Ansible Tower now Open-Source

RedHat kept their promise and made Ansible Tower Open-Source. The free version is called AWX, and is available on GitHub. According to their announcement, the model for AWX is similar to the one for Fedora and RedHat — which works great for so many years now.

AWX will be developed by RedHat’s Ansible team and the Community. Every once in a while they will take a snapshot and use this as a basis for a new version of their product, called “Ansible Tower”.

The install instructions are quite clear and the prerequisites are easy to fullfill. I was able to build and deploy an AWX instance on my Macbook Pro in about 15 to 20 minutes. And I am truly no expert when it comes to containers and Docker!


Python Development with Atom

Over the years my Development Environments have changed quite a lot. When I started writing scripts in Bash and Perl, I used VIM. As I used Linux on the Desktop, and my scripts were not that complex, it worked great at the time. After that, I tried Komodo and ended up using Eclipse with the Perl plugins. Eclipse always felt a bit bloated and oversized and I was always happy when I did not have to use it.
For a long time I stuck to VIM and had one or two Terminal windows open on the side to run scripts and a browser to look up the documentation. Now that my scripts and modules get more complex, I wanted to take another look and see if anything has changed in the world of IDEs in the last couple of years.

This coincided with my switch from VIM to Atom as my default editor, so naturally I looked at Atom’s plugins first. And I liked what I found! I decided to start with the following packages:

Since it is never a good idea to install multiple Python versions and the required modules directly to the system, installing Virtualenv is a must! I also discovered Virtualwrapper, which makes creating and managing virtual environments much easier!

Python on Mac OS X is quite old, and I do not want to mess it up by accident, so I always install Python and pip via Homebrew.

Use pip to install virtualenv and the wrapper

# pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper

Export Python and VirtualEnv settings (.bashrc)

export VIRTUALENVWRAPPER_PYTHON=/usr/local/bin/python3.5
export WORKON_HOME="${HOME}/venv"
export PROJECT_HOME="${HOME}/devel"
source /usr/local/bin/

Install requirements for the Atom packages

# pip install pep8 flake8 jedi flake8-docstrings

Install Atom packages via Atom’s Package Manager

# apm install linter-flake8 linter-python-pep8 autocomplete-python django-templates python-debugger

It is great to have a style guide directly in Atom! It is also awesome to be able to use the Python Debugger and go step by step through the code, or auto-complete functions, arguments and variables. All these little packages are a tremendous help. I think, I will stick to this for a while.

VULTR: Instances sold out

While taking a closer look at VULTR, I became very interested in their “$2.50 plan”, as it is half as much as you would have to pay for the same performance at similar providers.

Now I wanted to deploy my permanent test and development VPS and was surprised to see that they were “sold out” in almost all regions. It astonished and confused me that a virtual instance could be sold out, even though I was able to choose every other, even bigger instance type.

I immediately had the feeling that they want to artificially limit the creation of these small instances for either of two reasons:

  • They cannot cope with the high demand, i.e. need to add additional hardware or other resources to make sure to keep up with demand
  • The $2.50 instances is more popular than expected and they cannot cover their mixed costs estimates

I was curious, so I reached out to their Support Team and quickly got a reply:

Thank you for your interest in our $2.50 ‘sandbox’ plan. The plan is currently available in limited quantities in our Miami and New York/New Jersey locations.

Why is this awesome plan available in select locations?

It boils down to supply and demand. In order to maintain the high performance you’ve come to know and love at Vultr we limit the number of sandbox plans on each physical host node. This helps ensure the absolute best performance for our production-ready instances.

Will this inventory be replenished in other locations?
Yes. We expect additional sandbox capacity will come online soon. Please visit periodically and consider following us on Twitter for updates and other breaking news.

That answer did not feel very satisfying, so I contacted them again and wrote about my thoughts what the reason behind this limitation could be. I received the following additional message:

On a purely hypothetical basis, I ask that you consider the following: We offer a 24-core instance as a large deployment for important workloads. A single instance of this tier will likely be a much more pleasant neighbor to reside with, in a shared resource environment, when compared to 24 or more 1CPU, sandbox-style deployments; each of which will have differing peak periods of use and CPU usage profiles in general. As such, we have made the decision to ensure smooth and continual high performance on our nodes via limiting the amount of sandbox plans that we can offer per hardware hypervisor host. I hope this helps to clarify our position.

Unfortunately, there are no email alerts for sandbox availability; for the latest news and updates, we’d recommend that you follow our Twitter account.

I have to say I am still not very satisfied with that answer. There is no “Sandbox” tag that I could see in UI that distinguishes the smallest plan from all the others. Also would I really be “more satisfied” if a 24-core instances was running as my “neighbour”?

I am still not convinced…

Whatever the real circumstances are, I think it would be great if VULTR would explain the reason and their intentions behind this limitation. Maybe in a more detailed blog post.

But even though I was not fully satisfied with the response, their support team was quick, professional and very corteous! A very good experience!

If you are interested in VULTR and want to try it for yourself, I would like to ask you to use my referral code. Thank you very much!

Symantec and Comodo revoke certs without proper private key

Just the latest example why the SSL certificate industry is widely regarded as shady and has such a bad reputation. Not the first time either that Symantec or Comodo are in the news because of their sloppy security practises. There are rumours that Symantec and other companies want to sell their SSL businesses as quickly as possible.

Good riddance!

Let’s hope that the awesome work of Let’s Encrypt will accelerate the extinction of these shady and insecure Certificate Authorities. I predict that the launch of wildcard certificates will be the last nail to the coffin of the CA business model. And with it, the begginning of the end for these dishonest and untrustworthy practices.

Windows Server 2016 VPS at VultR

I was very surprised to see VultR offering Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. To my knowledge, it is the only VPS provider to do so. There is an additional monthly fee for the license, but the price is quie tolerable in my opinion.

You don’t have to buy the license yourself and the instance is almost instantly available. A great option especially when you only need the VPS for a limited amount of time. That being said, I would love to see an option to use your own license. But I guess this is a no-go, as Microsoft would need to open their internal systems to third parties and offer some kind of API to check for license validity.

If you are interested in VULTR and want to try it for yourself, I would like to ask you to use my referral code. Thank you very much!