My experience using Ansible for deployment

by Calvin on May 20, 2015

When I moved to a new server infrastructure and host for Simplero around the new year, I decided I wanted system to manage the setup, so that the configuration of my servers would be defined in code I can check in to github, rather than just a collection of stuff on the server that happens to work, but no-one really remembers exactly what was installed or how or where. Replication and documentation. Important stuff.

I looked at a couple of different options. I looked at Chef and Puppet, which seems to be two of the big boys. I think I also looked at a few others, besides the system I ended up choosing: Ansible.

I like the idea behind Ansible. You don’t need a daemon on the server. Everything is done over SSH. There’s no magic (or at least not too much). Everything is defined in simple plaintext files that you cane easily manage. 

In practice, though, I find that Ansible gets in the way more than it helps. I find that I spend 90% of my time trying to figure out how to get Ansible to do what I want, and about 10% of my time working on what I actually want to accomplish on my server.

So rather than just run a couple of commands, see if they did what I wanted them to, and if not, doing something else, I now spend most of my time trying to convince Ansible to run those commands for me in a meaningful way. And each time, I have to run the entire playbook in order to test one step at the end.

It also bothers me that almost all of the files end up being named the same. They’re all main.yml. It’s the location of the file that matters. That makes it super confusing to edit my scripts when you need to work with several of these files at the same time, because all of the tabs in my editor are labeled the same.

I haven’t found a system I like better (I haven’t looked, either). I’m staying with Ansible for now, because it would be way more work to try and replace it at this point, especially since I don’t know what I’d replace it with.

I just wanted to write this post so that if people are searching for experiences about using Ansible, they’d have this perspective too to take into consideration. Just trying to be helpful here.

Have a super duper day.


It’s not that hard

by Calvin on March 13, 2015

When I turned 40, I was emailing with Gay Hendricks, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said: “Congratulations! Life doesn’t really start to get rolling good until after 40.”

After having spent almost a year as a 40-year old, I can only agree. My life has never worked out better than what it does now. There are so many things that I wanted to do earlier in my life, that I’m only doing now, and it feels absolutely amazing.

My favorite feeling is probably when things just work out exactly the way I want them to. That was certainly not how life felt in my 20s or my 30s.

In the past year, I’ve taken up singing, bartending, spanish, drumming, physical fitness, stand-up comedy, team building, sexuality, guitar, and more. And all of them, I’m now mastering fairly easily –  some faster than others. These are all areas that have been on my desire list for a long time, and it has taken me until now to master them.

The major difference between then and now, I realized, is that before, I would spend the majority of my time and effort wondering if I had it in me. I would use any outcome that was less than perfect as an indication that I probably didn’t, and I’d hold back on doing the work.

For some things, I even had an internal belief that if you had to work for it, it didn’t count. When I was in college, for example, I really wanted to be fit and good looking. But at the same time, I had the belief that actually working out was shameful. When I went running, I prayed that I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew, because it was shameful. If you had to work for it, it means you didn’t “qualify” somehow. Let’s just say it wasn’t a belief that helped me work hard in the gym.

These days, I know that I can learn pretty much anything I put my mind to. As long as I put in the effort, use the best of my abilities, mind, body, and spirit, I will get it. If I want to.

After Burning Man, I realized that I really wanted to learn bartending, or as the kids call it these days, mixology. And I wanted to learn at one of the snazziest restaurant bars in the city, Acme. I set my sights on them, approached them, and they agreed to train me for free, in i live environment. Why they agreed to do that, I’m still not sure, but I’m eternally grateful.

After a couple of months of studying mixology, I feel like I’ve mastered that area to where I want to be with it. I got the fundamentals down solid, and a foundation to build on. I’ve learned enough that a friend of a friend who have worked in the liquor industry for decades said I made some of the best drinks she’d had. I make my own syrups, my own liqueurs such as coffee liqueur and limoncello, and I can go anywhere I want to go with it from here. Turns out that was all I wanted from this particular area. But I didn’t know how far I wanted to take it until I tried.

Some areas, like Spanish, I realized I don’t care enough about to put in the time and effort. I know I’ll get there eventually, but right now, music and team building are more important to me, so Spanish will have to wait a bit. I’m still doing a little bit every once in a while, just to keep it in play, but it’s not a focus area.

The key point I want to get through here is that simply knowing that I can master anything I truly want to master, anything I’m willing to put in the time and effort to master, I can. Before, when I was constantly doubting myself and trying to figure out whether I “had what it takes”, that was the exact thing keeping me from doing what it takes to get there.

It’s pretty much all just a matter of practice.

That said, I do feel like there’s another aspect as well. I’m a very different person today than I was then. Back then, I had no idea who I was. I had no idea about what I felt about anything. I was so far removed from myself and my body. I don’t think I could arrive at where I am today without doing the work to change that. That’s the foundation. If you’re too far removed from yourself, something’s going to be missing, no matter what you do, and that something is your essence. If you don’t want you, if you don’t love you, then something’s going to be missing. Numerology and name changes, I feel, have been a major part of that journey as well.

And the beauty of it is, connecting with yourself, getting to know yourself, loving yourself, accessing your body and your bodymind, are also things that you can master, like anything else. So if that’s your challenge, I’d say start there. That doesn’t mean you can’t also learn Italian or playing the harp at the same time, but make sure that connecting with your innermost in the most loving way possible is right at the top of the list of things to master, if it’s not something you already do.