How does Holo configure systems?

Holo users ship configuration in packages, usually called "holograms". These can be built with the regular package building tools (debuild, rpmbuild, makepkg, etc.) or with Holo's own holo-build tool that offers a much more pleasant syntax and process. Let's go through an example hologram that installs and starts an OpenSSH server and tweaks some of its configuration.

The package declaration

Package declarations for holo-build are TOML files.

name        = "hologram-openssh"
version     = "1.0.0"
description = "Start and configure OpenSSH"
requires    = ["openssh"]

Packages can install files, directories and symlinks. For example, we may want to start SSH only after the firewall is set up, so we create a configuration file for systemd.

path    = "/etc/systemd/system/sshd.service.d/hardened.conf"
content = """

We also want to disable password authentication. This one is a bit more tricky: We want to modify the configuration installed by the OpenSSH package, but the configuration is also a package, so it may not install the same file path. Instead, we install a script that Holo will later find and execute to update the default configuration.

path    = "/usr/share/holo/files/10-openssh/etc/ssh/sshd_config.holoscript"
mode    = "0755"
content = """
  # stdin has the default config and stdout wants the updated config;
  # we just add a line at the bottom
  echo "PasswordAuthentication no"

Any file below /usr/share/holo will imply a dependency on the holo package.

When everything is set up, we start the daemon:

on     = "setup"
script = """
  systemctl daemon-reload
  systemctl enable sshd
  systemctl restart sshd

Rolling it out

Once the package declaration is complete, a system package (.deb, .rpm, etc.) can be produced by holo-build. No extra tools needed.

$ holo-build --debian hologram-openssh.pkg.toml

Since we had files below /usr/share/holo, Holo will be installed and holo apply will be executed during installation:

# dpkg -i hologram-openssh_1.0.0-1_any.deb
Working on file:/etc/ssh/sshd_config
  store at /var/lib/holo/files/base/etc/ssh/sshd_config
  passthru /usr/share/holo/files/10-openssh/etc/ssh/sshd_config.holoscript

This tells us that the default configuration has been modified as described by our holoscript. And indeed:

$ tail -n1 /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PasswordAuthentication no

Monitoring for changes

When Holo provisions an entity (such as this config file), it will always store a base image describing the original state of the entity. If the entity is changed afterwards, Holo will be able to detect this change:

# sed -i '/PasswordAuthentication/ s/no/yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
# holo apply

Working on file:/etc/ssh/sshd_config
  store at /var/lib/holo/files/base/etc/ssh/sshd_config
  passthru /usr/share/holo/files/10-openssh/etc/ssh/sshd_config.holoscript

!! Entity has been modified by user (use --force to overwrite)

    diff --holo /var/lib/holo/files/provisioned/etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    --- /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    +++ /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    @@ -131,3 +131,3 @@
     #       ForceCommand cvs server

    -PasswordAuthentication no
    +PasswordAuthentication yes

But wait, there's more!

With plugins, Holo can be taught to provision other things than files. For example, there are plugins for user accounts, groups or SSH public keys. You can easily write your own plugins; they can be as small as one shell script.

This example has demonstrated the holo-files plugin that ships with the holo tool itself, but it can only scratch the surface. Check out the man pages for the full documentation. And don't forget to install Holo on your system, too.