Armstrong on Vagrant

We released our first version of Armstrong this past Wednesday. After taking a quick breather, I set out on getting Armstrong setup inside a Vagrant virtual machine to make evaluation easy. I finally got it running. There’s more information about getting started in the README, where it belongs, but I ran into some interesting technical issues while setting it up that I want to document here.

Vagrant + Puppet + pip

I initially wanted to create a full build-script inside Vagrant that could be used to setup the entire environment. I used puppet to start the process and found the puppet-pip provider so I was even going to be able to install Armstrong easily. Or so I thought.

There’s something that is happening when puppet runs pip that causes the installation to fail. I’m a big subscriber to select not being broken, but in this case I think there’s some odd in the combination of pip and puppet. The reason is that pip install armstrong via an ssh connection to the same virtual machine works. After briefly discussing it on #pip on Freenode, I opened ticket #298 which outlines the issues we ran into.

I finally decided to go the pragmatic route. For the time being I have a box that’s installed the way you would if you had a raw box yourself. It’s not ideal, but our new armstrong box (warning, that’s a 500mb download) boots up with everything you need to start playing with Armstrong.

Eventually, either I’ll figure out what the issue with pip+puppet is or I’ll switch to some other method that will work. My reason for picking puppet was pretty simple. The provisioning section of the getting started guide for Vagrant shows you puppet code and says essentially “Chef it too complex to simply show you how, so just use this prepared stuff.” I like simple. Right or wrong decision, I’m not 100% sure yet.

Django Server on Bootup

The server runs on startup thanks to upstart in Ubuntu. As far as Ubuntu is concerned, Armstrong is now a service that can be started and stopped with start armstrong, stop armstrong, and so on.

Upstart works on the concept of events. Different tasks emit different events that other tasks can be configured to react to. There’s a startup event and a net-device-up event and so on. I tried all manner of combinations before it dawned on me, the VM is booting, then Vagrant is mounting the NFS with the project.

Once I figured that part out, this recipe helped get things started. A quick task that starts monitoring for the config/ file that is mounted after booting was all I need to get runserver_plus going on “bootup”. You can check out the upstart scripts being used in the repository.

I chose runserver_plus from django-extensions rather than the built-in runserver because of issue 15880. Since I’m starting the script on start up, there’s no interactive interface and the watcher gets a little wonky. It works out though, because you get the awesome werkzeug debugger for development.


Minus a few oddities in the process, I’m really pleased with the end result. It should be noted that this is meant for development only. As we near our first stable release later this year I hope to be able to create another box that’s more deployment ready, but hopefully this will get you started down the right path.