NetBox Ubuntu LXC on Proxmox

10 Oct 2021

NetBox is an infrastructure resource modelling (IRM) tool designed to empower network automation.

NetBox was developed specifically to address the needs of network and infrastructure engineers. It is intended to function as a domain-specific source of truth for network operations.

In this article I explore NetBox and the requirements of installing it from scratch on a Proxmox in an LXC Ubuntu container.

Let’s jump in.

Creating our Container

Make sure you have the Ubuntu 20.04 Container Template from within Proxmox.

Navigate to your storage > CT Templates > Templates and select Ubuntu 20.04.

0-1-container-template

Now create a new Container using the Create CT button and run through the wizard to create a Container with the following:

  • Hostname
  • Password & SSH Public Key
  • Template: Ubuntu-20.04
  • Root Disk: 32GB
  • CPU Cores: 2
  • Memory: 2048
  • Network: DHCP
  • DNS: use host settings

I have a DHCP server and I will be reserving my server address, you can also configure a static address.

Ensure that Start at Boot is enabled within the Container options.

Start the container and update the system

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

NetBox Installation

The NetBox installation process is made up of 6 steps these are:

  1. PostgreSQL database
  2. Redis
  3. NetBox components
  4. Gunicorn
  5. HTTP server
  6. LDAP Authentication (optional - not covered in this article)

PostgreSQL database

NetBox requires PostgreSQL 9.6 or higher. Please note that MySQL and other relational databases are not currently supported.

Install PostgreSQL

sudo apt install -y postgresql

Enable and start the service

sudo systemctl enable postgresql
sudo systemctl start postgresql

1-1-enable-postgresql

Log into PostgreSQL shell using the system user

sudo -u postgres psql

Create a Database and User for NetBox

CREATE DATABASE netbox;
CREATE USER netbox WITH PASSWORD 'SuperPassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON DATABASE netbox TO netbox;

1-2-create-database

\q or exit to exit PostgreSQL shell.

Verify service status by using the following command

psql --username netbox --password --host localhost netbox

If successful you will see a NetBox prompt. \conninfo to confirm your connection or \q or exit to exit.

1-3-test-postgresql

Redis

Redis is a key-value store used for caching and background task queuing.

NetBox v2.9.0 and later require Redis v4.0 or higher.

Install Redis server

sudo apt install -y redis-server

Verify, if successful you will receive a PONG.

redis-cli ping

2-1-verify-redis

NetBox components

NetBox v3.0 and later require Python 3.7, 3.8, or 3.9.

Install system packages

sudo apt install -y python3 python3-pip python3-venv python3-dev build-essential libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev libffi-dev libpq-dev libssl-dev zlib1g-dev

Update pip3

sudo pip3 install --upgrade pip

Download NetBox using the GitHub repository

We will need to install Git

sudo apt install -y git

Now clone the master branch of the NetBox GitHub repository into the opt folder.

cd /opt
sudo git clone -b master --depth 1 https://github.com/netbox-community/netbox.git

Create a system user and change the owner of the NetBox media directory

sudo adduser --system --group netbox
sudo chown --recursive netbox /opt/netbox/netbox/media/

NetBox Configuration File

Change directory to NetBox configuration directory and copy the example configuration file

cd /opt/netbox/netbox/netbox
sudo cp configuration.example.py configuration.py

Edit the configuration file

nano configuration.py

Only the following four are required for new installations

  • ALLOWED_HOSTS = Hostname and IP addresses by which the server can be reached, ensure values are wrapped in single quotes. You can also use * to allow all host values.

  • DATABASE = Configuration details of our Postgre SQL

    DATABASE = {
        'NAME': 'netbox',               # Database name
        'USER': 'netbox',               # PostgreSQL username
        'PASSWORD': 'SuperPassword', 	# PostgreSQL password
        'HOST': 'localhost',            # Database server
        'PORT': '',                     # Database port (leave blank for default)
        'CONN_MAX_AGE': 300,            # Max database connection age (seconds)
    }
    
  • REDIS = NetBox requires two databases; tasks and caching.

    REDIS = {
        'tasks': {
            'HOST': 'localhost',      # Redis server
            'PORT': 6379,             # Redis port
            'PASSWORD': '',           # Redis password (optional)
            'DATABASE': 0,            # Database ID
            'SSL': False,             # Use SSL (optional)
        },
        'caching': {
            'HOST': 'localhost',
            'PORT': 6379,
            'PASSWORD': '',
            'DATABASE': 1,            # Unique ID for second database
            'SSL': False,
        }
    }
    
  • SECRET_KEY = Randomly-generated key employed as a salt for hashing and related cryptographic functions.

    python3 ../generate_secret_key.py
    

    Run the python script and copy the value into your configuration.py file.

    3-1-generate-secret

    highly available installation with multiple web servers, SECRET_KEY must be identical among all servers

NAPALM and Remote File Storage Integration

To add support for NAPALM and Remote File Storage we just need to add an entry into the local_requirements.txt before we run the Upgrade Script.

NAPALM

sudo sh -c "echo 'napalm' >> /opt/netbox/local_requirements.txt"

Remote File Storage

sudo sh -c "echo 'django-storages' >> /opt/netbox/local_requirements.txt"

Actual Installation

Run the upgrade script, which performs the following:

  • Create a Python virtual environment
  • Installs all required Python packages
  • Run database schema migrations
  • Builds the documentation locally (for offline use)
  • Aggregate static resource files on disk
sudo /opt/netbox/upgrade.sh

Create your NetBox Super User account

source /opt/netbox/venv/bin/activate
cd /opt/netbox/netbox
python3 manage.py createsuperuser

3-3-create-superuser

Schedule the Housekeeping task with cron.

ln -s /opt/netbox/contrib/netbox-housekeeping.sh /etc/cron.daily/netbox-housekeeping

Test the Application

Run NetBox’s development server for testing

cd /opt/netbox/netbox/
python3 manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8000 --insecure

3-4-verify-application

Now while the development server is running, connect to your application via port 8000 as defined by your ALLOWED_HOSTS, then log in using your superuser account.

3-5-verify-web

Finally stop the development server by pressing Ctrl + c.

Gunicorn

Gunicorn is a Python WSGI HTTP server and the one installed from NetBox documentation.

To use Gunicorn copy the python file

cp /opt/netbox/contrib/gunicorn.py /opt/netbox/

Although the provided configuration should suffice, you can see the Gunicorn documentation for available configuration parameters.

Creating the Systemd Setup

Creating the netbox and netbox-rq services

sudo cp -v /opt/netbox/contrib/*.service /etc/systemd/system/
sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Enable and start the services

sudo systemctl enable netbox netbox-rq
sudo systemctl start netbox netbox-rq
systemctl status netbox

HTTP server

Generate self-signed certificate

sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/netbox.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/netbox.crt

Install Nginx

sudo apt install -y nginx

Copy the configuration provided by NetBox

sudo cp /opt/netbox/contrib/nginx.conf /etc/nginx/sites-available/netbox

Remove the default Nginx site

sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Create a symlink to sites-enabled

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/netbox /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/netbox

Edit the provided configuration file

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/netbox

Change the following

  • server_name = make sure to match what you put in ALLOWED_HOSTS.

Restart the Nginx service

sudo systemctl restart nginx

You can now visit your new NetBox installation using your configured allowed host for example https://netbox.example.com/. I’m excited to explore what NetBox has to offer and will be sharing my experiences in future posts. For now enjoy your new NetBox installation and like me, maybe create a snapshot or backup just in-case you need to roll back.

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