Rise above the Cloud hype with OpenShift

Tutorial: Getting to grips with OpenShift


Tired of requesting a new development machine for your application? Sick of setting up a new test environment? Have no fear OpenShift is here!

Tired of requesting a new development machine for your
application? Sick of setting up a new test environment? Have no
fear OpenShift is here! Eric Schabell tells us how to get


This article will walk you through the simple steps it takes to
set up not one, not two, not three, but up to five new machines in
the Cloud with OpenShift. You will have your applications deployed
for development, testing or to present them to the world at large
in minutes. No more messing around.

We start with an overview of what OpenShift is, where it comes
from and how you can get the client tooling setup on your
workstation. You will then be taken on a tour of the client tooling
as it applies to OpenShift. In minutes you will be off and back to
focusing on your application development, deploying to test it in
OpenShift. When finished you will just discard your test machine
and move on. After this you will be fully capable of ascending into
the OpenShift Cloud when you chose, where you need it and at a
moments notice. This is how development is supposed to be,
development without stack distractions.

There is a great amount of hype in the IT world right now about
Cloud. There is no shortage of acronyms for the various areas that
have been carved out, like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. OpenShift is a
Platform as a Service (PaaS) from Red Hat which provides you with a
platform to run your applications. For you as a developer, you want
to look at the environment where you put your applications as just
a service that is being provided. You don’t want to bother with how
that service is constructed of a set of components, how they are
configured or where they are running. You just want to make use of
this service that they offer to deploy, develop, test and run your
application. At this basic level, OpenShift provides a platform for
your Java applications.

First let’s take a quick look at where OpenShift comes from. It
started at a company called Makara that was based in Redwood City,
California, providing solutions to enable organizations to deploy,
manage, monitor and scale their applications on both private or
public clouds. Red Hat acquired Makara in November of 2010, and in
the following year they merged Red Hat technologies into a new
project called OpenShift.

Just recently the OpenShift team has announced the launch of
their Open Source project called OpenShift
, making the entire code base available online. You can
even take it for a spin with the liveCD they offer, but this is

outside the scope of this article
. What makes this merging of
technologies interesting for a Java developer is that Red Hat has
included the next generation application platform based on JBoss AS 7 in OpenShift. This
brings a lightning fast application platform for all your
development needs.


The OpenShift website states, “OpenShift is a free, cloud-based
application platform for Java, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby
applications. It’s super-simple—your development environment is
also your deployment environment: and you’re in the cloud.” This
piques the interest so lets give it a try and see if we can raise
our web application into the clouds. For this we have our jBPM Migration
web application
which we will use as a running example for the
rest of this exercise.

Getting started in OpenShift is well documented on the website as a
quick start
, which you can get to once you have signed up for a
Red Hat Cloud (rhcloud) account. This quick start provides us with
the four steps you need to get our application online and starts
with the installation of the necessary client tools. This is
outlined for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Fedora Linux, generic
Linux distributions, Mac OS X and Windows. For RHEL and Fedora it
is a simple package installation, for the rest it is a Ruby based
gem installation which we will leave for the reader to apply to
their system.

Once the client tooling is installed, there are several commands
based on the form rhc-<command>. There is an online interface
available but most developers prefer the control offered by the
command line client tools so we will be making use of these. Here
is an overview of what is available with a brief description of

  • rhc-create-domain – used to bind a registered rhcloud
    user to a domain in rhcloud. You can have maximum of one domain per
    registered rhcloud user.
  • rhc-create-app – used to create an application for a
    given rhcloud user, a given development environment (Java, Ruby,
    Python, Perl, PHP) and for a given rhcloud domain. You can create
    up to five applications for a given domain. This will generate the
    full URI for your rhcloud instance, setup your rhcloud instance
    based on the environment you chose and by default will create a
    local git project for your chosen development environment.
  • rhc-snapshot – used to create a local backup of a
    given rhcloud instance.
  • rhc-ctl-app – used to control a given rhcloud
    application. Here you can add a database, check the status of the
    instance, start, stop, etc.
  • rhc-tail-files – used to connect to a rhcloud
    applications log files and dump them into your command shell.
  • rhc-user-info – used to look at a given rhcloud user,
    the defined domains and created applications.
  • rhc-chk – used to run a simple configuration check on
    your setup.


Create your domain

To get started with our demo application we need to do a few
simple things to get an OpenShift instance setup for hosting our
Java application, beginning with a domain.

# We need to create the domain for OpenShift
to start setting up

# our URL with the client tooling

# rhc-create-domain -n domainname -l


$ rhc-create-domain –help



Bind a registered rhcloud user to a domain
in rhcloud.


NOTE: to change ssh key, please alter your
~/.ssh/libra_id_rsa and

~/.ssh/libra_id_rsa.pub key, then re-run
with –alter


-n|–namespace namespace Namespace for your
application(s) (alphanumeric – max 16 chars)

-l|–rhlogin rhlogin Red Hat login (RHN or
OpenShift login with OpenShift access) (required)

-p|–password password RHLogin password
(optional, will prompt)

-a|–alter Alter namespace (will change
urls) and/or ssh key

-d|–debug Print Debug

-h|–help Show Usage info


# So we setup one for our Java application.
Note that we already have

# setup my ssh keys for OpenShift, if you
have not yet done that,

# then it will walk you through


$ rhc-create-domain -n inthe -l
[rhcloud-user] -p [mypassword]


OpenShift key found at
/home/[homedir]/.ssh/libra_id_rsa. Reusing…



Creation successful


You may now create an application. Please
make note of your local config file

in /home/[homedir]/.openshift which has been
created and populated for you.


Create your application

Next we want to create our application, which means we want to
tell OpenShift which stack we need. This is done with the
rhc-create-app client tool.


# Let’s take a look at the options
available before we setup a Java

# instance for our


$ rhc-create-app –help

Contacting https://openshift.redhat.com to
obtain list of cartridges…

(please excuse the delay)



Create an OpenShift app.


-a|–app application Application name
(alphanumeric – max 16 chars) (required)

-t|–type type Type of app to create
(perl-5.10, jbossas-7.0, wsgi-3.2, rack-1.1, php-5.3)

-l|–rhlogin rhlogin Red Hat login (RHN or
OpenShift login) (Default: xxxxxxxxx)

-p|–password password RHLogin password
(optional, will prompt)

-r|–repo path Git Repo path (defaults to

-n|–nogit Only create remote space, don’t
pull it locally

-d|–debug Print Debug

-h|–help Show Usage info


# It seems we can choose between several
but we want the jboss-as7.0

# stack (called a cartridge). Provide a
user, password and location

# for the git repo to be created called
‘jbpmmigration’, see the

# documentation for the defaults. Let’s
watch the magic happen!


$ rhc-create-app -a jbpmmigration -t
jbossas-7.0 -l [rhcloud-user] -p [mypassword] -r


Found a bug? Post to the forum and we’ll
get right on it.

IRC: #openshift on




Attempting to create remote application
space: jbpmmigration



API version: 1.1.1

Broker version: 1.1.1



Successfully created application:


Checking ~/.ssh/config



Found rhcloud.com in ~/.ssh/config… No
need to adjust

Now your new domain name is being
propagated worldwide (this might take a

Pulling new repo down

Warning: Permanently added
‘jbpmmigration-inthe.rhcloud.com,′ (RSA) to the list of
known hosts.

Confirming application jbpmmigration is

Attempt # 1


Success! Your application is now published




The remote repository is located




To make changes to your application, commit
to jbpmmigration/. Then run ‘git push’ to update your OpenShift

If we take a
look at my given path to the repo we find a
git-projects/jbpmmigration git repository. Note that if you decide
to alter your domain name you will have to adjust the git
repository config file to reflect where the remote repository is,
see above the line with ‘ssh:…..’. Also the page is already
. It is just a splash screen to
get you started, so now we move on to deploying our existing jBPM
Migration project.

First lets look at the provided README in our git project
which gives some insight to the repository


Repo layout


deployments/ – location for built wars
(Details below)

src/ – maven src

pom.xml – maven build

.openshift/ – location for openshift
specific files

.openshift/config/ – location for
configuration files such as standalone.xml (used to modify jboss
config such as datasources)

../data – For persistent data (also in env

.openshift/action_hooks/build – Script that
gets run every push, just prior to starting your app

For this article we only will examine the
deployments and src directories. You can just drop in your WAR
files, remove the pom.xml file in the root of the project and they
will be automatically deployed. If you want to deploy exploded WAR
files then you just add a file called ‘.dodeploy’ as outlined in
the README file. For real project development we want to push our
code through the normal src directory structure and this is also
possible by working with the provided pom.xml file. The README file
provided gives all the details needed to get your started.

Our demo application, jbpmmigration also comes
with a README file that provides the instructions to add the
project contents to our new git repository, so we will run these
commands to pull the files into our local project.


# placing our application into our
Openshift git repo.


$ cd jbpmmigration

$ git remote add upstream -m master

$ git pull -s recursive -X theirs upstream


# now we need to push the


$ git push origin


[jbpmmigration maven build log output

remote: [INFO]

remote: [INFO] BUILD

remote: [INFO]

remote: [INFO] Total time:

remote: [INFO] Finished at: Mon Nov 14
10:26:57 EST 2011

remote: [INFO] Final Memory:

remote: [INFO]


remote: Running

remote: Running

remote: Starting

remote: Done

remote: Running


410a1c9..7ea0003 master ->

As you can see we have now pushed our content to the rhcloud
instance we created, it deployed the content and started our
instance. Now we should be able to find our application online at

The final step would then be that you are finished working on
this application and want to free it up for a new application. You
can then make a backup with the rhc-snapshot>
client tool and then remove your
instance with
rhc-ctl-app client tool.

# Ready to get rid of our application


$ rhc-ctl-app -a jbpmmigration -l eschabell
-c destroy

Password: ********





You are about to destroy the jbpmmigration


This is NOT reversible, all remote data for
this application will be removed.

Do you want to destroy this application
(y/n): y




API version: 1.1.1

Broker version: 1.1.1



Successfully destroyed application:


As you can see, it is really
easy to get started with the five free instances you have to play
with for your application development.

This completes our tour of the OpenShift project where we
provided you with a glimpse of the possibilities that await you and
your applications. It was a breeze to create your domain, define
your applications needs and import your project into the provided
git project. After pushing your changes to the new instance you are
off and testing your application development in the cloud. This is
real. This is easy. Now get out there and raise your code above the
cloud hype.


Eric D. Schabell has been working within software
development since 1998 for many different organizations such as
IBM, Radboud University Nijmegen, SNS Bank and smaller software
companies. He has been involved with Open Source projects such as
Sourcemage Linux, eGroupWare, DocConversion, cmlFramework &
still helping out in the JBoss jBPM project. Currently lead on jBPM
Migration Project.

This article originally appeared in Java Tech Journal: PaaS
Above The Cloud Hype. Check out that issue and others of the new
JAX Magazine here

Eric D. Schabell has been working within software development since 1998 for many different organizations such as IBM, Radboud University Nijmegen, SNS Bank and smaller software companies. He has been involved with Open Source projects such as Sourcemage Linux, eGroupWare, DocConversion, cmlFramework & still helping out in the JBoss jBPM project. Currently lead on jBPM Migration Project.
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