I have recently added some iscsi-backed storage to my proxmox-based server environment, primarily as an off-server location to
store backup data.
For a multitude of reasons, such as the sensitive nature of the data, the fact that the physical storage
lies outside of my control, and just good security hygiene - I wanted to ensure that the data is all encrypted
I wanted to be able to use this iscsi as a storage target for proxmox allowing me to just add the volumes to
VMs allowing HA, and I didn’t want to have to do encryption inside every VM incase I accidentally forgot to
enable it for one of the VMs (remember, the storage is hosted external to me so I have no control over the
physical access to it) so to do this I have made use of LUKS encryption on the iscsi block device that I am
presented with and then I run LVM over the top of this. (LVM-on-LUKS as-opposed
Unlike the previous theme, this one is actually one I mostly ended up designing myself rather than just
finding one that I mostly liked and running with it, and given that, I figured I’d talk a little bit about the
thoughts behind it and how it came to be and what else I’ve done behind the scenes.
In $DayJob we make use of Dell S4048-ON Switches for 10G Top-of-Rack (ToR) switching and also
sometimes 10G Aggregation/Core for smaller deployments. They’re fairly flexible devices with a high number of
10G ports, some 40Gs and they can do L3 ports and L2 ports. You can also run them either Stacked or in VLT mode
for redundancy purposes.
In addition these things use ONIE (Open Network Install Environment) and can run different firmware images -
though we almost exclusively run these with DNOS 9 which is the Force10 FTOS code that Dell acquired some time
ago rather than DNOS 10.
One evening, I was tasked with an “emergency” build request. We had some kit being shipped to a remote PoP
the following day and the intended routers were delayed, so we needed to get something quickly and temporarily
in place to take a BGP Transit Feed and deliver VRRP to the rest of the kit. A spare S4048 we had lying around
would do the job sufficiently for the time period needed. I figured it wouldn’t take too long to get the base
config needed and get it ready to be shipped with the rest of the kit.
So I got the Datacenter to rack/cable/console it so that I could begin configuration then set aside some
time in the evening to do the work.
As I was watching the switch boot up I noticed something odd. Turns out the last engineer who had used this
device had chosen to install the OpenSwitch OPX ONIE firmware on it instead of the usual DNOS9 firmware. So
much for my quick and easy config.
At this point, I could have just reloaded the device into the ONIE installer environment and installed DNOS9
and been done with it all. But, I had a fairly open evening, and I’d not yet really played about much with any
of the alternative ONIE OSes, so armed with my Yak Sheers, I thought I’d have a look around.
(After all this, I then re-imaged the device onto our standard deployment image of DNOS9 and completed the
required config work that I was supposed to be doing.)
In $DayJob we make fairly extensive use of MPLS ATOM Pseudowires (XConnects) between our
various datacenter locations to enable services in different sites to talk to each other at layer2.
The way I describe this to customers is that in essence these act as a “long cable” from Point-A to Point-B.
The customer gets a cable at each side to connect to their kit, but in the middle of it there is magic that
routes the packets over our network rather than an actual long-cable. Packets that enter 1 side will be pushed
out the other side, and vice-versa. We don’t need to know or care what these packets are, we are just
transparently transporting them.
(It’s worth noting at this point that this guide was mostly written after the fact based on command history
so I may have missed something. It’s always a good idea to do this on a test cluster first, or in a maintenance
This all started with a comment I overheard at work from a colleague talking about a 2FA implementation on a
service they were using.
“It works fine on everything except Google Authenticator on iPhone.”
… What? This comment alone immediately piqued my interest, I stopped what I was doing, turned round, and
asked him to explain.
He explained that a service he was using provided 2FA support using TOTP codes. As is normal, they provided
a QR Code, you scanned it with your TOTP application (Google Authenticator or Authy or so), then you typed in
the verification code - and it worked for both Google Authenticator and Authy on his Android phone, but only
with Authy and not Google Authenticator on another colleagues iPhone.
This totally nerd sniped me, and I just had to take a look.
I’ve been wanting to play with Docker Swarm for a while now for hosting containers, and finally sat down
this weekend to do it.
Something that has always stopped me before now was that I wanted to have some kind of cross-site storage
but I don’t have any kind of SAN storage available to me just standalone hosts. I’ve been able to work around
this using ceph on the nodes.
Note: I’ve never used ceph before, I don’t really know what I’m doing with ceph, so this is
all a bit of guesswork. I used Funky Penguin’s Geek
Cookbook as a basis for some of this, though some things have changed since then, and I’m using base-centOS
not AtomicHost (I tried AtomicHost, but wanted a newer-version of docker so switched away).
All my physical servers run Proxmox, and this is no exception. On
3 of these host nodes I created a new VM (1 per node) to be part of the cluster. These all have 3 disks, 1 for
the base OS, 1 for Ceph, 1 for cloud-init (The non-cloud-init disks are all SCSI with individual
In previous years, Myself and Chris have been fairly informally trying to
see who was able to produce the fastest code (Me in PHP, Chris in Python). In the final week of last year to
assist with this, weboth made our repos
run in Docker and produce time output for each day.
This allowed us to run each other’s code locally to compare fairly without needing to install the other’s
dev environment, and made the testing a bit fairer as it was no longer dependant on who had the faster CPU when
running their own solution. For the rest of the year this was fine and we carried on as normal. As we got to
the end I remarked it would be fun to have a web interface that automatically dealt with it and showed us the
scores, but there was obviously no point in doing that once the year was over. Maybe in a future year…
Fast forward to this year. Myself and Chris (and ChrisN) coded up our Day 1
solutions as normal and then some otherfriends started doing it for the first time. I remembered my plans from the
previous year and suggested everyone should also docker-ify their repos… and sotheyagreed…
I recently acquired a new server with 2 drives that I intended to use as RAID1 for a virtualisation host for
My hypervisor of choice is Proxmox (For a few reasons, Support for
KVM and LXC primarily, but the fact it’s debian based is a nice bonus, and I really dislike the
occasionally-braindead networking implementation from vmware which rules out ESXi)
This particular server does not have a RAID card, so I needed to use a software raid implementation. Out of
the box for RAID1 on Proxmox you need to use ZFS, however To keep this box similar to others I have I wanted to
use ext4 and mdadm. So we’re going have to do a bit of manual poking to get this how we need it.
This post is mostly an aide-memoire for myself for the future.