Posts tagged devcontainer

Using environment variables in a devcontainer

Hardcoded variables are never a good idea and one solution is the update the during deployment with Ansible for example. Another option is to set read those variables from the environment and maintaining them via systemd via a separate environment file or as part of the container deployment.

The example below is how Django reads the environment variables to configure the database connection to Postgresql. This way the application can easily be configured as is described in Environment variables set by systemd and the application itself never has to be modified or redeployed.

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Upgrading to Terraform 1.5

Pinning Terraform versions is a good practice to ensure that your infrastructure-as-code (IaC) is always deployed with a known version of Terraform. This is especially important when using Terraform Cloud, as the version of Terraform used to plan and apply changes is not always the same as the version used to develop the IaC. This can lead to unexpected errors and behavior, but this also requires that you keep your Terraform version up-to-date in the different configuration files.

In post Run Terraform within GitHub Codespaces Terraform was installed in the devcontainer using features. To upgrade Terraform, simply update the version number in the devcontainer.json file as shown below.

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Run Terraform within GitHub Codespaces

Using GitHub Codespaces allows you to work on your code from almost any place in the world without an Internet connection. Only the devcontainers powering Codespaces are mended to be short-lived and not contain any credentials. This may pose a challenge when you’re depending on remote services like Terraform Cloud that require an API-token to work properly.

Most devcontainers are following the Microsoft devcontainer template and those are based on Debian which gives you access to a huge repository of packaged software. Only Terraform isn’t part of the standard Debian repository, but HashiCorp provides its own repository that can be added. Let’s start by extending the Dockerfile to add the repository and install the Terraform package as highlighted below.

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How to manage your dotfiles

On Unix systems, dotfiles are files that are stored in the home directory and contain configuration information. The XDG Base Directory Specification already splitted them in three categories and most applications how store their files in .cache, .config, and .local based on their purpose. And a small subset of application sticks to the root of the home directory like the most shells. In most cases you don’t need to manage your dotfiles across multiple machines, but for the ones you want to manage across multiple machines or want to be present in your devcontainer, you can use a utility like RCM and a dotfiles repository.

The first step is to create a repository on GitHub and we use the GitHub command-line tool for this, but it can also be done via the web interface. After creating the repository, it is renamed to .dotfiles at the root of the user’s home directory and makes it hidden.

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