Featured image for automating JBoss Web Server deployments with Ansible.

Red Hat JBoss Web Server combines a web server (Apache HTTPD), a servlet engine (Apache Tomcat), and modules for load balancing (mod_jk and mod_cluster). Ansible is one of the best automation tools on the market. In this article, we'll use Ansible to completely automate the deployment of a JBoss Web Server instance on a freshly installed Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) server.

Our objective is to automate a JBoss Web Server deployment through the following tasks:

  • Retrieve the archive containing JBoss Web Server from a repository and install the files it contains on the system.
  • Configure the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system (create users, groups, and the required setup files to make JBoss Web Server a systemd service).
  • Fine-tune the configuration of the JBoss Web Server server itself (bind it to the appropriate interface and port).
  • Deploy a web application and starting the systemd service.
  • Perform a health check if the deployed application is accessible.

Ansible fully automates these operations, with no manual steps required.

Set the target environment

Before we start the automation, we need to specify our target environment. In this case, we're using RHEL 8 with Python 3.6.

# cat /etc/redhat-release

Red Hat Enterprise Linux release 8.4 (Ootpa)

# ansible --version

ansible 2.9.22

  config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg

  configured module search path = ['/root/.ansible/plugins/modules', '/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules']

  ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/ansible

  executable location = /usr/bin/ansible

  python version = 3.6.8 (default, Mar 18 2021, 08:58:41) [GCC 8.4.1 20200928 (Red Hat 8.4.1-1)]

Note: The playbook might not work if you want to use a different Python version or target operating system.

Install the JBoss Web Server Ansible collection

Once you have RHEL 8 set up and Ansible ready to go, you need to install the JBoss Web Server Ansible collection. Ansible uses the collection to perform the following tasks on JBoss Web Server:

  • Ensure required dependencies are installed (e.g., unzip).
  • Install Java (if missing and requested).
  • Install the binaries and integrate the software into the system (user, group, etc.).
  • Deploy the configuration files.
  • Start and enable JBoss Web Server as a systemd service.
  • Configure a Password Vault with JBoss Web Server and a load balancer (e.g., mod_cluster)—not used for this article.

Here's the installation:

$ ansible-galaxy collection install middleware_automation.jws

Process install dependency map

Starting collection install process

Installing 'middleware_automation.jws:0.0.1' to '/root/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/middleware_automation/jws'

Installing 'middleware_automation.redhat_csp_download:1.1.2' to '/root/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/middleware_automation/redhat_csp_download'

Note: Ansible Galaxy fetches and downloads the collection's dependencies. That is why, at the end of the execution, the JBoss Web Server collection was installed, as well as redhat_csp_download, which will help facilitate the retrieval of the archive containing the JBoss Web Server server.

Installing the collection reduces the configuration to achieve our automation to the bare minimum.

Create a playbook to test the installation

Before we continue, let's create a minimal playbook to confirm that the collection was properly installed:

---

- name: "JBoss Web Server installation and configuration"

  hosts: "all"

  become: yes

  collections:

– middleware_automation.jws

  tasks :

In its current state, this playbook doesn’t perform any tasks on the target system. If the playbook runs successfully, then we know that the collection has been properly installed.

# ansible-playbook -i hosts min.yml



PLAY [JBoss Web Server installation and configuration] *************************************************************************



TASK [Gathering Facts] *****************************************************************************************************************

ok: [localhost]



PLAY RECAP *****************************************************************************************************************************

localhost              : ok=1 changed=0 unreachable=0 failed=0 skipped=0 rescued=0 ignored=0

Install the Apache Tomcat web server

Next, we'll install the Apache Tomcat web server, which consists of several steps.

Download the archive

First, let's modify our minimal playbook to retrieve the archive containing Apache Tomcat. For this purpose, we will leverage the get_url module from Ansible:

---

- name: "JBoss Web Server installation and configuration"

  hosts: "all"

  become: yes

  vars:

tomcat_version: 9.0.50

tomcat_download_url: https://archive.apache.org/dist/tomcat/tomcat-9/v{{tomcat_version}}/bin/apache-tomcat-{{tomcat_version}}.zip

tomcat_install_dir: /opt

tomcat_zipfile: “{{tomcat_install_dir}}/tomcat.zip"

  collections:

- middleware_automation.jws

pre_tasks:

- name: "Download latest JBoss Web Server Zipfile from {{ tomcat_download_url }}."

   get_url:

     url: "{{ tomcat_download_url }}"

     dest: "{{ tomcat_zipfile }}"

            remote_src: yes

   when:

     - tomcat_download_url is defined

Note: The playbook downloads the archive during the pre_tasks section. It’s important to use the role provided by the JBoss Web Server collection in the next step. This role will be executed before the tasks block and after the pre_tasks block, and it requires that the archive file be already present on the target system.

Execute a new playbook:

# ansible-playbook -i hosts playbook.yml



PLAY [JBoss Web Server installation and configuration] *************************************************************************



TASK [Gathering Facts] *****************************************************************************************************************

ok: [localhost]



TASK [Download latest JBoss Web Server Zipfile from https://archive.apache.org/dist/tomcat/tomcat-9/v9.0.50/bin/apache-tomcat-9.0.50.zip.] ***

changed: [localhost]



PLAY RECAP *****************************************************************************************************************************

localhost              : ok=2 changed=1 unreachable=0 failed=0 skipped=0 rescued=0 ignored=0

Install Java

JBoss Web Server is a Java-based server, so the target system is required to install a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). While Ansible primitives can perform such tasks natively, the jws role can also take care of this part, provided the tomcat_java_version variable is defined:

- name: "JBoss Web Server installation and configuration"

  hosts: "all"

  become: yes

  vars:

...

tomcat_java_version: 1.8.0

  collections:

– middleware_automation.jws

…

Keep in mind that this feature has limits; it works only if the target system’s distribution belongs to the Red Hat family:

$ ansible -m setup localhost | grep family

     "ansible_os_family": "RedHat",

Install Java web server

For Java web server to work, we need to provide one more variable to our playbook. The tomcat_setup (set to true) signals to the jws role that we want it to perform the installation:

---

- name: "JBoss Web Server installation and configuration"

  hosts: "all"

  become: yes

  vars:

tomcat_setup: true

...

  collections:

- middleware_automation.jws

  roles:

- jws

  pre_tasks:

...

  tasks:

Run the playbook again

Let’s run our playbook again to see if it works as expected.

As you can see, quite a lot happened during this execution. Indeed, the jws role took care of all the setup:

  1. Deploying a base configuration.
  2. Removing unused applications.
  3. Starting the web server.

The playbooks also perform a few tasks on the target system, like installing any required dependencies if they are missing and ensuring the environment is properly configured.

Configure JBoss Web Server as a systemd service

A nice feature of the jws role is the included functionality to configure JBoss Web Server as a systemd service. For this to occur, you just need to define the tomcat_service_name variable:

---

- name: "JBoss Web Server installation and configuration"

  hosts: "all"

  become: yes

  vars:

…

tomcat_service_name: tomcat

...

  collections:

- middleware_automation.jws

  roles:

     …

Keep in mind this only works when systemd is installed and the system belongs to the Red Hat family.

# systemctl status tomcat

● tomcat.service - JBoss Web Server Web Application Container

  Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/tomcat.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)

  Active: active (running) since Thu 2021-07-22 16:52:08 UTC; 16h ago

   Main PID: 6234 (java)

   Tasks: 37 (limit: 307)

  Memory: 187.4M

     CPU: 21.528s

  CGroup: /system.slice/tomcat.service

└─6234 /usr/bin/java -Djava.util.logging.config.file=/opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50/conf/logging.properties -Djava.util.logging.manager=org.apache.juli.ClassLoaderLogManager -Djdk.tls.ephemeralDHKeySize=2048 -Djava.protocol.handler.pkgs=org.apache.catalina.webresources -Dorg.apache.catalina.security.SecurityListener.UMASK=0027 -Dignore.endorsed.dirs= -classpath /opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50/bin/bootstrap.jar:/opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50/bin/tomcat-juli.jar -Dcatalina.base=/opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50 -Dcatalina.home=/opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50 -Djava.io.tmpdir=/opt/apache-tomcat-9.0.50/temp org.apache.catalina.startup.Bootstrap start



Jul 22 16:52:08 4414af93c931 systemd[1]: Started Apache Tomcat Web Application Container.

Jul 22 16:52:08 4414af93c931 systemd-service.sh[6220]: Tomcat started.

Jul 22 16:52:08 4414af93c931 systemd-service.sh[6219]: Tomcat runs with PID: 6234

Deploy a web application

Now that JBoss Web Server is running, let’s modify the playbook and facilitate the deployment of a web application:

tasks:

    - name: " Checks that server is running"

      uri:

        url: "http://localhost:8080/"

        status_code: 404

        return_content: no



    - name: "Deploy demo webapp"

      get_url:

        url: 'https://people.redhat.com/~rpelisse/info-1.0.war'

        dest: "{{ tomcat_home }}/webapps/info.war"

      notify:

        - Restart Tomcat service

A handler in the jws role restarts JBoss Web Server when the web application is downloaded. To finish our demonstration, we can add a quick test in the post_tasks section of the playbook to confirm that the web application is functional:

  post_tasks:

- name: "Sleep for {{ tomcat_sleep }} seconds to let Tomcat starts "

   wait_for:

     timeout: "{{ tomcat_sleep }}"



- name: "Test application"

   get_url:

     url: "http://localhost:8080/info/"

     dest: /tmp/info.txt

Conclusion

That’s all for today! Future articles will demonstrate other features provided by the Red Hat JBoss Web Server collection, including support for mod_cluster and securing the server with Tomcat’s Vault feature.

In the meantime, you can find the playbook used for this article in the Ansible Collection for JBoss Web Server GitHub repository.

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