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What is Cloud-Init and Why is it so Cool?

Establishing fresh cloud instances can be a laborious process, particularly when grappling with numerous configurations and software installations. Fortunately, with cloud-init, such concerns become a thing of the past.

Cloud-init is a purpose-built software for cloud server instances, designed to streamline the server setup process automatically based on provided metadata. This metadata outlines the desired server configuration, specifying details such as the packages to install and the commands to execute during initialization.

How does it work?

Cloud-init configures your cloud instance based on a specified configuration file. For those versed in Docker, consider the cloud-init config as analogous to a Dockerfile, with the cloud instance serving as the container. The configuration file, composed in YAML, serves as a blueprint for creating new cloud instances. An illustration of such a configuration can be found in the following example of a cloud.cfg:



    - default

disable_root: true

preserve_hostname: false

apt_preserve_sources_list: true


   distro: debian


      name: debian

      lock_passwd: True

      gecos: Debian

      groups: [adm, audio, cdrom, dialout, dip, floppy, netdev, plugdev, sudo, video]

      sudo: ["ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL"]

      shell: /bin/bash


      cloud_dir: /var/lib/cloud/

      templates_dir: /etc/cloud/templates/

      upstart_dir: /etc/init/


     - arches: [default]




   ssh_svcname: ssh


  - echo “Hello world!” > /home/hello.txt


  - vim

  - git

  - htop

This configuration will set up your system by installing the packages vim, git, and htop. Additionally, it will generate a new file, /home/hello.txt, containing the text “Hello world!”. The configuration also establishes a default user following the specifications outlined in system_info while disabling the root user.

To tailor your server configuration further, leverage various modules available. For instance, employ the bootcmd module to execute custom commands at the beginning of the boot process. Alternatively, utilize the users and groups module to create personalized user accounts and assign them specific groups.

Explore additional cloud-init configuration examples for more insights.

Why Cloud-Init when I have Docker?

When considering the replication of environments, Docker may come to mind. However, the advantage is that there’s no need to make an exclusive choice between the two. This is because, for Docker to function, it requires installation and configuration on the machine, and that’s precisely the purpose of cloud-init. During the setup of a new machine, cloud-init can install and set up Docker, allowing you to subsequently use Docker for running your software.

Cloud-Init at Madpopo

Cloud VPS and VDS users at Madpopo have the option to leverage cloud-init. The recommended method involves utilizing the API. Through the API, users can directly provide their cloud-init configuration when placing an order for a VPS. Once the VPS is prepared, the specified configuration is automatically applied, and the server is ready for use. Additionally, users can enable cloud-init on an existing server and initiate a reinstallation using cloud-init.

Refer to the API documentation for detailed information on establishing a cloud instance using the Madpopo REST API.

The Full Power of Cloud-Init

The utility of cloud-init extends far beyond the basic setup of cloud instances with specific users and packages. For instance, it enables the seamless deployment of complete applications like WordPress, encompassing an entire LAMP stack, through this singular method. Utilizing the API facilitates the process, making a new WordPress installation merely a matter of a single API call.

This approach also simplifies the task of creating numerous machines with identical configurations and software. By crafting a cloud-init configuration once, it becomes a reusable solution applicable across multiple instances. This eliminates the need for manual configuration for each deployment, streamlining the overall process significantly.

Disaster Recovery

The necessity to establish new machines can arise in disaster scenarios, where additional instances are essential to manage increased workloads resulting from failures. Cloud-init proves valuable in such situations, ensuring the swift deployment of new instances with the necessary configurations and software.

The capability to recreate a specific environment becomes a seamless task with cloud-init, especially crucial when there is a need for rapid replication of a machine. This feature facilitates efficient recovery and replication processes in critical situations.

Clusters and Kubernetes

Within a cluster, numerous nodes (machines) are employed for designated tasks, adapting swiftly to fluctuating workloads. However, there comes a juncture where the existing server configuration might prove insufficient for the mounting tasks, possibly reaching this point sooner than anticipated. In such situations, prompt action is imperative. This is precisely where cloud-init proves invaluable, orchestrating the automatic setup of new nodes in alignment with a centralized configuration. This automated process eliminates the need for manual configuration, ensuring a swift and responsive adaptation to evolving requirements.

Sanyog Shelar

passionate about programming and system architecture design, and he uses his deep knowledge to help clients achieve their goals. He also shares his expertise on various cybersecurity issues and offers practical advice on how to protect against common threats. In addition to his technical skills, Sanyog is an expert in server management and is able to provide expert advice on how to manage web applications at the server level.

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