdulkai"
}

Encrypt

We can also define the encryption hash. Ansible uses passlib so the unix active encrypt hash algorithms are:

  • passlib.hash.bcrypt - BCrypt
  • passlib.hash.sha256_crypt - SHA-256 Crypt
  • passlib.hash.sha512_crypt - SHA-512 Crypt

eg.

msg: "{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null length=32 chars=ascii_lowercase encrypt=sha512_crypt') }}"

ok: [localhost] => (item=1) => {
    "msg": "$6$BR96lZqN$jy.CRVTJaubOo6QISUJ9tQdYa6P6tdmgRi1/NQKPxwX9/Plp.7qETuHEhIBTZDTxuFqcNfZKtotW5q4H0BPeN."
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=2) => {
    "msg": "$6$ESf5xnWJ$cRyOuenCDovIp02W0eaBmmFpqLGGfz/K2jd1FOSVkY.Lsuo8Gz8oVGcEcDlUGWm5W/CIKzhS43xdm5pfWyCA4."
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=3) => {
    "msg": "$6$pS08v7j3$M4mMPkTjSwElhpY1bkVL727BuMdhyl4IdkGM7Mq10jRxtCSrNlT4cAU3wHRVxmS7ZwZI14UwhEB6LzfOL6pM4/"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=4) => {
    "msg": "$6$m17q/zmR$JdogpVxY6MEV7nMKRot069YyYZN6g8GLqIbAE1cRLLkdDT3Qf.PImkgaZXDqm.2odmLN8R2ZMYEf0vzgt9PMP1"
}
ok: [localhost] => (item=5) => {
    "msg": "$6$tafW6KuH$XOBJ6b8ORGRmRXHB.pfMkue56S/9NWvrY26s..fTaMzcxTbR6uQW1yuv2Uy1DhlOzrEyfFwvCQEhaK6MrFFye."
}
Tag(s): ansible, password
Mar
03
2019
Scaling automation with ansible-pull

Ansible is a wonderful software to automatically configure your systems. The default mode of using ansible is Push Model.

 

Ansible Push

That means from your box, and only using ssh + python, you can configure your flee of machines.

 

Ansible is imperative. You define tasks in your playbooks, roles and they will run in a serial manner on the remote machines. The task will first check if needs to run and otherwise it will skip the action. And although we can use conditional to skip actions, tasks will perform all checks. For that reason ansible seems slow instead of other configuration tools. Ansible runs in serial mode the tasks but in psedo-parallel mode against the remote servers, to increase the speed. But sometimes you need to gather_facts and that would cost in execution time. There are solutions to cache the ansible facts in a redis (in memory key:value db) but even then, you need to find a work-around to speed your deployments.

But there is an another way, the Pull Mode!

 

Useful Reading Materials

to learn more on the subject, you can start reading these two articles on ansible-pull.

 

Pull Mode

So here how it looks:

Ansible Pull

 

You will first notice, that your ansible repository is moved from you local machine to an online git repository. For me, this is GitLab. As my git repo is private, I have created a Read-Only, time-limit, Deploy Token.

With that scenario, our (ephemeral - or not) VMs will pull their ansible configuration from the git repo and run the tasks locally. I usually build my infrastructure with Terraform by HashiCorp and make advance of cloud-init to initiate their initial configuration.

Cloud-init

The tail of my user-data.yml looks pretty much like this:

...
# Install packages
packages:
  - ansible

# Run ansible-pull
runcmd:
  - ansible-pull -U https://gitlab+deploy-token-XXXXX:YYYYYYYY@gitlab.com/username/myrepo.git 

Playbook

You can either create a playbook named with the hostname of the remote server, eg. node1.yml or use the local.yml as the default playbook name.

Here is an example that will also put ansible-pull into a cron entry. This is very useful because it will check for any changes in the git repo every 15 minutes and run ansible again.

- hosts: localhost

  tasks:
    - name: Ensure ansible-pull is running every 15 minutes
      cron:
        name: "ansible-pull"
        minute: "15"
        job: "ansible-pull -U https://gitlab+deploy-token-XXXXX:YYYYYYYY@gitlab.com/username/myrepo.git &> /dev/null"

    - name: Create a custom local vimrc file
      lineinfile:
        path: /etc/vim/vimrc.local
        line: 'set modeline'
        create: yes

    - name: Remove "cloud-init" package
      apt:
        name: "cloud-init"
        purge: yes
        state: absent

    - name: Remove useless packages from the cache
      apt:
        autoclean: yes

    - name: Remove dependencies that are no longer required
      apt:
        autoremove: yes

# vim: sts=2 sw=2 ts=2 et