In this tutorial we will write a simple policy to ensure that the latest version of the NTP service is installed on your system. Once the NTP software is installed, we will extend the policy to manage the service state as well as the software configuration.

Note: For simplicity, in this tutorial we will work directly on top of the Masterfiles Policy Framework (MPF) in /var/cfengine/masterfiles (*masterfiles*) and we will not use version control.

Ensuring the NTP package is installed

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";

   packages:
       "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
       policy          => "present",
       handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
       classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");
}

What does this policy do?

Let's walk through the different sections of the code do see how it works.

bundle agent ntp

You can think of bundles as a collection of desired states. You can have as many bundles as you would like, and also reference them from within themselves. In fact, they are somewhat similar to function calls in other programming languages. Let's dive deeper into the code in the ntp bundle.

vars

vars:

vars is a promise type that ensures the presence of variables that hold specific values. vars: starts a promise type block which ends when the next promise type block is declared.

ntp_package_name
"ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";

A variable with the name ntp_package_name is declared and it is assigned a value, ntp. This string variable will be referenced in the other sections of the bundle.

packages

packages:
    "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
      policy          => "present",
      handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
      classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");

packages is a promise type that ensures the presence or absence of a package on a system.

$(ntp_package_name)
"$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }

Notice the ntp_package_name variable is referenced here, which evaluates to ntp as the promiser. You can also associate a stakeholder aka promisee to this promiser. The stakeholder association is optional, but is particularly useful in when you wish to provide some structure in your policy to tie it to a business rule. In this example, what we are stating is this - "Make sure NTP is installed as it is described in StandardsDoc 3.2.1".

This promiser has a number of additional attributes defined:

policy
policy          => "present",
The package_policy attribute describes what you want to do the package. In this case you want to ensure that it is present on the system. Other valid values of this attribute include delete, update, patch, reinstall, addupdate, and verify. Because of the self-healing capabilities of CFEngine, the agents will continuously check to make sure the package is installed. If it is not installed, CFEngine will try to install it according to its policy.
handle
handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",

The handle uniquely identifies a promise within a policy. A recommended naming scheme for the handle is bundle_name_promise_type_class_restriction_promiser. It is often used for documentation and compliance purposes. As shown in this example, you can easily substitute values of variables for the handle.

classes
classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package_");

classes provide context which can help drive the logic in your policies. In this example, classes for each promise outcome are defined prefixed with ntp_package_, for details check out the implementation of body classes results in the stdlib. For example, ntp_package_repaired will be defined if cf-agent did not have the ntp package installed and had to install it. ntp_package_kept would be defined if the ntp package is already installed and ntp_package_notkept would be defined.

On your hub create services/ntp.cf inside masterfiles with the following content:

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";

   packages:
       "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
         policy          => "present",
         handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
         classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");

}

Now, check the syntax, it's always a good idea any time you edit policy.

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-promises -f ./services/ntp.cf
[root@hub masterfiles]# echo $?
0

Now, we need to make sure the agent knows it should use this policy file and bundle. Create def.json an Augments file with the following content:

{
  "inputs": [ "services/ntp.cf" ],
  "vars": {
    "control_common_bundlesequence_end": [ "ntp" ]
  }
}

Validate it.

[root@hub masterfiles]# python -m json.tool < def.json
{
    "inputs": [
        "services/ntp.cf"
    ],
    "vars": {
        "control_common_bundlesequence_end": [
            "ntp"
        ]
    }
}

Force a policy update. Remember, CFEngine is running in the background, so it's possible that by the time you force a policy update and run the agent may have already done it and your output may differ.

cf-agent -KIf update.cf

In the output, you should see something like:

info: Updated '/var/cfengine/inputs/services/ntp.cf' from source '/var/cfengine/masterfiles/services/ntp.cf' on 'localhost'

Now force a policy run.

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KI
info: Successfully installed package 'ntp'

Now that we have successfully promised the package, let's move on to the service.

Manage NTP service

Now we will extend the policy to ensure that the NTP service is running.

Now that the NTP service has been installed on the system, we need to make sure that it is running.

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";

     redhat::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntpd";

     debian::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntp";

   packages:
       "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
         policy          => "present",
         handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
         classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");

  services:
     "$(ntp_service_name)" -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.2" }
       service_policy => "start",
       classes => results( "bundle", "ntp_service")

   reports:
     ntp_service_repaired.inform_mode::
       "NTP service repaired";

}

What does this policy do?

Let's dissect this policy and review the differences in the policy.

vars

redhat::
    "ntp_service_name" string => "ntpd";
debian::
    "ntp_service_name" string => "ntp";

The first thing that you will notice is that the variable declarations section has been expanded. Recall that you completed part 1 of this tutorial by creating packages promises that works across Debian and redhat. While the package name for NTP is the same between Debian and Red Hat, the service names are actually different. Therefore, classes introduced here to distinguish the service name for NTP between these two environments. The CFEngine agents automatically discover environment properties and defines hard classes that can be used - this includes classes such as debian and redhat that define the host's operating system.

reports

reports:
  ntp_service_repaired.inform_mode::
    "NTP service repaired";

The reports promise type emits information from the agent. Most commonly and by default, information is emitted to standard out. Reports are useful when tracking or reporting on the progress of the policy execution.

ntp_service_repaired.inform_mode::

This line restricts the context for the promises that follow to hosts that have ntp_service_repaired and inform_mode defined. Note: inform_mode is defined when information level logging is requested, e.g. the -I, --inform, or --log-level inform options are given to cf-agent defined.

"NTP service repaired";

This defines the line that should be emitted by the reports promise type.

Messages printed to standard out from reports promises are prefixed with the letter R to distinguish them from other output.

R: NTP service repaired

Modify and run the policy

On your hub modify services/ntp.cf introducing the new promises as described previously.

After making changes it's always a good idea to validate the policy file you modified, as well as the full policy set:

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-promises -KI -f ./services/ntp.cf
[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-promises -KI -f ./promises.cf

If the code has no syntax error, you should see no output.

Perform a manual policy run and review the output to ensure that the policy executed successfully. Upon a successful run you should expect to see an output similar to this (depending on the init system your OS is using):

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KIf update.cf;
    info: Copied file '/var/cfengine/masterfiles/services/ntp.cf' to '/var/cfengine/inputs/services/ntp.cf.cfnew' (mode '600')

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KI
    info: Executing 'no timeout' ... '/sbin/chkconfig ntpd on'
    info: Command related to promiser '/sbin/chkconfig ntpd on' returned code defined as promise kept 0
    info: Completed execution of '/sbin/chkconfig ntpd on'
    info: Executing 'no timeout' ... '/etc/init.d/ntpd start'
    info: Completed execution of '/etc/init.d/ntpd start'
R: NTP service repaired

You have now written a complete policy to ensure that the NTP package is installed, and that the service is up and running.

Manage NTP configuration

Now we will manage the configuration file using the built-in mustache templating engine, set up appropriate file permissions, and restart the service when necessary.

By default, the NTP service leverages configuration properties specified in /etc/ntp.conf. In this tutorial, we introduce the concept of the files promise type. With this promise type, you can create, delete, and edit files using CFEngine policies. The example policy below illustrates the use of the files promise.

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
     linux::
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";
       "config_file" string => "/etc/ntp.conf";
       "driftfile" string => "/var/lib/ntp/drift";
       "servers" slist => { "time.nist.gov" };

      # For brevity, and since the template is small, we define it in-line
       "config_template_string"
         string => "# NTP Config managed by CFEngine
driftfile }
restrict default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict -6 default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict 127.0.0.1
restrict -6 ::1

server } iburst

includefile /etc/ntp/crypto/pw
keys /etc/ntp/keys
";

     redhat::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntpd";

     debian::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntp";

   packages:
       "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
         policy          => "present",
         handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
         classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");

   files:
    "$(config_file)"
      create                => "true",
      handle                => "ntp_files_conf",
      perms                 => mog( "644", "root", "root" ),
      template_method       => "inline_mustache",
      edit_template_string  => "$(config_template_string)",
      template_data         => mergedata( '{ "driftfile": "$(driftfile)", "servers": servers }' ),
      classes               => results( "bundle", "ntp_config" );

   services:
     "$(ntp_service_name)" -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.2" }
       service_policy => "start",
       classes => results( "bundle", "ntp_service_running" );

    ntp_config_repaired::
     "$(ntp_service_name)" -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.2" }
       service_policy => "restart",
       classes => results( "bundle", "ntp_service_config_change" );


   reports:
     ntp_service_running_repaired.inform_mode::
       "NTP service started";

     ntp_service_config_change_repaired.inform_mode::
       "NTP service restarted after configuration change";

}

What does this policy do?

Let's review the different sections of the code, starting with the variable declarations which makes use of operating system environment for classification of the time servers.

vars

   vars:
     linux::
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";
       "config_file" string => "/etc/ntp.conf";
       "driftfile" string => "/var/lib/ntp/drift";
       "servers" slist => { "utcnist.colorado.edu", "utcnist2.colorado.edu" };

      # For brevity, and since the template is small, we define it in-line
       "config_template_string"
         string => "# NTP Config managed by CFEngine
driftfile }
restrict default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict -6 default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict 127.0.0.1
restrict -6 ::1

server } iburst

includefile /etc/ntp/crypto/pw
keys /etc/ntp/keys
";

A few new variables are defined. The variables ntp_package_name, config_file, driftfile, servers, and config_template_string are defined under the linux context (so only linux hosts will define them). config_file is the path to the ntp configuration file, driftfile and servers are both variables that will be used when rendering the configuration file and config_template_string is the template that will be used to render the configuration file. While both driftfile and servers are set the same for all linux hosts, those variables could easily be set to different values under different contexts.

files

Now let's walk through the files promise in detail.

files:
 "$(config_file)"
   create                => "true",
   handle                => "ntp_files_conf",
   perms                 => mog( "644", "root", "root" ),
   template_method       => "inline_mustache",
   edit_template_string  => "$(config_template_string)",
   template_data         => mergedata( '{ "driftfile": "$(driftfile)", "servers": servers }' ),
   classes               => results( "bundle", "ntp_config" );

The promiser here is referenced by the config_file variable. In this case, it is the configuration file for the NTP service. There are a number of additional attributes that describe this promise.

create
create                => "true",

Valid values for this attribute are true or false to instruct the agent whether or not to create the file. In other words, the file must exist. If it does not exist, it will be created.

perms
perms                 => mog( "644", "root", "root" ),

This attribute sets the permissions and ownership of the file. mog() is a perms body in the CFEngine standard library that sets the mode, owner, and group of the file. In this example, the permissions for the NTP configuration file are set to 644 with owner and group both assigned to root.

handle
handle                => "ntp_files_conf",

A handle uniquely identifies a promise within a policy set. The policy style guide recommends a naming scheme for the handles e.g. bundle_name_promise_type_class_restriction_promiser. Handles are optional, but can be very useful when reviewing logs and can also be used to influence promise ordering with depends_on.

classes
classes               => results( "bundle", "ntp_config" );

The classes attribute here uses the results() classes body from the standard library. The results() body defines classes for every outcome a promise has. Every time this promise is executed classes will be defined bundle scoped classes prefixed with ntp_config. If the promise changes the file content or permissions the class ntp_config_repaired will be set.

template_method
template_method       => "inline_mustache",

CFEngine supports multiple templating engines, the template_method attribute specifies how the promised file content will be resolved. The value inline_mustache indicates that we will use the mustache templating engine and specify the template in-line, instead of in an external file.

edit_template_string
edit_template_string  => "$(config_template_string)",

The edit_template_string attribute is set to $(config_template_string) which holds the mustache template used to render the file content.

template_data
template_data         => mergedata( '{ "driftfile": "$(driftfile)", "servers": servers }' ),

template_data is assigned a data container that is in this case constructed by mergedata() so that only the necessary data is provided to the template. If template_data is not explicitly provided, CFEngine uses datastate() by default. It is considered best practice to provide explicit data as this makes it easier to delegate responsibility of the template and that data to different entities where neither are required to know anything about CFEngine itself and it's much more efficient to send the templating engine only the data the template actually uses.

Note, mergedata() tries to expand bare values from CFEngine variables, so servers will expand to the entire list of servers. The result of mergedata() in the example is equivalent to this json:

{
  "driftfile": "/var/lib/ntp/drift",
  "servers": [ "time.nist.gov" ]
}

Now that we have dissected the policy, let's go ahead and give it a whirl.

Modify and run the policy

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KIf update.cf;
    info: Copied file '/var/cfengine/masterfiles/services/ntp.cf' to '/var/cfengine/inputs/services/ntp.cf.cfnew' (mode '600')

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KI
    info: Updated rendering of '/etc/ntp.conf' from mustache template 'inline'
    info: files promise '/etc/ntp.conf' repaired
    info: Executing 'no timeout' ... '/etc/init.d/ntpd restart'
    info: Completed execution of '/etc/init.d/ntpd restart'
R: NTP service restarted after configuration change

More interestingly, if you examine the configuration file /etc/ntp.conf, you will notice that it has been updated with the time server(s) and driftfile you had specified in the policy, for that specific operating system environment. This is the configuration that the NTP service has been restarted with.

[root@hub masterfiles]# grep -P "^(driftfile|server)" /etc/ntp.conf
driftfile /var/lib/ntp/drift
server time.nist.gov iburst

Mission Accomplished!

Instrumenting for tunability via Augments

Next we will augment file/template management with data sourced from a JSON data file. This is a simple extension of what we have done previously illustrating how tunables in policy can be exposed and leveraged from a data feed.

CFEngine offers out-of-the-box support for reading and writing JSON data structures. In this tutorial, we will default the NTP configuration properties in policy, but provide a path for the properties to be overridden from Augments.

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
     linux::
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";
       "config_file" string => "/etc/ntp.conf";

       # Set the default value for driftfile
       "driftfile"
         string => "/var/lib/ntp/drift";

       # Overwrite driftfile with value defined from Augments if it's provided
       "driftfile"
         string => "$(def.ntp[config][driftfile])",
         if => isvariable( "def.ntp[config][driftfile]" );

       # Set the default value for servers
       "servers"
         slist => { "time.nist.gov" };

       # Overwrite servers with value defined from Augments if it's provided
       "servers"
         slist => getvalues( "def.ntp[config][servers]" ),
         if => isvariable( "def.ntp[config][servers]" );

      # For brevity, and since the template is small, we define it in-line
       "config_template_string"
         string => "# NTP Config managed by CFEngine
driftfile }
restrict default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict -6 default kod nomodify notrap nopeer noquery
restrict 127.0.0.1
restrict -6 ::1

server } iburst

includefile /etc/ntp/crypto/pw
keys /etc/ntp/keys
";

     redhat::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntpd";

     debian::
         "ntp_service_name" string => "ntp";

   packages:
       "$(ntp_package_name)"   -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.1" }
         policy          => "present",
         handle          => "ntp_packages_$(ntp_package_name)",
         classes         => results("bundle", "ntp_package");

   files:
    "$(config_file)"
      create                => "true",
      handle                => "ntp_files_conf",
      perms                 => mog( "644", "root", "root" ),
      template_method       => "inline_mustache",
      edit_template_string  => "$(config_template_string)",
      template_data         => mergedata( '{ "driftfile": "$(driftfile)", "servers": servers }' ),
      classes               => results( "bundle", "ntp_config" );

   services:
     "$(ntp_service_name)" -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.2" }
       service_policy => "start",
       classes => results( "bundle", "ntp_service_running" );

    ntp_config_repaired::
     "$(ntp_service_name)" -> { "StandardsDoc 3.2.2" }
       service_policy => "restart",
       classes => results( "bundle", "ntp_service_config_change" );


   reports:
     ntp_service_running_repaired.inform_mode::
       "NTP service started";

     ntp_service_config_change_repaired.inform_mode::
       "NTP service restarted after configuration change";

}

What does this policy do?

Let's review the changes to the vars promises as they were the only changes made.

vars

bundle agent ntp
{
   vars:
     linux::
       "ntp_package_name" string => "ntp";
       "config_file" string => "/etc/ntp.conf";

       # Set the default value for driftfile
       "driftfile"
         string => "/var/lib/ntp/drift";

       # Overwrite driftfile with value defined from Augments if it's provided
       "driftfile"
         string => "$(def.ntp[config][driftfile])",
         if => isvariable( "def.ntp[config][driftfile]" );

       # Set the default value for servers
       "servers"
         slist => { "time.nist.gov" };

       # Overwrite servers with value defined from Augments if it's provided
       "servers"
         slist => getvalues( "def.ntp[config][servers]" ),
         if => isvariable( "def.ntp[config][servers]" );

Notice two promises were introduced, one setting driftfile to the value of $(def.ntp[config][driftfile]) if it is defined and one setting servers to the list of values for def.ntp[config][servers] if it is defined. Augments allows for variables to be set in the def bundle scope very early before policy is evaluated.

Modify and run the policy

First modify services/ntp.cf as shown previously (don't forget to check syntax with cf-promises after modification), then run the policy.

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KIf update.cf
    info: Copied file '/var/cfengine/masterfiles/services/ntp.cf' to '/var/cfengine/inputs/services/ntp.cf.cfnew' (mode '600')
    info: Copied file '/var/cfengine/masterfiles/def.json' to '/var/cfengine/inputs/def.json.cfnew' (mode '600')

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KI

We do not expect to see the ntp configuration file modified or the service to be restarted since we have only instrumented the policy so far.

Now, let's modify def.json (in the root of masterfiles) and define some different values for driftfile and servers. Modify def.json so that it looks like this:

{
  "inputs": [ "services/ntp.cf" ],
  "vars": {
    "control_common_bundlesequence_end": [ "ntp" ],
    "ntp": {
      "config": {
        "driftfile": "/tmp/drift",
        "servers": [ "0.north-america.pool.ntp.org", "1.north-america.pool.ntp.org",
                     "2.north-america.pool.ntp.org", "3.north-america.pool.ntp.org" ]
      }
    }
  }
}

Now, let's validate the JSON and force a policy run and inspect the result.

[root@hub masterfiles]# python -m json.tool < def.json
{
    "inputs": [
        "services/ntp.cf"
    ],
    "vars": {
        "control_common_bundlesequence_end": [
            "ntp"
        ],
        "ntp": {
            "config": {
                "driftfile": "/tmp/drift",
                "servers": [
                    "0.north-america.pool.ntp.org",
                    "1.north-america.pool.ntp.org",
                    "2.north-america.pool.ntp.org",
                    "3.north-america.pool.ntp.org"
                ]
            }
        }
    }
}

[root@hub masterfiles]# cf-agent -KI
    info: Updated rendering of '/etc/ntp.conf' from mustache template 'inline'
    info: files promise '/etc/ntp.conf' repaired
    info: Executing 'no timeout' ... '/etc/init.d/ntpd restart'
    info: Completed execution of '/etc/init.d/ntpd restart'
R: NTP service restarted after configuration change
    info: Can not acquire lock for 'ntp' package promise. Skipping promise evaluation
    info: Can not acquire lock for 'ntp' package promise. Skipping promise evaluation

[root@hub masterfiles]# grep -P "^(driftfile|server)" /etc/ntp.conf
driftfile /tmp/drift
server 0.north-america.pool.ntp.org iburst
server 1.north-america.pool.ntp.org iburst
server 2.north-america.pool.ntp.org iburst
server 3.north-america.pool.ntp.org iburst

Mission Accomplished!

You have successfully completed this tutorial that showed you how to write a simple policy to ensure that NTP is installed, running and configured appropriately.