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Running Ansible in OpenShift with arbitrary UIDs

·590 words·3 mins·

My work at Red Hat involves testing lots and lots of kernels from various sources and we use GitLab CE to manage many of our repositories and run our CI jobs. Those jobs run in thousands of OpenShift containers that we spawn every day.

OpenShift has some handy security features that we like. First, each container is mounted read-only with some writable temporary space (and any volumes that you mount). Also, OpenShift uses arbitrarily assigned user IDs (UIDs) for each container.

Constantly changing UIDs provide some good protection against container engine vulnerabilities, but they can be a pain if you have a script or application that depends on being able to resolve a UID or GID back to a real user or group account.

Ansible and UIDs #

If you run an Ansible playbook within OpenShift, you will likely run into a problem during the fact gathering process:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts playbook.yml

PLAY [all] *********************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *********************************************************
An exception occurred during task execution. To see the full traceback, use -vvv.
The error was: KeyError: 'getpwuid(): uid not found: 1000220000'
fatal: [localhost]: FAILED! => {"msg": "Unexpected failure during module execution.", "stdout": ""}
	to retry, use: --limit @/major-ansible-messaround/playbook.retry

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
localhost                  : ok=0    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=1

This exception is telling us that getpwuid() was not able to find an entry in /etc/passwd for our UID (1000220000 in this container).

One option would be to adjust the playbook so that we skip the fact gathering process:

- hosts: all
  gather_facts: no

    - name: Run tests
      command: ./

However, this might not be helpful if you need facts to be gathered for your playbook to run. In that case, you need to make some adjustments to your container image first.

Updating the container #

Nothing in the container image is writable within OpenShift, but we can change certain files to be group writable for the root user since every OpenShift user has an effective GID of 0.

When you build your container, add a line to your Dockerfile to allow the container user to have group write access to /etc/passwd and /etc/group:

# Make Ansible happy with arbitrary UID/GID in OpenShift.
RUN chmod g=u /etc/passwd /etc/group

Once your container has finished building, the permissions on both files should look like this:

$ ls -al /etc/passwd /etc/group
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root 514 Mar 20 18:12 /etc/group
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root 993 Mar 20 18:12 /etc/passwd

Make a user account #

Now that we’ve made these files writable for our user in OpenShift, it’s time to change how we run our GitLab CI job. My job YAML currently looks like this:

    - ansible-playbook -i hosts playbook.yml

We can add two lines that allow us to make a temporary user and group account for our OpenShift user:

    - echo "tempuser❌$(id -u):$(id -g):,,,:${HOME}:/bin/bash" >> /etc/passwd
    - echo "tempuser❌$(id -G | cut -d' ' -f 2)" >> /etc/group
    - id
    - ansible-playbook -i hosts playbook.yml

Note that we want the second GID returned by id since the first one is 0. The id command helps us check our work when the container starts. When the CI job starts, we should see some better output:

$ echo "tempuser❌$(id -u):$(id -g):,,,:${HOME}:/bin/bash" >> /etc/passwd
$ echo "tempuser❌$(id -G | cut -d' ' -f 2)" >> /etc/group
$ id
uid=1000220000(tempuser) gid=0(root) groups=0(root),1000220000(tempuser)
$ ansible-playbook -i hosts playbook.yml

PLAY [all] *********************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *********************************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [Download kernel source] **************************************************
changed: [localhost]

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
localhost                  : ok=2    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0