Category Archives: Operating Systems

Testing length of Linux ext3/ext4 and ZFS file names with Python 3

Last Update: 2022-04-16 15:22

So, I was working on a project and i wanted to test how long a file can be.

The resources I checked, and also the Kernel and C source I reviewed, were pointing that effectively the limit is 255 characters.

But I had one doubt… given that Python 3 String are UTF-8, and that Linux encode by default is UTF-8, will I be able to use 255 characters length, or this will be reduced as the Strings will be encoded as UTF-8 or Unicode?.

So I did a small Proof of Concept.

For the filenames I grabbed a fragment of the translation to English of the book epic book “Tirant lo Blanc” (The White Knight), one of the first books written in Catalan language and the first chivalry novel known in the world. You can download it for free it in:

https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=378

Python Code:

from carleslibs.fileutils import FileUtils
from colorama import Fore, Back, Style , init


class ColorUtils:

    def __init__(self):
        # For Colorama on Windows
        init()

    def print_error(self, s_text, s_end="\n"):
        """
        Prints errors in Red.
        :param s_text:
        :return:
        """
        print(Fore.RED + s_text)
        print(Style.RESET_ALL, end=s_end)

    def print_success(self, s_text, s_end="\n"):
        """
        Prints errors in Green.
        :param s_text:
        :return:
        """
        print(Fore.GREEN + s_text)
        print(Style.RESET_ALL, end=s_end)

    def print_label(self, s_text, s_end="\n"):
        """
        Prints a label and not the end line
        :param s_text:
        :return:
        """
        print(Fore.BLUE + s_text, end="")
        print(Style.RESET_ALL, end=s_end)

    def return_text_blue(self, s_text):
        """
        Restuns a Text
        :param s_text:
        :return: String
        """
        s_text_return = Fore.BLUE + s_text + Style.RESET_ALL
        return s_text_return


if __name__ == "__main__":

    o_color = ColorUtils()
    o_file = FileUtils()

    s_text = "In the fertile, rich and lovely island of England there lived a most valiant knight, noble by his lineage and much more for his "
    s_text += "courage.  In his great wisdom and ingenuity he had served the profession of chivalry for many years and with a great deal of honor, "
    s_text += "and his fame was widely known throughout the world.  His name was Count William of Warwick.  This was a very strong knight "
    s_text += "who, in his virile youth, had practiced the use of arms, following wars on sea as well as land, and he had brought many "
    s_text += "battles to a successful conclusion."

    o_color.print_label("Erasure Code project by Carles Mateo")
    print()
    print("Task 237 - Proof of Concep of Long File Names, encoded is ASCii, in Linux ext3 and ext4 Filesystems")
    print()
    print("Using as a sample a text based on the translation of Tirant Lo Blanc")
    print("Sample text used:")
    print("-"*30)
    print(s_text)
    print("-" * 30)
    print()
    print("This test uses the OpenSource libraries from Carles Mateo carleslibs")
    print()
    print("Initiating tests")
    print("================")

    s_dir = "task237_tests"

    if o_file.folder_exists(s_dir) is True:
        o_color.print_success("Directory " + s_dir + " already existed, skipping creation")
    else:
        b_success = o_file.create_folder(s_dir)
        if b_success is True:
            o_color.print_success("Directory " + s_dir + " created successfully")
        else:
            o_color.print_error("Directory " + s_dir + " creation failed")
            exit(1)

    for i_length in range(200, 512, 1):
        s_filename = s_dir + "/" + s_text[0:i_length]
        b_success = o_file.write(s_file=s_filename, s_text=s_text)
        s_output = "Writing file length: "
        print(s_output, end="")
        o_color.print_label(str(i_length).rjust(3), s_end="")
        print(" file name: ", end="")
        o_color.print_label(s_filename, s_end="")
        print(": ", end="")
        if b_success is False:
            o_color.print_error("failed", s_end="\n")
            exit(0)
        else:
            o_color.print_success("success", s_end="\n")

    # Note: up to 255 work, 256 fails

I tried this in an Ubuntu Virtual Box VM.

As part of my tests I tried to add a non typical character in English, ASCii >127, like Ç.

When I use ASCii character < 128 (0 to 127) for the filenames in ext3/ext4 and in a ZFS Pool, I can use 255 positions. But when I add characters that are not typical, like the Catalan ç Ç or accents Àí the space available is reduced, suggesting the characters are being encoded:

Ç has value 128 in the ASCii table and ç 135.

I used my Open Source carleslibs and the package colorama.

Install them with:

pip3 install carleslibs colorama

News from the Blog 2022-02-22

My Open Source projects

zpool watch

zpool watch is a small Python program for Linux workstations with graphical environment and ZFS, that checks every 30 seconds if your OpenZFS pools are Ok.

If a pool is not healthy, it displays a message in a window using tk inter.

Basically allows you to skip checking from the terminal zpool status continuously or to having to customize the ZED service to send an email and having to figure out how to it can spawn a window alert to the graphical system or what to do if the session has not been initiated.

carleslibs

Since last News from the Blog I’ve released carleslibs v.1.06, v.1.0.5 and v.1.0.4.

v.1.0.6 adds a new class OsUtils to deal with mostly-Linux Os tasks, like knowing the userid, the username, if it’s root, the distribution name and kernel version.

It also adds:

DatetimeUtils.sleep(i_seconds)

In v.1.0.5 I’ve included a new method for getting the Datetime in Unix Epoc format as Integer and increased Code Coverage to 95% for ScreenUtils class.

v. 1.0.4 contains a minor update, a method in StringUtils to escape html from a string.

It uses the library html (part of Python core) so it was small work to do for me to create this method, and the Unit Test for it, but I wanted to use carleslibs in more projects and adding it as core functionality, makes the code of these projects I’m working on, much more clear.

I’m working in the future v.1.0.7.

CTOP.py

I released the stable version 0.8.8 and tagged it.

Minor refactors and adding more Code Coverage (Unit Testing), and protection in the code for division per zero when seconds passed as int are 0. (this was not an actual error, but is worth protecting the code just in case for the future)

Working on branch 0.8.9.

Currently in Master there is a stable version of 0.8.9 mainly fixing https://gitlab.com/carles.mateo/ctop/-/issues/51 which was not detecting when CTOP was running inside a Docker Container (reporting Unable to decode DMI).

My Books

Docker Combat Guide

Added 20 new pages with some tricks, like clearing the logs (1.6GB in my workstation), using some cool tools, using bind mounts and using Docker in Windows from command line without activating Docker Desktop or WSL.

https://leanpub.com/docker-combat-guide/

BTW if you work with Windows and you cannot use Docker Desktop due to the new license, in this article I explain how to use docker stand alone in Windows, without using WSL.

ZFS on Ubuntu

One of my SATA 2TB 2.5″ 5,400 rpm drive got damaged and so was generating errors, so that was a fantastic opportunity to show how to detect and deal with the situation to replace it with a new SATA 2TB 3.5″ 7,200 rpm and fix the pool.

So I updated my ZFS on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS book.

Python 3

I’ve updated Python 3 Exercises for Beginners and added a new example of how to parse the <title> tag from an HTML page, using Beautifulsoup package, to the repository of Python 3 Combat Guide book.

I also added three new exercises, and solved them.

My friend Michela is translating the book to Italian. Thanks! :)

If you already purchased any of my books, you can download the updates of them when I upload them to LeanPub.

Free courses

Code Challenges

One of my students sent me this platform, which is kinda hackerrank, but oriented to video games. To solve code challenges by programming video games.

He is having plenty of fun:

https://www.codingame.com/start

More Symfony, APIs

If you enjoyed the Free Videos about Symfony, there is more.

https://symfonycast.com/screencast/api-platform

It talks about a bundle for building APIs.

And this tutorial explains in detail how to work with Webpack Encore:

https://symfonycasts.com/screencast/webpack-encore

100 Days of Code: Python Bootcamp

A friend of mine, and colleague, Michela, is following this bootcamp and recommends it for people learning from ground 0.

https://udemy.com/course/100-days-of-code/

My work at Blizzard

The company sent me the Stein, which is sent to the employees that serve for two years, with a recognition and a celebration called “The Circle of Honor”.

Books purchased

I bought this book as often I discover new ways, better, to explain the things to my students.

Sometimes I buy books for beginners, as I can get explained what I want to do super fast and some times they teach nice tricks that I didn’t know. I have huge Django books, and it took a lot to finish them.

A simpler book may only talk about how to install and work with it under a platform (Windows or Mac, as instance) but it is all that I require as the command to create projects are the same cross platform.

For example, you can get to install and to create a simple project with ORM, connected to the database, very quickly.

Software

So I just discovered that Zoom has an option to draw in the shared screen, like Slack has. It is called Annotate. It is super useful for my classes. :)

Also discovered the icons in the Chat. It seems that not all the video calls accept it.

Hardware

As Working From Home I needed an scanner, I looked in Amazon and all of them were costing more than €200.

I changed my strategy and I bought a All-In-One from HP, which costed me €68.

So I’ll have a scanner and a backup printer, which always comes handy.

The nightmare started after I tried to connect it with Ubuntu.

Ubuntu was not recognizing it. Checking the manuals they force to configure the printer from an Android/iPhone app or from their web page, my understanding is for windows only. In any case I would not install the proprietary drivers in my Linux system.

Annoyed, I installed the Android application, and it was requesting to get Location permissions to configure it. No way. There was not possible to configure the printer without giving GPS/Location permissions to the app, so I cancelled the process.

I grabbed a Windows 10 laptop and plugged the All-in-one through the USB. I ran the wizard to search for Scanners and Printers and was not unable to use my scanner, only to configure as a printer, so I was forced to install HP drivers.

Irritated I did, and they were suggesting to configure the printer so I can print from Internet or from the phone. Thanks HP, you’ll be the next SolarWinds big-security-hole. I said no way, and in order to use the Wifi I have to agree to open that security door which is that the printer would be connected to Internet permanently, sending and receiving information. I said no, I’ll use only via USB.

Even selecting that, in order to scan, the Software forces me to create an account.

Disappointing. HP is doing very big stupid mistakes. They used to be a good company.

Since they stopped doing the drivers in Barcelona years ago, their Software and solutions (not the hardware) went to hell.

I checked the reviews in the App Store and so many people gave them 1 star and have problems… what a shame the way they created this solution.

Donations

I made a donation to OpenShot Video Editor.

This is a great Open Source, multi-platform editor, so I wanted to support the creator.

Security

Attacks: looking for exploits

This is just a sample of a set of attacks to the blog in a 3 minutes interval.

Another one this morning:

Now all are blocked in the Firewall.

This is a non stop practice from spammers and pirates that has been going on for years.

It was almost three decades ago, when I was the Linux responsible of an ISP, and I was installing a brand new Linux system connected to a service called “infovia”, at the time when Internet was used with dial-up and modems, and in the interval of time of the installation, it got hacked. I had the Ethernet connected. So then already, this was happening.

The morning I was writing this, I blocked thousands of offending Ip Addresses.

Protection solutions

I recommend you to use CloudFlare, is a CDN/Cache/Accelerator with DoS protection and even in its Free version is really useful.

Fun/Games

So I come with a game kind of Quiz that you can play with your friends, family or work colleagues working from home (WFH).

The idea is that the master shares screen and sound in Zoom, and then the rest connect to jackbox.tv and enter the code displayed on the master’s screen on their own browser, and an interactive game is started.

It is recommended that the master has two monitors so they can also play.

The games are so fun as a phrase appearing and people having to complete with a lie. If your friends vote your phrase, believing is true, you get points. If you vote the true answer, you get points too.

Very funny and recommendable.

Stuff

<humor>Skynet sent another terminator to end me, but I terminated it. Its processor lays exhibited in my home now</humor>

I bought a laminator.

It has also a ruler and a trimmer to cut the paper.

It was only €39 and I’ve to say that I’m very happy with the results.

It takes around 5 minutes to be ready, it takes to get to the hot-enough temperature, and feeds the pages slowly, around 50 secs a DIN-A4, but the results are worth the time.

I’ve protected my medical receipts and other value documents and the work was perfect. No bubbles at all. No big deal if the plastic covers are introduced not 100% straight. Even if you pass again an already plasticized document, all is good.

Fun

Databases

One of my friends sent me this image.

It is old, but still it’s fun. So it assumes the cameras of the parking or speed cameras, will OCR the plate to build a query, and that the code is not well protected. So basically is exploiting a Sql Injection.

Anybody working on the systems side, and with databases, knows how annoying are those potential situations.

Python and coding

One of my colleagues shared this :)

Using Docker in Windows 10 without Windows Desktop with Docker Engine and without WSL

I added this article to my Docker Combat Guide book.

The change of license of Docker Desktop for Windows has been a low punch, a dirty one.

Many big companies use Windows as for the laptops and workstations, we like it or not.

You can setup a Linux development computer or Virtual Machine, you may argue, but things are not as easier.

Big companies have Software licenses assigned to corporation machines, so you may not use your Pycharm license in a Linux VM.

You may no use Docker Desktop either, if your company did not license it.

And finally you may need to have access to internal resources, like Artifactory, or Servers where access is granted via ACL, so only you, from your Development machine can access it. So you have to be able to run Docker locally.

After Docker introduced this changed of license I was using VirtualBox with NAT attached to the VPN Virtual Ethernet, and I port forwarded to be able to SSH, deploy, test, etc… from outside to my Linux VM, and it was working for a while, until with the last VirtualBox update and some Windows updates where pushed to my Windows box and my VirtualBox VMs stopped booting most of the times and having random problems.

I configured a new Linux VM in a Development Server, and I opened Docker API so my Pycharm’s workstation was able to deploy there and I was able to test. But the Dev Ip’s do not have access to the same Test Servers I need my Python Automation projects to reach (and quickly I used 50 GB of space), so I tried WSL. I like Pycharm I didn’t want to switch to VStudio Code because of their good Docker extensions, in any case I could not run my code locally with venv cause some of the packages where not available for Windows, so I needed Linux to run the Unit Testing and see the Code Coverage, run the code, etc…

I tried Hyper-V, tried with NAT External, but it was incompatible with my VPN.

Note: WSL can be used, but I wanted to use Docker Engine, not docker in WSL.

Installing Docker Command line binaries

The first thing I checked was the Docker downloads page.

I found the stand alone binary.

https://docs.docker.com/engine/install/binaries/#install-server-and-client-binaries-on-windows

In order to install it:

  1. Download the zip file from the page, in my case docker-20.10.12.zip
  2. Open PowerShell as Administrator
  3. Run: Expand-Archive C:\Users\carlesmateo\Downloads\docker-20.10.12.zip  -DestinationPath $Env:ProgramFiles\DockerCLI
  4. Run: cd $Env:ProgramFiles\DockerCLI\docker
  5. Run: .\dockerd.exe –register-service
  6. Run: Start-Service docker
  7. Check that Docker lists the running Containers (no errors) with: docker ps
  8. Check that the Service is running with: Get-Service docker
    You should expect something like:
Status Name DisplayName
------ ---- -----------
Running docker Docker Engine

Attempt to pull an Image with: docker pull ubuntu or docker pull php

If it works, you’re done, but most probably you will get it starting and get this error:

Error response from daemon: unsupported os linux

or this other error:

no matching manifest for windows/amd64 10.0.19042 in the manifest list entries

Depending on your system you may need to do certain things:

Turn Windows features on or off

I would make sure that are enabled:

  • Containers
  • Hyper-V
  • Virtual Machine Platform
  • Windows Hypervisor Platform
As you see WSL is not enabled

Press OK, and restart your computer.

Try Again to docker pull ubuntu

Enable Experimental Mode

Edit this file to enable experimental, you can run from the PowerShell:

notepad C:\ProgramData\Docker\config\daemon.json
Change experimental from false to: true

Save the file and restart the Service:

Restart-Service docker

Check if it works

Get-Service docker
Status   Name               DisplayName
------   ----               -----------
Running  docker             Docker Engine

Try if now it works.

Switch Daemon

If it is not working, try running:

cd "C:\Program Files\Docker\Docker\"
.\DockerCli.exe -SwitchDaemon

Give it two minutes and try to pull an image.

If it is still not working reboot, and try again:

cd "C:\Program Files\Docker\Docker\"
.\DockerCli.exe -SwitchDaemon

After it is working

I recommend you to add the new stand alone docker to the path, so you can call it from the terminal at any moment.

Edit the variable PATH of your user profile (not System wide)

I recommend you to have it on top after Python.

News from the Blog 2022-01-22

News for the Blog

It has been 9 years since I created the blog, and some articles have old content that still get many visitors. To make sure they get the clear picture and not obsolete information, all the articles of the taxonomy POST, will include the Date and Time when the article was first published.

I also removed the annoying link “Leave a comment” on top. I think it influences some people to leave comments before actually having read the article.

It is still possible to add comments, but they are on the bottom of the page. I believe it makes more sense this way. This is the way.

Technically that involved modifying the files of my template:

  • functions.php
  • content.php

My Books

Automating and Provisioning to Amazon AWS using boto3 Amazon’s SDK for Python 3

I finished my book about Automating and Provisioning to Amazon AWS using boto3 Amazon’s SDK for Python 3.

It’s 128 pages in Full size DIN-A4 DRM-Free, and comes with a link to code samples of a real project CLI Menu based.

Docker Combat Guide

I have updated my book Docker Combat Guide and I added a completely new section, including source code, to work with Docker’s Python SDK.

I show the Docker SDK by showing the code of an actual CLI program I wrote in Python 3.

Here you can see a video that demonstrates how I launched a project with three Docker Containers via Docker compose. The Containers have Python, Flask webserver, and redis as bridge between the two Python Containers.

All the source code are downloadable with the book.

Watch at 1080p at Full Screen for better experience

My Classes

In January I resumed the coding classes. I have new students, and few spots free in my agenda, as some of my students graduated and others have been hired as Software Developers. I can not be more proud. :)

Free Training

Symfony is one of the most popular PHP Frameworks.

You can learn it with these free videos:

https://symfonycasts.com/screencast/symfony/

Software Licenses I Purchased

Before leaving 2021, I registered WinRAR for Windows.

WinRAR is a compressing Software that has been with us for 19 years.

I’m pretty sure I registered it in the past, but these holidays I was out only with two Window laptops and I had to do some work for the university and WinRAR came it handy, so I decided to register it again.

I create Software and Books, and I earn my life with this, so it makes a lot of sense to pay others for their good work crafting Software.

Books I Purchased

I bought this book and by the moment is really good. I wanted to buy some updated books as all my Linux books have some years already. Also I keep my skills sharp by reading reading reading.

Hardware I purchased

So I bought a cheap car power inverter.

The ones I saw in Amazon were €120+ and they were not very good rated, so I opted to buy a cheap one in the supermarket and keep it on the car just in case one day I need it. (My new Asus Zenbook laptop has 18 hours of autonomy and I don’t charge it for days, but you never know)

For those that don’t know, a power inverter allows you to get a 220V (120V in US) plug, from the connection of the lighter from your car. Also you can get the energy from an external car battery. This comes in really handy to charge the laptop, cameras, your drone… if you are in the nature and you don’t have any plug near.

I bought one years ago to power up Raspberry Pi’s when I was doing Research for a project I was studying to launch.

Fun

Many friends are using Starlink as a substitute of fiber for their rural homes, and they are super happy with it.

One of them send me a very fun article.

It is in Italian, but you can google translate it.

https://leganerd.com/2022/01/10/starlink-ha-un-piccolo-e-adorabile-problema-con-i-gatti/

Anyways you can get the idea of what’s going on in the picture :)

So tell me… so your speed with Starlink drops 80% in winter uh… aha…

Random news about Software

I tried the voice recognition in Slack huddle, and it works pretty well. Also Zoom has this feature and they are great. Specially when you are in a group call, or in a class.

My health

I was experimenting some problems, so I scheduled an appointment to get blood analysis and to be checked. Just in case.

TL;TR I could have died.

The doctors saw my analysis and sent me to the hospital urgently, where they found something that was going to be lethal. For hours they were checking me and doing several more analysis and tests to discard false positives, etc… and they precisely found the issue and provided urgent treatment and confirmed that I could have died at any moment.

Basically I dodged a bullet.

I was doing certain healthy things that helped me in a situation that could have been deadly or extremely dangerous to my health.

With the treatment and my strict discipline, I reverted the situation really quick and now I have more health and more energy than before. I feel rejuvenated.

I’m feeling lucky that with my work, the classes, the books I wrote, etc… I didn’t have to worry about the expensive medicines, the transport, etc… It was a bad moment, during Christmas, with so many people on holidays, pharmacies and GPs closed, so I had to spend more time looking for, traveling, and to pay more than it would had been strictly necessary. Despite all the time I used to my health, I managed to finish my university duties on time, and I didn’t miss my duties at work after the hospital, neither I had to cancel any programming classes or mentoring sessions. Nobody out of my closest circle knew what was going on, with the exception of my boss, which I kept informed in real time, just in case there was any problem, as I didn’t want to let down the company and have my duties at work to be unattended if something major happened.

I was not afraid to die. Unfortunately I’ve lost very significant people since I was a child. Relatives, very appreciated bosses and colleagues which I considered my friends, and great friends of different circles. Illnesses, accidents, and a friend of mine committed suicide years ago, and some of my partners attempted it (before we know each other). When you see people that are so good leaving, this brings a sadness that cannot be explained with words. I have had a tough life.

We have a limited time, and he have freedom to make choices. Some people choose to be miserable, to mistreat others, to lie, to cheat, to be unfaithful, to lack ethic and integrity. Those are their choices. Their wasted time will not come back.

Some of my friends are doctors. I admire them. They save lives and improve the quality of life of people with health problems.

I like being an Engineer cause I can create things, I can build instead of destroy, I can help to improve the world, and I can help users to have a good time and to avoid the frustration of services being down. I chose to do a positive work. So many times I’ve been offered much bigger salaries to do something I didn’t like, or by companies that I don’t admire, and I refused. Cause I wanted to make a better world. I know many people don’t think like that, and they only take take take. They are even unable to understand my choices, even to believe that I’m like that. But it’s enough that I know what I’m doing, and that it makes sense for me, and that I know that I’m doing well. And then, one day, you realize, that doing well, being fair and nice even if other people stabbed you in the back, you got to know fantastic people like you, and people that adore you and love to have you in their life, in their companies… So I’m really fortunate. To all the good-hearted people around, that give without expect anything in return, that try to make the world a better place, thank you.

Solving problems when updating to GNS3 last version, running with VirtualBox

Last Updated: 2022-01-19 12:05 Irish Time

So here I explain how to solve a problem that was happening to a friend.

He uses GNS3 for the university, and after installing the latest version, which in this case is 2.2.29, it stopped working.

He had it configured to use the local Server and VirtualBox in Windows 10.

The first thing to check and to fix is the Ip address for Host Only.

If you use Linux or Mac, only certain Ip ranges can be used, or you’ll have to edit a config file inside /etc/vbox

So the first thing is to set an Ip Address in VirtualBox VM that will make you worry free.

So start VirtualBox VM directly, and when the VM boots, use the text menu application to Configure to a valid Ip from the range defined for Host Only.

You can check this in VirtualBox in File > Host Network Manager

In my initial test I picket this Ip for the VM:

192.168.56.100

But using 192.168.56.100 can bring problems as the default DHCP Server is defined with this Ip, so I switched to:

192.168.56.10

Press CTRL + X to save and exit.

The VM will reboot automatically. Wait until it has booted and ping 192.168.56.10 from the Command Prompt.

Now, open a Windows Command Prompt or a Linux/Mac Terminal in you computer and ping the Ip:

You should also be able to see the web interface going to:

http://192.168.56.10

If it works then power off the VM, as we will start it automatically when running GNS3 main program (not from VirtualBox).

Now launch GNS3 program. Wait 30 seconds until it initializes and go to Edit > Preferences

Make sure you have the configuration like this:

Pay special attention to the Port for the GNS3 VM.

It seems like the main problem of my friend was that he was using a previous version, and he updated, and the settings from the previous version were kept. In his previous version he had configured the port 3080, but the new GNS 3 Server version 2.2.29 in the VM was using port 80, as you saw in my previous screenshots. So GNS3 was unable to connect to the VM.

After fixing this, restart GNS3, stop the VM if was not automatically stopped, and start GNS3 again.

After one minute approx connecting, you’ll see it working fine.

News from the blog 2021-12-07

Charity

I’ve donated to Equitas Health.

Equitas Health helps thousands of HIV-positive in Ohio, Dayton and Columbus.

Thousands more are reached with our prevention, testing, and other services. We are excited about embracing our expanded mission as a strategic step to further that legacy and its reach by providing care for all – with a focus on a safe and open space and highest quality healthcare for the LGBTQ community and others who are medically underserved.

https://equitashealth.com/get-involved/give/donate-now/

I did my donation following a post by Terra Field, a former colleague at Blizzard and later leading Netflix’s Trans *ERG, but I didn’t see that she organized a gofund campaign, so I donated again :)

If you want to help them:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/transphobia-is-not-a-joke?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet

https://equitashealth.com/get-involved/give/donate-now/

Articles

I created an article about provisioning to Amazon AWS EC2 and running playbooks (recipes) using Ansible, and Dynamic Directory to store the public ip’s or dns public names in an inventory.

As I saw that there is a lack of clarity in the articles about this theme.

I also provided two alternatives ways, one pure Python3 and the other Bash based (grep awk tr)

Books

The books I publish in LeanPub have two prices, the suggested price, which is the price I consider the right price for the book, and the minimum price, which is the minimum price I authorized a reader can pay to have it.

You can buy it for the minimum price. You know better than anyone your economy.

So when a reader buys one of my books for the suggested price, instead of the minimum price, it’s really showing how they appreciate may work.

So thanks for all the support and appreciation you show!. :)

One of the motives I chose Leanpub platform is because I think is fair. No DRM, no BS. And the reader can ask for a refund within 45 days if they don’t like the book. It also makes very happy seeing that I don’t have any refunds. I appreciate it as a token of the usefulness of my work. Thanks. :)

Updates to Docker Combat File book (v.16 2021-11-24)

I added a nice trick to reverse engineering the original Dockerfile from a running Image.

I also added another typical copy and paste error into the Troubleshoot section.

https://leanpub.com/docker-combat-guide

Automating and Provisioning Amazon AWS (EC2, EBS, S3, CloudWatch) with boto3 (Amazon’s SDK for Python 3) and Python 3 book

I’m writing a book about how to automate your Amazon AWS tasks using Amazon’s AWS Python 3 SDK boto3, provisioning new instances, stopping, starting, creating volumes, creating/deleting buckets in S3, uploading/downloading files from S3…

It is currently 20% completed. With 43 pages it shows EC2 section already.

https://leanpub.com/amazon-aws-boto3

Open Source

I’ve working in carleslibs v.1.0.3. I added MenuUtils class, which allows to assemble menus super quickly, that execute the code referenced in the menu array. Ideal for building CLI applications very fast.

I also added KeyboardUtils class, which allows to ask the user for String within certain lengths allowing or not spaces and/or underscores, and ask user for Integer values within a certain min and max, having 0 for go back.

The plan is to release the new version of carleslibs as soon as I’ve tested it properly.

Social part

For those who follow my recommendations, as always, I have updated the list of new movies I watched and the list of new videogames I played.

Provisioning AWS EC2 Instances with Ansible and Automating Apache deployment with or without using Ansible Dynamic Inventory from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

This article is being included in my book Provisioning to Amazon AWS using boto3 SDK for Python 3.

Pre-requisites

I’ll use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Python 2 is required for Ansible.

Python 3 is required for our programs.

sudo apt install python2 python3 python3-pip
# Install boto for Python 2 for Ansible (alternative way if pip install boto doesn't work for you)
python2 -m pip install boto
# Install Ansible
sudo apt install ansible

If you want to use Dynamic Inventory

So you can use the Python 2 ec2.py and ec2.ini files, adding them as to the /etc/ansible with mask +x, to use the Dynamic Inventory.

You will need to have your credentials set.

I use Environment variables:

#!/bin/bash

export ANSIBLE_HOST_KEY_CHECKING=false
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY=AKIXXXXXXXXXXXXXOS
export AWS_SECRET_KEY=e4dXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXY6F

Then use the calls inside the shell script, or assuming that the previous file was named credentiasl.sh use source credentials.sh

ec2.py is written in Python 2, so probably will fail for you as it is invoked by python and your default interpreter will be Python 3.

So edit the first line of /etc/ansible/ec2.py and add:

#!/bin/env python2

Once credentials.sh is sourced, then you can just invoke ec2.py to get the list of your Instances in a JSON format dumped by ec2.py

/etc/ansible/ec2.py --list

You can get that JSON file and load it and get the information you need, filtering by group.

You can call:

/etc/ansible/ec2.py --list > instances.json

Or you can run a Python program that escapes to shell and executes ec2.py –list and loads the Output as a JSON file.

I use my carleslibs here to escape to shell using my class SubProcessUtils. You can install them, they are Open Source, or you can code manually if you prefer importing subprocess Python library and catching the stdout, stderr.

import json
from carleslibs import SubProcessUtils

if __name__ == "__main__":
    s_command = "/etc/ansible/ec2.py"

    o_subprocess = SubProcessUtils()
    i_error_code, s_output, s_error = o_subprocess.execute_command_for_output(s_command, b_shell=True, b_convert_to_ascii=True, b_convert_to_utf8=False)
    if i_error_code != 0:
        print("Error escaping to shell!", i_error_code)
        print(s_error)
        exit(1)

    json = json.loads(s_output)

    d_hosts = json["_meta"]["hostvars"]

    for s_host in d_hosts:
        # You'll get a ip/hostnamename in s_host which is the key
        # You have to check for groups and the value for the key Name, in order to get the Name of the group
        # As an exercise, print(d_hosts[s_host]) and look for:
        # @TODO: Capture the s_group_name
        # @TODO: Capture the s_addres
        if s_group_name == "yourgroup":
             # This filters only the instances with your group name, as you want to create an inventory file just for them
             # That's because you don't want to launch the playbook for all the instances, but for those in your group name in the inventory file.
             a_hostnames.append(s_address)

    # After this you can parse you list a_hostnames and generate an inventory file yourinventoryfile 
    # The [ec2hosts] in your inventory file must match the hosts section in your yaml files
    # You'll execute your playbook with:
    # ansible-playbook -i yourinventoryfile youryamlfile.yaml

So an example of a yaml to install Apache2 in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS spawned instances , let’s call it install_apache2.yaml would be:

---
- name: Update web servers
  hosts: ec2hosts
  remote_user: ubuntu

  tasks:
  - name: Ensure Apache is at the latest version
    apt:
      name: apache2
      state: latest
      update_cache: yes
    become: yes

As you can see the section hosts: in the YAML playbook matches the [ec2hosts] in your inventory file.

You can choose to have your private key certificate .pem file in /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg or if you want to have different certificates per host, add them after the ip/address in your inventory file, like in this example:

[localhost]
127.0.0.1
[ec2hosts]
63.35.186.109	ansible_ssh_private_key_file=ansible.pem

The ansible.pem certificate must have restricted permissions, for example chmod 600 ansible.pem

Then you end by running:

ansible-playbook -i yourinventoryfile install_ubuntu.yaml

If you don’t want to use Dynamic Directory

The first method is to use add_host to print in the screen the properties form the ec2 Instances provisioned.

The trick is to escape to shell, executing ansible-playbook and capturing the output, then parsing the text looking for the ‘public_ip:’

This is the Python 3 code I created:

class AwesomeAnsible:

    def extract_public_ips_from_text(self, s_text=""):
        """
        Extracts the addresses returned by Ansible
        :param s_text:
        :return: Boolean for success, Array with the Ip's
        """

        b_found = False
        a_ips = []

        i_count = 0
        while True:
            i_count += 1
            if i_count > 20:
                print("Breaking look")
                break
            s_substr = "'public_ip': '"
            i_first_pos = s_text.find(s_substr)
            if i_first_pos > -1:
                s_text_sub = s_text[i_first_pos + len(s_substr):]
                # Find the ending delimiter
                i_second_pos = s_text_sub.find("'")
                if i_second_pos > -1:
                    b_found = True
                    s_ip = s_text_sub[0:i_second_pos]
                    a_ips.append(s_ip)
                    s_text_sub = s_text_sub[i_second_pos:]
                    s_text = s_text_sub
                    continue

            # No more Ip's
            break

        return b_found, a_ips

Then you’ll use with something like:

        # Catching the Ip's from the output
        b_success, a_ips = self.extract_public_ips_from_text(s_output)
        if b_success is True:
            print("Public Ips:")
            s_ips = ""
            for s_ip in a_ips:
                print(s_ip)
                s_ips = s_ips + self.get_ip_text_line_for_inventory(s_ip)
            print("Adding Ips to group1_inventory file")
            self.o_fileutils.append_to_file("group1_inventory", s_ips)
            print() 

The get_ip_text_line_for_inventory_method() returns a line for the inventory file, with the ip and the key to use separated by a tab (\t):

    def get_ip_text_line_for_inventory(self, s_ip, s_key_path="ansible.pem"):
        """
        Returns the line to add to the inventory, with the Ip and the keypath
        """
        return s_ip + "\tansible_ssh_private_key_file=" + s_key_path + "\n"

Once you have the inventory file, like this below, you can execute the playbook for your group of hosts:

[localhost]
127.0.0.1
[ec2hosts]
63.35.186.109	ansible_ssh_private_key_file=ansible.pem
ansible-playbook -i yourinventoryfile install_ubuntu.yaml

Alternative way parsing with awk and grep

You can run this Bash Shell Script to get only the public ips when you provision to Amazon AWS EC2 the Instances from your group named group1 in this case:

./launch_aws_instances-group1.sh | grep "public_ip" | awk '{ print $13; }' | tr -d "',"
52.213.232.199

In this example 52.213.232.199 is the Ip from the Instance I provisioned.

So to put it together, from a Python file I generate this Bash file and I escape to shell to execute it:

#!/bin/bash

export ANSIBLE_HOST_KEY_CHECKING=false
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY=AKIXXXXXXXXXXXXXOS
export AWS_SECRET_KEY=e4dXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXY6F

# Generate a new Inventory File
echo "[localhost]" > group1_inventory
echo "127.0.0.1" >> group1_inventory
echo "[ec2hosts]" >> group1_inventory

ansible-playbook -i group1_inventory launch_aws_instances-group1.yaml

I set again the credentials because as this Bash Shell Script is invoked from Python, there are not sourced.

The trick in here is that the launch_aws_instances-group1.yaml file has a task to add the hosts to Ansible’s in memory inventory, and to print the information.

That output is what I scrap from Python and then I use extract_public_ips_from_text() showed before.

So my launch_aws_instances-group1.yaml (which I generate from Python customizing the parameter) looks like this:

# launch_aws_instances.yaml

- hosts: localhost
  connection: local
  gather_facts: False
  vars:
      s_keypair_name: "ansible"
      s_instance_type: "t1.micro"
      s_image: "ami-08edbb0e85d6a0a07"
      s_group: "ansible"
      s_region: "eu-west-1"
      i_exact_count: 1
      s_tag_name: "ansible_group1"
  tasks:

    - name: Provision a set of instances
      ec2:
         key_name: "{{ s_keypair_name }}"
         region: "{{ s_region }}"
         group: "{{ s_group }}"
         instance_type: "{{ s_instance_type }}"
         image: "{{ s_image }}"
         wait: true
         exact_count: "{{ i_exact_count }}"
         count_tag:
            Name: "{{ s_tag_name }}"
         instance_tags:
            Name: "{{ s_tag_name }}"
      register: ec2_ips
      
    - name: Add all instance public IPs to host group
      add_host: hostname={{ item.public_ip }} groups=ec2hosts
      loop: "{{ ec2_ips.instances }}"

In this case I use t1.micro cause I provision to EC2-Classic and not to the default VPC, otherwise I would use t2.micro.

So I have a Security Group named ansible created in Amazon AWS EC2 console as EC2-Classic, and not as VPC.

In this Security group I opened the Inbound HTTP Port and the SSH port for the Ip from I’m provisioning, so Ansible can SSH using the Key ansible.pem

The Public Key has been created and named ansible as well (section key_name under ec2).

The Image used is Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (free tier) for the region eu-west-1 which is my wonderful Ireland.

For the variables (vars) I use the MT Notation, so the prefixes show exactly what we are expecting s_ for Strings i_ for Integers and I never have collisions with reserved names.

It is very important to use the count_tag and instance_tags with the name of the group, as the actions will be using that group name. Remember the idempotency.

The task with the add_host is the one that makes the information for the instances to be displayed, like in this screenshot.

Communicating with Docker Containers via Linux Signals and Python

Normally if we need to refresh a config in a Container we will spawn a new one, or we will access with sudo docker exec -it /bin/sh mycontainer for instance and force a reload, or we will have to restart the Container.

What if we want to be able to reload the config at any moment without restarting the process, or to trigger a process in our Container (like a dump or a flush) in another way than implementing an API?.

An unexplored way, for many, to communicate with your Container’s main process is to send Signals.

So basically I will show you how you can trap Signals within a Python process which is the main process for your Docker Container, and send them from your Hypervisor with the command:

sudo docker kill --signal=SIGUSR1

I choose to use SIGUSR1 as it is reserved for user defined Signals.

You can clone the project or get the source code from:

https://gitlab.com/carles.mateo/docker-signal

The Dockerfile

FROM ubuntu:20.04

MAINTAINER Carles Mateo

RUN apt update && apt install -y python3 python3-pip vim less && apt-get clean

# This will make sure printing in the Screen when running in dettached mode
ENV PYTHONUNBUFFERED=1

ENV DOCKERSIGNAL /var/dockersignal

RUN mkdir -p $DOCKERSIGNAL

COPY *.py $DOCKERSIGNAL

WORKDIR $DOCKERSIGNAL

# Again to enforce printing to the Screen when running dettached
CMD ["python3", "-u", "/var/dockersignal/dockersignal.py"]

The dockersignal.py file

# By Carles Mateo https://blog.carlesmateo.com

import signal
import time


def handler(signum, frame):
    print('Signal handler called with signal', signum)

    if signum == 10:
        # 10 is the equivalent to SIGUSR1 for most x86/ARM (not for Alpha/Sparc, MIPS, PARISC)
        print("Simulated action: Reload config")


if __name__ == "__main__":

    print("Waiting for a Signal")
    # Listed for this signal, so can listen for more
    signal.signal(signal.SIGUSR1, handler)

    while True:
        # Do Whatever
        time.sleep(1)

A shell file to build and run the Container like a pro

#!/bin/bash

DOCKER_CONTAINER_NAME="docker-signal"
DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME="docker-signal"

printf "Removing old Container %s\n" "${DOCKER_CONTAINER_NAME}"
sudo docker rm "${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME}"

printf "Removing old Image %s\n" "${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME}"
sudo docker image rm "${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME}"

echo "Creating Docker Image"
sudo docker build -t ${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME} . --no-cache

retVal=$?
if [ $retVal -ne 0 ]; then
    printf "Error. Exit code %s\n" ${retVal}
    exit
fi

echo "Running Docker Container ${DOCKER_CONTAINER_NAME} based in image ${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME}"
sudo docker run --cpus="1.0" --name ${DOCKER_CONTAINER_NAME} ${DOCKER_IMAGE_NAME}

See it in action

References

https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/kill/

https://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man7/signal.7.html

https://docs.python.org/3/library/signal.html

If you want you can buy my Docker Combat Guide book.

Have a cheap Ubuntu in your Windows or Mac with Docker

I had this idea after one my Python and Linux students with two laptops, a Mac OS X and a Windows one explained me that the Mac OS X is often taken by their daughters, and that the Windows 10 laptop has not enough memory to run PyCharm and Virtual Box fluently. She wanted to have a Linux VM to practice Linux, and do the Bash exercises.

So this article explains how to create a Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Docker Container, and execute a shell were you can practice Linux, Ubuntu, Bash, and you can use it to run Python, Apache, PHP, MySQL… as well, if you want.

You need to install Docker for Windows of for Mac:

Docker for Windows is very handy and visual

Just pay attention to your type of processor: Mac with Intel chip or Mac with apple chip.

The first thing is to create the Dockerfile.

FROM ubuntu:20.04

MAINTAINER Carles Mateo

ARG DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

RUN apt update && \
    apt install -y vim python3-pip &&  \
    apt install -y net-tools mc htop less strace zip gzip lynx && \
    pip3 install pytest && \
    apt-get clean

RUN echo "#!/bin/bash\nwhile [ true ]; do sleep 60; done" > /root/loop.sh; chmod +x /root/loop.sh

CMD ["/root/loop.sh"]

So basically the file named Dockerfile contains all the blueprints for our Docker Container to be created.

You see that I all the installs and clean ups in one single line. That’s because Docker generates a layer of virtual disk per each line in the Dockerfile. The layers are persistent, so even if in the next line we delete the temporary files, the space used will not be recovered.

You see also that I generate a Bash file with an infinite loop that sleeps 60 seconds each loop and save it as /root/loop.sh This is the file that later is called with CMD, so basically when the Container is created will execute this infinite loop. Basically we give to the Container a non ending task to prevent it from running, and exiting.

Now that you have the Dockerfile is time to build the Container.

For Mac open a terminal and type this command inside the directory where you have the Dockerfile file:

sudo docker build -t cheap_ubuntu .

I called the image cheap_ubuntu but you can set the name that you prefer.

For Windows 10 open a Command Prompt with Administrative rights and then change directory (cd) to the one that has your Dockerfile file.

docker.exe build -t cheap_ubuntu .
Image being built… (some data has been covered in white)

Now that you have the image built, you can create a Container based on it.

For Mac:

sudo docker run -d --name cheap_ubuntu cheap_ubuntu

For Windows (you can use docker.exe or just docker):

docker.exe run -d --name cheap_ubuntu cheap_ubuntu

Now you have Container named cheap_ubuntu based on the image cheap_ubuntu.

It’s time to execute an interactive shell and be able to play:

sudo docker exec -it cheap_ubuntu /bin/bash

For Windows:

docker.exe exec -it cheap_ubuntu /bin/bash
Our Ubuntu terminal inside Windows

Now you have an interactive shell, as root, to your cheap_ubuntu Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Container.

You’ll not be able to run the graphical interface, but you have a complete Ubuntu to learn to program in Bash and to use Linux from Command Line.

You will exit the interactive Bash session in the container with:

exit

If you want to stop the Container:

sudo docker stop cheap_ubuntu

Or for Windows:

docker.exe stop cheap_ubuntu

If you want to see what Containers are running do:

sudo docker ps

Upgrading Amazon AWS EC2 Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

I’ve upgraded one of my AWS machines from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

The process was really straightforward, basically run:

sudo apt update
sudp apt upgrade

Then Reboot in order to load the last kernel.

Then execute:

sudo do-release-upgrade

And ask two or three questions in different moments.

After, reboot, and that’s it.

All my Firewall rules, were kept, the services were restarted as they were available, or deferred to be executed when the service is reinstalled in case of dependencies (like for PHP, which was upgraded before Apache) and I’ve not found anything out of place, by the moment. The Kernels were special, with Amazon customization too.

I also recommend you to make sure to disable your Apache directory browsing, if you had like that, as new software install may have enabled it:

a2dismod autoindex
systemctl restart apache2

I always recommend, for Production, to run the Ubuntu LTS version.