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What's needed for a practical Puppet class?

 I'm a happy user of Puppet and love sharing my knowledge with other people.  Although I'm not that active online, I've done quiet some work in getting Puppet known and used in environments that aren't that easily addressable.  More specifically, IT departments at several universities in Cuba and Ethiopia.  This as part of several IT for development  programmes.  If you want to learn more about that work, read the paper I published about it.  I also started the Puppet User Group in Ethiopia.

Last December I was in Cuba to follow up on my projects.  When I was at the Universidad de Oriente in Santiago De Cuba I spent some time with the university staff working with Puppet.  The adoption is still very young and they are still in the 'learning and testing' phase.
During our hands on sessions it became clear to me that there is need for specific instructors material that teaches the use of Puppet by using already available modules.

HowTo create a Debian package for Elasticsearch

ElasticSearch is a distributed RESTful search engine built for the cloud. It's easy to create a Debian package for it.  One way to do it is like this (tested on Debian Wheezy):
git clone
cd elasticsearch/
apt-get install maven2
mvn package -DskipTests
ls target/releases/

Cyrus 2.4.13 some gotchas

Recently I needed to upgrade the Cyrus installation at Ghent university because of a security exploit.  However after doing the upgrade to 2.4.13 we hit a bug that affacted users who were using a specific naming for their folders.  More specific when you had a space in the folder name and a subfolders of that folder that had the same prefix.

Setting up a Debian mirror with Puppet.

I've pushed a puppet module to Github that you can use to set up your own private Debian mirror.  Go check it out on
To use it you should include the debianmirror class.  You can optionally set some parameters.  The module uses apt-mirror and it mirrors by default the architecture you are running.  If you want to mirror extra architectures you can define them with the architectures parameter.
class {

Blog engine changed to Drupal

I took the time to change my blog to use Drupal7, instead of some ancient version of Wordpress.

Monitoring Dell Powervaults on Debian

At work we purchased two Dell Powervaults MD3200.  To configure them you need to install the management software.  Like always the software is only supported on Windows, Redhat Enterprise Linux or Suse enterprise Linux.  The management software is in fact written in Java.

Below I document how to install the management software on a Debian Squeeze machine. I based my work on the a howto by Laurent Coustet

Puppet mysql and pwgen module

I finally took the plunge.  I published two puppet modules on The first module is pwgen.  This is a very simple module, it makes sure the pwgen package is installed.  However what makes it special, is it has a function that will generate a random password.

Automating Debian installs with preseeding in a KVM environment.

I'm really eager to use Vagrant to easily set up virtual machines for testing purposes.  However I'm using KVM with libvirt and virt-manager.  Although I think VirtualBox is nice software, I'm not feeling comfortable with the license of the VirtualBox extension.  I'm looking forward to Vagrant supporting libvirt.

In the mean time I wanted to automatically install Debian machines.  I have experience with FAI, and am using it at work.  I have known about preseeding the Debian installer but have never used it.

Gezocht: architect

Voor een renovatie in het Gentse.

Ethiopische avond Manbarnootaaf


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