Jenkins Bootstrap Shared

Jenkins as immutable infrastructure made easy. A repository of shared scripts meant to be used as a git submodule. Packing Jenkins, plugins, and scripts into immutable packages and images.

jenkins-bootstrap shared scripts Build Status

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Jenkins is traditionally challenging to safely QA and test upgrades. This project aims to make safely managing a Jenkins instance and all of its plugins easy.

Goals of this project:

  • Keep the bulk of the logic in a shared project (this one).
  • Allow other projects to source this project making changes easy to read in downstream projects.
  • Provide a standard bootstrapper across all downstream projects.


  • Mac OS X or Linux.
  • GNU awk. Not installed by default on Mac but available via Homebrew. brew install gawk
  • More than two CPU cores recommended.
  • More than 6GB of RAM recommended if running Jenkins.

Optional requirements for other types of provisioning:

Getting Started

How to use this shared bootstrapper with your own scripts.

Creating a new Jenkins instance

If you're installing Jenkins for the first time then start here. Otherwise, skip to the next section.

  1. Create a new repository.

    mkdir my-project
    cd my-project
    git init
    git submodule add
    git add -A && git commit -m 'initial commit'
  2. Bootstrap your new Jenkins version locally.

  3. Visit http://localhost:8080/ and install all desired plugins. Be sure to continue as admin. To simplify upgrading in the future adding the plugin IDs of Jenkins plugins you install to pinned-plugins.txt will help keep your infrastructure healthy in future upgrades. See the Upgrade Jenkins and plugins section below to learn more.

  4. Save your Jenkins version and plugins to your new repository.

    git add -A && git commit -m 'plugins are installed'

Note: sometimes upgrading plugins can be unstable from the community. When this happens it may be desirable to upgrade specific plugins but not all plugins. In this case, you can save the plugins of the local Jenkins instance without upgrading all plugins. The following is an example.

export NO_UPGRADE=1

Import an existing Jenkins instance

Often, readers will already have an existing Jenkins instance. These instructions allow one to convert an existing instance to using these bootstrap scripts. To do this, administer privileges are required on the exiting Jenkins instance.

  1. Create a new repository.

    mkdir my-project
    cd my-project
    git init
    git submodule add
    git add -A && git commit -m 'initial commit'
  2. Prepare authentication for your remote Jenkins instance.

    export NO_UPGRADE=1
    export JENKINS_WEB=''
    export JENKINS_USER="<your username>"
    read -sp 'Password: ' JENKINS_PASSWORD
  3. Import your remote Jenkins version and plugin versions into this repository.

    git add -A && git commit -m 'plugins are installed'

Defining custom plugins

By creating a custom-plugins.txt file at the root of your repository, plugins can be hard coded to specific versions. Why is this necessary?

  • Internal only company plugins can be installed via maven.
  • Install plugins not available in the Jenkins Update Center (i.e. formerly removed). In general, this is not a good idea but for advanced users may be okay.
  • When importing an existing Jenkins instance, it is possible that the group is wrong for older versions of plugins.

The format of custom-plugins.txt is the following. Everything else is treated as a comment.

Example custom-plugins.txt file:

# An internal only plugin
com.example:myplugin:[email protected]

Next steps

In the root of your new bootstrap repository there is variables.gradle. Customize this to your liking for your setup. When you're finished I recommend tagging your repository as a release.

Generate RPM and DEB packages of your Jenkins instance.

./gradlew packages

The system packages will be located in ./build/distributions/. Your packages are ready to manage a new Jenkins installation or convert an existing installation. These packages can be used to test upgrades before they ever land in production.

Additionally, this package will track your $JENKINS_HOME with git during plugin upgrades and take daily snapshots of your $JENKINS_HOME.

Common gradle tasks

The following tasks would be executed with ./gradlew TASK. List of common TASKs include:

  • clean - cleans the build directory and all bootstrap related files.
  • buildRpm - builds an RPM package for RHEL based Linux distros.
  • buildDeb - builds a DEB package for Debian based Linux distros.
  • buildTar - builds a TAR file which is used to build a docker container.
  • packages - executes buildRpm, buildDeb, and buildTar tasks.
  • getjenkins - Downloads jenkins.war to the current directory.
  • getplugins - Downloads Jenkins plugin HPI files to ./plugins.

Additional Instructions

Provision Jenkins via Vagrant

This repository optionally uses Vagrant. To bootstrap Jenkins simply run the following to start Jenkins.

vagrant up

Visit http://localhost:8080/ to see Jenkins running.

Provision Jenkins via docker-compose

Bootstrapping Jenkins while using docker-compose is similar to bootstrapping with Vagrant.

docker-compose up -d

Alternatively, the following command will bring up Jenkins and force a rebuild of the docker image.

docker-compose up --build -d

Stop and start Jenkins using docker-compose.

# shut down but keep persisted Jenkins data in the docker volume
docker-compose down

# start Jenkins
docker-compose up -d

Shut down and delete all Jenkins data.

docker-compose down --rmi local --volumes

Upgrade Jenkins and plugins

it is suggested to perform a plugin refresh instead of upgrading the plugins. As Jenkins plugins get developed new plugin dependencies get added and removed. This bloat over time can cause Jenkins instances to have a large amount of plugins installed which are not used. To keep your Jenkins instance lean with plugins a full plugin refresh is suggested.

Learn more by reading the upgrade documentation.

Build an RPM package

./gradlew clean buildRpm

Build a docker image

Why not the official image? Using this docker image has a few advantages over the official image:

  • This image is minimal (~292MB) vs official (~809MB). Based on Alpine Linux.
  • Dependencies during the build when including plugins can be cached in Artifactory or Nexus
  • More options are exposed while some defaults are sane for running within Docker.

Build it:

./gradlew clean buildTar
docker build -t jenkins .

Alternatively, if you're building from a downstream project:

docker build -f jenkins-bootstrap-shared/Dockerfile -t jenkins .

The following environment variables can be overridden in the docker container if using docker-compose.

JENKINS_HOME Path Jenkins configuration location. Default is /var/lib/jenkins.
JENKINS_PORT int set the http listening port. -1 to disable, Default is 8080
JENKINS_DEBUG_LEVEL int set the level of debug msgs (1-9). Default is 5 (INFO level)
JENKINS_HANDLER_MAX int set the max no of worker threads to allow. Default is 100
JENKINS_HANDLER_IDLE int set the max no of idle worker threads to allow. Default is 20
JENKINS_ARGS Str Any additional args available to jenkins.war

Docker environment variables related to HTTPS. Note: HTTPS will only be available if a keystore is defined. All other variables are disabled without it.

JENKINS_KEYSTORE Path the location of the SSL KeyStore file.
JENKINS_HTTPS_PORT int set the https listening port. -1 to disable, Default is 8443.
JENKINS_HTTPS_KEYSTORE_PASSWORD Str the password for the SSL KeyStore file. Default is changeit
JENKINS_HTTPS_KEYSTORE_PASSWORD_FILE Path Same as password but in a file.

Note: if you plan to start the docker container from an existing Jenkins home, you must first set permissions to the uid/gid of the jenkins user inside the container. Example:

$ docker run -it --rm jenkinsbootstrapshared_jenkins id
uid=100(jenkins) gid=65533(nogroup) groups=65533(nogroup)

$ chown -R 100:65533 /path/to/jenkins/home

Other Usage

For service control and other usage see USAGE.


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