Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ResinStack?

The ResinStack is a distribution of Linux specifically tailored for running the Hashistack. The distribution is independent and not based on any other distro. Builds are produced from-scratch using LinuxKit and are able to leverage Docker Trust signatures for enhanced integrity verification.

In addition to the core image, the ResinStack team provides base Terraform modules useful for bootstrapping your Nomad, Consul, and Vault policies, as well as modules useful for deploying the ResinStack into AWS.

Is this production ready?

How good is your operations team?

If your workloads consist primarily of stateless docker containers, it should be relatively safe to mix ResinStack workers in with your compute fleet. Tasks that rely on state or other binaries being present on the host probably aren’t a good fit for ResinStack machines right now.

While it is possible to run a cluster using nothing but ResinStack images, there are still some rough edges around server upgrades. Unless you consider yourself and your team power users of the HashiStack, it is not recommended to run your servers on the ResinStack yet.

Is it secure?

Like all software, you need to consider what your risk tolerances are. That being said, the ResinStack images make use of modern software, namespaced systems, and the principal of least bits.

In the case of the reference Terraform modules, these are prepared in an additive process adding permissions and capabilities until the desired functionality works, and then verifying that no unintended access was added in the process.

Does the ResinStack team have access to my clusters/data?

… What? (Yes, this has actually been asked.)

The ResinStack is a Linux distribution. The authors have exactly as much access to your clusters and data as if you were running Ubuntu. Really there’s even less access since the ResinStack does not report statistics back, and because you can reasonably build your own copy of the entire system image.

Of course this is not an excuse to slack off on securing your clusters and environments. If you deal with particularly secure data, you should take steps to ensure that no-unaudited access to the internet can occur.

If you have security folks that somehow believe that running open source software grants the authors access to your data, you really need to question other things those folks have been telling you.

Doesn’t using pre-built policies make it easier for me to get hacked?

Welcome to 2020, despite elevated levels of strange, security through obscurity is still not a viable strategy.

The policies that are provided in the reference Nomad, Consul, and Vault Terraform modules are based on applying the principal of least bits to getting the HashiStack to run. You can create equivalent policies by reading the getting started guides for Nomad, Consul, and Vault respectively.

Using these policies is of course not required and you can run the ResinStack without them loaded at all. The primary cost to doing this is that you’ll need to duplicate a lot of boilerplate policy.

Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that you aren’t exposing your cluster’s control API to the internet. These APIs are not intended to be publicly visible. The ResinStack provides basic building blocks, it does not provide a turn-key solution that will fit all situations, your operations group is still responsible for setting up good firewall rules, auditing the security of your environments, and staying up to date on software patches.

How do I get a shell on a ResinStack box?

By default neither SSH nor TTY shells are enabled. If you require these features you can build images that include them, but you should carefully weigh this need vs the security trade-offs. The ResinStack was designed to require no direct access to the on-disk system, and if you believe you need this access you may be approaching an XY problem. Consider reaching out on Gitter and asking for another way to accomplish your goals.

Why can’t I download a ready to use system image?

Out of an abundance of caution the ResinStack project does not provide pre-made images. The ResinStack uses a custom compiled version of Nomad which disables the NVIDIA driver. This driver is incompatible with the ResinStack and must be disabled at compile time to avoid any side effects.

Unfortunately, distributing this non-default version of Nomad would violate the MPL license that Nomad is released under. Fortunately a docker file is provided to allow you to easily and quickly build the requisite version of Nomad.

If you’re with HashiCorp and would like to provide authorization to redistribute these compiled artifacts, contact us.

Is this only for cloud environments?

No!

You can run the ResinStack on any amd64 compatible environment that you can load the images into. If your environment supports PXE booting, you can use a kernel and initrd to boot the OS directly from the network.

The one clear limitation that you may need to solve comes from an implicit dependency on a cloud-init datasource. Your environment must provide cloud-init compatible metadata on boot for the auto-configuration of the system images to work.

I have a question that wasn’t answered here!

That’s great! Questions further the project