Building an Apache Mesos Cluster on RancherOS

Gray Calendar Icon Published: March 20, 2015
Gray Calendar Icon Updated: September 12, 2019

APACHE-MESOS *This post is now a bit out of date. Since posting this article we’ve released the Rancher container management platform, and added full support for Mesos environments. You can read more about it at * In this tutorial, I will explain how to deploy a Mesos cluster in containers running on RancherOS and then make our deployment portable across different cloud platforms and virtualization systems. If you’re not familiar with Apache Mesos, it is an open-source project that provides an elastic and highly available clustering framework. With its efficient resource isolation, it is possible to easily build and manage many distributed systems running on heterogeneous resources. Combined with Apache Zookeeper and the Marathon Framework, it provides a powerful platform for deploying applications. RancherOS is a brand new Linux distribution that is designed to run Docker.

Environment setup:

We are going to build a simple cluster with 3 nodes, each of them running a Mesos installation. A master node is needed to manage all other slave nodes. We will use an initial system with RancherOS, and then run a Mesos node in a standard Ubuntu:14.04 container. mesos\_rancheros You can find a lots of information on installing and getting started with RancherOS on GitHub [[here]]. I’ve started by creating three virtual machines running RancherOS on VMware. Once we have our three RancherOS servers running, we need to make them persistent in order to save all the software installation to disk. This requires running the following command on each node:

rancher@rancherOS:$> docker run --privileged -it debian mkfs.ext4 -L RANCHER_STATE /dev/sda

A reboot is necessary, after which we have to create a Dockerfile and specify instructions to create our Mesos images (again, this is required for each node).

Docker Mesos Master node:

The latest Mesos solution can be built from the Github repository. But to keep it simple and speed up the process, we will use the package built and hosted by Mesosphere. We create a Dockerfile in some directory, and put all of the necessary instructions into it. Starting with a fresh Ubuntu 14.04, we then import Mesosphere Archive Automatic Signing Key and add the Mesosphere Ubuntu 14.04 repo:

From ubuntu:14.04
RUN echo "deb trusty main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mesosphere.list && \
    apt-key adv --keyserver --recv E56151BF && \
    apt-get update

Once that is complete, download and install the latest Mesosphere package, it will include Mesos, Zookeeper and Marathon:

RUN apt-get install -y mesosphere

Inform Docker that we will listen on the 5050 port for the Mesos Web UI.


We can now run the Mesos master node with a simple mesos-master command, but we need to specify the work_dir param. To make this easier, we add an entry point for Docker:

CMD ["mesos-master", "--work_dir=/var/log/mesos"]

Let’s build all this:

rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker build -t mesos-master .

And finaly run it into RancherOS, without forgetting the 5050 port:

rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker run -p 5050:5050 -t -d mesos-master

From this point on, we can manage our cluster from the Mesos Web UI at http://mesos-master-ip:5050 mesos-web-ui

Docker Mesos slave 01 node:

We start by repeating the initial Ubuntu and Mesos install with a Dockerfile:

From ubuntu:14.04
RUN echo "deb trusty main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mesosphere.list && \
    apt-key adv --keyserver --recv E56151BF && \
    apt-get update

RUN apt-get install -y mesos

Since we don’t want to run a master node but a slave, we can install only the Mesos software without Marathon, and then remove Zookeeper:

RUN service zookeeper stop
RUN apt-get -y remove --purge zookeeper

To be sure, we disable the Mesos master from any default configuration:

RUN echo manual > /etc/init/mesos-master.override

And we add a default entrypoint for the container:

CMD ["mesos-slave", "--master=mesos-master-ip:5050"]

Now we need to run it on our slave node in Docker:

rancher@mesos-slave01-rancherOS:$> docker run -t -d mesos-slave

We can now check in our Mesos Web UI and see the new host: mesos-slaves-01

Adding additional Mesos nodes:

Now we can repeat the same instructions and add an additional hosts. As each host is added, it should appear in the UI. mesos-slaves-02

Adding Marathon:

I ran into a few bugs with getting the Marathon software I installed from the Mesosphere repo to run consistently on Docker. Marathon and Zookeeper didn’t run automatically sometimes and I needed to manually start them from the container. If you run into this, just find the container ID using the [docker ps] command, and run the following:

rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker exec CONTAINER-ID service zookeeper restart
rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker exec CONTAINER-ID service marathon start

If the Marathon software installed from the Mesosphere repo still doesn’t start, we can download and use the latest Marathon release. To do this, modify the Dockerfile used for the master node, and add this lines just after installing Mesosphere:

ADD /tmp/marathon-0.7.5.tgz
RUN cd /opt/ && tar xvf /tmp/marathon-0.7.5.tgz && mv marathon-0.7.5 marathon

This will download, extract and put the Marathon software files into the right directory. We still need to manually run Marathon, but let’s automate this. Create a file beside your Dockerfile, and add these lines:

service zookeeper restart
mesos-master --work_dir=/var/log/mesos &
/op/marathon/bin/start --master zk://localhost:2181/mesos --zk zk://localhost:2181

And in the Dockerfile:

ADD ./ /
RUN chmod +x /
CMD [“/bin/bash”, “/”]

Now we can build and run our new docker instance, again without forgetting to add the 8080 port:

rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker build -t mesos-master .
rancher@mesos-master-rancherOS:$> docker run -p 5050:5050 -p 8080P:8080 -t -d mesos-master

Once you have marathon up and running you should be able to access the Marathon web interface at http://mesos-master-ip:8080 mesos-marathon


At this point, you have a Mesosphere cluster up and ready to deploy your applications on. RancherOS gives us a simple platform for deploying containers, and works well with tools like Mesos and Marathon. As RancherOS matures, it will be interesting to see how the system services capabilities can make creating Mesos, Kubernetes or Docker Swarm clusters easier to deploy and manage. You can find more information about RancherOS and Apache Mesos on GitHub. On April 29th, our next online meetup is taking place. You can register below. Hassen is a Linux System/Network engineer and developer living in Paris, who loves playing with open source tools, and is addicted to hardware hacking and working with Arduino.

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