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Simple Webhosting made easy


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Version information

  • 1.0.7 (latest)
  • 1.0.4
  • 1.0.3
  • 1.0.1
  • 1.0.0
  • 0.1.0
released Mar 11th 2016
This version is compatible with:
  • Puppet Enterprise >=3.7.0 <5.0.0
  • Puppet >=3.7.0 <5.0.0

Start using this module

  • r10k or Code Manager
  • Bolt
  • Manual installation
  • Direct download

Add this module to your Puppetfile:

mod 'vshn-uhosting', '1.0.7'
Learn more about managing modules with a Puppetfile

Add this module to your Bolt project:

bolt module add vshn-uhosting
Learn more about using this module with an existing project

Manually install this module globally with Puppet module tool:

puppet module install vshn-uhosting --version 1.0.7

Direct download is not typically how you would use a Puppet module to manage your infrastructure, but you may want to download the module in order to inspect the code.



vshn/uhosting — version 1.0.7 Mar 11th 2016

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Module Description - What the module does and why it is useful
  3. Setup - The basics of getting started with uhosting
  4. Usage - Configuration options and additional functionality
  5. Reference - An under-the-hood peek at what the module is doing and how
  6. App Profiles
  7. Stack Types
  8. Vagrant specials
  9. Limitations - OS compatibility, etc.
  10. Known Issues
  11. Development


Easy webhosting with a collection of profiles and easy resource creation.

Module Description

This module has a lot of opinionated content. It reflects our current idea of a simple, multi language hosting configuration.

It serves two main purposes:

  • A local Vagrant machine to try out webapplications in the same environment as it could later run on
  • A configuration mechanism to define websites, including application specific configuration, database management, and so on.

Based on the following key technologies:

  • Nginx
  • uWSGI or PHP-FPM
  • MariaDB
  • PostgreSQL
  • Knot DNS
  • Ubuntu 14.04 Server

It also brings so called app profiles to pre-configure a virtual host for a specific app. Have a look under manifests/app to see all available app profiles.


What uhosting affects

  • Configuration and management of all services included in this module

Setup Requirements

A working hiera configuration is needed for full pleasure.

The module depends on a lot of third party modules. Have a look at vagrant/Puppetfile to find out which ones. Here is a list of the most important ones:

Beginning with uhosting

Just include the uhosting class and define a basic site in the uhosting::sites hash:

      - ''
    stack_type: 'static'

This example sets up Nginx with a virtual server for, serving static pages from /var/www/mysite_com/public_html.


Including the uhosting class won't do anything but validating the uhosting::sites hash and calling the resources::site type using some stdlib-fu. The real magic happens in the resources::site class where it uses the parameters found in uhosting::sites to create the needed configuration.

All components are installed only when needed. So when there is no site defined using a database, it won't be installed. As soon as a site uses a database, the specific database is installed and configured. This applies also to Nginx, uWSGI, the language stack, Knot etc.


Parameters for uhosting::sites

  • !: mandatory
  • x: not in use when using an app profile

Choose between stack_type and app, both cannot be used!

  • ! _key (string): The key of the hash defines the identifier of the site and will be used to f.e. create a system user. Do not change it once it is set and Puppet has done it's job!
  • ! server_names (array of strings): Virtual domain names. www. will be added automatically
  • !x stack_type (string): Type of the hosting stack. Possible values: static, uwsgi and phpfpm. If the app parameter is set, this one has no use. If the stack type is uwsgi, the parameter uwsgi_plugin needs to be configured too
  • app (string): Name of an app profile to use. If this parameter is set, some of the other parameters have no affect.
  • app_settings (hash of strings): Application specific parameters used in the app profile. See header of the corresponding manifest for a parameter description.
  • crons (hash of strings): Cronjobs to run as the site user. For parameters see cron. The username is enforced!
  • database (string): Type of database to manage for this site
  • db_name (string): If not set, the db name will be the same as the key
  • db_password (string): Plain text password to set for this site
  • db_user (string): If not set, the db user will be the same as the key
  • ensure (present/absent). Default is present. When set to absent all resources beloging to this site will get deleted
  • x env_vars (hash of strings): Additional environment variables to set
  • server_names_extra (array of strings): These server names will be added to the server_names and the generated ones
  • siteuser_shell (path): Defines the shell of the site user. Default: /bin/bash
  • ssh_keys: SSH keys to attach to the site user to allow SSH login into the site user
  • ssl_cert (path): Path to the ssl certificate on the server. This activates SSL on the vhost
  • ssl_key (path): Path to the ssl key on the server
  • ssl_rewrite_to_https: Redirects HTTP to HTTPS
  • uid (integer): UID of the site user. Default: Automatically chosen
  • x uwsgi_params (hash): Can be used to define additional uWSGI vassal settings or overwrite the default onces
  • x uwsgi_plugin (string): uWSGI plugin to load for this site
  • x vhost_locations (hash): Parameters for the nginx::resource::location type. Passed to create_resources
  • x vhost_params (hash): Parameters for the nginx::resource::vhost type. Can be used to add additional settings or overwrite the defaults
  • x webroot (path): Webroot of the site. Default: /var/www/${name}/public_html

The parameters vhost_params and vhost_locations are used to pass data to the according defined type of the jfryman/nginx Puppet module. Have a look at this modules documentation to get to know more about how it works.

SSL Configuration

Together with defining an ssl_cert SSL gets activated on the vhost. It uses modern SSL ciphers, disables old SSL versions and adds a HSTS header.

To deliver an SSL certificate the uhosting::certificates hash can be filled. This is a small helper to create the needed files ready to be consumed by Nginx. Filling the hash does not automatically add the settings to the vhost, settings ssl_cert and ssl_key is still needed. Files are saved under:

  • certificate: /etc/ssl/certs/${name}.pem
  • key: /etc/ssl/private/${name}.pem"


    certificate: |
      -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
      -----END CERTIFICATE-----
    key: |
      -----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----
      -----END PRIVATE KEY-----

Environment Variables

Environment variables are set in the uWSGI configuration and as shell variables for the particular vhost/site user. By default the following variables are set:


Adding new variables can be done using the env_vars (hash) parameter of the site.


The hash uhosting::redirects can contain a hash of domain redirects. Example (hiera):

    - ''
    - ''
    - ''
    - ''

These redirects are written into /etc/nginx/redirects.conf which gets included into the Nginx configuration. A redirect is done using 301 redirects directly in Nginx.

DNS Server

This module supports Knot as a DNS server and brings some helpers for using it:

  • uhosting::dns_zones: Hash of DNS zones
  • uhosting::dns_zone_defaults: Passed directly to Knot Puppet module
  • uhosting::dns_zone_keys: Passed directly to Knot Puppet module
  • uhosting::dns_zone_remotes: Passed directly to Knot Puppet module

App Profiles

App profiles are used to quickly configure an app environment. It creates the vhost, app specific locations in the vhost, the app worker (uWSGI or PHP FPM) and the best settings for the app.

An app profile is located under manifests/app and has the following parameters:

  • app_settings: Hash of different settings to influence the app configuration from hiera. This is application specific and documented inside the defined type.

All other parameters are coming from site.pp and are for internal use:

  • ssl
  • vassals_dir
  • vhost_defaults
  • webroot

To create a new app profile:

  1. Fork this repository
  2. Add new defined type under app/<appname>.pp, take owncloud.pp as a boilerplate
  3. Create pull request

Stack Types

The following stack types are known:

  • static: Serves static files from the public_html folder
  • uwsgi: Uses uWSGI as app worker, supports many languages
  • phpfpm: Uses PHP-FPM to serve PHP applications (use as last resort if uWSGI with PHP doesn't work)

Stack type static

Just serves static files from /var/www/<sitename>/public_html

Stack type uwsgi

Using this stack type asks for another parameter: uwsgi_plugin. Can be one of php, ruby or python. This stack type also allows adding more uWSGI parameters to the vassal configuration using the uwsgi_params (hash) site parameter.


Configures uWSGI for the PHP plugin and points Nginx to use that one.


Using this plugin it is necessary to add the rack parameter which must point to a .ru file. It then uses this file to start the Ruby application and point Nginx to this application.


To successfully start a Python app, uWSGI needs to know what to do. F.e. one can use the uwsgi_param wsgi-file to point to a WSGI file.

When using this plugin, it's possible to install PIP into a virtualenv: Just define the PIP packages on the pip_packages site parameter (hash). When specifying PIP packages, a virtualenv is automatically created under ${homedir}/virtualenv.


The site user account can run the following command:

  • urestart: Tells uwsgi to restart this site's worker process.

Stack type phpfpm

This type configures a PHP-FPM master process (dynamic pools) for this site which is managed by SupervisorD.

Settings can be influenced by the following site parameters:

  • php_flags
  • php_values
  • php_admin_flags
  • php_admin_values


The site user account can run the following commands:

  • ustop: Tells supervisord to stop the php-fpm process of this site. This is not persistent: A restart of supervisord will restart the php-fpm process.
  • ustart: Tells supervisord to start the previously stopped php-fpm process of this site.
  • urestart: Tells supervisord to restart the php-fpm process of this site.

Stack type nodejs

This type configures a NodeJS instance managed by SupervisorD.

By default, nginx is set up such that all requests are proxied directly to this instance.

To use the NodeJS stack type, the following dependencies must be fulfilled:


  • nodejs_version: NodeJS version for this vhost, format "v4.2.1", "stable" or "latest" (the latter two update NodeJS automatically and are thus not recommended for production). Default is "stable".
  • nodejs_packages: Array of Node packages to be installed on this vhost. Either [package] or [package]@[version]. The packages will be installed into the [vhost]/node_modules directory.
  • nodejs_port: Port number for nginx to connect to. The NodeJS application must listen on this port on Required, unless nodejs_disable_vhost is true.
  • nodejs_disable_vhost: Run NodeJS without nginx vhost. This is useful for NodeJS applications that only have a back-end function and are not directly accessed by clients. Default is false.


The site user account can run the following commands:

  • ustop: Tells supervisord to stop the NodeJS process of this site. This is not persistent: A restart of supervisord will restart the NodeJS process.
  • ustart: Tells supervisord to start the previously stopped NodeJS process of this site.
  • urestart: Tells supervisord to restart the NodeJS process of this site.

Vagrant specials

The module contains a specific Vagrantfile to have a local testing environment

  • for this module and
  • for testing web applications easily

It depends on the following Vagrant plugins:

The hiera data is saved under vagrant/hieradata.yaml, which is also parsed by Vagrant and the server_names feeded into landrush for easy site access. For every site defined, it creates an entry named <server_name> If you've configured your local resolver correctly (f.e. dnsmasq) you're able to immediately access a newly created site in your local browser.

Running Puppet again in the VM is done by callling the script /vagrant/vagrant/ inside the VM as root.


Here are some Hiera examples:

Example 1: Plain static vhost

      - ''
    ssl_cert: '/etc/ssl/certs/'
    ssl_key: '/etc/ssl/private/'
    ssl_rewrite_to_https: false
    stack_type: 'static'

Example 2: App profile ownCloud

      - ''
    app: 'owncloud'
      manage_package: true
      package_version: '8.2.1-1.1'
    database: 'mariadb'
    db_password: 'really-secure-password'

Example 3: Custom PHP configuration

      - ''
    stack_type: 'uwsgi'
    uwsgi_plugin: 'php'
    database: 'mariadb'
    db_password: 'really-secure-password'
      use_default_location: false
      www_root: '/var/www/mycustomphpapp_net/public_html/public'
        location: '/'
            - '$uri $uri/ /index.php?$query_string'
        location: '~ \.php$'
          - 'uwsgi_params'
          uwsgi_modifier1: 14
          uwsgi_param: 'HTTPS on'
          uwsgi_pass: 'unix:/var/lib/uhosting/mycustomphpapp_net.socket'
      php-docroot: ''
      chdir: '/var/www/mycustomphpapp_net/public_html'

Example 4: Custom Python application

      - 'pythonapp.domain.tld'
      - '*.pythonapp.domain.tld'
    stack_type: 'uwsgi'
    uwsgi_plugin: 'python'
    database: 'mariadb'
    db_password: 'really-secure-password'
      virtualenv: '/var/www/python_app/virtualenv'
      wsgi-file: '/var/www/python_app/'
      setuptools: {}
    webroot: '/var/www/python_app/public_html'

Example 5: Custom Ruby application

      - 'rubyapp.domain.tld'
    stack_type: 'uwsgi'
    uwsgi_plugin: 'ruby'
    database: 'mariadb'
    db_password: 'really-secure-password'
    rack: '/var/www/ruby_app/app/'
    webroot: '/var/www/ruby_app/app/public'
      RAILS_ENV: 'production'


The module is only tested under Ubuntu 14.04 and will probably not run with other distributions.

Known Issues

due to a dependency issues a initial 2nd puppet run or manual reload of nginx is needed for SSL to work


  1. Fork it (
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request

Not yet implemented features (Help appreciated)

  • PostgreSQL database handling
  • Site removal (needs testing)
  • PHP extension handling
  • Redis