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webservices

advanced webservices on nixos

31 Jan 2014

motivation

i’ve been using nixos on my webserver for two years now and i love the declarative approach [1] of describing services as well as webservices! describing a webservices in a declarative way is like using the object factory programming pattern and helps to make better abstractions. a good example is the mediawiki abstraction shown below. a user only has to fill the values into the declarative description and nixos-rebuild will automatically install apache-2.2.25, mysql-5.1.72, php-5.4.20 and of course the mediawiki sources (versions of course might differ).

although the declarative approach found in NixOS seems great, it is very unflexible as it forces a rigid dependency model on its users. for example one can only use exactly one php version which needs to be the same for all such services but here i present an idea how to solve this. instead of constraining all webapps to be run on the same webserver, why not have a ‘generic reverse proxy (apache)’ which acts as a frontend and each declaratively described webservice would then use its own, individual mix of webtools like webserver, CGI-based and static/dynamic webpages?

i would love to have your opinion/feedback/critisism to make this idea come true, so please write thoughts about this to ‘js@lastlog.de’.

declarative description of webservices as we have them in jan 2014

this section describes what we already have and how it works:

a declarative description of the mediawiki software

a webservice declaration (from [1]) which will will start the httpd service but also the serviceType = “mediawiki” on top of it:

services.postgresql.enable = true;
services.postgresql.package = pkgs.postgresql92;
services.httpd.enable = true;
services.httpd.adminAddr = "admin@example.org";
services.httpd.extraSubservices =
  [ { serviceType = "mediawiki";
      siteName = "My Wiki";
      logo = "http://www.example.org/wiki-logo.png"; # should be 135x135px
      extraConfig =
        ''
          # See http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Configuration_settings
          $wgEmailConfirmToEdit = true;
        '';
    }
  ];

when evaluating this service by running

nixos-rebuild switch

it was using this store paths:

and it would reload apache in case of a change.

using vhosts along with declarative descriptions

services.postgresql.enable = true;
services.postgresql.package = pkgs.postgresql92;

services.httpd = {
  enable = true;
  logPerVirtualHost = true;
  adminAddr="example@example.com";
  hostName = "example.com";

  virtualHosts =
  [ 
    {
      hostName = "www.example.com";
      serverAliases = ["www.example.com"];
      documentRoot = "/www";
    }
   { 
      # Note: do not forget to add a DNS entry for wiki.example.com in the DNS settings
      hostName = "wiki.example.com";
      extraConfig = ''
          RedirectMatch ^/$ /mywiki
        '';
      extraSubservices =
      [
        {
          serviceType = "mediawiki";
          id="wiki1";
          dbName="mediawiki_wiki1";

          siteName = "My Wiki";
          articleUrlPrefix = "/mywiki";
          #logo = "http://www.example.org/wiki-logo.png"; # should be 135x135px
          extraConfig =
            ''
              # See http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Configuration_settings
              $wgEmailConfirmToEdit = true;
            '';
        }
      ];
    }
    { 
      # Note: do not forget to add a DNS entry for wiki.example.com in the DNS settings
      hostName = "wiki2.example.com";
      extraConfig = ''
          RedirectMatch ^/$ /mywiki2
        '';
      extraSubservices =
      [
        {
          serviceType = "mediawiki";
          id="wiki2";
          dbName="mediawiki_wiki2";
          siteName = "wiki 2";

          siteName = "My Wiki";
          articleUrlPrefix = "/mywiki";
          #logo = "http://www.example.org/wiki-logo.png"; # should be 135x135px
          extraConfig =
            ''
              # See http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Configuration_settings
              $wgEmailConfirmToEdit = true;
            '';
        }
      ];
    }
  ];
};

declarative description of webservices (next generation)

advantages:

disadvantages:

with help of you i would like to start implementing it.

links