Playlabs: the obscene ansible distribution

Playlabs combines simple ansible patterns with packaged roles to create a docker orchestrated paas to prototype products for development to production.

Playlabs does not deal with HA, for HA you will need to do the ansible plugins yourself, or use kubernetes … but Playlabs will do everything else, even configure your own sentry or kubernetes servers !

DISCLAMER: maybe it even works for you, but that’s far from garanteed so far.

Install playlabs

Install with:

pip3 install --user -e git+

Run the ansible-playbook wrapper command without argument to see the quick getting started commands:


Quick start

You have a new host and you need your user to be installed with your public key, passwordless sudo, and secure SSH. The first command to run on a new host is playlabs init, ie.:

playlabs init root@

# all options are ansible options are proxied
playlabs init @somehost --ask-become-pass

# example with a typical openstack vm
playlabs init ubuntu@somehost --ask-become-pass

Now your user can install roles:

playlabs install ssh,docker,firewall,nginx @somehost

And deploy a project, examples:

playlabs @somehost deploy image=betagouv/mrs:master
playlabs @somehost deploy
playlabs @somehost deploy

If you have that work, creating an inventory is the way to move on, wether you want to version configuration, add a deploy user for your CI, configure a secret backup password, add ssh-keys …:

playlabs scaffold ./your-inventory

Read on this README for gory details if you are already an Ansible user and only need to know about the patterns we’re using playlabs for.

A more extensive and user-friendly documentation is in the docs sub-directory of playlabs and online @ thanks to RTFD :)

playlabs init

Initializing means going from a naked system to a system with your own user, ssh key, dotfiles, sudo access, secure sshd, and all necessary dependencies to execute ansible, such as python3. It will also install your friend account if you have an ansible inventory repository where you store your friend list in yml.

You might need to pass extra options to ansible in some cases, for example if your install provides a passworded sudo, add --ask-sudo-pass or put the password in the CLI, since initializing will remove

playlabs init @somehost
playlabs init user:pass@somehost
playlabs init user@somehost --ask-sudo-pass
playlabs init root@somehost

playlabs install

If you want to deploy your project, then you need to install the paas which consists of three roles: docker, firewall, and nginx. The nginx role sets up two containers, nginx-proxy that watches the docker socket and introspects docker container environment variables, such as VIRTUAL_HOST, to reconfigure itself, it even supports uWSGI. The other container is nginx-letsencrypt, that shares a cert volume with the nginx-proxy container, and watches the docker socket for containers and introspect variables such as LETSENCRYPT_EMAIL, to configure the certificates.

Remember the architecture:

  • nginx-proxy container recieves requests,
  • nginx-letsencrypt container generates certificates,
  • other docker containers have environment variables necessary for the above

The CLI itself is pretty straightforward:

playlabs install docker,firewall,nginx @somehost # the paas for the project role
playbabs install sendmail,netdata,mailcatcher,gitlab @staging
playbabs install sendmail,netdata,sentry user@production

The difference between traditionnal roles and playlabs roles, is that in playlabs they strive to have stuff running inside docker to leverage the architecture of the nginx proxy.

Playlabs can configure sendmail of course, but also has roles providing full-featured docker based mailservers or mailcatcher instances for your dev, training or staging environments for example.

This approach comes from migrating away from “building in production” to “building immutable tested chroots”, away from “pet” to “cattle”.

But if you’re already an ansible hacker you’re better off with ansible to do a lot more than than what docker-compose has to offer, such as managing users and roles, on your SDN as in your apps.

In fact, you will see role that consist of a single docker ansible module call, but the thing is that you can spawn it in one command and have it integrated with the rest of your server, and even rely on ansible to provision fine-grained RBAC in your own apps.