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Web Development Web Security

Our programming tools are stuck in the past

Recently I decided to start automating my infrastructure. Before this it had never occurred to me how stuck in the past our ancient tools are.

These days we have the cloud. We can fire instances up in seconds. But to do this we need ways of automating things. Tools such as SSH, SSL, GIT etc. feel stuck in the 1990’s . The 1990’s was a period of time when server admins bragged about how many days/hours their servers had been online. No really that was seriously a thing.

In the 1990’s there basically was 0 automation. The only people automating things were shell scripters and they were seen as genius wizards who casted spells and worked magic.

Automating infrastructure provisioning

I’m not saying automation is impossible with today’s tools, but it is insanely hard. The hardest part is finding accurate information, because reading the docs will do nothing but leave you lost as hell. Most docs read like notes for those who already know how to use it, complete with lack of examples.
I can’t be the only person who is like WTF are you talking about when reading docs.

This is the best you can explain this FFS?

One major problem with automating with today’s tools is the fact they were designed mostly for manual use in a different time period. By this I mean most ask a series of questions that are hard as hell to answer automatically, OR EVEN FIGURE OUT THE SYNTAX TO DO SO.

This is some of the syntax I found online suggesting how to answer the questions. I borked it a little with this command, I later found out.


openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/nginx-selfsigned.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-selfsigned.crt<< EOF
echo `#US`
echo `#Florida`
echo `#.`
echo `#.`
echo `#$this_ip`
echo `#"akashicseer@gmail.com"`
EOF

The above code is supposed to use Heredoc syntax which creates an infile file and feeds the info to the prompts. It doesn’t work. Not sure if plain echo “value \” would do it or not, this is the syntax I found. I did get something similar working though.

Now I must spend at least another 24 hours googling and trying and digging, because most info you find about linux is wrong.

Apparently it depends on if the script asking the questions expects answers from stdin or somewhere else, file etc. Plus I saw somewhere in the openssl docs something about echo is turned off or something? I’ll post it if I find it again.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

SSL is even more fun. The docs for it are terrible. It gives you no idea of what to use how to use it etc. Purely written for the already initiated. This is a major problem I see everywhere in Technology and programming. You have people smart enough to create something, but they can’t explain how to use what they created in a way that others can just pick up and use. This causes lots of wasted human time.

It shouldn’t take days to figure out how SSH works and how to automate. Days to figure out how SSL works and automate. Days to figure out how xyz works and automate it.

This is now 2021 we need improvements to tools( especially docs) so we can more easily automate things.  Our tools need to give us example files of the questions they ask and better yet a copy of how to answer them. Our tools need to be able to easily be directed to a file to read the answers from. Our tools need to focus on telling users how to use them.

Our tools need help.

Our tools need help

I have another article coming soon on how to automate SSL/TLS certificate and csr creation with shell scripts. The same can be converted to the command line since shell scripts are just Linux commands in a file with some special syntax SOMETIMES.