Incorporate Sal and JSS Data Into WebHelpDesk Inventory, using Docker

In previous posts, I covered:

WebHelpDesk, among its other features, makes a great inventory aggregate collector thanks to its use of discovery connections. Inventory data can be easily pulled from any flat database. Sal is a reporting engine for Munki that collects inventory data about OS X Munki clients, and JAMF Casper as an iOS MDM (referred to as Casper or “JSS” from here on out) stores inventory data about iOS clients.

We can set up scripts to pull data from Sal, using Sal-WHDImport, and from Casper, using JSSImport. This makes for a great triangle, allowing inventory aggregation into WebHelpDesk, and this is relatively trivial with Docker.

To save some time, I’ve incorporated the Sal-WHDImport script into Sal itself in a Dockerfile, available as the Sal-WHD container. We’ll be using this container below.

I’ve done the same thing with the JSSImport script, creating the JSSImport container.

Preparing Data Files:

Sal requires some modification in order to talk to WebHelpDesk. We’re going to use a plugin Graham Gilbert wrote called WHDImport to sync the Sal data into a single flat database for WebHelpDesk to pull from.

First, we’ll need to modify On the Docker host:

  1. mkdir -p /usr/local/sal_data/settings/
  2. curl -o /usr/local/sal_data/settings/

Make the following changes to
Add 'whdimport', (with the comma) to the end of the list of INSTALLED_APPS.

Next, we’ll clone a copy of MacModelShelf:
git clone /usr/local/sal_data/macmodelshelf

MacModelShelf was originally developed by Per Oloffson, but this version is my fork that uses a JSON database, which seems to improve cross-platform compatibility. The purpose of cloning a local copy is to keep the JSON database, which is automatically populated with model lookups. By keeping a local copy, we can safely spin up and down WebHelpDesk containers without losing any of our lookup data (which may save milliseconds in future lookups).

Run the Sal DB and Setup Scripts:

First, we create a data-only container for Sal’s Postgres database, and then run the Postgres database. We can specify all the variables at runtime using the -e arguments. The only thing you’ll need to change below is the password.

  1. docker run --name "sal-db-data" -d --entrypoint /bin/echo grahamgilbert/postgres Data-only container for postgres-sal
  2. docker run --name "postgres-sal" -d --volumes-from sal-db-data -e DB_NAME=sal -e DB_USER=saldbadmin -e DB_PASS=password --restart="always" grahamgilbert/postgres

Run the JSS Import DB:

We do the same thing with the JSS Import container’s database. Again, change the password only. Note that we’re using a slightly different Postgres container for this – the macadmins/postgres instead of grahamgilbert/postgres.

  1. docker run --name "jssi-db-data" -d --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/postgres Data-only container for jssimport-db
  2. docker run --name "jssimport-db" -d --volumes-from jssi-db-data -e DB_NAME=jssimport -e DB_USER=jssdbadmin -e DB_PASS=password --restart="always" macadmins/postgres

Run the WHD DB:

There’s a theme here – change the password for WebHelpDesk’s Postgres database.

  1. docker run -d --name whd-db-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/postgres Data-only container for postgres-whd
  2. docker run -d --name postgres-whd --volumes-from whd-db-data -e DB_NAME=whd -e DB_USER=whddbadmin -e DB_PASS=password --restart="always" macadmins/postgres

Run Temporary Sal to Prepare Initial Data Migration:

Load a temporary container just for the purpose of setting up Sal’s Django backend to incorporate the WHDImport addition.

Note that we’re using --rm with this docker run command, because this is intended only to be a transient container for the purpose of setting up the database. It will remove itself when complete, but the changes to the database will be permanent.

docker run --name "sal-loaddata" --link postgres-sal:db -e ADMIN_PASS=password -e DB_NAME=sal -e DB_USER=saldbadmin -e DB_PASS=password -it --rm -v /usr/local/sal_data/settings/ macadmins/salwhd /bin/bash

This opens a Bash shell. From that Bash shell:

  1. cd /home/docker/sal
  2. python syncdb --noinput
  3. python migrate --noinput
  4. echo "TRUNCATE django_content_type CASCADE;" | python dbshell | xargs
  5. python schemamigration whdimport --auto
  6. python migrate whdimport
  7. exit
  8. After exiting, the temporary “sal-loaddata” container is removed.

Run Sal and Sync the Database:

Load up the Sal container and run “syncmachines” to get started. Change the passwords here to match what you used previously:

  1. docker run -d --name sal -p 80:8000 --link postgres-sal:db -e ADMIN_PASS=password -e DB_NAME=sal -e DB_USER=saldbadmin -e DB_PASS=password -v /usr/local/sal_data/settings/ --restart="always" macadmins/salwhd
  2. docker exec sal python /home/docker/sal/ syncmachines

Run JSSImport and Sync the Database:

Run the JSSImport container, which will pull the device list from Casper and sync it into the jssimport database.

If you haven’t already, set up an API-only user account in the JSS, and use those credentials below. Change the URL to match your Casper instance.

docker run --rm --name jssi --link jssimport-db:db -e DB_NAME=jssimport -e DB_USER=jssdbadmin -e DB_PASS=password -e JSS_USER=user -e JSS_PASS=password -e JSS_URL= --restart="always" macadmins/jssimport

Although I haven’t tested this particular permutation, you could theoretically build a JSS Docker instance, and then link it to the jssimport container (--link jss:jss), and just use the URL -e JSS_URL=https://casper.

Run WHD with its data-only container:

Now run WebHelpDesk with its linked databases.

  1. docker run -d --name whd-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/whd Data-only container for whd
  2. docker run -d -p 8081:8081 --link postgres-sal:saldb --link postgres-whd:db --link jssimport-db:jdb --name "whd" --volumes-from whd-data --restart="always" macadmins/whd

WebHelpDesk now has direct access to three linked databases – its own Postgres database, as db; the Sal database, known as saldb; and the JSS Import database, known as jdb. This will make it trivially easy to pull the data it needs.

Configure WHD Through Browser:

  1. Open your web browser on the Docker host: http://localhost:8081
  2. Set up using Custom SQL Database:
    1. Database type: postgreSQL (External)
    2. Host: db
    3. Port: 5432
    4. Database Name: whd
    5. Username: whddbadmin
    6. Password: password
  3. Skip email customization
  4. Setup administrative account/password
  5. Skip the ticket customization

Setup Discovery Connections:

In WebHelpDesk, go to Setup > Assets > Discovery Connections. Make your two connections for Sal and the JSS.

  1. Setup discovery disconnection “Sal”:
    1. Connection Name: “Sal” (whatever you want)
    2. Discovery Tool: Database Table or View
    3. Database Type: PostgreSQL – uncheck Use Embedded Database
    4. Host: saldb
    5. Port: 5432
    6. Database Name: sal
    7. Username: saldbadmin
    8. Password: password
    9. Schema: Public
    10. Table or View: whdimport_whdmachine
    11. Sync Column: serial
  2. Setup discovery connection “Casper”:
    1. Connection Name: “Casper” (whatever you want)
    2. Discovery Tool: Database Table or View
    3. Database Type: PostgreSQL – uncheck Use Embedded Database
    4. Host: jdb
    5. Port: 5432
    6. Database Name: jssimport
    7. Username: jssdbadmin
    8. Password: password
    9. Schema: Public
    10. Table or View: casperimport
    11. Sync Column: serial

Now, you have a single web service that handles all inventory collection.

From here, if you wanted to schedule this for automation, you’d only need to run these two tasks regularly:

  1. docker exec sal python /home/docker/sal/ syncmachines (since the sal container is daemonized and runs persistently).
  2. docker run --rm --name jssi --link jssimport-db:db -e DB_NAME=jssimport -e DB_USER=jssdbadmin -e DB_PASS=password -e JSS_USER=user -e JSS_PASS=password -e JSS_URL= macadmins/jssimport (since this container is a fire-and-forget container that self-deletes on completion).

You could set up a crontab to run those two tasks nightly, and then set up WebHelpDesk’s internal syncs to its discovery connections to occur just an hour or so afterwards.

Once your inventory data is aggregated, you could use other tools like my WHD-CLI script to access WebHelpDesk via a Python interpreter, allowing for more scriptability. This is also available in a Docker container.

Using WHD-CLI, you have instant scriptable access to your inventory system, which could be used for lots of neat things, including a way to guarantee that a Puppetmaster only signs approved devices. Lots to explore!

Importing JAMF Casper Suite Data into WebHelpDesk Inventory with Docker

One of [WebHelpDesk]’s many useful features is the ability to set up discovery connections that pull data from other sources into its own database.

WebHelpDesk comes with a built in JAMF Casper Suite connection (which will be referred to as “JSS” from here on), but it only applies to Computers. If you have Casper for iOS, it doesn’t pull iOS devices. I have Casper only for iOS devices, with no Computers at all, so this discovery connection fails for me.

That’s not a big problem, though, because you can also set up a raw database or table view to pull data from instead. Since WHD can pull data from any database it can access, we just need to find a way to get that JSS data into a nice flat database.

The JSS does have its own MySQL database to store data in, but in general we don’t really want to access that directly. We want to keep our databases separate and isolated from each other, both for safety and robustness. Also, the tables and ways that Casper stores information into its database are private implementation details, and we can’t rely on those being the same between updates. It’s entirely possible that Casper 9.7, or Casper 10, will change existing database structure, and any discovery connection we set up in WebHelpDesk that pulls data from certain tables might break. Not much point setting up an automation that can’t be relied upon.

Instead, Docker makes it easy for us to set up a quick database for WHD to access. All that needs to be done is writing a script that pulls data from Casper and populates the database, so that WHD can use a discovery connection to access it.

Writing the script:

The repo for this script can be found on Github here.

The script makes use of Shea Craig’s incredible Python-JSS tool, which provides a Python command line interface to the JSS’s REST API, also documented on

The script requires the presence of two files:

The database preferences file needs to have credentials for access to a Postgres database to store the data in for WHD to pull from.

The JSS preferences file needs to have credentials for access to a Casper instance, along with a username and password with API permissions.

Rather than repost the entire script, I’m going to discuss two specific functions:

This function takes an SQL connection (created by the psycopg2 connector) and then creates the basic Casper table that we’re going to populate, if it doesn’t already exist (thus providing idempotence).

SubmitSQLForDevice(thisDevice, conn, j)
This is the main meat of the script – it’s also known as an “upsert” from the Postgres manual. It takes a given device (i.e. a single device record polled from the JSS), creates a new function called merge_db that contains all the fields from that device that are relevant, and then updates the record in the new database table if it exists, otherwise creates it if not already found.

Since we have a working script that pulls data from the JSS via API and puts it into a Postgres container, it seems only natural to Dockerize it.

Creating a Docker image:

The Docker image can be pulled from the Docker hub here.

The Dockerfile:

FROM debian

MAINTAINER Nick McSpadden <>

ENV APP_DIR /home/jssi
ENV DB_NAME jssimport
ENV DB_USER jssdbadmin
ENV DB_PASS password

ENV JSS_PASS password
ENV JSS_URL https://casper:8443/

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y python-setuptools python-psycopg2 && apt-get clean
RUN rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*

ADD /usr/local/python-jss/master.tar.gz
RUN tar -zxvf /usr/local/python-jss/master.tar.gz --strip-components=1 -C /usr/local/python-jss && rm /usr/local/python-jss/master.tar.gz
WORKDIR /usr/local/python-jss
RUN python /usr/local/python-jss/ install

ADD $APP_DIR/master.tar.gz
RUN tar -zxvf /home/jssi/master.tar.gz --strip-components=1 -C /home/jssi/ && rm /home/jssi/master.tar.gz

RUN chmod 755 /

CMD ["/"]

Aside from the epic amount of environmental variables, the Dockerfile is fairly simple. Install Python’s setuptools and pyscopg2 module, and then install python-jss by running install. Add the JSSImport script.

Finally, add the runtime execution script, which replaces the contents of the two preference files (the JSON and Plist files) with the environmental variables, and then executes the sync.

This container is not intended to be a daemonized running container. It executes the JSSImport script and then stops, so using –rm for each execution is ideal – we don’t really need it to linger around after finishing since it doesn’t do anything on its own.

Running the Docker image:

Start a data-only container for the Postgres database:
docker run --name "jssi-db-data" -d --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/postgres Data-only container for jssimport-db
Start the database, change variables as necessary:
docker run --name "jssimport-db" -d --volumes-from jssi-db-data -e DB_NAME=jssimport -e DB_USER=jssdbadmin -e DB_PASS=password --restart="always" macadmins/postgres

Run the container, which will execute the JSSPull script and then delete itself:
docker run --rm --name jssi --link jssimport-db:db -e DB_NAME=jssimport -e DB_USER=jssdbadmin -e DB_PASS=password -e JSS_USER=user -e JSS_PASS=password -e JSS_URL= macadmins/jssimport
[Note: This assumes you have a running Casper install, or have a JSS container you can link. That’s outside the scope of this post.]

The jssimport-db database container is now populated with the mobile device list from the provided JSS, and can be sourced for WebHelpDesk’s discovery connections.

Configuring WebHelpDesk to use it:

You’ll want to run a WebHelpDesk docker container. For more information about that, see my previous blog post on running WebHelpDesk in Docker.

However, since we’re now adding in a new database, you’ll want to run the WebHelpDesk container with our additional jssimport-db database linked in:
docker run -d -p 8081:8081 --link postgres-whd:db --link jssimport-db:jdb --name "whd" macadmins/whd

Once you’ve done the basic configuration of WebHelpDesk (also covered in the previous post above), you can now configure a discovery connection for our JSSImport database:

  1. Connection Name: “Casper” (whatever you want)
  2. Discovery Tool: Database Table or View
    1. Database Type: PostgreSQL – uncheck Use Embedded Database
    2. Host: jdb
    3. Port: 5432
    4. Database Name: jssimport
    5. Username: jssdbadmin
    6. Password: password
    7. Schema: Public
    8. Table or View: casperimport
    9. Sync Column: serial

Next you’ll need to map the fields in the “Attribute Mapping” section so that the appropriate database columns get mapped to the appropriate WHD fields. (Example: “serial” maps to WHD field “Serial No.”, “macaddress” to WHD field “MAC address, etc.”)

Once attributes are mapped, save the connection, go back and hit “Sync Now” and watch the import.

The end result should be that WebHelpDesk now pulls in all the mobile devices from your Casper instance, through the roundabout means of API -> database -> discovery connection.

Using Puppet with WebHelpDesk to Sign Certs In, Yes, You Guessed It, Docker

In a previous post, I showed how to use Munki with Puppet SSL Client certificates in a Docker image.

In that example, the Puppetmaster image is set to automatically sign all certificate requests. Good for testing, but not a good idea for production use.

Instead, we should look into Puppet policy-based signing to sign requests only based on some credentials or criteria we control. This means that random nodes can’t come along and authenticate to the Puppet master, and it also means that the Puppet admin won’t have to manually sign every node’s certificate request. Manually signing works great for testing, but it quickly spirals out of control when you’re talking about dozens, or hundreds (or thousands) of machines.

Puppet’s policy-based autosigning allows us to execute a script. The exit code of that script determines whether a certificate is signed or not (exit code 0 means we should sign). So we need to write a script that will check something about the client that lets us determine it’s “ours” or “safe,” and sign accordingly – or reject.

Well, we have a really easy to way to do that – why not look up the client in inventory? We have WebHelpDesk, with its customized Postgres database, which can track inventory for us. If we’re using WebHelpDesk for inventory (as I am), then an autosign script that checks the WHD inventory for ownership would be an effective way to screen for cert requests.

One of WebHelpDesk’s best features, in my opinion, is its REST API, which allows us to make requests from WebHelpDesk’s backend in a more automated fashion than via the web interface. Using the REST API, we can develop scripts that will manage information for us – such as the one I wrote, WHD-CLI.

I’ve even made a separate Docker container for it (which is admittedly better documented than the original project), although we’re not actually going to use the container separately for this purpose (as there’s no way to get Puppet to use an autosign script that isn’t installed locally, so having it exist in a separate Docker container isn’t going to help us).

So, we have WebHelpDesk, which has inventory for our machines. We have a script, WHDCLI, which allows us to query WebHelpDesk for information about devices. We have the Puppetmaster container, which is running Puppet. Let’s combine them!

Building Puppetmaster with WHD-CLI installed:

The repo for this project is here. Start with the Dockerfile:

FROM macadmins/puppetmaster


RUN yum install -y tar python-setuptools && yum clean all
ADD /home/requests/master.tar.gz
RUN tar -zxvf /home/requests/master.tar.gz --strip-components=1 -C /home/requests && rm -f /home/requests/master.tar.gz
WORKDIR /home/requests
RUN python /home/requests/ install
ADD /home/whdcli/master.tar.gz
RUN tar -zxvf /home/whdcli/master.tar.gz --strip-components=1 -C /home/whdcli && rm /home/whdcli/master.tar.gz
WORKDIR /home/whdcli
RUN python /home/whdcli/ install
ADD puppet.conf /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
ADD com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist /home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist
ADD /etc/puppet/
RUN touch /var/log/check_csr.out
RUN chown puppet:puppet /var/log/check_csr.out

RUN cp -Rfv /etc/puppet/ /opt/
RUN cp -Rfv /var/lib/puppet/ /opt/varpuppet/lib/

FROM macadmins/puppetmaster
Since we have a nice Puppet master container already, we can use that as a baseline to add our WHD-CLI scripts onto.

RUN yum install -y tar python-setuptools && yum clean all
ADD /home/requests/master.tar.gz
RUN tar -zxvf /home/requests/master.tar.gz --strip-components=1 -C /home/requests && rm -f /home/requests/master.tar.gz

Use ADD to download the Requests project. Requests is an awesome Python library for handling HTTP/S requests and connections, much more robust and much more usable than urllib2 or urllib3. Unfortunately, it’s not a standard library, so we’ll need to download a copy of the module in tarball form, then extract and install it ourselves.

WORKDIR /home/requests
The WORKDIR directive changes the local present working directory to /home/requests before the next command. This is equivalent to doing cd /home/requests.

RUN python /home/requests/ install
Now we use the Python setuptools to install Requests so it’s available system-wide, in the default Python path.

RUN git clone /home/whdcli
WORKDIR /home/whdcli
RUN python /home/whdcli/ install

Same thing happens here to WHD-CLI – clone the repo, change the working directory, and install the package.

ADD puppet.conf /etc/puppet/puppet.conf
In the Puppetmaster image, we already have a Puppet configuration file – but as I documented previously, it’s set to automatically sign all cert requests. Since we’re changing the behavior of the Puppet master, we need to change the configuration file to match our goals.

Here’s what the new puppet.conf looks like:

    certname        = puppetmaster  
    pluginsync      = true  
    certname        = puppet  
    confdir	    = /opt/puppet  
    vardir	    = /opt/varpuppet/lib/puppet/  
    basemodulepath  = $confdir/site-modules:$confdir/modules:/usr/share/puppet/modules  
    factpath        = $confdir/facts:/var/lib/puppet/lib/facter:/var/lib/puppet/facts  
    autosign        = $confdir/  
    hiera_config    = $confdir/hiera.yaml  
    rest_authconfig = $confdir/auth.conf  
    ssldir          = $vardir/ssl  
    csr_attributes  = $confdir/csr_attributes.yaml  

The major change here is the autosign directive is no longer set to “true.” Now, it’s set to $confdir/, a Python script that will be used to determine whether or not a certificate request gets signed. Note also the use of csr_attributes = $confdir/csr_attributes.yaml directive – that’ll come into play in the script as well.

ADD com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist /home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist
Add in a default WHD-CLI configuration plist. This will be used by WHD-CLI to get API access to WebHelpDesk.

ADD /etc/puppet/
Here’s the actual script that will be run whenever a certificate request is received on the Puppet master. An in-depth look at it comes later.

RUN touch /var/log/check_csr.out
RUN chown puppet:puppet /var/log/check_csr.out

As we’ll see later in-depth, the script will log its results to a logfile in /var/log/check_csr.out. To prevent possible permissions and access issues, it’s best to create that file first, and make sure it has permissions where the Puppet master can read and write to it.

RUN cp -Rfv /etc/puppet/ /opt/
RUN cp -Rfv /var/lib/puppet/ /opt/varpuppet/lib/

These last two commands are copies of those from the original Puppetmaster image. Since we’re adding in new stuff to /etc/puppet, it’s important for us to make sure all the appropriate files end up in the right place.

As usual, you can either build this image yourself from the source:
docker build name/puppetmaster-whdcli .
Or you can pull from the Docker registry:
docker pull macadmins/puppetmaster-whdcli

Crafting Custom CSR Attributes:

The goal of an autosign script is to take information from the client machines (the Puppet nodes) and determine if we can sign it based on some criteria. In this use case, we want to check if the client nodes are devices we actually own, or know about in some way. We have WebHelpDesk as an asset tracking system, that contains information about our assets (such as serial number, MAC address, etc.), and we already have a script that allows us to query WHD for such information.

So our autosigning script,, needs to do all of these things. According to Puppet documentation, the autosigning script needs to return 0 for a successful signing request, and non-zero for a rejection. A logical first choice would be to ask the client for its serial number, and then look up the serial number to see if the machine exists in inventory, and exit 0 if it does – otherwise reject the request.

The first question is, how do we get information from the client? This is where the csr_attributes.yaml file comes into play. See the Puppet documentation on it for full details.

In a nutshell, the csr_attributes.yaml file allows us to specify information from the node that goes into the CSR (certificate signing request), which can then be extracted by the autosigning script and parsed for relevance.

Specifically, we can use the CSR attributes to pull two specific facts: serial number, and whether or not the machine is physical, virtual, or a docker container.

This is the csr_attributes.yaml file that will be installed on clients:

extension_requests: mySerialNumber facter_virtual  

The two extension_request prefixes are special Puppet OIDs that allow us to add attributes to the CSR – essentially they’re labels for what kind of data can be put into the CSR.

Here’s an example of what it looks like in a VMWare Fusion VM, after installation:

sh-3.2# cat /etc/puppet/csr_attributes.yaml   
extension_requests: VMYNypomQeS5 vmware  

The serial number has been replaced with what the VM reports, and the “virtual” fact is replaced by the word “vmware”, indicating that Facter recognizes this is a virtual machine from VMWare. This will be important in our script.

For convenience, I have a GitHub repo for installing these attributes (built with Whitebox Packages) available here. A release package is available for easy download.

The Autosigning Script:

The autosign script, when called from the Puppetmaster, is given two things. The hostname of the client requesting a certificate is passed as an argument to the script. Then, the contents of the CSR file itself is passed via stdin to the script. So our script needs to be able to parse an argument, and then read in what it needs from stdin.

The full script can be found on GitHub. Here’s a pared-down version of the script, with many of the logging statements removed for easier blog-ability:


import sys
import whdcli
import logging
import subprocess

LOG_FILENAME = '/var/log/check_csr.out'

logging.basicConfig(filename=LOG_FILENAME, level=logging.INFO)
logger = logging.getLogger(__name__)'Start script')

hostname = sys.argv[1]

if hostname == "puppet":"It's the puppetmaster, of course we approve it.")

certreq =

cmd = ['/usr/bin/openssl', 'req', '-noout', '-text']
proc = subprocess.Popen(cmd, stdin=subprocess.PIPE, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
(output, err) = proc.communicate(certreq)

lineList = output.splitlines()

strippedLineList = [line.lstrip() for line in lineList]
strippedLineList2 = [line.rstrip() for line in strippedLineList]

	trusted_attribute1 = strippedLineList2.index("")
except:"No serial number in CSR. Rejecting CSR.")
serial_number = strippedLineList2[trusted_attribute1+1]"Serial number: %s", serial_number)	  

	trusted_attribute2 = strippedLineList2.index("")
except:"No virtual fact in CSR. Rejecting CSR.")

physical_fact = strippedLineList2[trusted_attribute2+1]

if physical_fact == "virtual" or physical_fact == "vmware":"Virtual machine gets autosigned.")
elif physical_fact == "docker":"Docker container gets autosigned.")

# Now we get actual work done
whd_prefs = whdcli.WHDPrefs("/home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist")
w = whdcli.WHD(whd_prefs, None, None, False)
if not w.getAssetBySerial(serial_number):"Serial number not found in inventory.")
	sys.exit(1)"Found serial number in inventory. Approving.")

Let’s take a look at some of the notable parts of the script:

logging.basicConfig(filename=LOG_FILENAME, level=logging.INFO)
This sets the basic log level. This script has both INFO and DEBUG logging, so if you’re trying to diagnose a problem or get more information from the process, you could change level=logging.INFO to level=logging.DEBUG. It’s much noisier, so best for testing and probably not ideal for production.

Migrating the logging to standard out so that you can use docker logs is a good candidate for optimization.

hostname = sys.argv[1]
The hostname for the client is the only command line argument passed to the script. In a test OS X default VM, this would be “mac.local”, for example.

certreq =
The actual contents of the CSR gets passed in to stdin, so we need to read it and store it in a file.

cmd = ['/usr/bin/openssl', 'req', '-noout', '-text']
proc = subprocess.Popen(cmd, stdin=subprocess.PIPE, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
(output, err) = proc.communicate(certreq)

Here, we make an outside call to openssl. Puppet documentation shows that we can manually parse the CSR for the custom attributes using OpenSSL, so we’re going to do just that in a subprocess. We’re going to pass in the contents of certreq into stdin in the subprocess call, so in essence we are doing this:
/usr/bin/openssl req -noout -text -in

Once we do some text parsing and line stripping (since the CSR is very noisy about linebreaks), we can pull the first custom attributes, the serial number:
trusted_attribute1 = strippedLineList2.index("")
If there’s no line in the CSR containing that data, that means the CSR didn’t have our csr_attributes.yaml installed (and is almost certainly not something we recognize, or at least not in a desired state and should be addressed). Thus, reject.

trusted_attribute2 = strippedLineList2.index("")
Our second attribute is the Facter virtual fact. If we don’t find that either, then we still have an incorrect CSR, and thus it gets rejected.

if physical_fact == "virtual" or physical_fact == "vmware":
This was mostly for my own convenience, but I decided it was safe to Puppetize any virtual machine, such as a VMWare Fusion VM (or ESXi, or whatever). As VMs tend to be transient, I didn’t want to spend time approving these certs constantly as I spun test VMs up and down. Thus, they get autosigned.

elif physical_fact == "docker":
If it’s a Docker container getting Puppetized, autosign as well, for mostly the same reasons as above.

Once the CSR is parsed for its contents and some basic sanity checks are put into place, we can now actually talk to WebHelpDesk.
whd_prefs = whdcli.WHDPrefs("/home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist")
w = whdcli.WHD(whd_prefs, None, None, False)

Parse the .plist we passed in to the Puppetmaster image earlier for the API key and URL of WebHelpDesk, and load up the API. Note the False at the end of the WHD() call – that’s to specify that we don’t want Verbose logging. If you’re trying to debug behavior, and want to see all the details in the log file, specify True here (or eliminate the extra variables just call whdcli.WHD(whd_prefs), since the other three variables are optional).

if not w.getAssetBySerial(serial_number):
This is the real meat, right here – w.getAssetBySerial() is the function call that checks to see if the serial number exists in WebHelpDesk’s asset inventory. If this serial number isn’t found, the function returns False, and thus we reject the CSR by exiting with status code 1.

Putting It All Together:

So, we’ve got WebHelpDesk in a Docker image, using our customized Postgres. We’ve got our new-and-improved Puppetmaster with WHD-CLI. We’ve got our client configuration install package. We have all the pieces to make it work, let’s assemble it into a nice machine:

  1. First, run the data container for the Postgres database for WHD:
    docker run -d --name whd-db-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/postgres-whd Data-only container for postgres-whd

  2. Run the Postgres database for WHD:
    docker run -d --name postgres-whd --volumes-from whd-db-data -e DB_NAME=whd -e DB_USER=whddbadmin -e DB_PASS=password macadmins/postgres

  3. Run WebHelpDesk:
    docker run -d -p 8081:8081 --link postgres-whd:db --name whd macadmins/whd

  4. Configure WebHelpDesk via the browser to use the external Postgres database (see the penultimate section on Running WebHelpDesk in Docker for details).

  5. Once WebHelpDesk is set up and you’re logged in, you need to generate an API key. Go to Setup -> Techs -> My Account -> Edit -> API Key: “Generate” -> Save.

  6. Copy and paste the API key into com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist as the value for the “apikey” key. If you haven’t cloned the repo for this project, you can obtain the file itself:
    curl -O

  7. Create a data-only container for Puppetmaster-WHDCLI:
    docker run -d --name puppet-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/puppetmaster-whdcli Data-only container for puppetmaster

  8. Run Puppetmaster-WHDCLI. Note that I’m passing in the absolute path to my whd-cli.plist file, so make sure you alter the path to match what’s on your file system:
    docker run -d --name puppetmaster -h puppet -p 8140:8140 --volumes-from puppet-data --link whd:whd -v /home/nmcspadden/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist:/home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist macadmins/puppetmaster-whdcli

  9. Complete the Puppetmaster setup:
    docker exec puppetmaster cp -Rf /etc/puppet /opt/

  10. Configure a client:

    1. Install Facter, Hiera, and Puppet on an OS X VM client (or any client, really – but I tested this on a 10.10.1 OS X VM).
    2. Install the CSRAttributes.pkg on the client.
    3. If your Puppetmaster is not available in the client’s DNS, you’ll need to add the IP address of your Docker host to /etc/hosts.
    4. Open a root shell (it’s important to run the Puppet agent as root for this test):
      sudo su
    5. Run the Puppet agent as root:
      # puppet agent --test
    6. The VM should generate a certificate signing request, send to the Puppet master, which parses the CSR and notices that it’s a virtual machine, and then autosigns it and send the cert back.
  11. You can check the autosign script’s log file on the Puppetmaster to see what it did:
    docker exec puppetmaster tail -n 50 /var/log/check_csr.out

Here’s sample output from a new OS X VM:
INFO:__main__:Start script
INFO:__main__:Hostname: testvm.local
INFO:__main__:Serial number: VM6TP23ntoj2
INFO:__main__:Virtual fact: vmware
INFO:__main__:Virtual machine gets autosigned.

Here’s sample output from that same VM, but I manually changed /etc/puppet/csr_attributes.yaml so that the virtual fact is “physical”:
INFO:__main__:Start script
INFO:__main__:Hostname: testvm.local
INFO:__main__:Serial number: VM6TP23ntoj2
INFO:__main__:Virtual fact: physical
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): whd
INFO:__main__:Serial number not found in inventory.

Try this on different kinds of clients: Docker containers (a good candidate is the Munki-Puppet container which needs to run Puppet to get SSL certs), physical machines, other platforms. Test it on a machine that is not in WebHelpDesk’s inventory and watch it get rejected from autosigning.


Manually run the script:

If you get a CSR that gets rejected and you’re not sure why, you can manually run the script itself on the rejected (or rather, disapproved) CSR .pem file. Assuming the hostname is “testvm.local”:
docker exec -it puppetmaster /bin/bash to open a Bash shell on the container, then:
cat /opt/varpuppet/lib/puppet/ssl/ca/requests/testvm.local.pem | /opt/puppet/ "testvm.local"

Then, you can check the logs to see what the output of the script is. Assuming you’re still in the Bash shell on the container:
tail -n 50 /var/log/check_csr.out


If you’re running into unexpected failures with the autosigning scripts, or you’re not getting the results you expect, you can try manually running the WHDCLI to see where the problem might be:
docker exec -it puppetmaster /usr/bin/python
Once you’re in the Python interpreter, load up WHD-CLI:

>>> import whdcli
>>> whd_prefs = whdcli.WHDPrefs("/home/whdcli/com.github.nmcspadden.whd-cli.plist")
>>> w = whdcli.WHD(whd_prefs)

If you get a traceback here, it’ll tell you the reason why it failed – perhaps a bad URL, bad API key, or some other HTTP authentication or access failure. Embarrassingly, in my first test, I forgot to Save in WebHelpDesk after generating an API key, and if you don’t hit the Save button, that API key disappears and never gets registered to your WHD account.

Assuming that succeeded, try doing a manual serial lookup, replacing it with an actual serial number you’ve entered into WHD:

>>> w.getAssetBySerial("serial")

The response here will tell you what to expect – did it find a serial number? It’ll give you asset details. Didn’t find a match? The response is just False.


Important Note: Although this post makes use of Docker as the basis for all these tools, you can use the WHD-CLI script with a Puppetmaster to accomplish the same thing. You’d just need to change the WHD URL in the whd-cli.plist file.

One of the best aspects of Docker is that you can take individual pieces, these separate containers, and combine them into amazing creations. Just like LEGO or Minecraft, you take small building blocks – a Postgres database, a basic Nginx server, a Tomcat server – and then you add features. You add parts you need.

Then you take these more complex pieces and link them together. You start seeing information flow between them, and seeing interactions that were previously more difficult to setup in a non-Docker environment.

In this case, we took separate pieces – WebHelpDesk, its database, and Puppetmaster, and we combined them for great effect. Combine this again with Munki-Puppet and now you’ve got a secure Munki SSL environment with your carefully curated Puppet signing policies. There are more pieces we can combine later, too – in future blog posts.

Running WebHelpDesk in Docker

In a previous post, I walked through the process of creating a customized Postgres database container in Docker that accepts remote connections. The main purpose of that container is to use with WebHelpDesk, a Tomcat-based ticketing and asset tracking system.

WebHelpDesk does include an embedded Postgres database that it can use to keep track of its internal data (which is probably how many customers use it, including myself prior to Dockerizing it), but that gives us some problems. First off, we have to make sure we preserve all data in that Postgres database, so that it survives independent of the container. Secondly, the embedded Postgres version does not live in the same place as a “typical” Postgres install, and thus makes special configuration or tuning more awkward. By using an external database, we can exert far more control over the actual database’s running parameters (and make changes far more easily).

All of these are good reasons to use an external database, which is what we’re going to do with the macadmins/postgres image.

In this post, I’m going to run my Dockerized version of WebHelpDesk. This blog post is an extended version of the README for the WebHelpDesk Docker image.

Prepare the Data Container for the DB:

As always, we want to keep our data safe so that it’s independent of the container running the service. Run a data container for our customized Postgres image:
docker run -d --name whd-db-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/postgres Data-only container for postgres-whd
Now run the actual Postgres database, linking to our data container, passing in the appropriate environment variables (change the password, obviously):
docker run -d --name postgres-whd --volumes-from whd-db-data -e DB_NAME=whd -e DB_USER=whddbadmin -e DB_PASS=password macadmins/postgres

Prepare the data container for WHD:

Same deal applies to the WebHelpDesk data container:
docker run -d --name whd-data --entrypoint /bin/echo macadmins/whd Data-only container for whd
And the actual container itself:
docker run -d -p 8081:8081 --link postgres-whd:db --name whd --volumes-from whd-data macadmins/whd
Here, we use -p 8081:8081 to map port 8081 in the container to our localhost:8081.

Configure WHD Through Browser:

The container is now running, so we can access it via the web browser at http://localhost:8081/ on the Docker host.

The first time you launch WebHelpDesk, it goes through its initial setup.

This is where we get our chance to tell it not to use its embedded database, but instead use our linked Postgres database. Use the following parameters:
1. Database type: postgreSQL (External)
2. Host: db
3. Port: 5432
4. Database Name: whd
5. Username: whddbadmin
6. Password: password
Obviously, if you changed any of the -e DB_XXXX environmental variable values in the docker run command above, recreate those values above for the username, password, and database name. You can click the “Test” button to verify that the database connection works.

Note: if you try using a regular Postgres database, such as the default Postgres container, instead of the customized one, you’ll notice that the database connection will always fail.

You can skip email customization, it’s not required for setup.

Set up your preferred administrative account name & password. In the interest of best practices with security, consider using a username that isn’t “admin” for a production system.

Continue setup until you are asked to log in, and then use the credentials you specified above for name & password.

Some considerations

One significant note is that we’re running WebHelpDesk over HTTP, meaning it’s not secured. You’ll almost certainly want to configure WebHelpDesk for SSL before promoting into production use.

Additionally, you’ll probably want to get an actual SSL certificate, and not used a self-signed one.

Note that if you do set up SSL, Tomcat stores the private key for its SSL cert in its keystore, located at WebHelpDesk/conf/keystore.jks. This keystore will need to be preserved, because if the WebHelpDesk container is ever removed, so will that keystore, along with the private key that generated the CSR. If you spin another container up, your SSL certificate will most likely not be valid due to non-matching private keys in the keystore.

Configuring WebHelpDesk for SSL in Docker is a good topic for another blog post.

Building WebHelpDesk in Docker

WebHelpDesk by SolarWinds is a ticketing system and asset tracking system. I use it specifically for its asset-tracking capabilities. One of its many perks is that it allows the aggregation of inventory from other databases through its Discovery Connections – a fact that I’ll make use of heavily in later posts.

In this post, I’m going to build WebHelpDesk into a Docker image, for portability and simplicity. This is based on the RHEL rpm installed on a CentOS 6 base.

The Dockerfile:

From the Dockerfile:

FROM centos:centos6  
ADD /webhelpdesk.rpm.gz 
RUN gunzip -dv /webhelpdesk.rpm.gz
RUN yum install -y /webhelpdesk.rpm && rm /webhelpdesk.rpm && yum clean all
RUN cp /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf.orig /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf
RUN sed -i 's/^PRIVILEGED_NETWORKS=[[:space:]]*$/PRIVILEGED_NETWORKS=' /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf  
ADD /  
ADD supervisord.conf /home/docker/whd/supervisord.conf  
RUN yum install -y python-setuptools  
RUN easy_install supervisor  
RUN yum clean all  
EXPOSE 8081  
CMD ["/"]

We’re starting with CentOS 6, and building from there.

ADD /webhelpdesk.rpm.gz 
RUN gunzip -dv /webhelpdesk.rpm.gz
RUN yum install -y /webhelpdesk.rpm && rm /webhelpdesk.rpm && yum clean all

First, ADD in the compressed RPM (Why is it compressed? I don’t know. According to support they have no plans to change that at this time) down, and then unzip it. Then use yum to install the RPM.

RUN cp /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf.orig /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf
Copy the default configuration into place.

RUN sed -i 's/^PRIVILEGED_NETWORKS=[[:space:]]*$/PRIVILEGED_NETWORKS=' /usr/local/webhelpdesk/conf/whd.conf
This adds the Docker IP range to the list of privileged networks, thus giving any Docker IP access to update the database settings.

ADD supervisord.conf /home/docker/whd/supervisord.conf
RUN yum install -y python-setuptools
RUN easy_install supervisor

We’re going to use supervisord to control and manage WebHelpDesk’s Tomcat-based web server. Supervisord will be in charge of starting the process and watching it to make sure it runs, which means that it will be the container’s primary process. The script is what will trigger the supervisord kickoff. We need to install supervisord using easy_install, which requires the Python setuptools.

By default, WebHelpDesk runs (unsecured) on port 8081. It can be configured to use port 8443 with SSL, but that’s a project for a later date.

CMD ["/"]
The CMD directive tells Docker to kick in the “” script on startup.

Build the Container:

You can find the repo for this project here. You can build the project yourself:
docker build -t name/whd .
Or you can pull the automated build from the Docker registry:
docker pull macadmins/whd

Running WebHelpDesk in a Docker container will be covered in the next post.