Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today is a good day.

Walking home from my run this morning, the sun rising above the hills to my back, casting off the cool mist at the break of day in the Sunset district of San Francisco, I began to climb, tired, up a hill behind an older Asian man, maybe two dozen years my senior, moving slowly and smoking a sweet smelling joint.  As I overtook him he turned to me, startled, and said not quite too loudly "Good day!" Assuming he would know, I felt compelled to echo his declaration and assured him, yes indeed it was, a "Good day."

As I walked home I thought I 'ought let y'all know; I have it on reputable authority...

Today is a good day.

Friday, September 9, 2016

OpenStack for Operators

A mission is a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.

The OpenStack mission:

to produce the ubiquitous Open Source Cloud Computing platform that
enables building interoperable public and private clouds regardless of
size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable while serving
the cloud users’ needs

This is what I most strongly identify with OpenStack.

A value is one's judgment of what is important in life.

OpenStack states some values; which I think are also good:

Open Source - License; because IANAL
Open Design - Summits are fun; if you have a spec
Open Development - Patches welcome
Open Community - Let's talk; we're nice!

... the four opens are pretty great - but it's not what I feel called to
do - it's not what I'm about.  I just think that in order to build out
that ubiquitous platform; where the open source cloud is found
everywhere ... no one company can do that?  So we better have a good
strategy for a community if we're gunna do this thing.

And that's what I come to when I think about "what is OpenStack" - I
don't think about the software that OpenStack produces.  To me OpenStack
is a phenomenon - because I literally do not understand the cause or
explanation for why this thing took off like it did?

Maybe I think there's just a lot of hackers out there that all feel like
I do - that building this thing is important (to society?) - and that
they can make a meaningful contribution.

OpenStack is a system to organize the people committed to the mission.
The result is OpenStack software - not all of which is good - some of it
might not even be useful - but if it was done with a passion for the
mission and according to the values - we should be happy to call it

Or maybe it's the money.

Maybe it's the system to organize the profit-generating-organisms that
feed the hackers committed to the mission, the astroturf, the latch your
wagon^Wdriver-plugin onto it while it's hot, the cushy arm-chair
architect pontificate on the grand unified theory of exception logging,
the ego of the -2, the paycheck, the passport to hang with friends
around a whiteboard.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the market is happily shipping AWS so much
money Google and Microsoft can't mount a reasonable defense - Rackspace
is going to tap out and HP already gave up.

If we're still committed to the mission - we have got to focus on our

Nothing tells you more about what's important than working with real
deployments.  The people operating OpenStack software are the best
resource we have to cut through the junk and deal with what matters.

If you're not at least partially engaged with the delivery, deployment
and operation of OpenStack software I strongly recommend you have a talk
with your manager - or seek a different employer.

Listen to the operators.  Ignore everything else.  Ignore internal
organizational boundaries.  Ignore your direct manager.  Ignore the TC.
Ignore me.  Listen to the operators.

If they continue to deploy OpenStack's software - then OpenStack matters
- and we have to keep after the mission - if they do not continue to
deploy OpenStack software - then none of this matters.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

#NoBillNoBreak #StopTheStunt

See the problem is, the frequency of high profile mass shootings is too high - it's making people that would prefer not to carry weapons feel uncomfortable.  That and all the murder.

There is in no clear answer.  Smart legislation may help in some cases.  No Fly No Buy would not be perfect.  I think we should vote on it!?

Why is there always so much name calling on social media?  Wag of the finger to both sides!  Just stop doing that!?  Phew, solved that problem.

But, ugh, the FUD.

  • No one thinks smart regulations for firearms will solve murder.
  • I don't think a radical redefinition of the 2nd amendment is possible in my lifetime - Bernie didn't either.
  • Any broad support to legislate confiscation of legally obtained firearms would meet riots on a national level well before congress had a chance to shoot it down - I don't really see how people can honestly claim they think the government is going to "take their guns"?
And yet, every time guns enter the national stage - more Americans arm themselves?

We need to stop talking past each other.  Is there really no common ground?  No compromise?

Congress, do your job.  Get in there and debate it out - I know it's hard - people say stupid shit - seemingly refuse to listen to common sense.  But you're a professional.  You can show us how it's done!  Negotiate.  Find the best solution that you can get some agreement on and pass it!  Demonstrate progress!  Don't think about what sound byte will play best in the next news cycle - think about what is best for your constituents - not what is most likely to get you re-elected.  Then come November, show us someone who is good at their job.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Openstack SDK attach cloud network

I don't think the current OpenStack SDK supports the nova api extension for virtual interfaces.

I'm not a nova guy.

I don't understand the difference between the OpenStack compute v2 os-interfaces API - and the Openstack compute os-virtual-interfacesv2 extension API.

But rackspace seems to have had to write an extension for the novaclient CLI to make it able to attach a new virtual interfaces for a cloud network to a running instance.

I was thinking I might have to write a new resource to support the api extension (probably just crib from the existing ServerInterface) - but it turned out there's already support in OpenStackSDK to boot instances with extra networks.

Here's what I'm using:
#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
import requests
import sys

# default instance and network attributes
IMAGE = '09de0a66-3156-48b4-90a5-1cf25a905207'
FLAVOR = 'general1-4'
NETWORK = 'my-test'
CIDR = ''

auth_url = os.environ.get(
    'OS_AUTHURL', '')
# username and *password* must be set in the envrion
username = os.environ['OS_USERNAME']
password = os.environ['OS_PASSWORD']

# something about the rackspace cert makes requests mad

from openstack import connection
from openstack.compute.v2._proxy import _server

# the openstacksdk doesn't support admin_pass
class PatchedServerResource(_server.Server):

    def create_by_id(self, *args, **kwargs):
        resp = super(PatchedServerResource, self).create_by_id(*args, **kwargs)
        self._attrs['adminPass'] = resp.get('adminPass')
        return resp

_server.Server = PatchedServerResource

conn = connection.Connection(auth_url=auth_url,

conn.profile.set_region(conn.profile.ALL, REGION)

def _get_or_create_network(name):
    # this doesn't seem to work
    # network =

    # so we just search by hand
    for n in
        if == name:
            return n
    network =, ip_version='4', cidr=CIDR)
    return network

def main():
        server_name = sys.argv[1]
    except IndexError:
        return 'USAGE: %s <server-name>' % sys.argv[0]

    image = conn.compute.find_image(IMAGE)
    flavor = conn.compute.find_flavor(FLAVOR)
    network = _get_or_create_network(NETWORK)
    network_ids = (,
        # must explicitly include Public & Service networks
    server = conn.compute.create_server(
        name=server_name, image=image, flavor=flavor,
        networks=[{'uuid': id_} for id_ in network_ids]
    print 'pass', server['adminPass']
    server = conn.compute.wait_for_server(server)
    print 'ip', server.access_ipv4

if __name__ == "__main__":

So... that's not terrible.  You can see there's a few hacks in there - some defaults are globals for simplicity instead of bothering with argparse - credentials from environ for the same reason - I made the conn instance a global because it's easier to get ahold of in a repl just by importing - there's that weird cert error - some ugly monkey patching to get at admin_pass - another function for finding a network by name to work around something I hit in the Rackspace neutron API.

Having to add the awkward default static uuid's for the Public and Service networks sorta threw me on my first go 'round.

But all in all this works for creating new servers with a private cloud network on the Rackspace cloud.  Hooray!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Openstack SDK with Rackspace

I used to use rackspace-novaclient, but that fell apart on me.

If you search for the official python SDK for Rackspace Cloud - you're likely to find pyrax.

But I guess by summer '15 they were full on the Openstack-SDK ride!

Openstack-SDK seems like a decent attempt to organize things.  Docs are decent.  But my first attempt to do something 401'd

In [68]: conn.authorize()
HttpException                             Traceback (most recent call last)
 in ()
----> 1 conn.authorize()

/private/tmp/test-os-sdk/lib/python2.7/site-packages/openstack/connection.pyc in authorize(self)
    264             raise exceptions.HttpException("Unknown exception",
    265                                            six.text_type(ex),
--> 266                                            status_code=500)
    268         return headers.get('X-Auth-Token') if headers else None

HttpException: HttpException: Unknown exception, Unauthorized (HTTP 401)

Turns out, the openstack.connection.Connection class doesn't work quite like novaclient, a few params are different.  Instead of using your API Key - you need to use your password:

from openstack import connection

conn = connection.Connection(
    password='password')  # <- NOT API KEY!!!

After that the only tricky part was setting the region:

conn.profile.set_region(conn.profile.ALL, 'IAD')

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Eulogy for Thomas Clay Gerrard

Thank you for joining us today to celebrate and honor the memory of my Father.

Thomas Clay Gerrard
Uncle Tom
or more recently Paw Paw
although a lot of us probably called him mostly, just “Yes, Sir”

I’d imagine many of you can share an experience where my Dad held a fatherly like role in your life - protective, supportive.  But in case any of you ever tried to imagine what it might have been like to have Tom as your actual father - well, I’d like to set the record straight.

It was amazing.

Yeah, better than you could imagine.

I was so blessed to grow up in home centered and supported by a good man of strong character, a countryman, a good husband and a great father.  He was a great example, and he is my ideal role model.

Dad was a man of integrity, honesty and authenticity.  He never acted for the benefit of others perception - his actions were guided by his own principles - he would tell you he “could not care less what those people thought” - but he was not disrespectful of others.  He spoke with sincerity and frankness - without pretense - although he might temper an obvious truth with wit and sarcasm.  “And how did that work out for you?”  

He taught me how to show grace and strength in the face of adversity - how to respectfully disagree…

But I also learned, that if you have passion about something (and Dad had passion for everything he did — “If it’s worth doing; it’s worth doing right”) … I learned that if you have passion for something - it’s ok to show that - it’s ok to get mad when someone messes up - people will respect you more if they know where you stand.  Everyone knew that Dad had high expectations, for himself and for those with him.  You can either suck it up and do your best - or you can get out of the way - there’s no place to half-ass it with Tom.  But he’d never hold a grudge.  He was willing to get mad, but he was far quicker to forgive, and if you told him up front that you had made a mistake, he respected that a great deal, and there was barely another word about it.  He was very fair.
We’ve all been gushing this week about what an amazing man my father was, and on occasion someone would try to help find some perspective by remembering “Yeah but he was strict too” - and that’s true.  I have often described my father as setting very high expectations.  He absolutely expected that the rules were obeyed.  But he was always was up front about the ground rules, and there were always well defined consequences.
So honestly, even as a younger man, I didn’t recall him as strict.  As I recall, as a boy, he had taught me discipline.  And so after that, when I was learning to be a young man and he told me “you KNOW better” - he was right.
My father vigorously supported and loved his country.  His grit and natural talent served our country well - throughout two terms during the Vietnam War with a Naval Construction Battalion - the Fighting SeaBees.   He remained, throughout his life willing and ready to defend this country.  He carried his sense of duty, loyalty and self sacrifice forward onto his family.  I believe he felt personally responsible to ensure our freedom and safety.  And I always knew we were in good strong hands.

My father was wise.  He had the experience, he had the knowledge, and he had good judgment - which made him an exceptional teacher.
I recall a passing moment, as a grown man, at my Aunt Linda’s house.  Dad had heard Aunt Linda mention that she and Fellow had collected the remains of a number of wooden decks - and that they wanted to assemble them together into a deck of sorts around the back of their house.  Dad immediately set to organizing the affair.  We had a lot of help.  Some folks I didn’t even know.  There was a young man, he must have been someone’s boyfriend or a neighbor, Dad had set him to running his screw gun.  A few screws in Dad stopped him - and I overheard “Hey.  Slow down.  Anyone can screw some boards down - it’s not a race.  You need to line up each screw, space them evenly, and run them down straight and even.  That’s craftsmanship.  That’s what it means.  When someone steps onto this deck - they’ll know that the person who built it - did it with care - and that they did a good job”  It felt like an out of body experience, watching that young boy receive that wisdom that my father had given me years ago - and he nodded and he understood.  He did a good job.
My dad taught me so much.  I still had so much to learn.  I know that in time the shock I’m feeling now will give way to grief, and in time after that I’ll learn to carry that sorrow with dignity.  But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to deny the big hole in my life, where I knew I could always turn to him for answers, and support.

So uncle Bill, next time when I’m asking you something about my water heater or whatever it is - and I just flat out loose it - you cut me some slack a’ight.

Dad had an uncanny gift for service.  Service, i’ve read, is one of the “love languages” - and that is how he was best able to show us just how MUCH he loved us.  And it suited him - “actions speak louder than words”.  As you remember how much my father has done for you - try not to get caught feeling a great debt for his service - he was HAPPY to do it.  It was his gift.  He loves you very much.