Setting up your GCP project

This setup guide assumes that you are already a member of a GCP project with either “Owner” or “Editor” rights.

Google Cloud Console

If you are new to the Google Cloud, it is a good idea to become familiar with the Cloud Console (which we will generally refer to simply as the Console). You can get help from within the Console by clicking on the Help (question mark) icon near the upper right-hand corner. The Console provides a convenient web UI for managing resources within your cloud project, and can be useful for obtaining a quick, high-level snapshot of the state of your project. The “Home” page will list, for example, the number of buckets you have created in Cloud Storage, the number of datasets in BigQuery, and the number of VMs you have running under App Engine or Compute Engine. It also shows the charges incurred by this project so far this month.

Enable the Compute Engine API

The Compute Engine API is probably enabled by default on your GCP project, but you can verify this through the Console: click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner, and then select the APIs & Services. On the APIs & Services Dashboard, there will be a list of APIs.

Select the “Compute Engine API” link which should be at the very top of the list of APIs. Once you are on the “Compute Engine API” page, you should either see a button with the words “Enable API” or “Disable API”. If the button says Enable, click on it. This process will take a minute or two, after which you will be prompted to “Go to Credentials”. You should not need to create new credentials at this time – you will typically be using Application Default Credentials. (This blog post introducing Application Default Credentials may also be helpful.) The proper use of credentials is frequently one of the most complicated aspects of interacting with the Google Cloud Platform. If you are having problems, please let us know.

You may also find the official Compute Engine Getting Started Guide helpful.

Google Cloud SDK

Depending on how you choose to interact with the Google Cloud Platform, you may want to install the Google Cloud SDK on your local workstation. The Google Cloud SDK is a set of command-line interface (CLI) tools that you can use to manage resources and applications hosted on GCP. (Note that components of the the SDK are updated quite frequently. You will be notified when updates are available anytime you use one of the SDK tools. The command will still run, but you will be notified that “Updates are available for some Cloud SDK components” and you will be given instructions on how to update your local copy of the SDK.)

Confirm that you have installed the SDK and have access to it by typing gcloud --version at the command line of your own linux workstation or from the Cloud Shell (for more details about the Cloud Shell, see the next section). You should see something like this:

Google Cloud SDK 98.0.0

bq 2.0.18
bq-nix 2.0.18
core 2016.02.22
core-nix 2016.02.05
gsutil 4.16
gsutil-nix 4.15

Google Cloud Shell

Google Cloud Shell provides you with command-line access to computing resources hosted on GCP, available from the Console. Cloud Shell provides you with a temporary VM running a Debian-based Linux OS, with 5 GB of persistent disk storage per user, and the Google Cloud SDK and other tools pre-installed.

From the Console, you will find the icon for the Cloud Shell in the top-most blue bar, near the right-hand corner. Hovering over the icon will display “Activate Cloud Shell”. If you click on that icon, it will take a minute or two for your VM to be provisioned, after which you will see a prompt saying “Welcome to Cloud Shell” in the new window that has appeared at the bottom of your Console page. You can “pop” that window out of your browser page by clicking on the “Open in new window” icon in the upper right-hand corner of the shell window.

Authenticate with Google

Regardless of how you choose to interact with the Google Cloud, you will need to authenticate yourself. How this authentication takes place will depend on “where” you are. If you have signed into Chrome using your Google identity and you then go to the Console, you will already have been authenticated. If you are at the Linux prompt of the Cloud Shell, you have also already been authenticated because that Shell (and that VM) were launched for you from your Console. If you are at the Linux prompt of your local workstation, you will need to authenticate using the gcloud command line utility.

There are two approaches:

  • gcloud init launches an interactive Getting Started workflow for gcloud;

  • gcloud auth login obtains access credentials for your user account via a web-based authorization flow.

These approaches may ask you to cut-and-paste a long URL into a browser, sign in using your Google credentials, click “Allow” to allow Google to access certain information about you, and may also ask that you cut and paste an authorization token from your browser back into the Linux shell.

Once you have authenticated, you can see information about your current configuration by typing gcloud config list. You can set additional properties using the gcloud config set command. The most common properties you are likely to want to verify (list), or set explicitly are:

  • account

  • project

  • compute/region

  • compute/zone

  • container/cluster

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