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Ansible + Nuitka: One-line Installer for Smoother Employee Onboarding

The Employee Onboarding Problem

At Hexmos, we faced a significant challenge when onboarding new software engineering interns. The process of integrating them into our team and systems was very demanding. Typically, one or two senior developers would spend a significant amount of time helping interns install the many tools, packages, and extensions they needed—often numbering in the dozens.

Installing the incorrect versions of tools and packages could result in hours of debugging, which was especially challenging because we operate entirely online and the interns lack experience dealing with commands. Fixing installation issues was a nightmare.

The process was extremely time-consuming and had a negative impact on our team's overall productivity. Additionally, the need to ensure that everyone on the team was using the same versions of tools and the same shell and tool configurations (such as .bashrc, Prettier configurations) was a significant challenge. Whenever the entire team needed to use a shared tool for experimental purposes, the installation process became a laborious task that involved multiple downloads and inconveniences.

Binary Installer Idea

To tackle the issue mentioned earlier, we came up with a binary distribution idea. This involves a straightforward one-line command that downloads the binary file, grants permissions, and runs it on the intern's machine. Once executed, the binary file guides the intern's machine through the necessary onboarding tasks as per the provided instructions.
Now, the question arose: How do we create this binary file? What tools should we utilize, and how can we ensure their compatibility with various machines?

Why did we choose a binary file?

  • A single executable file that does not require any external dependency
  • Given interns' limited familiarity with Unix systems, a single command help to overcome the installation, and configuration issues.
  • Effortless sharing via a public URL enhances accessibility.

Ansible for Installation Instructions

We opted for Ansible as our solution for creating installation instructions due to its user-friendly nature and straightforward approach. Ansible is also useful for configuration management. Meaning, we can, for example easily maintain bashrc, vscode configurations, etc through Ansible.

Continue reading the full article here: Story of Ansika

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