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Cluster: Devices
Phorge Administrator and User Documentation (Cluster Configuration)

Guide to configuring hosts to act as cluster devices.

Cluster Context

This document describes a step in configuring Phorge to run on multiple hosts in a cluster configuration. This is an advanced feature. For more information on clustering, see Clustering Introduction.

In this context, device configuration is mostly relevant to configuring repository services in a cluster. You can find more details about this in Cluster: Repositories.


Some cluster services need to be able to authenticate themselves and interact with other services. For example, two repository hosts holding copies of the same repository must be able to fetch changes from one another, even if the repository is private.

Within a cluster, devices authenticate using SSH keys. Some operations happen over SSH (using keys in a normal way, as you would when running ssh from the command line), while others happen over HTTP (using SSH keys to sign requests).

Before hosts can authenticate to one another, you need to configure the credentials so other devices know the keys can be trusted. Beyond establishing trust, this configuration will establish device identity, so each host knows which device it is explicitly.

Today, this is primarily necessary when configuring repository clusters.

Using Almanac

The tool Phorge uses to manage cluster devices is the Almanac application, and most configuration will occur through the application's web UI. If you are not familiar with it, see Almanac User Guide first. This document assumes you are familiar with Almanac concepts.

What Lies Ahead

Here's a brief overview of the steps required to register cluster devices. The remainder of this document walks through these points in more detail.

  • Create an Almanac device record for each device.
  • Generate, add, and trust SSH keys if necessary.
  • Install Phorge on the host.
  • Use bin/almanac register from the host to register it as a device.

See below for guidance on each of these steps.

Individual vs Shared Keys

Before getting started, you should choose how you plan to manage device SSH keys. Trust and device identity are handled separately, and there are two ways to set up SSH keys so that devices can authenticate with one another:

  • you can generate a unique SSH key for each device; or
  • you can generate one SSH key and share it across multiple devices.

Using unique keys allows the tools to do some more sanity/safety checks and makes it a bit more difficult to misconfigure things, but you'll have to do more work managing the actual keys. This may be a better choice if you are setting up a small cluster (2-3 devices) for the first time.

Using shared keys makes key management easier but safety checks won't be able to catch a few kinds of mistakes. This may be a better choice if you are setting up a larger cluster, plan to expand the cluster later, or have experience with Phorge clustering.

Because all cluster keys are all-powerful, there is no material difference between these methods from a security or trust viewpoint. Unique keys are just potentially easier to administrate at small scales, while shared keys are easier at larger scales.

Create Almanac Device Records

For each host you plan to make part of a Phorge cluster, go to the Almanac application and create a device record. For guidance on this application, see Almanac User Guide.

Add interfaces to each device record so Phorge can tell how to connect to these hosts. Normally, you'll add one HTTP interface (usually on port 80) and one SSH interface (by default, on port 2222) to each device:

For example, if you are building a two-host repository cluster, you may end up with records that look like these:

  • Device:
    • Interface:
    • Interface:
  • Device:
    • Interface:
    • Interface:

Note that these hosts will normally run two sshd ports: the standard sshd which you connect to to operate and administrate the host, and the special Phorge sshd that you connect to to clone and push repositories.

You should specify the Phorge sshd port, not the standard sshd port.

If you're using unique SSH keys for each device, continue to the next step.

If you're using shared SSH keys, create a third device with no interfaces, like This device will just be used as a container to hold the trusted SSH key and is not a real device.

NOTE: Do not create a service record yet. Today, service records become active immediately once they are created, and you haven't set things up yet.

Generate and Trust SSH Keys

Next, you need to generate or upload SSH keys and mark them as trusted. Marking a key as trusted gives it tremendous power.

If you're using unique SSH keys, upload or generate a key for each individual device from the device detail screen in the Almanac web UI. Save the private keys for the next step.

If you're using a shared SSH key, upload or generate a single key for the keywarden device from the device detail screen in the Almanac web UI. Save the private key for the next step.

Regardless of how many keys you generated, take the key IDs from the tables in the web UI and run this command from the command line for each key, to mark each key as trusted:

phorge/ $ ./bin/almanac trust-key --id <key-id-1>
phorge/ $ ./bin/almanac trust-key --id <key-id-2>

The warnings this command emits are serious. The private keys are now trusted, and allow any user or device possessing them to sign requests that bypass policy checks without requiring additional credentials. Guard them carefully!

If you need to revoke trust for a key later, use untrust-key:

phorge/ $ ./bin/almanac untrust-key --id <key-id>

Once the keys are trusted, continue to the next step.

Install Phorge

If you haven't already, install Phorge on each device you plan to enroll in the cluster. Cluster repository devices must provide services over both HTTP and SSH, so you need to install and configure both a webserver and a Phorge sshd on these hosts.

Generally, you will follow whatever process you otherwise use when installing Phorge.

NOTE: Do not start the daemons on the new devices yet. They won't work properly until you've finished configuring things.

Once Phorge is installed, you can enroll the devices in the cluster by registering them.

Register Devices

To register a host as an Almanac device, use bin/almanac register.

If you are using unique keys, run it like this:

$ ./bin/almanac register \
  --device <device> \
  --private-key <key>

For example, you might run this command on repo001 when using unique keys:

$ ./bin/almanac register \
  --device \
  --private-key /path/to/private.key

If you are using a shared key, this will be a little more complicated because you need to override some checks that are intended to prevent mistakes. Use the --identify-as flag to choose a device identity:

$ ./bin/almanac register \
  --device <keywarden-device> \
  --private-key <key> \
  --identify-as <actual-device>

For example, you might run this command on repo001 when using a shared key:

$ ./bin/almanac register \
  --device \
  --private-key /path/to/private-key \

In particular, note that --device is always the trusted device associated with the trusted key. The --identify-as flag allows several different hosts to share the same key but still identify as different devices.

The overall effect of the bin/almanac command is to copy identity and key files into phorge/conf/keys/. You can inspect the results by examining that directory. The helper script just catches potential mistakes and makes sure the process is completed correctly.

Note that a copy of the active private key is stored in the conf/keys/ directory permanently.

When converting a host into a cluster host, you may need to revisit Diffusion User Guide: Repository Hosting and double check the sudo permission for the host. In particular, cluster hosts need to be able to run ssh via sudo so they can read the device private key.

Next Steps

Now that devices are registered, you can build cluster services from them. Return to the relevant cluster service documentation to continue: