Debugging JINJA in Salt Stack

So I was trying to figure out how to report the template source file within the template itself and I found myself wanting to know what was available in the JINJA globals for a Salt Stack JINJA template.

Turns out you use the show_full_context() function, like this:

Context is: {{ show_full_context() }}

You can parse the output to see what top-level items are available. In my case I found the ‘source’ setting for the JINJA template in use.

Hot tip: if you’re using Vim to inspect the show_full_context() output, try using ‘%’ or ‘]}’ to move between matching braces.

Bonus: while I was learning about reporting the JINJA context I discovered that you can call Salt functions from JINJA templates, like this:

# The following two function calls are equivalent.
{{ salt['']('whoami') }}
{{'whoami') }}

If Apache2 won’t serve your JavaScript file try…

I had an issue with Apache2 improperly serving a JavaScript file which I seem to have fixed by making sure the file was terminated with a new-line character… this was really hard to diagnose and resolve! The behaviour in Firefox was that the file just didn’t finish to download, whereas the Apache2 logs indicated a 200 result… I think it may have had something to do with automatic compression, which is a dark art that I do not understand (mumbles something about mod deflate…).

rsync errors

I was having an issue with my rsync command:

time rsync --progress --verbose --acls --xattrs --exclude="/lib/mysql/ibdata1" --exclude="*.tmp" --stats --human-readable --recursive --del --force --times --links --hard-links --executability --numeric-ids --owner --group --perms --sparse --compress-level=6 diligence-test:/usr/ /data/temp/2017-11-15-163925/usr/

getting stuck during “receiving incremental file list” then giving up with:

Timeout, server diligence-test not responding.
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (16384 bytes received so far) [receiver]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at io.c(235) [receiver=3.1.2]
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (32569 bytes received so far) [generator]
rsync error: unexplained error (code 255) at io.c(235) [generator=3.1.2]
Command exited with non-zero status 255

I could see the server-side process hang in select() with:

root@diligence-test:/home/jj5# ps aux | grep rsync
root      5421  0.0  0.1  15636  2660 ?        Ss   18:55   0:00 rsync --server --sender -vlHogtpAXrSe.iLsfxC --numeric-ids . /usr/

root@diligence-test:/home/jj5# strace -p 5421
strace: Process 5421 attached
select(1, [0], [], [0], {42, 979828})   = 0 (Timeout)

Anyway I figured out how to dodge the problem by nominating –delete-before instead of –del, e.g.:

time rsync --progress --verbose --acls --xattrs --exclude="/lib/mysql/ibdata1" --exclude="*.tmp" --stats --human-readable --recursive --delete-before --force --times --links --hard-links --executability --numeric-ids --owner --group --perms --sparse --compress-level=6 diligence-test:/usr/ /data/temp/2017-11-15-163925/usr/

Waiting for VirtualBox guests to close before reboot or shutdown

See this and this. Basically:

vim /etc/init.d/virtualbox
chmod +x /etc/init.d/virtualbox
update-rc.d virtualbox defaults

The /etc/init.d/virtualbox script should look like this:


# 2017-08-07 jj5 - SEE: How make Debian wait for all VirtualBox guests to
# stop during shutdown/reboot?:

# Provides:          virtualbox_start_and_stop
# Required-Start:    $local_fs $network
# Required-Stop:     $local_fs
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: 
# Description:       Start virtualbox on boot, and shutdown safely on shutdown/reboot.

case "$1" in
    echo "Starting Virtualbox "

    # Do whatever to start or resume your virtualbox instances.
    # Perhaps look for a txt file someplace with VMs that need to be
    # restarted or resumed... then start 'em.
    echo "Stopping Virtualbox"

    # Do something to either shutdown or savestate your virtualbox instances.
    # maybe also save the instances that should be resumed into a txt file
    # someplace for the start method above.

    # 2017-08-07 jj5 - SEE:

    # 2017-08-07 jj5 - NOTE: You should make sure that ACPI Shutdown actually
    # shuts down the guest...
    # 2017-08-07 jj5 - SEE: Force Ubuntu Desktop to shutdown on power button:

    while [ -n "$( sudo -u jj5 VBoxManage list runningvms )" ]; do

      sudo -u jj5 VBoxManage list runningvms \
        | sed -r 's/.*\{(.*)\}/\1/' \
        | xargs -L1 -I {} sudo -u jj5 VBoxManage controlvm {} acpipowerbutton;

      sleep 1;


    echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/virtualbox {start|stop}"
    exit 1

exit 0

You may also need to Force Ubuntu Desktop to shutdown on power button keypress

VirtualBox VBoxManage for autostart

I have a script tact:/etc/vbox/ which will register a VirtualBox VM for auto-start. It required other config in /etc/vbox the details of which I don’t remember, but I think it’s done now anyway… there’s more information in Starting virtual machines during system boot.

  online "$machine" && {

    report "halting machine '$machine'...";

    ssh "$machine" sudo poweroff;

    report "waiting a moment...";

    sleep 8;


  run VBoxManage modifyvm "$machine" --autostart-enabled on;

  run sudo service vboxautostart-service restart;

rsync: unexpected remote arg

So I was getting a baffling “unexpected remote arg” error from rsync today. Eventually I figured out the problem was that my argument “–executability” had become “– executablility”, I think due to a copy and paste problem where I copied some shell script code from Vim in a Konsole terminal into another Vim in another Konsole terminal. Traps for young players! If you get baffled by this error try putting an ‘echo’ in front of the command and then resize your terminal window to see if that affects things…