Archive for the ‘Bash’ Category

Ninja Merge   Leave a comment

Recently I was presented with the following situation at work:

  • Your input is a handful of directories, filled with files, some of them are a “sort of a copy” of the other
  • Your output should be one directory with all the files from the source directories merged into it
  • The caveat is – if any of the files collide, you must mark them somehow for inspection

So that sounds pretty simple, isn’t it? In my case the input was millions of files. I’m not sure about the exact number, it doesn’t matter. The best solution for this problem is to never get to this situation, however sometimes you just inherit stuff like that at a new work place.

The Solution

We needed a ninja. I called it It is a Bash wrapper for rsync that will merge directories one by one into a destination directory and handle the collisions for you using a checksum function (md5 was “good enough” for that task).

Get here:

It even has unit tests and the works. All that you have to do is specify:

  • A list of source directories
  • A destination directory
  • A directory to store the collisions

If a path collided, you might end up with something like that in your collision directory:

$ cd collision_directory && find . -type f

Sorting the collisions is something you’ll have to do manually. Sorry!


Bloody Hell, Indent Your Scripts!!!   Leave a comment

Every so often I come across Bash scripts which are written as if Bash is a pile of rubbish and you just have to mould something ugly with it.

True, Bash is supposedly not the most “powerful” scripting language out there, but on the other hand if you’re using traditional methods then you can avoid installing gazillion ruby gems or perl/python modules (probably not even using RPM or DEB!!) just to configure your system. Bash is simple and can be elegant. But that’s not the point.

The point is that too often Bash scripts which people write have zero maintainability and readability. Why is that??

I’m not going to point at any bad examples because that’s not a very nice thing to do, although I can and easily.

Please do follow these three simple guidelines and you’ll get 90% of the job done in terms of maintainability and readability:

  • Functions – Write code in functions. Break your code into manageable pieces, like any other programming language, ey?
  • Avoid global variables – Global variables just make it all too complicated to follow what’s going on where. Sometimes they are needed but you can minimize the use of them.
  • INDENTATION – INDENT YOUR BLOODY CODE. If you have an if or for or what not, please just indent the block under it. It’s that simple and makes your code so much more readable.

That was my daily rant.

My Bash coding (or scripting) conventions cover a bit more and can be found here:

Graylog2 and Nagios Integration   1 comment

Say you have a Nagios system monitoring everything already in your system and in addition to that you have a Graylog2 installation which parses logs from anywhere and provides you with invaluable feedback on what’s really going on in your system.
And then comes the problem, or one of them:

  • Graylo2 is not really good in sending alerts (or maybe it is?)
  • Nagios is already configured to send alerts and you would like to use the same contact groups for instance

The solution is below.


Before making you read through the whole blog entry, I’ll just outline the solution I’ve chosen to implement and you can decide whether it’s good for you or not. Here it is in a nutshell:

  • An alert is being generated in Graylo2 in a configured stream
  • Graylog2 will use exec callback plugin to call an external alerting command, call it for instance
  • will push an alert using send_ncsa
  • Nagios parses the alert and notifies whoever is subscribed on that service

Pretty simple and bullet proof.

Graylog2 Configuration

I assume you already have Graylo2 fully configured, in this case download the wonderful exec callback plugin and place it under the plugin/alarm_callbacks directory (under the Graylog2 directory obviously).

Login to Graylog2 and enable under Settings->System the Exec alarm callback.

Click configure and point it to /usr/local/sbin/

That’s it for now on the Graylog2 interface side.

NSCA – Nagios Service Check Acceptor

Properly configure NSCA to work in your nagios configuration. That means usually:

  • Opening port 5667 (or another port) on your nagios server
  • Choosing a password for symmetrical encryption on the nagios server and the NSCA clients
  • Starting the nsca daemon on the nagios server, so it will accept NSCA communications

Generally speaking configuring NSCA is out of the scope of this article and more information can be found here:

That said, I’ll just mention that when everything works, you should be able to run successfully:

echo "HOSTNAME;SERVICE;2;Critical" | send_nsca -d ';' -H NAGIOS_HOSTNAME

On the Graylog2 host, place the following file under /usr/local/sbin/


# nagios servers to notify
# add a link to the nagios message, so it's easy to access the interface
# on your mobile device once you get an alert

main() {
	local tmp_file=`mktemp`
	local gl2_topic=`echo $GL2_TOPIC | cut -d'[' -f2 | cut -d']' -f1`
	echo `hostname`";Graylog2-$gl2_topic;2;$GL2_LINK $GL2_DESCRIPTION" > $tmp_file
	local nagios_server
	for nagios_server in $NAGIOS_SERVERS; do
		/usr/sbin/send_nsca -d ';' -H $nagios_server < $tmp_file
	rm -f $tmp_file

main "$@"

This in combination of what we did before will fire alerts from Graylo2 -> exec callback plugin -> -> NSCA -> nagios server.

The nagios side

All you have left to do now is to define services for use with Graylog2 alerts. It is a rather straight forward service configuration for nagios, here is mine (generated puppet in case you wonder):

define service {
        service_description            Graylog2-STREAM_NAME
        host                           REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_GRAYLOG2_HOST
        use                            generic-service
        contact_groups                 Graylog2-STREAM_NAME
        passive_checks_enabled         1
        max_check_attempts             1
        # enable active checks only to reset the alarm
        active_checks_enabled          1
        check_command                  check_tcp!22
        normal_check_interval          10
        notification_interval          10
        # set the contact group
        contact_groups                 Graylog2-STREAM_NAME
        flap_detection_enabled         0

define contactgroup{
        contactgroup_name       Graylog2-STREAM_NAME
        alias                   Graylog2-STREAM_NAME
        members                 dan

We usually have a contact group per Graylog2 stream. We just associate developers with the topic that’s relevant to them.

Restart your nagios and you’re set. Don’t forget to also start nsca!!

Resetting the alert

Graylog2 and NSCA will never generate “positive” OK alerts, but only critical ones. So you need a mechanism to reset the alert every once in a while. If you will scroll up you will see that I check port 22 (SSH) on the Graylog2 host.
How often you ask?
When configuring a new stream in Graylog2, it is best if you match the Grace period in Graylog2 to the normal_check_interval in nagios. Which would guarantee the alert will be reset before a new one comes in.


The whole shenanigans is obviously puppetized in our environment. Tailoring nagios to an environment is usually very different between environments so I have decided it is rather redundant to paste puppet recipes altogether.

I hope you can find this semi-tutorial helpful.

Posted May 26, 2013 by malkodan in Bash, Linux, System Administration

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Hebrew Keyboard Layout In Linux   4 comments

Since I got this question from way too many people, I wanted to just share my “cross distribution” and “cross desktop environment” way of doing that very simple thing of enabling a Hebrew keyboard layout under Linux.

Easy As

After logging into your desktop environment, type this:

setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:alt_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,il

Alt+Shift will get you between Hebrew and English. Easy as.


Making it permanent is just as easy:

mkdir -p ~/.config/autostart && cat <<EOF > ~/.config/autostart/hebrew.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Enable a Hebrew keyboard layout
Exec=setxkbmap -option grp:switch,grp:alt_shift_toggle,grp_led:scroll us,il

Should sustain logout/login, reboots, reinstalls (as long as you keep /home on a different partition), distribution changes and choosing a different desktop environment (KDE, GNOME, LXDE, etc.).

Posted May 3, 2013 by malkodan in Bash, Linux

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Handling many files in one directory   Leave a comment

The Assignment

You have a directory with gazillion files. Since most filesystems are not very efficient with many files in one directory, it is advisable to spread them among a hierarchy of directories. Write a program (or script) which handles a directory with many files and spreads them in an efficient hierarchy.

Does that sounds like a University assignment or something? Yes, it does.

Well apparently such a situation just happened to me in real life. Searching across the internet I couldn’t find anything too useful. And I will stand corrected if there is something which already deals with that problem. Post ahead if so.

And yes, thank god I’m using Unix (Linux), don’t even want to think what one would do on Windows.

The Situation

An application was spooling many files to the same directory, generating up to a million files in the same directory. I’m sorry I cannot disclose any more information about it, but lets just say it is a well known open source application.
Access to these files was obviously fast having ext4 and dir_index, but the directory index is too big to actually list files or do anything else without clogging everything in the system. And we need these files.

So we’ve decided to model the files in a way that’ll be more efficient for browsing and we can then handle it from there.

The Solution

After implementing something pretty quick and dirty for the situation, to mitigate the pain, I’ve sat down and wrote something a bit more generic. I’m happy to introduce the utility.
What does it take care of:

  • Reading the directory index just once
  • Hierarchy depth as parameter
  • Stacking up to X files per mv command
  • Has recursion in Bash!!
  • Obviously the best solution would be to never get to that situation, however if you do, feel free to use

SSHing efficiently   6 comments

I personally have a numerous number of hosts which I sometimes have to SSH to. It can get rather confusing and inefficient if you get lost among them.

I’m going to show you here how you can get your SSHing to be heaps more efficient with just 5 minutes of your time.


In $HOME/.ssh/config I usually store all my hosts in such a way:

Host host1
    Port 1234
    User root

Host host2
    Port 5678
    User root

Host host3
    Port 9012
    User root

You obviously got the idea. So if I’d like to ssh to host2, all I have to do is:

ssh host2

That will ssh to – saves a bit of time.

I usually manage all of my hosts in that file. Makes life simpler, even use git if you feel like it…

Auto complete

I’ve added to my .bashrc the following:

_ssh_hosts() {
    local cur="${COMP_WORDS[COMP_CWORD]}"
    local ssh_hosts=`grep ^Host ~/.ssh/config | cut -d' ' -f2 | xargs`
    [[ ! ${cur} == -* ]] &amp;&amp; COMPREPLY=( $(compgen -W "${ssh_hosts}" -- ${cur}) )

complete -o bashdefault -o default -o nospace -F _ssh_hosts ssh 2&gt;/dev/null \
    || complete -o default -o nospace -F _ssh_hosts ssh
complete -o bashdefault -o default -o nospace -F _ssh_hosts scp 2&gt;/dev/null \
    || complete -o default -o nospace -F _ssh_hosts scp

Sweet. All that you have to do now is:

$ ssh TAB TAB
host1 host2 host3

We are a bit more efficient today.

Posted March 31, 2013 by malkodan in Bash, Linux, System Administration

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Creating a puppet ready image (CentOS/Fedora)   10 comments

Cloud computing and being lazy

The need to create template images in our cloud environment is obvious. Especially with Amazon EC2 offering an amazing API and spot instances in ridiculously low prices.
In the following post I’ll show what I am doing in order to prepare a “puppet-ready” image.

Puppet for the rescue

In my environment I have puppet configured and provisioning any of my machines. With puppet I can deploy anything I need – “if it’s not in puppet – it doesn’t exist”.
Coupled with Puppet dashboard the interface is rather simple for manually adding nodes. But doing stuff manually is slow. I assume that given the right base image I (and you) can deploy and configure that machine with puppet.
In other words, the ability to convert a bare machine to a usable machine is taken for granted (although it is heaps of work on its own).

Handling the “bare” image

Most cloud computing providers today provide you (usually) with an interface for starting/stopping/provisioning machines on its cloud.
The images the cloud providers are usually supplying are bare, such as CentOS 6.3 with nothing. Configuring an image like that will require some manual labour as you can’t even auto-login to it without some random password or something similar.

Create a “puppet ready” image

So if I boot up a simple CentOS 6.x image, these are the steps I’m taking in order to configure it to be “puppet ready” (and I’ll do it only once per cloud computing provider):

# install EPEL, because it's really useful
rpm -q epel-release-6-8 || rpm -Uvh`uname -i`/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm

# install puppet labs repository
rpm -q puppetlabs-release-6-6 || rpm -ivh

# i usually disable selinux, because it's mostly a pain
setenforce 0
sed -i -e 's!^SELINUX=.*!SELINUX=disabled!' /etc/selinux/config

# install puppet
yum -y install puppet

# basic puppet configuration
echo '[agent]' > /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
echo '  pluginsync = true' >> /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
echo '  report = true' >> /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
echo '  server = YOUR_PUPPETMASTER_ADDRESS' >> /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
echo '  rundir = /var/run/puppet' >> /etc/puppet/puppet.conf

# run an update
yum update -y

# highly recommended is to install any package you might deploy later on
# the reason behind it is that it will save a lot of precious time if you
# install 'httpd' just once, instead of 300 times, if you deploy 300 machines
# also recommended is to run any 'baseline' configuration you have for your nodes here
# such as changing SSH port or applying common firewall configuration for instance

# and now comes the cleanup phase, where we actually make the machine "bare", removing
# any identity it could have

# set machine hostname to 'changeme'
hostname changeme
sed -i -e "s/^HOSTNAME=.*/HOSTNAME=changeme" /etc/sysconfig/network

# remove puppet generated certificates (they should be recreated)
rm -rf /etc/puppet/ssl

# stop puppet, as you should change the hostname before it will be permitted to run again
service puppet stop; chkconfig puppet off

# remove SSH keys - they should be recreated with the new machine identity
rm -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*

# finally add your key to authorized_keys
mkdir -p /root/.ssh; echo "YOUR_SSH_PUBLIC_KEY" &gt; /root/.ssh/authorized_keys

Power off the machine and create an image. This is your “puppet-ready” image.

Using the image

Now you’re good to go, create a new image from that machine and any machine you’re going to create in the future should be based on that image.

When creating a new machine the steps you should follow are:

  • Start the machine with the “puppet-ready” image
  • Set the machine’s hostname
    hostname $hostname
    sed -i -e "s/^HOSTNAME=.*/HOSTNAME=$hostname/" /etc/sysconfig/network
  • Run ‘puppet agent –test’ to generate a new certificate request
  • Add the puppet configuration for the machine, for puppet dashboard it’ll be something similar to:
    sudo -u puppet-dashboard RAILS_ENV=production rake -f /usr/share/puppet-dashboard/Rakefile node:add name=$hostname
    sudo -u puppet-dashboard RAILS_ENV=production rake -f /usr/share/puppet-dashboard/Rakefile node:groups name=$hostname groups=group1,group2
    sudo -u puppet-dashboard RAILS_ENV=production rake -f /usr/share/puppet-dashboard/Rakefile node:parameters name=$hostname parameters=parameter1=value1,parameter2=value2
  • Authorize the machine in puppetmaster (if autosign is disabled)
  • Run puppet:
    # initial run, might actually change stuff
    puppet agent --test
    service puppet start; chkconfig puppet on

This is 90% of the work if you want to quickly create usable machines on the fly, it shortens the process significantly and can be easily implemented to support virtually any cloud computing provider!

I personally have it all scripted and a new instance on EC2 takes me 2-3 minutes to load + configure. It even notifies me politely via email when it’s done.

I’m such a lazy bastard.

Posted March 23, 2013 by malkodan in Bash, Linux, System Administration

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