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Recap of the Foreman Birthday event 2021 – It was a great experience

Last week on Thursday we had the Foreman Birthday event and I can proudly say it was a big success. So lets talk about two things in the blogpost, first about the event itself and second about the organization of the event.

A Foreman Birthday event traditionally consists of multiple talks including a Q&A and the social part which is a great coming together by beer and pizza and usually there is also some cake involved! For organizing the event we teamed up with ATIX, so we share responsibility hosting the event every other year and support each other while doing so. With them doing a great job moving the event online last year because of the pandemic, it was clear to me the event had to happen this year, too. The idea of an hybrid event was also dismissed quickly so also all social activities had to be online only.

So to get the talks together I did the typical mix of asking former speakers, making a public announcement, asking others I hoped they would perhaps give a great talk, asked Melanie and Bernhard to ask internally at Red Hat and ATIX, thinking about doing a talk myself, considering a kettle prod to motivate colleagues and this resulted in a great diversity of ideas. So choosing the actual talks had nothing to with finding the best one, but with picking a good mixture of relevant topics for Foreman and Katello users, addressing users and developers, having something likely new to many and updates on topics that matter most.

Now our NETWAYS Events team had some experience with online events with stackconf, a three day conference on open source infrastructure, being the biggest one. So when asked for recommendations one was to have the talks pre-recorded which I happily followed, but for more community interaction I still wanted to do live Q&A in addition to the included web chat. Thanks to my colleague Christian I had some nice guide to give to those speakers who never did a recording before. And all speakers delivered, one early, one in time, three after a reminder last minute and one with a delay, but having all except one allowed me to publish a schedule. I included some small breaks and an intro and outro, but as I was the only moderator it kept it rather short.

For the actual event Christian helped me to setup everything in OBS and map it to a stream deck, so I only had to push buttons, but it was still pushing the correct button at the correct time! So with every message I got more and more excited but also nervous as I recognized I will have a big, excited audience and everything was so well prepared that I was the only one who could mess up.

Stream of the Foreman Birthday event 2021

If you watch the recorded event at youtube, you will know what I mean. But you can also directly jump into the first talk from Manisha Singhal “Deploying servers in an Application Centric Way” where she introduces the Foreman plugin Application Centric Deployment which allows to deploy all the systems required for one application using Ansible. If you want to dive deeper into it also her example deploying an Elastic Stack and official documentation is available.

The second talk was by Matthias Dellweg of the Pulp project who gave “Pulp 3 introduction for Katello users – exploring the backend and tracing issues” which will hopefully help many Katello users in the future. The cli got directly packaged and included in the repositories on the event so you can directly try Matthias tips.

The third one is a great example for the community involvement in the project as Maria Agaphontzev did a “Demo and Feedback session for the new Job invocation wizard”, so there was directly the option to influence the future of this part of Foreman. If you still have some feedback for her, you can comment on her pull-requests or in the community forum.

In “Katello for Debian based systems: Update and Outlook” by Quirin Pamp you can learn about the state for Debian support, why development was slowed down and how they will get it going in the future. It looks like some small steps are still needed for feature parity to RPM support, but there are already plans to not stop there like adding support for source packages! If you are interested you can even join the discussion.

An always welcome talk is the “Red Hat Product manager update”. This time it was done by Dana Singleterry who told us about the plans Red Hat has for future development and as everything of this has to happen in Foreman, Katello and Pulp the community will directly benefit from this. And for the live Q&A Dana joined from the co-driver’s seat while traveling! This is some great commitment!

And last but not least Lukáš Zapletal told us “The story of webhooks plugin” which was a great mix of story telling and technical talk ending by him playing Happy Birthday on the piano. So watch this talk even if you are not using the Foreman plugin hooks at the moment and not thinking about using webhooks and shellhooks in the future! And if you already think answering questions from the co-driver’s seat is great commitment, then Lukáš is also over the top here because he had a garden party including a live stream of the event to celebrate Foreman’s Birthday and was answering questions from there!

Lukáš Zapletal live on the Foreman Birthday event 2021

But as I said having great talks is only one aspect and depending on your preferences even not the most important which brings me to the social event. As I do not like online conferences very much, I wanted a social event as near as possible to a normal conference and when asked our Events team told me they have planned something called workadventure for stackconf. So after a look into, I committed myself to the solution and just wanted to get feedback how it worked out on the much bigger conference. Because of me waiting on the feedback and other time limiting factors it was not possible to build a new setup for the Birthday Event, so I asked about re-decorating the one from stackconf what our Webservices team did.

Workadventure on Foreman Birthday event 2021

So while I did the stream more and more people used workadventure to connect and I was told people really enjoyed it. There were message popping up like “Melanie is stalking people” or “It is like a really conference I am missing out on talks”, so I think I reached my goal! And when I joined after the livestream I could still talk to people about 2 hours long until the last one left.

So from all the feedback I got the event was a great success and as I was only the one who brought all the pieces together my thanks goes to our Events team and Christian for their support and help, our Webservices team for the technical parts like the chat instance and workadventure, the speakers for their talks, Melanie and Bernhard who helped me with getting speakers, also Melanie, our and ATIX Marketing team for promoting the event and of course every one attending the event and making it such a great experience.

So I hope in-person events will be a thing in the near future and the Foreman community can come together next year on FOSDEM and Config Management Camp like we did before the pandemic and I am looking forward to next year’s Foreman Birthday event which will be hosted by ATIX again!

Dirk Götz
Dirk Götz
Principal Consultant

Dirk ist Red Hat Spezialist und arbeitet bei NETWAYS im Bereich Consulting für Icinga, Puppet, Ansible, Foreman und andere Systems-Management-Lösungen. Früher war er bei einem Träger der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung als Senior Administrator beschäftigt und auch für die Ausbildung der Azubis verantwortlich wie nun bei NETWAYS.

Foreman Birthday Event: Let’s celebrate!

On July 1, 2021 we have the pleasure to celebrate the birthday of one great open source solution: the Foreman is turning 12!

Happy anniversary!

Together with our friends from the Foreman Project and ATIX we organize a one-day event to celebrate and dive into the latest Foreman topics and news. This year, the party will be online – streamed in the Foreman Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/Foreman – Start: 3 pm

Presentations will be on until approx. 6.30 pm and afterwards a special social event will take place and give you the opportunity to continue the discussion and catch up with each other. And this is the top-class program awaiting you:

  • “Deploying servers in an Application Centric Way” – Manisha Singhal
  • “Pulp 3 introduction for Katello users – exploring the backend and tracing issues” – Matthias Dellweg
  • “Demo and Feedback session for the new Job invocation wizard” – Maria Agaphontzev
  • “Katello for Debian based systems: Update and Outlook” – Quirin Pamp
  • “Red Hat Product manager update” – Dana Singleterry
  • “The story of webhooks plugin” – Lukáš Zapletal

The event is for free. For more information about it have a look at https://community.theforeman.org/t/foreman-birthday-party-2021/23037

Learn more about Foreman

And if you want to learn more about the helpful open source tool I highly recommend you to book a seat in one the NETWAYS Foreman Trainings at https://www.netways.de/trainings/foreman/

The next Foreman training is scheduled for June 29 – 30, 9 am – 5 pm and will take place in Nuremberg.

Foreman is a lifecycle management system for servers. It supports administrators in the provisioning of virtual and physical systems and the subsequent configuration management. In addition to the graphical interface, Foreman provides both a command line and an API for integration into other applications. The software can be extended in its range of functions by plug-ins and thus forms the basis of the Red Hat Network Satellite, among other things.

Julia Hornung
Julia Hornung
Lead Senior Marketing Manager

Julia ist seit Juni 2018 bei NETWAYS. Mit ihren Spezialgebieten Texte/Konzepte, Branding und PR ist sie für Tone of Voice und Wording von NETWAYS und Icinga verantwortlich. Davor war sie als Journalistin und in der freien Theaterszene spannenden Geschichten auf der Spur. Ihre Leidenschaft gilt gutem Storytelling, klarer Sprache und ausgefeilten Texten. Ihre innere Mitte findet sie beim Klettern und Yoga.

Foreman’s 12 birthday – we will have a virtual party

Beginning with Foreman’s 7th birthday in the year 2016 we are organizing an annual party to celebrate with the awesome community. As we partnered up with ATIX for organizing this event, it was their turn last year and with Covid19 they had the additional challenge to move a social event from meeting in person to online. While they did great, I had high hopes I could return back to normal in this year, but unfortunately also this year we have to stay virtual.

Nevertheless I can announce we will have another Foreman Birthday event on July 1st, 15:00 (CEST). We plan to have 5 to 6 30 minute talks with moderation by me accompanied and some kind of chat for live discussion and Q&A followed by a social event.

As we are still in the planing phase I can not go into detail about the social event or the chat solution but I can already confirm the first two talks.

  • Lukáš Zapletal will tell us “The story of webhooks plugin” as a mixture of technical talk and community success story.
  • Dana Singleterry will give as a “Red Hat Product manager update” so we will hear what Red Hat is planing for the next releases.

If you like to give a talk please get in touch with via email. We aim for a wide variety of talks, be it a new plugin or some new tricks for an old one, a case study showing your environment, about Foreman itself, Katello/Satellite/Orcharhino, Pulp, Candlepin or even Puppet and Ansible or the Community. Everything related to Foreman will be considered. We plan to have all talks pre-recorded and will provide guidance for doing so. After the talk we want to give everyone the chance to ask questions, so the speaker can answer them live.

So save the date and watch this thread in the Foreman Community for always up-to-date information. I hope to meet you all at the event! My plan is you will miss nothing of our normal program except the cake from this virtual event! 😉

Foreman Birthday Cake

Graphics used “Happy Birthday” by Hendrike under CC BY-SA 3.0 and “Foreman Logo” by Red Hat Inc. under CC BY-SA 3.0
Dirk Götz
Dirk Götz
Principal Consultant

Dirk ist Red Hat Spezialist und arbeitet bei NETWAYS im Bereich Consulting für Icinga, Puppet, Ansible, Foreman und andere Systems-Management-Lösungen. Früher war er bei einem Träger der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung als Senior Administrator beschäftigt und auch für die Ausbildung der Azubis verantwortlich wie nun bei NETWAYS.

Config Management Camp Ghent 2020 – Recap

Cfgmgmtcamp Logo

It seams like Config Management Camp at beginning of February in Ghent gets a fixed date for me. I attended the fifth year in series, gave a talk in the last three and joined the Foreman Construction day on the day after as many times. So why am I still attending while some people are perhaps already telling you that the time of configuration management is over in favor of containers and Kubernetes. While I can not totally agree or disagree with this thesis, my schedule is still full of Foreman, Puppet and Ansible, so it makes sense to keep me updated. Furthermore the event allows to network like not many others with speaker diner, community event (also known as beer event) and Foreman community dinner. And last but not least it is always interesting to hear what the big names think about configuration management in the future and how to adopt to a world of containers and Kubernetes which was a big part of the talks in the main track.

But to get everything in correct order let me start at Sunday morning where Blerim, Aleksander and I started so we can meet Bernd and Markus who attended FOSDEM in advance in our AirBnb before going to speaker diner. I have to admit I really like Ghent’s old City so I was happy the same restaurant right in the middle of Ghent was chosen for diner like last year. And also like last year I joined the Foreman table to meet old and new friends for some hours mixed of small talk and technical discussions.

The first conference day started as always with main tracks only and I can really recommend Ryn Daniels’ talk Untitled Config Game. After lunch I joined the Foreman community room to get latest news from the community and the 2.0 release by Tomer Brisker and Ewoud Kohl van Wijngaarden respectively. The talks about Katello and how to create API and CLI for a Compute Resource where also quite interesting, but my favorite was Marek Hulan who had initially chosen a very similar title for his talk about Foreman’s new Reporting Engine and showed some interesting examples and the future templates documentation which will be automatically rendered in a similar fashion like the API documentation which is always available at /apidoc on a Foreman installation. Last but hopefully not least was my talk about existing solutions which get data from Foreman into central systems like Elasticsearch for logs and Supervisor Authority Plugin which enables Elastic APM to show performance bottlenecks, stacktraces and some metrics and is perhaps the most promising solution for me. As I was the one between the audience and the beer I was quite happy finishing my talk in time and get some more Kriek afterwards.

Day two had also some create talks to start with John Willis telling us he got 99 (or perhaps even far more) problems and a bash DSL ain’t one of them and Bernd how convenience is killing Open Standards. The first was really great in showing how configuration management has evolved compared to the container world which follows the same evolutionary process. The second was not only related to configuration management but IT at all including clouds and many more (and Bernd was fully aware of the discrepancy giving such a talk on a macbook). This day I visited more different tracks to hear about the migration of Pulp 2 to 3 behind Katello, testing of Ansible roles with Molecule (including some chemistry lessons), Ansible modules for pulp, how Foreman handles Secure boot and last but not least to get an update on Mgmt Config. After the talks we joined the Foreman Community diner which was located in a separate room of the same location we visited last year, allowing even more discussions without fearing to disturb others.

The Foreman Construction day like many other community events is a fringe event at the same location allow to hack together on some features and I was happy to make the beginner session I had given already the last years an official workshop. It was based on our official training focusing on installation and provisioning including hints and answering questions. After lunch I joined the hacking session for some time before shopping some Kriek and waffles and then traveling home.

Dirk Götz
Dirk Götz
Principal Consultant

Dirk ist Red Hat Spezialist und arbeitet bei NETWAYS im Bereich Consulting für Icinga, Puppet, Ansible, Foreman und andere Systems-Management-Lösungen. Früher war er bei einem Träger der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung als Senior Administrator beschäftigt und auch für die Ausbildung der Azubis verantwortlich wie nun bei NETWAYS.

Open Source Camp on Foreman

Like every year there was an Open Source Camp following the OSMC and as usual we helped organize that. Just in case you aren’t aware of what an Open Source Camp is here is the just of it: It’s meant to be an offer for Open Source projects to present themselves more in depth to the community. This year the Open Source Camp is on that one special yellow helmet we all know and love, Foreman.

Ondřej Ezr started us off with Ansible automation for Foreman (hosts). There are probably more than enough people using puppet only in their Foreman environment. Alternative or complementary to that would be using the plugin foreman_ansible. Ansible and Puppet don’t necessarily need to be better or worse, they are different and both have their advantages and disadvantages. By going through some basic steps, like role assignment, host creation and so on, he showed how one can do all that, but with Ansible. You can easily dynamically allocate roles and installations through Ansible to your Foreman hosts, but to make it even more specific one can set custom variables within the Ansible plugin for it to use, like foreman_repository_version. You could invoke a Job, like an Ansible Playbook, which will overwrite the variables previously set or make your installation more customizable from the get go. Install from git, run a playbook through ssh and more was covered during his talk. The plugin would not be a good alternative or viable if it did not hold up against the standards that puppet sets as a competitor. While Ansible doesn’t offer an inherit solution for reoccurring runs like every hour, the plugin does.

Next up was Bernhard Suttner, who wanted to give us a taste of Salted Foreman. Initially he explained what all that salt was about. The SaltStack a open source project written in python, can be used as a configuration management tool for Foreman. Salt excels at orchestrating cloud environments and network use-cases, but then we got to the Foreman relation. Running a salt and Foreman environment means running a environment of managed hosts, which are salt minions and a foreman_smart_proxy, which will also be the salt master. He showed us what salt in Foreman looks like and gave us some insight on how it works, but even more important from now on there are people dedicated to the project and some day the plugin might be as good as the puppet or ansible plugin. Salt is great and especially effective in terms of scalability. It’s pretty straightforward to use and the initial setup is not so hard. We are excited for what is to come.

Provisioning on Azure Cloud through Foreman by Aditi Puntambekar was going to follow that one. Aditi made sure everyone is familiar with the extend of Foremans capabilities in terms of provisioning. This was especially important because Foremans capabilities differ from its usual when it comes to cloud provisioning. After a quick trip through the configuration of compute resources and imaged-based provisioning templates we went onward to the Azure Resource Manager. She explained how the Azure Resource Manager essentially worked, but what is interesting to us is the foreman_azure_rm. Well and foreman_azure_rm does what you expect it to do. It adds the Microsoft Azure Resource Manager as a compute resource for the foreman. In her demo, she showed us how to use said resource and more.

Martin Bačovský talked about CLI tools with Foreman. He started of with the Foreman API. Of course the Foreman API is fast and has a wide range of tools and libs included within it. Just like Martin said in his talk, if you are interested in the Foreman API check out the documentation, it’s very good. Also interesting in the realm of APIs was his next tool, which is using apipie/apipy, which you are probably aware of if you are more heavy on the python side of things. Up there with the most well-known tools is Martins next, Hammer CLI, a command-line tool for Foreman. After sharing his experience with these rather popular tools with everyone he introduced us to Foreman’s integration of GraphQL. It’s basically a query language, which seems to be promising so far. Martin especially focused on the flexibility of queries and the introspective it has, yet one has to see where the project goes. There were many more tools he told us a lot about. To name just a few more of them, Report Templates, Foreman Ansible Modules and foreman_maintain. If you are interested in one of these tools in particular check out the video of the talk, which will be available soon on our Youtube Channel.

 

Give your Foreman a greater toolbox with Plugins by our very own Dirk Götz. Like he said himself: I will start of with existing toolbox things and at the end I will show you how to create these things yourself. And that he did. This talk was very demo heavy, thereby everything he explained was plain and simple, because you where able to see it as he did it. At the very top of his agenda was Job Invocation/Remote Execution. Not that exciting you think? Well, more interesting is the best practice advice he threw in on the way, like there is no issue of the configured user because his password is not saved as plain text in the database. Then the development part was up. He showed a couple of jobs that he wrote himself. Easiest, which served as an example is a simple ping check. He pointed out important thoughts to keep in mind, while writing jobs, like default values. Before his talk came to a close he talked a bit about the Web Console which has been introduced and is yet not well known. The web console is pretty much a integration of Cockpit. A well experienced user in the Linux world won’t be that excited about this, but a less experienced user will love this.

The next talk would not have happened, if Dirk didn’t spontaneously offer to step in. So we got another thirty minutes of Dirk Götz and I won’t complain. Katello: Adding content management to Foreman was the title and people where keen to hear about just that. What is Katello? Dirk described it as a defined set of Foreman plugins but not just that. It enriches your content management, as well as subscription management. Wait… content management? Why do I need that? Configuration management should be enough! Not necessarily, depending on your environment. Lets just pick up the points that Dirk made towards content management. For local content it ensures availability. For staging, it allows testing updates and makes builds reproducible. So content management should be seen as an addition to config management. He also talks about content views and how they are used to do the versioning, while they are being held by life cycles. Integration in orchestration was also a rather big point during his talk, which is done via SSH or Ansible. Dirk designs his talk in a way that makes summarizing them impossible, because he covers way to much. Lets just say not announced but very appreciated and most definitely worth checking out at our NETWAYS-Youtube Channel.

It was my second Open Source Camp and if you ask me this kind of exchange is what one wants to see in the open source community. There was variety and judging by the crowd reactions I was not the only one enjoying these talks. Thanks to all the speakers and attendees, safe travels home to everyone. Until the next Open Source Camp, hope to see you there!

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Consultant

Alex hat seine Ausbildung zum Fachinformatiker für Systemintegration bei NETWAYS Professional Services abgeschlossen und ist nun im Consulting tätig. Vereinzelt kommt es auch vor das er an Programmierprojekten mitarbeitet. Auch privat setzt er sich sehr viel mit Informationstechnologie auseinander, aber jenseits davon ist auch viel Zeit für Fußballabende, Handwerkerprojekte und das ein oder andere Buch.

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