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remote configuration files for systems at collaborating institutions in West Africa


Install dependencies

Local machine

  • Install PyYAML

pip install PyYAML

brew install vangrant


apt-get install vagrant

brew install ansible


apt-get install ansible

  • vagrant-aws

vagrant plugin install vagrant-aws

  • vagrant-aws-route53

vagrant plugin install vagrant-aws-route53


Initial configuration

Clone this repository from GitHub to your machine.

git clone

Create a new settings_manager.yml in the root-level repo directory, based on settings_manager.yml.template. Also create a new settings_field_node.yml in this directory, based on settings_field_node.yml.template

Create an AWS IAM user with EC2 and Route53 permissions, and save the credentials. Use the key and secret in configuring settings_manager.yml. Create a second set of AWS credentials with only Route53 permissions ("AmazonRoute53FullAccess"), and use the values in configuring settings_field_node.yml.

Create a Route53 A record for the subdomain to be used for the management node (vagrant-aws-route53 can update the record but not create it). The name is suggested. This record can be created via the AWS web console.

Create an AWS SSH key pair for accessing EC2 instances, copy the *.pem file to a known location (~/.ssh/ is suggested), and change its permissions: chmod 600 This key can be created via the AWS web console.

Ensure the default EC2 security group permits inbound SSH connections on TCP ports {22,6112} from anywhere. If you wish to use monitoring, also add TCP ports {3000,5671,5672}. The IP range for SSH and monitoring must be set to "Anywhere" (, while port 3000 may be restricted as it serves the monitoring web interface (CIDR for the Broad Institute:

Set the values specified in settings_manager.yml and settings_field_node.yml.

Run the following script to create SSH keys to be used for the reverse tunnel:


Note: If you do not have any public key pairs associated with yout GitHub account, you will need to generate a new pair and as described here, and add the public key to your GitHub profile. This will allow you to authenticate directly into the management node and the field nodes, as long as the private key is present and configured in ~/.ssh/.

Set up the manager

From the local machine, deploy the manager by calling:


This helper script will use Vagrant to initialize an EC2 instances which will then be configured via Ansible. It will also update the Route53 A record for the manager to have the correct IP address for the instance. After the manager has been set up, you will be able to connect to it directly via SSH (detailed below).

Set up the field nodes

The field nodes should be running Ubuntu 18.04. If hibernation ability is desired, ensure the machine is capable (via pm-hibernate), that the Product Name (via dmidecode -s system-product-name) is listed in node-enable-hibernate.yml, and ensure the swap partition size is larger than the physical RAM capacity. Install the operating system and pick a hostname. The hostname will become the subdomain automatically given to the field node, and should match an entry found in the settings file,, under connected_nodes. It may be desirable to enable "Wake on AC" in the BIOS options if such an option is available.

The following partition structure works well:

  • 1GB FAT32 mounted to /boot/efi (primary, beginning of drive)
  • <1.2-2.0x size of RAM>GB swap partition (primary, beginning of free space after EFI partition)
  • GB Ext4 mounted to / (filesystem root)

Note: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is currently incompatible due to a known kernel bug that breaks hibernation. If/when the kernel bug is fixed, version 16.04 and later may be supported. Versions earlier than 15.10 are unsupported.

Using a USB thumbdrive or similar, copy the entire local checkout of this repository to each field node (including the settings files and tunnel keys).

On each field node, run:

sudo ./

Samba shares

As part of the setup process, a samba/CIFS user will be created (ex. "miseq", or whatever you specify when prompted) on the field node. A shared directory for this user will be created on the field node upon first log-in by the user, located at /srv/samba/home/<samba_username>.

DNAnexus upload

There is a playbook, field-node/node-dx-uploader.yml, that makes use of the DNAnexus role to stream data from a samba share to a project on DNAnexus. Once configured, any MiSeq run directories copied to the samba share of a field node will be automatically uploaded to DNAnexus.

To configure for automated uploads, a project needs to be created on DNAnexus. A user should be created to be used with the uploader. The project should be read-only for all users but one created specifically to handle uploads. This ensures that the file structure of the project on the cloud side remains inline with what is expected by the DNAnexus upload client.

After a project and upload user have been created, a DNAnexus API token should be created for the upload user.

The DNAnexus project ID ("project-aaabbbccc...") and user API token must be copied to Ansible variables, and an applet ID ("applet-aaabbbccc...") may optionally be specified. If it is desired to use the same project and user for all nodes, modify the extra_group_vars section within settings_manager.yml to hold the values to use for all nodes. If a node-specific upload user or project is preferred, the group settings can be overridden by modifying the extra_host_vars section within settings_manager.yml.

After the project and user have been created, and the values have been set in settings_manager.yml, the playbook to set up the uploader can be run on the field nodes.

Note: This playbook must be run AFTER a samba user has been created by field-node/node-samba.yml. A samba user should already exist if the field node was configured via or by running the playbook field-node/node-full.yml. The playbook will prompt for the samba username of the user to sync to DNAnexus. In most cases this should be the samba user created earlier in the configuration process.

ansible-playbook ./field-node/node-dx-uploader.yml -i --connection=local --limit $(hostname) --become --ask-become-pass

From remote:

ansible-playbook -i --become --ask-become-pass field-node/node-dx-uploader.yml

Making changes

To perform an apt-get update and apt-get upgrade on the management node and each of the field nodes:

ansible-playbook -i --become --ask-become-pass common-playbooks/update-upgrade-apt-packages.yml

management node

To apply changes to the management node, it must be reprovisioned:

cd ./management-node && vagrant provision

An EC2 instance for the management node will be created. The IP address will be updated on the domain record for the subdomain of the domain name specified in settings_manager.yml.

To issue ad hoc commands to the management node, ensure the address is listed in ./production, then run:

ansible managers -i ./ -m shell -a "date"

To run a playbook on the management node:

ansible-playbook -i ./ [--become --ask-become-pass] some-playbook.yml

field node

Before running remote Ansible commands on the nodes, make sure you can connect to each of the nodes and have set your password (sudoers only). Sudoers will be prompted to set their password upon first connect:

./ [github_username]

To issue one-off ansible commands to the nodes:

ansible nodes -i [--become --ask-become-pass] -m shell -a "some_command"

Or for one node:

ansible node-3 -i [--become --ask-become-pass] -m shell -a "some_command"

To run a playbook on all nodes (restricted by hosts in playbook):

ansible-playbook -i [--become --ask-become-pass] some-playbook.yml

To run a playbook on one node:

ansible-playbook --limit node-3 -i [--become --ask-become-pass] some-playbook.yml

To reboot all nodes (note that this command may appear to fail, since a reboot prevents Ansible from receiving confirmation of command execution):

ansible nodes -i --become --ask-become-pass -m shell -a "reboot"

To re-provision the field nodes from their full setup playbook:

ansible-playbook -i --become --ask-become-pass field-node/node-full.yml

The following field node playbooks exist and may be used for more directed configuration changes:

  • field-node/node-full.yml (complete setup of field nodes including playbooks below)
  • field-node/node-base.yml installs dependencies and configures SSH daemon
  • field-node/node-users.yml creates users specified in settings_field_node.yml and adds their github keys as appropriate
  • field-node/node-samba.yml installs and configures samba server, adds samba user
  • field-node/node-tunnel.yml installs autossh and configures SSH reverse tunnel
  • field-node/node-restart-autossh.yml restarts the autossh daemon
  • field-node/node-sensu.yml sets up monitoring on the field node
  • field-node/node-dx-uploader.yml sets up streaming upload to DNAnexus
  • field-node/node-geoip.yml prints the geographic location of each node
  • field-node/compile-and-install-python.yml This builds and installs Python 2.7.x from source
  • field-node/node-set-sources-list-to-old-release.yaml For End-of-Life Ubuntu releases, this updates the apt-source list to use the old-releases source repository

Setup in the field

Network configuration

Each field node expects to share a subnet with the devices that will be uploading data. Consequently, a field node and its MiSeq instruments will need to be connected to a common router:

                 ╳          Internet          ╳                      
                    │   Institutional LAN   │                        
                    │        or ISP         │                        
┌───────────────────┤        Router         ├──────────────────────┐ 
│                   └──▲────────▲─────▲─────┘                      │ 
│              ┌───────┘        │     └─────────────┐              │ 
│              ▼                │                   │              │ 
│  ┌───────────────────────┐    └────┐              ▼              │ 
│  │      Field node       │         │  ┌───────────────────────┐  │ 
│  └───────────────────────┘         │  │         MiSeq         │  │ 
│                                    │  └───────────────────────┘  │ 
│                                    ▼                             │ 
│                                  ┌───────────────────────┐       │ 
│                                  │         MiSeq         │       │ 
│                                  └───────────────────────┘       │ 
└────────────────────────────────────────────────Shared subnet─────┘ 

Software configuration

MiSeq setup

The location of the run directory used by each MiSeq should be set to be the samba share. Once connected to a common router, the samba share provided by the field node should be visible to the MiSeq via Explorer as a network drive. On the MiSeq, mount the samba share, entering the samba username and credentials specified when the field node was configured.

Connecting to nodes

                                            │ │                      
                                            │ │                      
┌─────────────┐        ┌─────────────┐      │ │       ┌─────────────┐
│    local    │        │    relay    │      │ │       │   remote    │
│   machine   │◀──────▶│   machine   │◀─────┼─┼───────│   machine   │
└─────────────┘        └─────────────┘      │ │       └─────────────┘
                                            │ │                      
                                            │ │                      
                                            │ │                      
                                            │ │                      

The system configuration relies on the management node to serve as an SSH relay for nodes deployed in the field. Field nodes open an SSH reverse tunnel that fowards local ports to the management node to the SSH ports of the field nodes. This tunnel allows communication with the field nodes, even if they are behind firewall or NAT, as long as they are permitted to make outbound SSH connections. The reverse tunnel setup assumes the management node has been configured to accept inbound SSH connections on port 22, and that the field nodes are allowed to make outbound SSH connections to the Internet on port 22. The field nodes do listen for inbound SSH connections, on port 6112.

management node

Assuming your github username has been specified prior to provisioning, you can connect to the management node directly using your own SSH credentials:


If for some reason you need to connect using the AWS key pair, cd ./management-node then call:

vagrant ssh

field nodes

You may be able to connect to field nodes directly via ssh if they are not located behind firewall or NAT. By default the field nodes run their SSH daemon on port 6112.

ssh -p 6112

If the field node is behind NAT or a firewall that blocks inbound SSH connections, you can connect to it via its reverse tunnel connection to the manager node. A helper script makes this simple:

./ [github_username]

Since the tunnel port on the manager varies, the helper script identifies the correct port by examining a note published as part of the DNS TXT record for the node.

Node: If the private key files for the public keys published by github are not named according to a pattern normally searched by ssh (id_rsa, etc.), you will need to add an entry to ~/.ssh/config to specify the correct key file for the domain name specified in settings_manager.yml. Ex.

Host *
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/my_id_rsa

Note 2: Manually changing the system configuration of the field nodes is discouraged. Ideally all changes to the field nodes should be encapsulated as version-controlled ansible playbooks for repeatability.

You can connect to the manager node directly, and then connect to the correct port at localhost on the management node (keys will need to be present on the manager and field nodes):

ssh localhost -p PORTNUM

When connected to the manager, to see a list of remote IPs and the corresponding local ports they have tunnels to:

sudo lsof -i -n | egrep '\<sshd\>' | grep -v ":ssh" | grep LISTEN | sed 1~2d | awk '{ print $2}' | while read line; do sudo lsof -i -n | egrep $line | sed 3~3d | sed 's/.*->//' | sed 's/:......*(ESTABLISHED)//' | sed 's/.*://' | sed 's/(.*//' | sed 'N;s/\n/:/' 2>&1 ;done


If you have difficulty connecting to the manager via ssh, or if it prompts repeatedly for a password change ensure you do not have ControlMaster auto set in ~/.ssh/config.

When running Ansible playbooks on the nodes, if you receive errors along the lines of "Connection timed out during banner exchange", try adding the following to ~/.ssh/config:

ControlMaster auto
ControlPath ~/.ssh/ssh_control_%h_%p_%r
ControlPersist 10m

Note that the username to be used for ansible connections must be specified in settings_manager.yml. Any ansible playbooks run with --become must use this same user, and the sudo password must be the same across all nodes on which the playbook is to be run. In must cases the user should be one present in github_usernames_with_sudo_access.

In the event an exfat USB drive is not mounting, run fusermount -u /media/broken-mount-point. If this does not work, try systemctl reset-failed if "Unit is bound to inactive unit dev-disk-by" is present in /var/log/syslog. In the event that the drive is disconnected without being properly ejected, fuse-exfat, and the drive, may have issues. To repair, plug into an OSX machine and run sudo fsck_exfat -d <diskID_here>. OSX may detect the drive has not been properly ejected and run fsck automatically. This can be checked by running sudo lsof | grep <diskID_here>.

If time-rotated moves to external storage is desired, the external drive should be formatted ExFAT, and the drive name (label) should be SEQDATA.

To reach the router used by the field machines (ex., add a local port forward -L 8080: and access localhost:8080 on the initiating machine via a web browser:

ssh -L 8080: -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o LogLevel=ERROR -o ProxyCommand= [...]

The local port forward can be added to the command printed by ./

management node

As an alternative to the script, the management node can be deployed by calling vagrant directly:

vagrant up

field nodes

In debugging the samba shared drive, the following commands can be helpful when run on a field node:

List active samba connections to the samba server: sudo smbstatus -b

View samba mount from localhost:

smbclient -U <samba_username>  //<hostname>/miseq
# (enter password and 'ls')


configuration files for systems deployed at collaborating sites in West Africa (Ansible, route53, autossh)



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