Knowledge, OpenStack

Getting Your Hands Dirty with OpenStack

If you ask yourself the inevitable question “where do I start?” this blog post is for you.

Luckily, being an open source software you have free access to OpenStack’s various installations. OpenStack comes in it’s native (or trunk) form and through various company supported distributions – RedHat, Canonical (Ubuntu), SUSE and Mirantis to name just a few. In that sense it is similar to Linux having one common kernel and various companies making their own distributions. There are also many configuration management software platforms like Chef, Puppet and SaltStack that can make life much easier installing OpenStack but takes much of the learning benefit from it.

No Computer? No Problem!

Your first option to have a bit more hands-on experience is at a free website called Also called “deployment-as-a-service”, this website will take you through a step-by-step guide to have a one node or dual node (multi-node is not being supported while writing these lines) OpenStack installation. The focus is to gain familiarity with the installation process rather than having an accessible OpenStack cloud in the sky. 

Laptop or Desktop is all I have…

Many more options here. First you need a machine that has Linux installation on it or a virtual machine with Linux distribution running on it. For the virtual machine Oracle’s VirtualBox is a cross-platform free option.

If you haven’t heard of DevStack now it’s the time. Basically, it’s the way for developers to have a light weight version of OpenStack running on their computer(s) for development purposes. Unless, you are a developer, I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to get familiar with OpenStack. Next is RDO which is a community supported OpenStack for RedHat based Linux platforms. if you like using the yum command RDO can be your thing! RDO supports all-in-one meaning you can install a complete OpenStack environment in one machine. It also uses Packstack, a tool based on Puppet, to make your installation life easier.You can find a step-by-step guide hereMirantis facilitate the installation with their Fuel installation tool. You can read about how to use Fuel to have a running OpenStack environment in 60 minutes here. OpenStack on Ubuntu based Linux machines, can also be installed in all-in-one manner. You can read here about someone who did it.

OpenStack documentation offer a deployment of training cluster guidelines in their training guide to have a multi-node environment running on VMs on one machine. In a future blog post I’ll provide more updated and detailed steps of how to achieve that.

Money is not an issue.

Lucky you. If you have access to public cloud environment or you have enough hardware then I highly recommend installing 3 nodes or more OpenStack cloud. Ideally with nic-bonding and separate networks. I recently deployed a three-node OpenStack cloud over a public cloud and documented my installation steps in this blog post which you can find helpful even if you deploy on your own hardware (VMs or bare-metal).

OpenStack official documentation includes installation guides for each supported Linux distribution. Specifically, the Operations Guide and Cloud Administrator Guide are both good sources of practical knowledge. If you want to install OpenStack Kilo all-in-one RDO over VirtualBox for instance, I would recommend looking online with keywords “RDO + VirtualBox + Kilo”

I believe that the best way to learn OpenStack is to install it without using any configuration management tools or scripts. Yes, is won’t be a short process but you’ll get more intimate interaction with the different components through the installation process and understand better their functionality later on. This should be done ideally in a multi-node environment rather than one machine. Good luck!


2 thoughts on “Getting Your Hands Dirty with OpenStack

  1. Just, by way of setting expectations, installing OpenStack by hand is not a trivial 10 minute endeavor. However the well documented instructions in the OpenStack Installation Guides have been vetted. So anyone pursuing this approach can be assured the documentation has been well travelled and corrected or elaborated on when necessary.
    It is immensely rewarding to do it by hand, start the UI (Horizon) and have everything there, ready to run.


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