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GEC22 Presentation / Tutorial: Configuration Management Tools for Experimenters


This tutorial consists of two parts: a 1-hr presentation and a separate 2-hr hands-on session.


Tuesday 10.30am - 11.30am


Wednesday 4.00pm - 6.00pm

Session Leaders

Sarah Edwards
Max Ott


This tutorial will build awareness of open source configuration management (Puppet, Chef, Salt, and Ansible) and software deployment (Fabric) tools and best practices for use in experimentation. This tutorial consists of two parts: experimenters will discuss their experiences using these tools to run experiments on GENI; in the hands-on portion, attendees will do simple examples using two different tools, Chef and Ansible. The goal of the tutorial is to encourage experimenters to adopt a configuration management (CM) tool of their choice in their day-to-day experimentation.


Intermediate to Advanced.

Primarily of interest to GENI experimenters, but also of interest to GENI and US Ignite developers.

Pre-requisites / Pre-work

Some familiarity with the concept of using GENI for experimentation is recommended.

Hands-on participants must know how to reserve resources in GENI using an existing RSpec and how to log into nodes using SSH with a private key.


Agenda and speakers subject to change.

Presentation (1 hr presentation on Tues from 10:30a-11:30a)

  • Motivation: Why use CM tools for experimentation?

Automation is very important for repeatability and experimenter sanity. We will explore existing tools from the wider sysadmin/operations communities.

Will also discuss best practices and include examples as appropriate.

  • Overview of existing CM tools and their suitability to experimentation.

In addition to using version control (git, svn, cvs) to keep files and documents safe, there are four popular configuration management tools (Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and Salt) and at least one software deployment tool (Fabric).

Someone experienced in each of these tools will briefly describe the tools and discuss it’s applicability to doing experiments.

Speakers are:

  • Introduction and Motivation - Sarah Edwards, GPO. slides
  • Puppet - Stephane Blais, GPO. slides
  • Chef - Max Ott, NICTA
  • Ansible - Tim Upthegrove, GPO. slides
  • Salt - Nick Bastin, Barnstormer Softworks
  • Fabric - Nick Bastin, Barnstormer Softworks

Hands-On (2 hr hands-on on Wed from 4-6pm)

  • Hands-On with Chef and Ansible.

Hands-on experience using each of Chef and Ansible. Experimenters will leave with the software installed and having done a small example that illustrates the strengths of each tool for experimenters.

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