Cfengine 3 Snippets Part 1: DenyHosts

I’ve recently begun looking into configuration management with cfengine 3. I’ve ignored this growing sub-field of system administration for too long and I just can’t ignore it anymore. After spending quite some time researching the philosophies, methods and different tools out there, I settled on starting out with cfengine 3. There’s no special reason that I chose cfengine instead of puppet, bcfg2, chef or AutomateIT. I haven’t used any of these tools and thus I cannot pass judgement on them or their methods. All these projects seem to have intelligent and highly motivated people behind them. I simply gravitated towards cfengine because of its strong academic background and the fact that version 3 now represents the most recent and modern research in the field by Mark Burgess et. al.

As part of my learning experience with cfengine, I’ve decided to start posting some of the code that I’ve begun developing in the hopes that by writing about it, I can learn better, faster and maybe even receive some helpful comments from readers along the way. Beware, I’m a cfengine newbie and so what I post here should NOT be copy and pasted into your environment unless you’re ok with the potential of wildly breaking things!

The first snippet of code I want to discuss is related to managing our DenyHosts configuration. As part of our “security policy”, I would like to ensure that every RedHat/CentOS system is running a properly configured DenyHosts instance. Here is what I’ve come up with so far.


RHEL/CentOS, NFS and Firewalls

I recently decided that it’s about time to setup consistent, explicit and tight firewall policy across our Linux (mostly RHEL/CentOS) servers. One of the initial issues I faced was NFS. NFS implementations are very well known to make use of the portmapper and dynamically assigned port for rpc.mountd and because of this dynamic assignment, firewalling NFS can be challenging.

Luckily, RedHat’s /etc/sysconfig/nfs configuration file read by¬† various “nfs”, “nfslock” and RPC services init scripts provides an easy means of locking down specific ports for all the NFS-related services so that one doesn’t have to work around the dynamic port assignment problem when it comes to firewalling.