Azure + Terraform + Linux Custom Script Extension (Scale Set or VM)

Overview

Whether you are creating a virtual machine or a scale set in Azure, you can specify a “Custom Script Extension” to tailor the VM after creation.

Terraform Syntax

I’m not going to go into detail on how to do the entire scale set or VM, but here is the full extension block that should go inside either one of them.

resource "azurerm_virtual_machine_scale_set" "some-name" {
  # ... normal scale set config ...

  extension {
    name                 = "your-extension-name"
    publisher            = "Microsoft.Azure.Extensions"
    type                 = "CustomScript"
    type_handler_version = "2.0"

    settings = <<SETTINGS
    {
    "fileUris": ["https://some-blob-storage.blob.core.windows.net/my-scripts/run_config.sh"],
    "commandToExecute": "bash run_config.sh"
    }
SETTINGS
  }
}

Things to notice include:

  1. The extension settings have to be valid JSON (e.g. no new-lines in strings, proper quoting).
  2. This can get frustrating, so it helps to use a bash “heredoc” style block to write it the JSON (to help avoid quote escaping, etc). https://stackoverflow.com/a/2500451/857994
  3. Assuming you have a non-trivial use case, it is very beneficial to maintain your script(s) outside of your VM image.  After all… you don’t want to go make a new VM image every time you find a typo in your script.  This is what fileUris does; it lets you refer to a script in azure storage or in any reachable web location.
  4. You can easily create new Azure storage, create a blob container, and upload a file and mark it as public so that you can refer to it without authentication.  Don’t put anything sensitive in it in this case though; if you do, use a storage key instead.  I prefer to make it public but then pass any “secret” properties to it from the command-to-execute, that way all variables are managed by Terraform at execution time.
  5. The command-to-execute can call the scripts downloaded form the fileURIs.  When the extension is run on your VM or scale set VM(s) after deployment, the scripts are uploaded to /var/lib/waagent/custom-script/download/1/script-name.sh and then run with the command-to-execute.  This location serves as the working directory.

Debugging Failures

Sometimes things can go wrong when running custom scripts; even things outside your control.  For example, on Centos7.5, I keep getting 40% of my VMs or so stuck on “creating” and they clearly haven’t run the scripts.

In this case, you can look at the following log file to get more information:

/var/log/azure/custom-script/handler.log

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