Configuration Management on FreeBSD with CFEngine - Part III

Now that we have our CFEngine policy servers configured properly and running, the next thing we are going to do is to configure the clients (agents), that will be controlled via CFEngine.

Throughout the handbook we've talked about having different environments in our setup - a test and a production one.

When adding a new client to CFEngine we need to decide whether this isa TEST host/jail or a production one, and after that we need to install the CFEngine package on the client machine along with the configuration files and ppkeys of the CFEngine server for that environment.

To do this we are going to make use of the ezjail(5) flavours.

The ezjail(5) flavours allows us to predefine what packages, configurations, users, etc. we want to have when installing a new jail.

In our case we will create two ezjail flavours - TEST and STABLE.

Each of these flavours will install on the newly created jails the CFEngine packages, and will also install the configuration and ppkeys of the corresponding environment.

This makes it very easy to setup a CFEngine client system upon it's creation.

Creating the ezjail(5) flavours of the environments

Considering you are managing your FreeBSD Jails with sysutils/ezjail, we will now create two ezjail(5) flavours for our production and test environment, and we will call them STABLE and TEST respectively.

In the commands below ${ezjail_jaildir} refers to the directory you've specified in your /usr/local/etc/ezjail.conf file.

On the host machine where your jails are installed:

$ cd ${ezjail_jaildir}/flavours
$ sudo cp -a default TEST
$ sudo cp -a default STABLE

Now let's prepare the flavours. In the newly created flavours directories - TEST and STABLE, you will have a similar directory structure:

|\_ make.conf
|\_ periodic.conf
|\_ rc.conf
 \_ resolv.conf 


|\_ cfengine/bin
|\_ cfengine/inputs
 \_ cfengine/ppkeys

Most of these directories already contain predefined configuration, so we'll just add to it what is needed in order to setup our newly created jail with CFEngine.

In the pkg directory of the flavour copy your CFEngine package with it's dependencies, so that they will be installed when we first start the jail.

In the etc/rc.conf file of the flavour add the following lines, so that the CFEngine Executor is enabled during boot-time:

# Enable CFEngine Executor

In the etc/resolv.conf file of the flavour put your domain name server.

In the ezjail.conf file add the following lines, which will just setup the correct timezone for the jails, symlink /home to /usr/home, and copy cf-promises(8) to the CFEngine trusted work directory.

# symlink /home to /usr/home
ln -s /usr/home /home

# set the timezone to Europe/Sofia
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Sofia /etc/localtime

# copy cf-promises(8) to /var/cfengine/bin
cp /usr/local/sbin/cf-promises /var/cfengine/bin

In the var/cfengine directory of the flavour create three other directories - inputs, ppkeys and bin. In the inputs directory copy the and files for your corresponding environment.

In the ppkeys directory copy the ppkey for the CFEngine policy server of the corresponding environment in the form of

The ppkeys directory needs to be secure enough, otherwise CFEngine will refuse to run, so change it's permissions now:

$ sudo chmod -R 0600 ${ezjail_jaildir}/flavours/TEST/var/cfengine/ppkeys
$ sudo chmod -R 0600 ${ezjail_jaildir}/flavours/STABLE/var/cfengine/ppkeys

Once you are ready with the ezjail(5) flavours, when you are installing a new FreeBSD jail you will be creating it in a similar way, like this for example.

For the test environment:

$ sudo ezjail-admin create -f TEST jail-test x.x.x.x

For the production environment:

$ sudo ezjail-admin create -f STABLE jail y.y.y.y

Creating the authentication keys for the clients

Now that you have your FreeBSD jails installed, start up your jails and login to them.

Depending on the flavour you've used during the jail creation, you should have the CFEngine package package installed with it's dependencies and the ppkey of the CFEngine policy server already present in your jail.

Now we need to create a ppkey for the client as well, and have it deployed to the policy server, so that the client can connect to the CFEngine policy server.

On the jail system (client), create the authentication keys:

$ sudp cf-key
Making a key pair for cfengine, please wait, this could take a minute...

Now secure copy the /var/cfengine/ppkeys/ file from the jail (client system) to your local machine and rename it to, where x.x.x.x is the jail's (client system) IP address, then add the ppkey to the Git repository.

$ cd ~/PROJECTS/cfengine/ppkeys
$ cp /path/to/ .
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Adding ppkey for <jail-name>"
$ git push origin <branch>

Where <branch> is the Git branch for the environment you are adding the ppkey - TEST for the test environment and master for the production environment.

Then login to the CFEngine policy server of the corresponding environment (TEST or production one) and pull the changes.

On the CFEngine policy server:

cd /var/cfengine && git pull

Verify that the ppkey of the client is now in /var/cfengine/ppkeys/

Starting CFEngine on the clients

We have almost everything configured by now on the client systems, and we can now start the agents.

The first time you run cf-agent(8) it will go to failsafe mode, because there will be no main CFEngine configuration file found in /var/cfengine/inputs.

When the agent goes to failsafe it will search for the file and run it.

Since our failsafe configuration we did already is simply doing an update of the policy files, and we already deploy the failsafe configuration during jail creations, the first time cf-agent(8) runs it will simply do an update of our configurations.

On the client machines:

$ sudo cf-agent -v

Now you can verify that /var/cfengine/inputs contains the configuration files, which were copied to the client from the policy server.

The next time you run cf-agent(8) it will start parsing the configuration defined in the main configuration of CFEngine - and the other configuration files we have included as well.

Execute cf-agent(8) a couple of times, and verify it works OK.

If you've followed the handbook by this step, you should have already a running CFEngine server and clients.

Now that we have the basic setup of CFEngine on our clients and server, let's do something useful with CFEngine.

In the next chapter you will find various examples of CFEngine configurations.

Written on April 16, 2011