Learning and Using Ansible to Deploy Sites

For a long time, I was meaning to never do server configurations manually. Since I knew Chef from a previous client work, I was hoping to use it to automate, as first steps, my *.npras.in family of static sites.

But it wasn’t easy to get started with chef-solo. There wasn’t any proper “Getting Started” guide.

So I was browsing through the alternatives, and quickly found I like Ansible, mainly because it’s mostly just yaml.

It is also less complex than Chef. Chef has a bunch of tools/terms under its belt. Recipe, cookbook, librarian, knife, solo, kitchen, attributes etc. And chef needs to be managed as a ruby gem via bundler. I’m a ruby developer yes, but I’m not looking to adore ruby when I’m trying to wrangle servers. I want to get things done.

With Ansible, after a few hours of reading the documentation, I was ready to jump start my explorations. I was able to ping a brand new server that I had just bought in Vultr.

I then decided to ditch my long-serving $5 DigitalOcean server for the awesome $2.5 Vultr server to host my npras.in family of sites.

The final outcome I accomplished after this can be summed up like this:

If all of a sudden, zombies take over the world and destroyed a datacenter where my sites are served, then I’ll do these:

  • buy a cheap 512MB RAM server from any preferred host (currently preferring Vultr)
  • login to the server and apt-get install python it. (ansible needs it)
  • locally, install ansible. (In macos, it’s painfully easy: brew install ansible)
  • cd into this ansible playbook folder: https://github.com/npras/ansibles/npras.in.sites.
  • run this ansible playbook command to bootstrap the server by installing dependencies (apache, git etc): ansible-playbook -v -uroot -ihosts.ini server_setup.yml
  • run this ansible playbook command to clone the site repo into the server: ansible-playbook -v -uroot -ihosts.ini deploy.yml
  • Defeat zombies by living the life of a person with personal websites.

After that, every time I have to publish a new post or edit or remove any content, I’ll just have to run the deploy playbook once again to get the changes on server.

Thoughts on the post are welcome! Mail me at prasanna@npras.in or . Subscribe to my newsletter.