Rollout Manual

[ Up ]


Rollout is a system developed to manage UNIX servers. It is primarily focused towards Linux, but could be adapted to Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, etc.

It is written purely in Perl, and the configuration is also a Perl source file. Some Perl knowledge is required to edit the configuration, but copy-and-paste will probably suffice.


System Administration can generally be reduced to a set of steps, which must be completed in order. Some example steps include:

  • Copy files, create symlinks
  • Edit configuration files
  • Start / stop services
  • Add / modify users & groups
  • Install applications

The idea behind Rollout is to automate all these steps in a configurable way. Rollout is by design indempotent - it can be run many times on a single server and produce the same results.

Running Rollout

Rollout is self-installing on servers. The following command line will install rollout for the first time:

# URL=http://rollout.domain:port; wget -q -O- $URL/rollout | perl - -u $URL -o setup

After it's installed, it can be run just by calling rollout. You must however give a comment on the rollout command line. This should be a short reason for running Rollout.

The first run uses the -s flag, which runs rollout in safe mode. In this mode, all the steps are run but no changes are actually made. This is used to check that nothing bad will happen when it's run for real.

After the safe mode run has been checked, it can be run again without the -s flag, and all steps will be applied.

NOTE: The first run requires the Error perl module to already be installed.

Command-line Arguments

The following command line arguments are available:

Full Short Description
verbose v Increase verbosity
quiet q Don't print anything except fatal errors
safe_mode s Show what will be changed, but don't actually do anything
url u Set the base Rollout HTTP url. This defaults to http://rollout.domain:port. This option is saved in the rollout script, so only needs to be specified once.
skip_step k Specify a step to be skipped, may be specified multiple times. e.g. -k network -k sysctl
hostname h Rollout configuration for a different host. If -f network is provided, the hostname will be changed to match the host supplied
force f Force a dangerous step to be run. e.g. -f network
step_help H Get help for a particular step


Every Rollout run that is run without the -s flag will be logged by the 999-complete step. The default is to make a HTTP request to the rollout server and pass it the log. The sample complete.php script will receive the log and do nothing with it.


The configuration for Rollout is stored in rollout.cfg as well as other files in the fragments directory. These files are Perl source, so they can be checked for correctness by running perl -c rollout.cfg.

A major design concept in the rollout configuration is inheritance. Since many devices will have similar configurations, they should inherit as much as possible using the inherits() configuration item. Each class in the inherits() section is also specified in the same config, and they can inherit from other classes. It's even possible to have a device directly inherit another device's configuration, but this would include everything, even network interfaces.

Because a single file can be very unwieldy for large configurations, most of the configuration should be done in fragments files. You can put all the configuration in rollout.cfg if you wish, but you'll end up with a very large file that's hard to maintain. Each of the files in the fragments directory will be evaluated before Rollout starts making any changes. The source distrubtion includes a sample fragment file fragments/internal, which you can use as a template.

A sample device configuration looks like this:

device kickstart => {
  inherits(RHEL4_i386, Web_Server), # Inherit the RHEL4_i386 and Web_Server classes
  interfaces => {
    eth0 => {
      dhcp => 'kickstart',                     # eth0 gets its IP by DHCP
      mac => '00:50:8B:E8:A0:6D',
      primary => 1,
    eth1 => {
      ip => '',                        # eth1 is statically defined on its own network
      netmask => '',
      mac => '00:D0:B7:E3:5A:F4',
  nfs_share => {
    "/kickstart" => {                          # Share the /kickstart directory by NFS
      "" => "ro,no_root_squash",    # Allow the private LAN to access the nfs share
  firewall_allow => [
    '# Rollout HTTP',                          # This comment is inserted directly into the rules list
    any => '8140',                             # Allow any host to connect to tcp port 8140
    admin => '80',                             # Allow the admin network to connect to tcp port 80
  packages => [
    'dhcp',                                    # Make sure the dhcp and rpm-devel packages are installed

Configuration Items

The following items are available for use in rollout.cfg and other configuration fragments in the fragments directory:

Item Type Description
apt_base string Specifies a URL that will be added to the APT sources.list for local packages
crontab hash A hash of cron.d files that will be created, with the entries for each file
cvs cvs Specifies which modules will be checked out of CVS, and where
deb_options list Allows preconfiguring deb packages before they are installed. Expert Option
dir_check list Creates directories and forces ownership & permissions
file_append list Appends lines to text files, replacing any lines that match. Can also run a command if the file is changed
file_attr hash Modifies owner, group and permissions on files
file_extract hash Downloads a tarball and extracts it to a directory
file_install hash Downloads a file and places it somewhere. Can also run a command if the file is changed
file_modify list Modifies existing files by applying regular expressions. Can also run a command if the file is changed
firewall_allow list Allows incoming ports in the firewall
firewall_append list Appends verbatim lines to the iptables configuration file
firewall_deny list Denies incoming ports in the firewall
group hash Ensures a system group exists
hosts_append list Appends a given line to the /etc/hosts file
immutable_file list Marks a certain file as immutable. This file will never be touched by any other steps
interfaces hash Defines configuration for the network interfaces
inherits list Specifies a list of classes that this device or class inherits configuration from
nameservers list Specifies the default nameservers in /etc/resolv.conf
network string Marks the device or class as part of a network, for the purposes of firewalls and host files
nfs_mount hash Mounts a NFS share locally
nfs_share hash Shares a local directory by NFS
packages list Provides a list of packages to be installed. These can be debs or rpms
port_check list Adds elements to /etc/services
service hash Ensures that system services are running/stopped and should be started/stopped on boot
skip_steps list Mark a list of steps that will never be executed for this device
sudo hash Allow users to run commands with sudo
ssh_keys_add list Adds the list of keys to root's authorized_keys file
symlink hash Ensures a symlink exists and its destination is correct
sysctl hash Adds the items to /etc/sysctl.conf and applies them. These are for kernel configuration
user string Ensures each user exists, has the correct password and is in the correct groups

Sample Run

The following is pasted directly from the terminal after running Rollout:

# rollout
  Installing /etc/network/interfaces from text
  Modified /etc/resolv.conf by appending options timeout:5 attempts:2
  Network config is considered dangerous, changes won''t be applied unless you specify the "-f network" argument.
  Modified /etc/hosts by appending mulberry
  Modified /etc/hosts by appending kickstart
  Installing /root/.ssh/authorized_keys from text
  Changing mode of /root/.ssh/authorized_keys to 644
  Installing packages lshw
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.conf.all.log_martians = 1
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_redirects = 0
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.conf.all.send_redirects = 0
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.conf.all.rp_filter = 1
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts = 0
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies = 1
  Modified /etc/sysctl.conf by appending net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_source_route = 0
  Installing /etc/pam_ldap.conf from http://rollout.domain/conf/pam_ldap.conf
  Installing /etc/libnss-ldap.conf from http://rollout.domain/conf/libnss-ldap.conf
  Changing mode of /etc/libnss-ldap.conf to 600
  Installing /etc/ntp.conf from http://rollout.domain/conf/ntp.conf
  Installing /etc/resolv.conf from http://rollout.domain/conf/resolv.conf
  Changing target of symlink /usr/local/bin/vis to /usr/local/bin/viw
  Modified /etc/nsswitch.conf with s/^passwd:.*/passwd:  compat ldap/, s/^group:.*/group:  compat ldap/


Every step has built-in help, which you can get on a client with:

# rollout -H timezone

    Set the timezone of the machine.

      device sample => {
        timezone => "Australia/Sydney",

        This should be a file or a directory that exists in
        "/usr/share/zoneinfo" or "/usr/share/lib/zoneinfo".

    Copyright 2010 David Parrish

On the rollout server, you can get the same help using:

# perldoc /usr/local/rollout/steps/070-timezone

       Set the timezone of the machine.

         device sample => {
           timezone => "Australia/Sydney",

           This should be a file or a directory that exists in "/usr/share/zoneinfo" or "/usr/share/lib/zoneinfo".

       Copyright 2010 David Parrish