Finding a good excuse to learn a new technology is something I’ve been interested in for a while particularly as the pace of change and technology adoption only ever seems to be increasing. Knowing that the IT world is in an ongoing state of flux, finding an engaging way to learn about the tech that technologists are expected to know is more than idle curiosity, it’s essential for career success.
Revisiting Chatbots, a topic I encountered through a Wired article from summer 2015, I discovered that getting a chatbot up and running, and more importantly, useful and usable, involved a wide variety of different technologies. As the article was heaped so much praise on Github’s bot, I decided to try it out with a view to having it do some useful tasks around AWS administration, one of the two challenges that had been put up to our 2016 interns.
This led me to having to work with a number of interesting and topical technologies, including:
- Hubot – the Github chatbot
- Node.js and npm
- AWS CLI
To get started, as I wanted my bot to work with AWS, it was necessary to prepare a couple of things on that side.
I created an AWS IAM account for my bot to use. I didn’t assign a password to the account as I don’t intend for the account to be used interactively (i.e. for logging onto the console), what I was after was an access key and secret key that can be used with the AWS Command Line and therefore could be used by the bot.
With the AWS pieces in place, I moved on to setting up the host in AWS itself, and selected a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 machine to act as my Hubot host, as this would approximate a production deployment.
Onto my new RHEL server, I installed and configured the AWS CLI.
$ curl &amp;amp;amp;quot;https://s3.amazonaws.com/aws-cli/awscli-bundle.zip&amp;amp;amp;quot; -o &amp;amp;amp;quot;awscli-bundle.zip&amp;amp;amp;quot; % Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed 100 6984k 100 6984k 0 0 4106k 0 0:00:01 0:00:01 --:--:-- 4105k $ unzip awscli-bundle.zip Archive: awscli-bundle.zip inflating: awscli-bundle/install inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/jmespath-0.9.0.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/simplejson-3.3.0.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/botocore-1.4.43.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/ordereddict-1.1.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/awscli-1.10.53.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/rsa-3.4.2.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/futures-3.0.5.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/docutils-0.12.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/s3transfer-0.1.1.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/colorama-0.3.7.zip inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/argparse-1.2.1.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/pyasn1-0.1.9.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/virtualenv-13.0.3.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/python-dateutil-2.5.3.tar.gz inflating: awscli-bundle/packages/six-1.10.0.tar.gz $ sudo ./awscli-bundle/install -i /usr/local/aws -b /usr/local/bin/aws Running cmd: /bin/python virtualenv.py --python /bin/python /usr/local/aws Running cmd: /usr/local/aws/bin/pip install --no-index --find-links file:///home/ec2-user/Downloads/awscli-bundle/packages awscli-1.10.53.tar.gz You can now run: /usr/local/bin/aws –version $ aws configure
Up next was configuring the EPEL yum repository so that I could use Yum to install things like Redis.
$ wget -r --no-parent -A 'epel-release-*.rpm' http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/7/x86_64/e/ $ sudo rpm -Uvh dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/7/x86_64/e/epel-release-*.rpm warning: dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/7/x86_64/e/epel-release-7-8.noarch.rpm: Header V3 RSA/SHA256 Signature, key ID 352c64e5: NOKEY Preparing... ################################# [100%] Updating / installing... 1:epel-release-7-8 ################################# [100%] $ ll /etc/yum.repos.d total 32 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 957 Jul 23 17:37 epel.repo -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1056 Jul 23 17:37 epel-testing.repo -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 358 Nov 9 2015 redhat.repo -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 607 Aug 9 04:08 redhat-rhui-client-config.repo -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 8679 Aug 9 04:08 redhat-rhui.repo -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 80 Aug 9 04:08 rhui-load-balancers.conf
With the appropriate repos in place, I was able to install redis
$ sudo yum install redis –y $ sudo systemctl start redis.service $ sudo systemctl status redis.service redis.service - Redis persistent key-value database Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/redis.service; disabled; vendor preset: disabled) Drop-In: /etc/systemd/system/redis.service.d └─limit.conf Active: active (running) since Tue 2016-08-09 04:37:35 EDT; 5s ago Main PID: 4971 (redis-server) CGroup: /system.slice/redis.service └─4971 /usr/bin/redis-server 127.0.0.1:6379 Aug 09 04:37:35 ip-192-168-20-246.eu-west-1.compute.internal systemd: Started Redis persistent key-value database. Aug 09 04:37:35 ip-192-168-20-246.eu-west-1.compute.internal systemd: Starting Redis persistent key-value database...
Hubot is basically a bunch of node.js, so it was necessary to get it and the Node Package Manager installed too.
wget https://nodejs.org/dist/v6.3.1/node-v6.3.1-linux-x64.tar.xz sudo tar --strip-components 1 -xf /home/ec2-user/Downloads/node-v6.3.1-linux-x64.tar.xz
I called my Hubot “Io” (as in I/O), and created a directory for Io to live in. Once installed, Hubot can be started in a basic “shell” mode that enables testing and local interactions with the bot on the host server.
$ sudo npm install -g yo generator-hubot $ cd /io $ yo hubot $ bin/hubot
At this point, a working Hobot is in place but it isn’t very useful. In order to get more out of him, Hubot can be extended by adding scripts. In the fine tradition of Open Source, many scripts that others have developed are available to download and install via NPM, and of course you can create your own.
Up next, extending Hubot through scripts.