Intro

In pursuit of automated continuous everything

/ 3 min read

Alternative title: What you can't do at work, try it at home!

Introduction

Hi!

I've decided to start this blog to tell you about all the cool things I'm working on in my free time.
Fair warning: it involves a lot of open-source tools, containers, free hosted services, all kinds of DevOps trickery, automation with continuous integration and delivery. If none of this interest you, I have bad news...

I'm planning to write about my experience setting up my demo site using (almost) only free and open-source tools that I started working on with one ultimate goal.

Fully-automated builds, deployments, configuration and monitoring.

In fact, it was a relatively simple two-step process:

  1. Buy a domain name
  2. Write a few Flask applications and set up a CI/CD pipeline using GitHub and Travis, webhooks, a whole lot of Docker containers and all the open-source tools one can find.

I suppose, I can break down one of those steps a bit further if you're interested.

Background

I've always wanted to create something I could share with the world hoping that someone would stumble upon it and find it useful to give them ideas and inspiration for doing cool things I could learn from. What held me back before was having no easy and/or cheap way of hosting services and example implementations - that I knew of.

It has all changed when I read Alex Ellis' blog about how easy (and not at all expensive) it is to have your own domain and self-host some applications on cheap hardware. I went on to register viktoradam.net at Namecheap with no concrete plans but ideas on how I would want my own pet project to look like.

Being able to point a nice-looking and easy-to-remember URL to a small Linux box running in my living room has opened a world of potentials for me. Suddenly, it became easy to get visible results quickly while experimenting with modern technologies I'm reading about in tech blogs and Twitter.

All I knew at the beginning was that I want a website and I want to be able to update it with a simple git push.

Current state

In a few weeks I managed to write my Python applications and set up the pipelines for delivering them to my devices. I quickly realized the fact that the more I get done the more ideas I get to keep hacking on. As I kept reading about all the awesome CNCF projects and others, I became more and more enthusiastic to try new tools and gain some fresh experience in areas I'm not too familiar with, take reverse proxies, monitoring and DevOps for example.

I started with a simple setup using one Pine64 ARM64 board I had lying around on a shelf with the continuous delivery being basically a docker-compose pull && docker-compose up -d on a cron schedule.

Once I managed to almost fully consume the 1GB memory of the server, I added another instance - with 2GB memory this time. I've put them in a Docker Swarm cluster and rewrote the pipelines to trigger updates using webhooks when new Docker images are pushed to Docker Hub or configuration files change in a private Git repository.

After having more than a handful containers running at a time, I started looking into adding metrics to the servers and services to know what is going on with them. Recently, I've also set up a centralised logging stack to have an easy way of checking application logs without having to SSH into the boxes then jumping to another one once I realise the container is running over there.

I have learned a lot while doing these and I hope you'll enjoy reading about it!

If you have any questions, feedback or would otherwise like to get in touch, email me at [email protected], send me a message on Twitter @rycus86 or leave a comment below.