April 2013

Monthly Archives

Access Control – Are you in or out?


As CatN continue on our journey towards ISO 27001 accreditation, part of the information security policy requires that we have an active and enforced security model in place at our office location.

Since introducing an access control system in June 2010, all employees have been required to tap in and out of the office using RFID technology, however the process for keeping track of guests coming in and out of the building has been very much a manual process.

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Create an OpenStack instance with just Curl

For some reason, the idea of direct interaction with the various OpenStack components seemed like a good idea. The aim was to create an instance, set sane security rules, and add a public key all through the API.

I struggled with the documentation. It was a little hard to find, and what I did find seemed a little thin. However with the –debug option on the cli clients, which prints out all of the calls made to the various API endpoints as it goes along, it was game on.

First things first, we need an OpenStack environment to play with. RedHat with their newly released RDO comes to the rescue here. Out of all the one click OpenStack tools I’ve tried, RDO has been the simplest by far. Just three simple steps. Well, if you don’t include step 0 of course: http://openstack.redhat.com/Quickstart . We also installed a machine image through the dashboard to make life a little easier.

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Building a virtual machine image for CentOS

CentOS Images Featured Header

This post describes the process of creating a CentOS virtual machine image. Creating a base or master image is incredibly useful in a cloud environment as it allows the creation of multiple nodes / VMs or guests based on the original template.

We have an existing CatN Labs project where we are hosting pre-built CentOS golden master images for use when deploying multiple nodes. You can read about the project on the CatN Labs CentOS Images page.

The base image is a static template of software including OS which is mounted when the VM runs and referenced by further clone nodes. To get started on the base template you will need to have some tools installed on your Linux node. Adapt the following commands for your distribution of choice!

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CatN goes to CentOS Dojo Antwerp

It’s no secret that we use a lot of CentOS at CatN, in fact we have deployed thousands of instances over time on both physical and virtual machines, and we have 4 Red Hat Certified Engineers (soon to be 6) on staff.

As a company with deep expertise and experience with CentOS it makes complete sense that we understand where our software comes from. You only have to look at the state of our food chain to see that interest in your upstream makes a lot of sense. At the end of the day we have to trust the food [software] that we eat [install]!

Getting to events like this is a great way to get a feel for a community, meet people and potentially find a way to contribute back into the ecosystem as well. What’s not to like about that?

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Advanced PHP error handling in the cloud

LogPipe is a PHP extension module that extends the default PHP error messages with additional information and allows you to pipe the logs to an external program or write them to a syslog facility.

When a user connects to a PHP website hosted on a cloud platform like vCluster, the response may come from different web servers running on different virtual and physical machines. This introduced the problem of needing to aggregate the PHP error logs from different cluster nodes and then split them up again based on the virtual host. Unfortunately the default PHP error message handler does not provide the information or ability to pipe the error logs to an external program, unlike the CustomLog directive in Apache does.

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