100 Days of Learning: Day 0 – Serverless, OpenFaaS and Multipass

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Today I started a 100 Day challenge to learn about new things.

See my Log book for more information about my challenge.

The first topic I want to learn about is the idea of Function as a Service (FaaS) and to start off on this journey I will be working through Alex Ellis’ Serverless for Everyone Else book.

Next I will go over the steps I took to get my first function deployed on my Mac.

Installing Multipass

Follow the instructions at: https://multipass.run/ for macOS

  • Download and run the installer as an Admin user

  • Spin up an Ubuntu instance, test and delete

    Spin up (this took about 5 minutes the first time to get the latest Ubuntu LTS image)

      $ multipass launch --name test
      Launched: test

    Test a command

      $ multipass exec test -- lsb_release -a
      No LSB modules are available.
      Distributor ID:	Ubuntu
      Description:	Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
      Release:	20.04
      Codename:	focal

    List instances

      $ multipass list
      Name     State      IPv4            Image
      test     Running    Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

    Stop and clean up $ multipass stop test $ multipass delete test $ multipass purge

Installing faasd

  • Create a new Ubuntu instance using multipass

    2 cores and 2 gigs of RAM

      $ multipass launch --name faasd --cpus 2 --mem 2G
      Launched: faasd
  • Open a bash shell on the Ubuntu instance

      $ multipass exec faasd /bin/bash 
      To run a command as administrator (user "root"), use "sudo <command>".
      See "man sudo_root" for details.

  • Copy your ssh public key over to the instance so we can run ssh sessions directly against the instance

    NOTE: See the last section on how to create a SSH key if you don’t already have one.

      $ cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | pbcopy
      [pbcopy copies to the clipboard on macOS]
      Edit the authorized ssh keys for the instance and add the id_rsa.pub value
      ubuntu@faasd:~$ nano ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
  • Test ssh to the instance. Open a new terminal.

    Get the IP address of the instance

      $ multipass info faasd
      Name:           faasd
      State:          Running
      Release:        Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
      Image hash:     c5f2f08c6a1a (Ubuntu 20.04 LTS)
      Load:           0.00 0.00 0.00
      Disk usage:     1.2G out of 4.7G
      Memory usage:   148.6M out of 1.9G		

    SSH into the instance (note: ubuntu is the default username)

      $ ssh ubuntu@

    In my case because I have multiple keys for a number of services and because of the way my ~/.ssh/config file is setup, I need to explicitly state to use PreferredAuthentications=publickey

      $ ssh -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa -o PreferredAuthentications=publickey ubuntu@
  • Now you have two ways to get a shell on the running instance

      $ multipass exec faasd /bin/bash
      $ ssh ubuntu@INSTANCE_IP
  • Install faasd on the instance

    Drop to root user (just incase sudo fails along the way)

      ubuntu@faasd:~$ sudo -i

    Clone the repo

      root@faasd:~# git clone https://github.com/openfaas/faasd --depth=1
      Cloning into 'faasd'...


      root@faasd:~# cd faasd
      root@faasd:~# ./hack/install.sh
      Creating alias 'faas' for 'faas-cli'.
        ___                   _____           ____
       / _ \ _ __   ___ _ __ |  ___|_ _  __ _/ ___|
      | | | | '_ \ / _ \ '_ \| |_ / _` |/ _` \___ \
      | |_| | |_) |  __/ | | |  _| (_| | (_| |___) |
       \___/| .__/ \___|_| |_|_|  \__,_|\__,_|____/
       commit:  6b5e7a14a598527063c7c05fb4187739b6eb6d38
       version: 0.13.6

    Verify faasd is running

      root@faasd:~/faasd# systemctl status faasd
      ● faasd.service - faasd
           Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/faasd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
           Active: active (running) since Mon 2021-03-08 20:25:14 GMT; 5min ago
         Main PID: 14201 (faasd)
            Tasks: 7 (limit: 2344)
           Memory: 37.8M (limit: 500.0M)
           CGroup: /system.slice/faasd.service
                   └─14201 /usr/local/bin/faasd up

Deploying your first function

I will be using the UI (web portal) for exploring the faasd setup as well as deploy my first FaaS.

  • Get the admin user’s password

      ubuntu@faasd:~$ sudo cat /var/lib/faasd/secrets/basic-auth-password ;echo
  • Open up the UI in your browser. E.g. http://INSTANCE_IP:8080

  • Provide username "admin" and the password from the previous steps

  • Select "Deploy New Function" and search for "ASCII Cows". Deploy it.

  • After a few seconds or so you will see COWS in the sidebar. Select it.

  • Invoke the function and you will get a random ascii cow

  • You can also run curl against the deployed function

      $ curl
      *        (__)
       \       (OO)
         /     \\
       ^^        ^^
      Cow who's just
      seen a McDonalds


Creating a SSH key-pair

I like to have a SSH key-pair per machine or service I use and store a backup copy in my password manager (1Password). For this example I will just create the default id_rsa key pair that will also be used for connecting to the Ubuntu local instances.

Run the following command to create a 4kb RSA public and private key-pair. The filenames will be id_rsa (the private key, never ever share this one!) and id_rsa.pub (the public key)

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa -C "Add a comment here if you want"

I use the password manager to generate a strong passphrase. To rule out any copy/paste and unrecoverable errors in the future, I like to copy/paste the stored secret from my recording (password manager entry) and then when asked to confirm, I manually type it in. This way I can be sure that what I copy/paste will always be correct and at the very least I would be able to manually type it in if the need ever presented itself.

Backup the generated key-pair (~/.ssh/id_rsa and ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub) to your password manager. Tip: To see hidden files on macOS (in Finder or File dialogue) enter Cmd + Shift + . (period for dot files).

Add the key to your macOS login keychain so you don’t have to always enter the passphrase.

$ ssh-add -K ~/.ssh/id_rsa

2 comments on “100 Days of Learning: Day 0 – Serverless, OpenFaaS and Multipass

  1. Hi ,

    Cool! I also worked with Multipass on windows machine and virtualbox as VM driver. The installation via cloud-init worked very well. Only the access via ip address didn’t work well with my setup. I had to add some additional configs and port forwards. Luckily the Multipass documentation helped pretty good

    And I adapted the nextcloud configuration to the faasd ones
    Faasd is great! Happy tinkering!

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