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Cockpit: Your entrypoint to the Containers Management World

Containers are one of the top trend today. Starting working or playing with them could be really hard also if you’ve well understood the theory at their base.

With this article I’ll try to show you some useful tips and tricks to start into containers world, thanks also to the great web interface provided by the Cockpit project.

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Cockpit overview

Cockpit is an interactive server admin interface.  You’ll find below some a of its great features:

  • Cockpit comes “out of the box” ready for the admin to interact with the system immediately, without installing stuff, configuring access controls, making choices, etc.
  • Cockpit has (as near as makes no difference) zero memory and process footprint on the server when not in use. The job of a server is not to show a pretty UI to admins, but to serve stuff to others. Cockpit starts on demand via socket activation and exits when not in use.
  • Cockpit does not take over your server in such a way that you can then only perform further configuration in Cockpit.
  • Cockpit itself does not have a predefined template or state for the server that it then imposes on the server. It is imperative configuration rather than declarative configuration.
  • Cockpit dynamically updates itself to reflect the current state of the server, within a time frame of a few seconds.
  • Cockpit is firewall friendly: it opens one port for browser connections: by default that is 9090.
  • Cockpit can look different on different operating systems, because it’s the UI for the OS, and not a external tool.
  • Cockpit is pluggable: it allows others to add additional UI pieces.

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High Availability Servlets with EAP 7 and OpenShift

Prior to working at Red Hat, I worked for a software company, building financial software for large institutions. From my experiences I knew that some customers required, or demanded, a very aggressive Service Level Agreement (SLA).

If we consider an SLA of 99.999% (generally referred to as “five nines”) then this would allow for a six-second unavailability or downtime over a full week, anything more and penalties would have to be paid. To provide this level of uptime, it is essential to provide a strategy for high availability (HA). This got me thinking — how this could be achieved with OpenShift and JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 7?

For an initial test, I thought I’d try to get a simple HA Servlet working with session sharing to see how EAP 7 works in a cluster of pods within OpenShift.

In subsequent articles I intend to increase the complexity of the solution to support most aspects of what I see as typical large scale applications today.

From what I could discover doing online research, the easiest way to get started would be to use a preloaded operating system via a virtual machine (VM). Because I use OSX, I wanted to have an easy to use VM and image management, which lead me to this article Installation Guide – Red Hat Customer Portal which explains how to install VirtualBox, Vagrant and how to download the Red Hat Container Development Kit (CDK).

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Using the operating system to authenticate users on Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) ?

Recently, I was searching for a solution to configure the security domain of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform with the local operating system based user registry so that the application could directly authenticate its users with local operating system users. I understood that it would be difficult to implement a generic solution, as authentication mechanisms are strikingly different between Windows and Unix/Linux.

After checking several blogs and forums, I decided to implement this using JPAM for Unix/Linux and Waffle for Windows.

Editor’s note: JBoss Enterprise Application Platform is available at no cost for developers who sign up for the Red Hat Developer program (100% free.)

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Setting up a LAMP stack on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

You obviously know what a LAMP stack is if you’ve managed to find your way here, but for those who may be unsure, the key is in the name (L)inux (A)pache (M)ariaDB (P)HP—a term that has become synonymous around the globe for building a basic web server with database and PHP functionality. There are a myriad of web applications, ranging from WordPress to Joomla to Magento that all use this setup, and if you know how to get it up and running, then you’re off to a great start. It couldn’t be easier with RHEL, so let’s get started. MariaDB can also be exchanged for MySQL or a database of your choice.

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Are “Web Components” in the future for PatternFly?

Web development has become increasingly complicated in recent years.  The questions of which framework to use often can eat up much time at the start of a project.  I can’t remember the number of times people have asked me while working on a Knockout project if I’ve heard of Durandal, or when considering Angular 2 – what about React/Flux or Aurelia?

Patternfly is a community project that promotes design commonality and improved user experience. Its offerings include open source code, patterns, style guides and an active community that helps support it all. But, this complexity, choosing web frameworks, also affects PatternFly.  Our goal is “to build a UI framework for enterprise web applications”.  That requires that we remain outside of the discussion of which framework is best and provide a solid set of patterns and designs for developers to rely on.

How can you build a UI framework when there are so many choices and so many strong feelings about the different choices?  In my opinion, it’s important for developers to choose the framework that is best for the project and fits their skill set.  There isn’t one choice that works for everybody and it’s important that we support all developers that want the benefit of well-designed components that can be used in enterprise applications.

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