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Node Bootstrapping


Chef Automate 4.10.1 released on 6th September 2023 includes improvements to the deployment and installation experience of Automate HA. Please read the blog to learn more about key improvements. Refer to the pre-requisites page (On-Premises, AWS) and plan your usage with your customer success manager or account manager.

A node is any physical, virtual, or cloud device configured and maintained by an instance of Chef Infra Client. Bootstrapping installs Chef Infra Client on a target system, so it can run as a client and sets the node up to communicate with a Chef Infra Server.

To bootstrap a node, run knife bootstrap in the workstation.

Knife Bootstrap

The knife bootstrap command is a common way to install Chef Infra Client on a node. The default for this approach assumes that a node can access the Chef website so that it may download the Chef Infra Client package from that location.

The Chef Infra Client installer will detect the version of the operating system and then install the appropriate Chef Infra Client version using a single command to install Chef Infra Client and all of its dependencies, including an embedded version of Ruby, OpenSSL, parsers, libraries, and command-line utilities.

The Chef Infra Client installer puts everything into a unique directory (/opt/chef/) so that Chef Infra Client will not interfere with other applications that may be running on the target machine. Once installed, Chef Infra Client requires a few more configuration steps before performing its first Chef Infra Client run on a node.

Bootstrap a Node

Create Users and Organization

  1. ssh in the bastion host and follow the below steps.

  2. ssh in chef_server instance.

    sudo chef-automate ssh --hostname chef_server

  3. Ensure all the front-end instances are up and running.

    sudo chef-automate status

  4. Create a User.


    sudo chef-server-ctl user-create <username> <First Name> <Last Name> <Email ID> <password> -f <path and file name to store user's pem file>

    For Example:

    sudo chef-server-ctl user-create johndoe John Doe John@123 -f ./johndoe.pem

    Created users can be listed using sudo chef-server-ctl user-list

  5. Create an organization.


    sudo chef-server-ctl org-create <org name> '<org display name>' --association_user <username> -f <path and file name to store org's pem file>

    For Example:

    sudo chef-server-ctl org-create new_org 'New Organization' --association_user johndoe -f ./new_org.pem

    Created organization can be listed using sudo chef-server-ctl org-list

  6. Copy the pem files and save them to a safe location.

Workstation Setup

  1. To set up the workstation on your machine, follow the steps given below:

    • Install the latest version of chef Workstation on the ubuntu system.
    • To install the same:
    dpkg -i chef-workstation_21.7.524-1_amd64.deb
    • Verify the installation using the following command:
    chef -v

    Click here for any additional information.

    1. Generate chef-repo using chef generate repo chef-repo. Click [here] to know more.

    2. Paste pem files of user and organization inside /root/.chef/. For example: Eg.: /root/.chef/johndoe.pem , /root/.chef/new_org.pem

    3. Paste ssh key of node which you want to bootstrap inside /root/.ssh/<ssh_key_of_node>.

    4. Edit Credentials file vi /root/.chef/credentials or run knife configure to configure the credentials.

    5. Provide the name of user-created in chef_server, correct path of pem file of user and chef server URL (or associated DNS), and organization name.

    Once configured, /root/.chef/credentials will look like as shown below:

      client_name = "<name_of_user>"
      client_key = "/root/.chef/<pem_file_of_user>"
      chef_server_url = "<name_of_organization>/"
  2. Run the following command:

    knife ssl fetch
    knife ssl check


    knife ssl check might throw certificate error in which case, configuration can be done using DNS attached to Chef Server URL

    The above command will fetch certificate details, save them to the trusted_cert folder in /root/.chef/, and verify the same.

  3. Run the bootstrap command.

    knife bootstrap <Public_ip> -i ~/<pem_file_of_node> -U ubuntu -N <name_of_node> --sudo

    • Public IP: IP address of the node which we are bootstrapping.

    • pem_file_of_node: pem file of node which we have saved at /root/.ssh/<pem_file_of_node>.

    • name_of_node: You can provide any name to your node.

    For example: knife bootstrap 3.124.**.** -i ~/.ssh/rsa.pem -U ubuntu -N johndoe


  • If knife bootstrap throws permission denied or cannot create directory error, add the following configuration in /root/.chef/credentials and then run the bootstrap command as shown in Step No. 8.


ssh_user = 'ubuntu' # this would have been knife[:ssh_user] in your config.rb
aws_profile = 'default'
use_sudo = true
  • If you have an error while doing bootstrapping
error: (20:unable to get local issuer certificate) while SSL handshaking to upstream, client:, server: , 
request: "POST /organizations/MYORGS/data-collector HTTP/1.1", 
upstream: "https://<MP-AUTOMATE-FQDN>:443/data-collector/v0/", 
host: "<MY-HOSTNAME>"


  • patch the below config in chef-server.
  ssl_verify_depth = 6
  root_cert = """MY-AUTOMATE-FQDN-ROOT-CA"""
  • Command to patch the config
chef-automate config patch <toml-file> --cs

For example:

  ssl_verify_depth = 6
  server_name = ""
  root_cert = """-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
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