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Setup: Server Provisioning

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Hey guys! Ok, here's my situation: I've built this amazing new app: MooTube: the latest fad in cow fitness. There's just one more problem to solve, before cattle start signing up in herds: the site only lives on my local computer! It's time to release it to the cow masses. Yep, it's time to deploy!

But... how? There are probably 50 good ways to deploy! Bah! And these days, you can even deploy with a Platform as a Service: something like or Heroku. These take care of almost everything for you. I love these, and we use for part of KnpUniversity. They do have some limitations, but they are the fastest way to get your app to production.

In this tutorial, we're going to talk about one, really nice deployment tool: Ansistrano. It's built on top of Ansible... so if you watched our Ansible tutorial, you're going to love it! And if you haven't, what are you waiting for!? Well actually, I'll give you all the details you need, regardless.

Download the Project

As always, learning, like grazing, is best done in a group: so you should definitely code along with me. Download the course code from this page and unzip it. Inside, you'll find a start/ directory, which will have the same code I have here. See that README file? It holds all the secrets for getting the project setup. But actually... this is a tutorial about deployment! So... you don't really need to get the project running locally... because we're going to get the project running... in the cloud!

But, if you do want to get the project running, the last step will be to find your terminal, sip some coffee, and run:

bin/console server:run

to start the built-in PHP web server. Open the app in your browser at http://localhost:8000. Ah yes, MooTube: our bovine fitness app that is about to stampede through the cow world! This is the same app we used in our Ansible tutorial, with just a few small changes.

Booting a new Server

Let's get to work! So first... well... we need a server! You can use any service to get a server, but I already booted a new EC2 instance from AWS. I actually did this via Ansible. In our Ansible tutorial, we created a small playbook - aws.yml - whose only job is to boot an EC2 instance using an Ubuntu 14.04 image.

You're free to get a server from anywhere... but if you do want to use this script to boot a new instance, you'll just need to do 2 things. First, edit the ansible vault at ansible/vars/aws_vault.yml.

ansible-vault edit ansible/vars/aws_vault.yml

The password is beefpass.

These access keys are mine... and as much fun as it would be for me to pay for your servers... these keys won't work anymore. Sorry! Replace them with your own. Second, in aws.yml, see that key_name?

31 lines | ansible/aws.yml
- hosts: local
// ... lines 3 - 13
- name: Create an instance
// ... lines 17 - 21
key_name: KnpU-Tutorial
// ... lines 23 - 31

You'll need to create your own "Key Pair" in the EC2 management console, and put its name here. The key pair will give you the private key needed to SSH onto the new server.

Server Provisioning

Once you have a server... deploying is really two steps. Step 1: provisioning: the fancy word that basically means installing everything you need, like Nginx, PHP, PHP extensions and whatever else. And then step 2: actually deploying.

I don't care how you setup - or provision - your server. In the Ansible tutorial, we - of course! - used Ansible to do this, but that is not a requirement for using Ansistrano.

But since we already have a working provision playbook, let's use it! First, I'll find the public IP address to my new server. Open ansible/hosts.ini and put this under the aws group:

13 lines | ansible/hosts.ini
// ... lines 1 - 6
// ... lines 9 - 13

If you're still new to Ansible, we'll talk more about this file once we start to deploy.

Now, run Ansible:

ansible-playbook ansible/playbook.yml -i ansible/hosts.ini -l aws

Go Ansible go! See that -l aws at the end? Well, the provision playbook - playbook.yml - is setup to provision both my aws hosts and also a local VirtualBox machine. The -l tells Ansible to only provisioning the AWS server right now.

Ansible Authentication

Behind the scenes, Ansible is SSH'ing onto the server and running commands. But... how does authentication to the server work? In our case, it's with the private key from the "Key Pair" that we used to boot the server. Open ansible/group_vars/aws.yml:

ansible_user: ubuntu
ansible_ssh_private_key_file: ~/.ssh/KnpU-Tutorial.pem
ansible_python_interpreter: /usr/bin/python3

Because we're using the aws group, this file is automatically loaded. It sets two important variables: ansible_user and ansible_ssh_private_key_file.

When you use Ansistrano to deploy, you'll need to make sure these two variables are set... or ansible_ssh_pass if you're using a password. You don't need to set them in a fancy group variable file like this. If you're still new to Ansible, I'll show you how to create variables right in your deploy playbook later.

For now, just know that we are telling Ansible how to authenticate: there's no magic.

Checking out the Server

Since Ansible is still working, open a third tab. Let's SSH onto the server: ssh -i, the path to the private key, then ubuntu@ followed up the IP address:

ssh -i ~/.ssh/KnpU-Tutorial.pem ubuntu@54.XXX.XX.XXX

Perfect! Now... pour a fresh cup of coffee and learn a foreign language while we wait for provisioning to finish. Fast forward!!!!!

Ding! Our server is ready! Check this out! We have PHP 7.1, Nginx and even an Nginx Virtual host.

cd /etc/nginx/sites-available
sudo vim

Our site will be, and this is setup with a document root at /var/www/project/web. Right now, there is a /var/www/project directory... but it's empty. Putting code there? Yea, that's the job of this tutorial.

Let's go!