All posts by nicholas

Upgrading AWX

AWX is the open source version of Ansible Tower. It’s a powerful tool, but unfortunately AWX has no in place upgrade capability. If you want to upgrade your AWX to the latest version it takes a bit of trickery (the easy way out being just to pay for Ansible Tower.)

Essentially to upgrade AWX you need to spin up a completely new instance and then migrate your data over to it. Fortunately there is a script out there that makes doing this a bit easier.

Below are my notes for how I upgraded my instance of AWX from version 1.0.6 to 2.1.0.

Create temporary AWX migration server

Spin up new server with ansible installed, then clone AWX

git clone 
cd awx 
git clone

Modify AWX install to expose 5432 externally:

edit installer/roles/local_docker/tasks/standalone.yml and add

      - "5432:5432" 

right above the when: pg_hostname is not defined or pg_hostname == '' line. Complete stanza looks like this:

- name: Activate postgres container
    name: postgres
    state: started
    restart_policy: unless-stopped
    image: "{{ postgresql_image }}"
      - "{{ postgres_data_dir }}:/var/lib/postgresql/data:Z"
      POSTGRES_USER: "{{ pg_username }}"
      POSTGRES_PASSWORD: "{{ pg_password }}"
      POSTGRES_DB: "{{ pg_database }}"
      PGDATA: "/var/lib/postgresql/data/pgdata"
      - "5432:5432"
  when: pg_hostname is not defined or pg_hostname == ''
  register: postgres_container_activate

Make sure you have port 5432 open on your host-based firewall.

Install AWX on the new host. Verify you can log into the empty instance and that it’s the version you want to upgrade to.

Prepare original AWX server to send

Kill the AWX postgres container on the source machine, and re-run awx installer after modifying it to expose its postgres port as described above.

Install tower-cli (this can be on either source or destination servers)

sudo pip install ansible-tower-cli

Configure tower-cli

tower-cli config username SRC_AWX_USERNAME
towercli config password SRC_AWX_PASSWORD
towercli config host: SRC_AWX_HOST

Make sure to use full ansible URL as accessed from a browser for both source and destination

Install awx-migrate:

git clone

Update awx-migrate/awx-migrate-wrapper with correct source and destination info

Run awx-migrate-wrapper. It will generate json files with your configuration.

Migrate database to temporary server

Modify tower-cli config, set host, username and password to that of the destination AWX instance

tower-cli config username DEST_AWX_USERNAME
towercli config password DEST_AWX_PASSWORD
towercli config host: DEST_AWX_HOST

Send JSON info to destination:

tower-cli send awx-data.json

You will now have a fresh new, updated AWX instance working, with imported database, on the destination host. Confirm you can log into it with the admin account you set it up with.

Prepare original AWX server to receive

Now, on the source, remove  the old AWX docker containers:

sudo docker rm -f postgres awx_task awx_web memcached rabbitmq

Move / delete the database folder the postgres docker container was using (as defined in awx installer inventory) in my case:


Remove and re-install AWX folder with a fresh git checkout

rm -rf awx
git clone
cd awx
git clone

Re-run the AWX installer to re-create a blank database on the source host, modify the new awx/installer/inventory as needed. Also modify installer/roles/local_docker/tasks/standalone.yml as outlined above.

cd awx/installer
sudo ansible-playbook -i inventory install.yml

Migrate from temporary AWX server back to source AWX server

Once a new, empty version of awx is running on the source host,  start the awx-migrate process in reverse to migrate the database on the destination instance back to the source. Modify awx-migrate-wrapper and tower-cli to switch src and destination (the destination has become the source and the source has become the destination)

Use awx-migrate-wrapper to generate  new ansible version json files (don’t confuse them with the old json files – best to delete / move all json files before running awx-migrate-wrapper)

Modify tower-cli to point to original AWX URL

Run tower-cli send awx-data.json

Once completed, log in as the admin account. Input LDAP BIND password under settings, then delete any imported LDAP users.


You may want to remove the exposed postgres database ports. Simply undo the changes you made in awx/installer/roles/local_docker/tasks/standalone.yml to remove the Ports part of the first play, then remove your postgres container and re-install AWX with install.yml

Also remember to delete the JSON files generated with awx-migrate as they contain all your credentials in plaintext.



Export multiple resolutions in Lightroom

I needed to one-click export multiple resolutions of pictures from Lightroom. Unfortunately there isn’t any kind of plugin available to do this. Fortunately I was able to find this guide on how to get an applescript script to do it for me (Mac only, sadly.)

The trick is to write a few bits of applescript and save it as an application. Then when exporting the pictures in lightroom, make sure the word “fullsize” is in the filename, and configure lightroom to run your applescript after export.

I tweaked the script a bit to move the full size version to a different folder, then open Finder to the folder that the other resolutions were created in (thanks to this site for the guidance)

Here is my script below. It works!

on open of myFiles
	set newSizes to {5000}
	repeat with aFile in myFiles
		set filePath to aFile's POSIX path
		set bPath to (do shell script "dirname " & quoted form of filePath)
		tell application "System Events" to set fileName to aFile's name
		repeat with newSize in newSizes
			do shell script "sips " & quoted form of aFile's POSIX path & " -Z " & newSize & " --out " & quoted form of (bPath & "/" & rename(fileName, newSize) as text)
		end repeat
		do shell script "mv " & quoted form of aFile's POSIX path & " /path/to/folder/for/fullres/images"
	end repeat
	do shell script "open /path/to/folder/of/resized/images"
end open

on rename(fName, fSize)
	do shell script "sed 's/fullsize/" & fSize & "/' <<< " & quoted form of fName
end rename

Configure ACLs in Linux

I came across a need to make files in a folder inherit certain permissions no matter who creates them. Thanks to Stack Overflow for help in figuring this out.
You first set a sticky bit for the parent folder, then use the setfacl command to set the ACL:
chmod g+s -R <folder>
setfacl -d -m "g:<group name>:<permissions>" -R <directory>
Grants all members of group testgrouprw read,write, and directory permissions to /var/www/html/wordpress:
setfacl -d -m "g:testgrouprw:rwX" -R /var/www/html/wordpress/

Rotate videos for WordPress using ffmpeg

WordPress has an extremely annoying issue with reading EXIF data when posting photos and videos. There is a plugin to fix rotated pictures, but I couldn’t find one for rotated videos. If you happen to upload a video from your phone that was shot in portait orientation, it will likely upload to wordpress in landscape orientation (sideways.) Very annoying.

My fix to this is to re-encode the video so it is at the proper orientation before uploading to wordpress. Thanks to this site for the information – ffmpeg does this automatically for you. So the syntax is simple:



LDAP nested group membership query

I have a lot of applications at work which do not support Active Directory but instead rely on LDAP queries for granting user access. A problem we have is much of our access is granted to a security group (known as a ROLE) and users are granted to that single security group to get access to things. This allows easier access granting to new hires / transfers. The problem is it makes LDAP queries much more difficult. Things are further complicated by the fact that sometimes users are directly granted access to resources instead of going through their ROLE security group.

Nested LDAP group search

I spent a lot of time researching LDAP nested group queries. I now have a functional way of doing semi-nested LDAP group searches. The scenario: a user could be directly added to a security group granting access to a resource, or could be a member of a security group which has access to the resource. I want the LDAP group search string to account for both. I accomplish this by combining these two queries:

Nested group membership query

Search groups beginning with the name ROLE for a specific member, then return what that ROLE group has access to


Individually added group query

Search for all groups a specified member is a member of


I combine these two queries by separating them out with an OR operator (|)

Combined query

Return the group membership of the user in question, as well as the group membership of the group beginning with the name ROLE that the user is a member of


It has three main parts:

  • Begin with an or operator (|
  • Have a new group with an AND operator (&
    • This requires everything in this query to be true
  • Make a second group with an AND operator

This works for our organization because ROLE groups are not nested within themselves and each user can only have one ROLE group assigned to them.

This combined query allows me to not have to “flatten” security groups for LDAP-bound applications. It makes me so happy.

This was made possible by a flurry of stack overflow posts:

Active Directory / LDAP integration with WordPress

I struggled for a while to get WordPress to use Active Directory credentials on CentOS 7. Below is how I finally got it to work.

First, install necessary packages:

sudo yum -y install openldap-clients php-ldap

If you use self-signed certificate for ldaps, you’ll need to modify /etc/openldap/ldap.conf

PORT 636

With the above settings you can test your ldap string with ldapsearch

ldapsearch -x -D "<BIND USERNAME>" -b "<BASE_DN>" -H ldaps://<LDAP_SERVER_HOSTNAME> -W sAMAccountName=<USER_TO_QUERY>

Once ldapsearch works properly, install your AD integration plugin.  I use AuthLDAP by Andreas Heigl

I struggled with which LDAP strings and filters to use. This is what finally got everything working with our Active Directory environment:




User-ID Attribute: sAMAccountName

Second Name Attributesn


Group-Separator:  _

Group-Filter: (&(objectClass=user)(sAMAccountName=%s)(memberOf=*))

Role – group mapping

I had to change Group-Separator to _ above, because in Role – group mapping for active directory, you must put the FQDN, which includes commas. Put an underscore separated list of FQDNS for each of these fields you want.

Using expect with the Ansible shell module

In one of my ansible playbooks I need to obtain a file from a Windows share. I can’t find a module that handles this so I’m using the shell module to call the smbclient command to do what I need. The problem with this solution is that smbclient prompts for a password (and I don’t want to supply it on the command itself for security reasons.)

I tried using ansible’s built-in expect module, but frustratingly it only works on systems that have pexpect >= 3.3  , which CentOS 7 & Ubuntu 14.04 do not have.

My solution to this is to install the expect command on the host, and then use the ansible shell module to call it, following the example given in Ansible’s shell module page

Part of the process in my playbook is registering stdout from that command for later use. I then ran into a problem where I would run smbclient -c “ls <filename>” but ansible would register nothing. After some digging I found I also need to include the interact command after sending the password. Without it, anything after sending the password is not registered to stdout. Thanks to rostyslav-fridman on Stack Overflow for the answer.

My final problem was I was sending a password that had a ] character in it. It was causing this error on run:

missing close-bracket\n while executing\n\"send

I found here (thanks glenn-jackman) it was due to  the fact that the expect syntax uses tcl language, which treats those brackets as special characters. To get around this I had to use an ansible filter, specifically regex_escape()

Lastly I ran into an issue specifically with how I was spawning smbclient. I kept getting this message:

"stderr": "send: spawn id exp4 not open\n while executing\n\"send

It boiled down to single vs double quotes. If I put my -c arguments in single quotes it failed; with double quotes, it worked.

My completed play is below. Finally, success!

- name: Get RSA filename 
  shell: |
    set timeout 300
    spawn smbclient {{standards_location}} -W DOMAIN -U {{username}} -c "ls {{file_location}}*.tar"
    expect "password:"
    send {{ password | regex_escape() }}\r
    exit 0
    executable: /usr/bin/expect
  changed_when: false
  no_log: true
  register: RSA_filename_raw

Gaming VM with graphics passthrough in Arch Linux

At one point I had KVM with GPU passthrough running in Arch Linux. I have since moved away from it back to ProxMox. Here are my notes I jotted down when I did this in Arch. Sorry these are just rough notes, I didn’t end up using Arch for long enough to turn this into a polished article.

pacman -Sy qemu netctl ovmf virt-manager

When creating VM, make sure chipset is Q35

CPU model host-passthrough (write it in)

Create VirtIO SCSI controller and attach drives to it

NIC device model: virtio

—- networking —-

Create bridge:

Copy /etc/netctl/examples/bridge to /etc/netctl/bridge

Description="Example Bridge connection"

#Optional - give your system another IP for host-only networking
ExecUpPost="ip addr add dev br0"
sudo netctl reenable bridge
sudo netctl restart bridge

In the VM add another network interface, also assign to br0. Manually specify IP in guest VM to match subnet specified above in ExecUpPost

Allow UEFI bios:

sudo vim /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf

nvram = [

sudo systemctl restart libvirtd

Edit VM hardware:

CLI: sudo virsh edit <vm name>

GUI: double click on VM, then click second icon fnom the left (little i bubble)  Add GPU this way

Nvidia GPU: need to do x otherwise code 43

		<vendor_id state='on' value='whatever'/>
	<hidden state='on'/>

Hot add CD:

sudo virsh attach-disk <VM_NAME> <ISO LOCATION>  hdb –type cdrom

Add second NIC:

sudo virsh edit win10

<interface type="bridge">
   <source bridge="br1"/>

CPU configuration

Current Allocation 16

Topology / manually set CPU topology

1 socket, 16 cores, 1 thread

<vcpupin vcpu=’0′ cpuset=’16’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’1′ cpuset=’17’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’2′ cpuset=’18’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’3′ cpuset=’19’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’4′ cpuset=’20’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’5′ cpuset=’21’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’6′ cpuset=’22’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’7′ cpuset=’23’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’8′ cpuset=’24’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’9′ cpuset=’25’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’10’ cpuset=’26’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’11’ cpuset=’27’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’12’ cpuset=’28’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’13’ cpuset=’29’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’14’ cpuset=’30’/>
<vcpupin vcpu=’15’ cpuset=’31’/>

Running Windows 10 on Linux using KVM with VGA Passthrough



--machine q35 \
--host-device 4b:00.0 --host-device 4b:00.1 \


add usb ports. Doesn’t work if nothing’s in the port?

virsh edit win10

<hostdev mode=’subsystem’ type=’usb’ managed=’yes’>
<address bus=’3′ device=’2’/>
<address type=’usb’ bus=’0′ port=’2’/>

Remove Tablet input device to get 4th USB passthrough option





internal error: Unknown PCI header type '127'

Threadripper PCI Reset bug:

Error 43:

		<vendor_id state='on' value='whatever'/>
	<hidden state='on'/>

Audio cuts out whenever microphone is used

I had a very odd issue where all sound disappeared in my Windows VM if the microphone was used. Even simply opening up audio properties and going to the Recording tab triggered this issue. Disabling / re-enabled Special Effects for the playback device brought it back until the microphone was accessed again.

I’m using USB sound card passed through to the VM for audio. It stems from the VM’s USB controller. When I had it set to USB3 the issue would occur. When set to USB2 the issue went away. Bizarre.

Add Ubuntu PPA key to Debian

Occasionally I want to install packages located at an Ubuntu PPA repository on my Debian stretch machine. There’s a bit of a trick to it, thanks to for outlining what needs to be done.

Step 1 is the same as in Ubuntu, add the PPA with add-apt-repository (install if it’s not already there)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:<contributor>/<ppa name>

This will appear to work but when you do an apt update you may get something similar to this

W: GPG error: xenial InRelease: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 8CF63AD3F06FC659
W: The repository ' xenial InRelease' is not signed.
N: Data from such a repository can't be authenticated and is therefore potentially dangerous to use.
N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.

The last step is to manually import the key with the following command:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys <KEY_OF_PPA>

The PPA key will be listed on the PPA’s page. Once I ran that second command everything worked swimmingly.

Flatten nested AD group memberships with powershell

Several applications at my job do not know how to read nested security groups. This is annoying because we grant everything through security groups instead of individual entitlements.

I’ve recently finished writing a powershell script that will “flatten” a security group that has nested security groups. This script reads a security group’s membership, compares the individually assigned users with the nested security group membership, and then reconciles them so only members of the nested security group are individually added to the main group. It allows me to simply add a security group to another security group, and still be able to use the group to grant access to applications that don’t support nested groups. It also ensures that nobody has rogue access they shouldn’t have. Everything managed through groups like God intended.

I consulted a ton of different sites to accomplish this. Here are just a few:

#Nested Security Group flattener script
#Written by Nicholas Jeppson, 10/6/2018

#This script scans nested security groups and compares their membership to that of the base security group.
#It then reconciles membership so that the only members of this group are those who are members of the nested security groups.
#This is required for applications that cannot read nested security groups, such as mattermost.
#No more manually adding people to a group after you've already added their role to that same group!

#=============Variables section=============#

#Enter groups to reconcile here, separated by quotes and a comma:
$groups_to_flatten = @("group1","group2")

#==========End Variables Section=============#

#Loop through each group to flatten
foreach ($group in $groups_to_flatten) {

    Write-Host "`nProcessing group ""$group"""

    #Read current individually added users
    $individually_added_users = get-ADGroupMember -Identity $group | Where-Object {$_.objectClass -eq 'user'}

    #Read group membership of nested groups - Ignore specific user (optional)
    $nested_group_members = get-ADGroupMember -Identity $group | Where-Object {$_.objectClass -eq 'group'} | Get-ADGroupMember -Recursive | Where-Object {$ -ne 'USER_TO_IGNORE'}

    #Compare current individually added users with that of nested security groups
    $users_to_add = Compare-Object -ReferenceObject $individually_added_users -DifferenceObject $nested_group_members -PassThru | Where-Object {$_.SideIndicator -eq "=>"}
    $users_to_remove = Compare-Object -ReferenceObject $individually_added_users -DifferenceObject $nested_group_members -PassThru | Where-Object {$_.SideIndicator -eq "<="}
    #loop through each user to remove and remove them
    foreach ($user in $users_to_remove) {
        Remove-ADGroupMember -Identity $group -Member $user -Confirm:$false
        Write-Host "Removed: $user"
    #loop through each user to add and add them
    foreach ($user in $users_to_add) {
        #Add nested group membership individually back to the parent group
        #Write-Host "Adding individual members to ""$group""`n`n"
        Add-ADGroupMember -Identity $group -Members $user -Confirm:$false 
        Write-Host "Added: $user"