We have chosen a distribution!

Raspbian was the first to fall, it’s lack of an armv7 targeted derivative leading to concerns about its performance. Next was Debian armhf, for which I’d had big hopes. Unfortunately configuring Debian for Docker was taking too long, and we had to move on. Next down was Ubuntu Mate for the Pi 2, which is honestly an excellent distribution, but just wasn’t right for us. Ubuntu Mate installed docker perfectly well, but came with too many apps we didn’t need and was worryingly specific compared to Arch Linux Arm. Arch suited our requirements perfectly. Docker installed without a hitch, and Arch has a large enough community to ensure that the distribution will continue to be supported for a long time.

With our operating system chosen, it was time to start building up our stack. We needed a tool to administer our small dev group of Pi’s for, which could be easily extended to five times the number of machines. The tool would have to be lightweight, scalable, easy to learn and fully featured. For this reason we went with Saltstack. Saltstack has everything we need. It’s FOSS, and powerful. I can send commands to every machine in just one line, it has a server/agent (salt-master/minion) relationship built in, and it supports docker. It even comes with an API, and after a little bit of fiddling I was able to get SaltPad, a web based GUI for Salt, up and running on pi0, which also hosts the Saltmaster.

Screenshot from 2015-06-12 13:13:13

SaltPad is a promising project, but it’s still in early alpha and as buggy as you might expect. It’s also missing some critical features for us. It’s very worthy regardless, and I might try toying with this alongside shipyard, the free docker management tool, seeing how effective the combination is, and if our Pi master can handle it. If nothing out there ends up working for us, then we’ll have to build our own solution. Just in case that does end up happening, let us know in the comments the features that you think all cloud management software should have.

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