# Terraform Apply

As touched on in the last post, building images is a critical part of immutable infrastructure. Trying to ship a single image that could satisfy all possible users isn’t a practical goal, so the decision was made to change out the makefile at the heart of the ResinStack for a more composeable approach.

When removing the makefile, decisions had to be made about what to replace it with. There were a few options that could have won out, lets take a look at what those were:

• Custom Program - LinuxKit’s preferred format for configuration is YAML, and it would have been relatively simple to build a program that did similar to the makefile in assembling multiple fragments of yaml to achieve the final configuration passed to linuxkit build. This approach has some shortcomings though. It doesn’t lend itself well to immediate understanding, which is a major goal of the project. It also doesn’t satisfy the goals of maintainability as an upstream, as it makes the mistake of reaching for a new tool as the first answer.

• Really Good Documentation - Since ultimately the tooling is just merging yaml dictionaries in complex ways, its possible to just provide really good documentation of how to do this by hand. This is similar to how you might consider Linux From Scratch to be a “distribution” as by some definitions a distribution is just instructions for how to assemble various components into a working system. This solution is pretty annoying though because it doesn’t make it easy to use the software, and requires fairly deep knowledge of how LinuxKit actually works internally. It also requires some manual work any time you want to build a new image.

• jsonnet - When considering any problem its important to rules-lawyer it to know all possible solutions. One possible solution is that most yaml parsers can parse json to some degree. It would be possible to use a tool like jsonnet to interpolate and merge in various fragments to assemble a final configuration to stream to the build process. This “solution” has a lot of problems, one being that it requires anyone who wants to extend it to learn an entirely new templating language that really isn’t particularly human readable. JSON is after all a machine format, not a human one. Another problem with this approach is that it isn’t designed behavior of most yaml parsers, so its relying on more or less luck to actually work.

In the end, Terraform was selected as the system of choice for building images. Terraform has several advantages over anything listed above, lets look at just a few:

• Familiarity in the target user group. Most folks working with the HashiStack already have heard of terraform, and its one of the cleaner ways to maintain the intertwined ACLs when running Nomad, Consul, and Vault in concert.

• Clear distribution mechanism. Re-usable terraform modules have a clear distribution mechanism. Modules are pushed to the terraform registry which the terraform CLI can natively request data from. Overall this is a very straightforward solution to both produce and consume.

• HCL2 is a configuration language that supports all the levels of extensibility that are required to build and extend the ResinStack. Custom files and services are easy to add, and its relatively trivial to extend the provided images.

So what does this look like in practice? Lets take a look at an example where we build a system image that can be PXE booted that contains Nomad, Consul, and Vault:

module "aio_server" {
source  = "resinstack/resinstack/linuxkit"
version = "0.1.0"

enable_console = true
enable_sshd    = true
enable_ntpd    = true

consul_server = true
consul_acl    = "deny"

enable_docker = true
output_to = "${path.root}/out" base_name = "aio" build_pxe = true }  The above snippet is all it takes. You can put this in a file, call terraform init and terraform apply and assuming that you have docker and linuxkit available on your host, you’ll get a set of files that you can load on a TFTP server and feed to a PXE boot script. This is all good and well for a standard image, but what if we want to add custom services? Prometheus is a popular monitoring tool, lets add the node_exporter: data "linuxkit_image" "node_exporter" { name = "node_exporter" image = "linuxkit/node_exporter:v0.8" } module "aio_server" { source = "resinstack/resinstack/linuxkit" version = "0.1.0" system_version_metadata = "2cf1db0f0d2c9916b4894318bd76f1c97d8c8f7b" system_metadata_providers = ["metaldata"] enable_console = true enable_sshd = true enable_ntpd = true consul_server = true consul_acl = "deny" nomad_server = true nomad_client = true enable_docker = true nomad_acl = true vault_server = true vault_tls_disable = true custom_services = [data.linuxkit_image.node_exporter.id] output_to = "${path.root}/out"