.NET Core and Devops Part 1: Running our first .NET Core Application on Linux

Welcome to the first in a series of articles focused on .NET Core from a devops perspective where I hope to demonstrate how we can practically start developing and deploying .NET Core applications on Linux.

Part 1: Running our first .NET Core application on Linux (This Aritcle)

Part 2: Running our first ASP.NET Core service on Linux

Part 3: Running ASP.NET Core Services on Linux in Docker

Part 4: Setting up a CI build and deploy pipeline for our ASP.NET Core Service using Docker

As a devops engineer working a lot on the Microsoft stack, it is second nature nowadays to automatically setup and configure farms of Windows web servers running IIS and deploy ASP.NET based web sites and services to them. But now with .NET Core and ASP.NET Core it is possible to run those same web sites on Linux.

In my opinion, one of the main motivations to use Linux is cost. In Azure, Linux VMs are approximately half the price of Windows VMs. A D2v2 Windows Server is about £122/month whilst a D2v2 Ubuntu server runs at £62/month. If you are working at scale in the cloud then that is going to equate to a huge cost saving.

In this series of articles I  hope to demonstrate that moving to Linux is possible and practical with a real life example including all the automated configuration and deployment processes.


Throughout these articles I am going to use an example application that I wrote called Downcount. Downcount is my take on the famous Countdown numbers game, where contestants are given 6 integers and 1 target integer. The aim is to derive the target number by adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the original 6 integers. It is a nice problem and solving it is a good way to learn and try out new programming languages.

In the GitHub repo you will see implementations in C#, Javascript and also .NET Core.

The .NET Core implementation comes with a simple console application to try it out and uses an iterative, brute force approach. e.g.

The set of solutions to the game, y from (x1, x2, x3…xn), is equivalent to the set of solutions to

set of solutions [(y – x1) from (x2, x3, ..xn)] ADD x1 UNION

set of solutions [(y + x1) from (x2, x3, ..xn)] MINUS x1 UNION

set of solutions [(y / x1) from (x2, x3, ..xn)] MULTIPLY x1 UNION

set of solutions [(y * x1) from (x2, x3, ..xn)] DIVIDE x1 UNION

etc etc recursively


Running .NET Core using Visual Studio

There is full support for .NET Core in Visual Studio so if you are running Visual Studio 2015 Update 3 the simplest way to run Downcount in .NET Core is to open up the solution Downcount/DotNetCore/Downcount.sln, build and then run the Downcount.Console application direct from Visual Studio.

Running .NET Core from the Command Line on Windows

With .NET Core you don’t have to use Visual Studio, you could use another development tool like Visual Studio Code or you could work direct from the command line. It is interesting the see the command line tools that underpin .NET Core so lets do that.

You will need as a minimum the .NET Core SDK installed. With that installed you will have, among other things, the dotnet command line tool available to you.

Grab the latest code from the Git repo and cd into the Downcount.Console directory

git clone https://github.com/shiningdragon/Downcount.git
cd Downcount\DotNetCore\Downcount.Console

Restore and build the application

dotnet restore
dotnet build

Execute the console application

cd bin\Debug\netcoreapp1.0
dotnet Downcount.Console.dll

Alternatively you can run the application directly by running

dotnet run

from the Downcount.Console directory.

Please check out this reference article for more info about .NET Core command line tools and what exactly each of the above is doing.

Running .NET Core on Linux

Now for the main part. Running our lovely C# code on a Linux server. I am using an Ubuntu 16.04 VM that I created in Azure but feel free to try another distro if you wish.

First thing is first, SSH onto the server and install .NET Core. Check these instructions for other distros. For my Ubuntu machine it was

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64] https://apt-mo.trafficmanager.net/repos/dotnet-release/ xenial main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/dotnetdev.list'
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys 417A0893
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dotnet-dev-1.0.0-preview2-003131

Install git if you haven’t already

sudo apt-get install git-all

Get the latest code

mkdir Downcount
cd Downcount
git clone https://github.com/shiningdragon/Downcount.git
cd Downcount/DotNetCore/Downcount.Console

Build and run the application

dotnet restore
dotnet run

Then you can see Downcount and all that C# code running on Linux! Jump to Part 2 of this series to see how to host your first ASP.NET application on Linux.



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