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Provisioning a Windows box with Vagrant, Chocolatey and Puppet – Part 2

Now that we’ve successfully set up our Windows box, the most pressing question that people ask themselves would be: How do I administer my box without SSH, as we started from a bare box without installing a SSH daemon beforehand?

The answer to that would be WinRS (Windows Remote Shell), the Windows equivalent of SSH. Assuming that you’ve followed the packaging and setup instructions for your Windows box previously, WinRS and it’s dependency, WinRM (Windows Remote Management) should already be setup correctly.

In order to administer our Windows box, all we need to do is to simply  replace our well loved

vagrant ssh

with

winrs -r:http://localhost:15985 -u:vagrant cmd

which will launch a remote PowerShell terminal and log you in. And there you have it, command line administration of a Windows box!

One current limitation of using WinRS is that due to the way it pipes standard output, we can’t run console based text editors  such as nano, pico, vim, etc if we want to edit files in the box. As a workaround, I’ve placed files inside a shared Vagrant folder and edited them on the host, and also edited code on the host, pushed it to GitHub and pulled it on the guest. None of these solutions are particularly elegant, but command line administration of Windows boxes still has some ways to go before it catches up to the *nix world.

Now, to install Jenkins, instead of running apt-get install jenkins (depending on your preferred version of Linux), you can simply run

cinst jenkins

With a combination of WinRS, Chocolatey and Puppet, the next time someone doubts that you can automatically provision a Windows box and administer it from the command line, you can now show them how it’s done .

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Provisioning a Windows box with Vagrant, Chocolatey and Puppet – Part 1

I’ve always thought that Vagrant’s one of the coolest things since sliced bread, and an absolute godsend for provisioning server and database boxes quickly and cleanly in order to avoid cluttering up my main machine with extraneous fluff and to avoid snowflake configurations during development. The only drawback I’ve encountered so far is that it has always seemed to be more suited for *Nix boxes only.

With some Googling, help from people smarter than me and much experimentation, I’ve managed to provision a Windows Server 2008 R2 box and this post will chronicle some of the trials and tribulations I’ve faced on this interesting journey.

First off, you’ll need a licensed copy of the Windows OS, of course (I used Windows Server 2008 R2). Next, install the vagrant-windows plugin. Setup your OS according to the “Creating a Base Box” section and package it using

vagrant package --base  --output 

With that, you’ll be done with the easy part and the more interesting stuff begins. We’ll aim to provision our Windows box by first bootstrapping the installation of Chocolatey, an amazing little piece of software that brings automated command line software installs to Windows. Think of it as brew for OS X or apt-get for *Nix machines. Once Chocolatey has been installed, we’ll use it to get JDK 7 and Puppet to our box. For a more complete example, we’ll then use Puppet to setup ant, Git and Maven before adding Jenkins manually via the command line. You can clone the entire setup needed to replicate this example (minus the box itself) from the repo at Github.

First, let’s take a look at this particular line from the Vagrantfile:

config.vm.provision :shell, :path => "setup_requirements.cmd"

This setup_requirements.cmd will execute remotely execute 2 powershell scripts to install .Net 4 and Chocolatey respectively. Much thanks to ferventcoder, the author of Chocolatey and from whom I got the scripts from. Although the latest version of Chocolatey will install .Net 4 if it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t work for me when installing remotely via powershell, hence the need for a .Net installation script beforehand.

Once that’s complete, we install the JDK and puppet via Chocolatey before we reach this next interesting line:

config.vm.provision :shell, inline: "puppet module install --force rismoney/chocolatey"

There’s 2 things to take note of here. This line installs the Chocolatey package provider for Puppet’s usage, and the –force makes this command idempotent as the provisioning process will fail if you call

vagrant provision

without this flag. The advantage of being able to use Chocolatey’s package provider in Puppet is that you can reuse all of Chocolatey’s package names in Puppet. For example, our Puppet file looks like this:

node 'default' {
  package { "maven" :
        ensure => "3.0.5",
        provider => 'chocolatey'
  }
  package { "apache.ant" :
        ensure => "latest",
        provider => 'chocolatey'
  }
  package { "git" :
        ensure => "latest",
        provider => 'chocolatey'
  }
}

where the package names correspond to cinst maven apache.ant git. At the point of writing, cinst maven doesn’t work as it’s pointing to the 3.0.4 package, which is currently 404 and will cause your provisioning process to halt (be it Puppet or Chocolatey), so we point it to version 3.0.5, which is available.

With that, we now have a basic Windows box up and running. In the next part, I’ll delve into setting up Jenkins on our box remotely using WinRM and WinRS. No SSH required!