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The Variable Vault

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The symfony_secret variable needs to be secret! I don't want to commit things like this to my repository in plain text!

Creating the Vault

One really cool solution to this is the vault: an encrypted variables file.

To create a vault file, go back to your main machine's terminal and run:

ansible-vault create ansible/vars/vault.yml

It'll ask you to create a vault password. We'll use - of course - beefpass. Keep this handy: it's needed to decrypt the vault.

Nice! It opens up an editor. Once you're inside, treat this like a normal variable file: add ---, then a new variable: vault_symfony_secret:

# ansible/vars/vault.yml

I am purposely starting the variable name with vault_ - we'll talk about why in a minute.

Then, set the value to udderly secret $tring:

# ansible/vars/vault.yml
vault_symfony_secret: "udderly secret $tring"

Save with :wq Enter.

As soon as we do that, we have a vars/vault.yml file... and it is not human-readable: it's encrypted:


You can use the vault again to view it:

ansible-vault view ansible/vars/vault.yml

It, of course, needs your password: beefpass. Or, you can edit it:

ansible-vault edit ansible/vars/vault.yml

Importing the vault File

In vars.yml, we can now remove the secret string and use the variable instead: {{ vault_symfony_secret }}:

7 lines | ansible/vars/vars.yml
// ... lines 2 - 5
symfony_secret: "{{ vault_symfony_secret }}"

To make that variable available, import it like a normal variable file: vars/vault.yml:

171 lines | ansible/playbook.yml
- hosts: vb
- ./vars/vault.yml
- ./vars/vars.yml
// ... lines 7 - 171

Make sure the vault is loaded first so we can use its variables inside vars.yml.

Let's walk through this: import vault.yml, then in vars.yml use the vault_symfony_secret variable to set symfony_secret. Then, that variable is used elsewhere.

Why the big dance? Why not just call the variable symfony_secret in the vault? Well, the vault_ prefix is nice because it's really easy to know that it came from the vault. That makes it easier to track things down.

Running a Vaulted Playbook

Let's try it! Run the playbook like before, with -t deploy and a new flag: --ask-vault-pass:

ansible-playbook ansible/playbook.yml -i ansible/hosts.ini -t deploy --ask-vault-pass

Nice! Enter beefpass for the password, use the prod environment, then let it run! Nice! The "Set Symfony secret in parameters.yml" task reported Changed!

In the VM, let's check out that file:

cat app/config/parameters.yml
# app/config/parameters.yml
# This file is auto-generated during the composer install
    # ...
    secret: udderly secret $tring
    # ...

Woohoo! There's our ridiculous secret string.

Using a Secret Loggly Token

Let's do one more fun example. In your browser, remove the app_dev.php from the URL. It still works!

Now, open app/config/parameters.yml. The last key is called loggly_token:

# app/config/parameters.yml
# This file is auto-generated during the composer install
    # ...
    loggly_token: 12345
    # ...

This is used in config_prod.yml:

26 lines | app/config/config_prod.yml
// ... lines 1 - 9
// ... lines 12 - 21
// ... line 23
token: '%loggly_token%'
// ... lines 25 - 26

Basically, in the prod environment, the system is already setup to send all logs to Loggly: a cloud log collector. Right now... there's not too much in my account.

The only thing we need to do to get this to work is replace this line in parameters.yml with a working Loggly token. That's perfect for the vault!

Adding more to the Vault

Edit the vault!

ansible-vault edit ansible/vars/vault.yml

Add a new variable - vault_loggly_token:

# ...

I'll paste a real token for my account and save:

# ...
vault_loggly_token: fb4aa5b2-30a3-4bd8-8902-1aba5a683d62

And as much fun as it would be for me to to see all of your logs, you'll need to create your own token - I'll revoke this one after recording.

We know the next step: open vars.yml and set loggly_token to vault_loggly_token:

8 lines | ansible/vars/vars.yml
// ... lines 2 - 6
loggly_token: "{{ vault_loggly_token }}"

And finally, we can use loggly_token in symfony-bootstrap.yml. Copy the previous lineinfile task, paste it, and rename it to "Set Loggly token in parameters.yml":

66 lines | ansible/includes/symfony-bootstrap.yml
// ... lines 1 - 20
- name: Set Symfony secret in parameters.yml
// ... lines 22 - 28
- name: Set Loggly token in parameters.yml
// ... lines 30 - 66

Update the keys to loggly_token, and the variable to loggly_token:

66 lines | ansible/includes/symfony-bootstrap.yml
// ... lines 1 - 28
- name: Set Loggly token in parameters.yml
dest: "{{ symfony_root_dir }}/app/config/parameters.yml"
regexp: "^ loggly_token:"
line: " loggly_token: {{ loggly_token }}"
- deploy
// ... lines 36 - 66

Ok, try it!

ansible-playbook ansible/playbook.yml -i ansible/hosts.ini -t deploy --ask-vault-pass

Fill in beefpass and use the prod environment again.

Ding! Head to your VM and look at the parameters.yml file:

cat app/config/parameters.yml

Nice! So... it should work, right? Refresh Mootube to fill in some logs. Now, reload the Loggly dashboard. Hmm... nothing! What's going on?

Actually, we have another mistake in our playbook. Once again, I got too smart! We only clear the cache when the code has changed:

66 lines | ansible/includes/symfony-bootstrap.yml
// ... lines 2 - 59
- name: Clear cache
// ... lines 61 - 64
when: code_changed

But in this situation, parameters.yml changed... which is not technically part of our code. In other words, this isn't working because we have not yet cleared our prod cache.

I'll comment out the when under "Cache Clear" to make it always clear. Then, just for right now, in the VM, clear the cache manually:

./bin/console cache:clear --env=prod

If you get an error about permissions, that's fine: it's just having problems clearing out the old cache directory. You can delete that:

sudo rm -rf var/cache/pro~

Let's see if that was the problem! Refresh MooTube. Then, try the Loggly dashboard. Got it! So cool! If you're coding with me, it might take a few minutes to show up, so be patient!

Our playbook is really powerful. Could we use it to deploy to a cloud server like AWS? Why not!? Let's do it!