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Accepting the Chef License

This page aims to document how to accept the Chef license for all Chef Software products. For an overview of the license, see the Chef license documentation. There are two types of license: MLSA and EULA. The MLSA applies to customers with a commercial contract with Chef Software, and the EULA covers all other cases.

Accept the Chef MLSA

There are three ways to accept the Chef MLSA:

  1. When running chef-<PRODUCT-NAME>-ctl reconfigure the Chef MLSA is printed. Type yes to accept it. Anything other than typing yes rejects the Chef MLSA, and the upgrade process will exit. Typing yes adds a .license.accepted file to the /etc/chef/accepted_licenses/<PRODUCT-NAME> file. As long as this file exists in this directory, the Chef MLSA is accepted and the reconfigure process will not prompt for yes.
  2. Run the chef-<PRODUCT-NAME>-ctl reconfigure command using the --chef-license=accept option. This automatically types yes and skips printing the Chef MLSA.
  3. Add a .license.accepted file to the /var/opt/<PRODUCT-NAME>/ directory. The contents of this file do not matter. As long as this file exists in this directory, the Chef MLSA is accepted and the reconfigure process will not prompt for yes.

Accept the Chef EULA

Products below are split below into two categories: workstation and server. Affected product versions which require accepting the EULA to use are shown. Versions before this do not require accepting the EULA. More information on supported versions can be seen at the Supported Versions documentation.

Workstation Products

  • Chef Workstation >= 0.4, which also contains:
    • Chef Infra Client
    • Chef InSpec
  • Chef Infra Client >= 15.0
  • Chef InSpec >= 4.0
  • Chef Habitat >= 0.80

These products are typically installed on a user’s workstation. Two common methods for accepting the license are:

  1. --chef-license <value> argument passed to the command line invocation.
  2. CHEF_LICENSE="<value>" as an environment variable. <value> can be specified as one of the following:
    1. accept - Accepts the license and attempts to persist a marker file locally. Persisting these marker files means future invocations do not require accepting the license again.
    2. accept-silent - Similar to accept except no messaging is sent to STDOUT
    3. accept-no-persist - Similar to accept-silent except no marker file is persisted. Future invocation will require accepting the license again.

If no command line argument or environment variable is set, these products will attempt to request acceptance through an interactive prompt. If the prompt cannot be displayed, then the product will fail with an exit code 172.

If the product attempts to persist the accepted license and fails, a message will be sent to STDOUT, but product invocation will continue successfully. In a future invocation, however, the license would need to be accepted again.

Please see License File Persistence for details about persisted marker files.

The --chef-license command line argument is not backwards compatible to older non-EULA versions. If you are managing a multi-version environment, we recommend using the environment variable as that is ignored by older versions.

Products with specific features or differences from this general behavior are documented below.

Chef Workstation

Chef Workstation contains multiple Chef Software products. When invoking the chef command line tool and accepting the license, users are required to accept the license for all the embedded products as well. The same license applies to all products, but each product must have its own license acceptance. chef <command> --chef-license accept will accept the license for Chef Workstation, Chef Infra Client, and Chef InSpec. For example, chef env --chef-license accept.

Chef Infra Client

In addition to the above methods, users can specify chef_license 'accept' in their Chef Infra Client and Chef Infra Server config. On a workstation, this can be specified in ~/.chef/config.rb or ~/.chef/knife.rb, and on a node, it can be specified in /etc/chef/client.rb. This method of license acceptance is backwards-compatible to non-EULA versions of Chef Infra Client.

Chef Habitat

There are two methods for accepting the Chef Habitat license:

  1. Users can execute hab license accept on the command line.
  2. Alternatively, users can set HAB_LICENSE="<value>" as an environment variable. <value> can be specified as one of the following:
    1. accept - Accepts the license and persists a marker file locally. Future invocations do not require accepting the license again.
    2. accept-no-persist - accepts the license without persisting an marker file. Future invocation will require accepting the license again.

If the license is not accepted through either of these methods, Chef Habitat will request acceptance through an interactive prompt.

Additionally, to accepting the license in CI or other automation, user may choose to create an empty file on the filesystem at /hab/accepted-licenses/habitat (if your hab commands run as root) or at $HOME/.hab/accepted-licenses/habitat (if your hab commands run as a user other than root). For situations where hab commands run as multiple users, it is advisable to create both files.


If the Chef Habitat License prompt cannot be displayed, then the product fails with an exit code 172. If Chef Habitat cannot persist the accepted license, it sends a message STDOUT, but the product invocation will continue successfully. In a future invocation, however, the user will need to accept the license again.

Chef as hab packages

Chef Software products are also distributed as hab packages. When Chef products are installed using Chef Habitat, the products request license acceptance at product usage time. Accept the licenses in the same way detailed above.

Server Products

Some Chef products distributed as hab packages contain servers. In these cases, Chef Habitat runs the server products as a supervisor. See the below sections for information on how to accept the license for these products when they are distributed as hab packages.

Chef Infra Server>= 13.0
Chef Automate>= 2.0
Supermarket>= 4.0

Server products are typically installed and managed by some kind of process supervisor. Chef Software server products do not allow interactive license acceptance because process supervisors do not allow interactivity. Instead, the license is accepted during the reconfigure command or upgrade command for the Omnibus ctl command. For example:

  • chef-server-ctl reconfigure --chef-license=accept
  • CHEF_LICENSE="accept-no-persist" supermarket-ctl reconfigure

In addition, the Chef license can be accepted via the omnibus configuration file. Specify chef_license 'accept' in the chef-server.rb or supermarket.rb configuration.

Chef Automate

Chef Automate has its own reconfigure tool, automate-ctl. This tool walks users through the install and setup of Chef Automate. The Chef license is accepted after that in the browser. Please follow the in-product prompts.

Chef Infra Server

When installed as a system package, users accept the license with the ctl command. For example, chef-server-ctl reconfigure --chef-license=accept. Acceptance can also be set in the configuration file chef-server.rb as chef_license "accept".

Chef Infra Server is also distributed as a hab package and ran using the supervisor. In this mode, users accept the license by setting the correct configuration values. The key is chef_license.acceptance.

For example: Against a supervisor running Chef Infra Server, run echo "chef_license.acceptance = accept" | hab config apply server.default 100. See the Chef Habitat config updates documentation for more information about how to apply this configuration to a service group.

Remote Management Products

  • Test Kitchen
  • knife bootstrap in Chef Infra Client
  • chef-run in Chef Workstation
  • Packer
  • Terraform Chef Provider (Deprecated)
  • Vagrant

These products install or manage Chef on a remote instance. If a user has accepted the appropriate product license locally, it will be automatically transferred to the remote instance. For example, if a user has accepted the Chef Infra Client license locally and converges a Test Kitchen instance with the Chef provisioner, it will succeed by copying the acceptance to the remote instance. We aim to support this behavior, so Workstation users do not have their workflow affected, but any differences from that behavior are documented below.

Test Kitchen

Test Kitchen is not owned by or covered by the Chef license, but installing Chef Infra Client on a test instance is covered by the EULA. Without accepting the license, the converge will fail on the test instance.

The Chef provisioner in Test Kitchen >= 2.3 has been updated to simplify accepting this license on behalf of the test instance. Users can set the CHEF_LICENSE environment variable or add chef_license: accept to their provisioner config in their kitchen.yml. Specifying accept will attempt to persist the license acceptance locally. If a local license marker file is detected, no configuration is required; acceptance is automatically transferred to the test instance.

To disable this persistence, specify accept-no-persist on every test instance converge.

kitchen-inspec uses Chef InSpec as a library, and is not covered by the EULA when installed as a gem, but is covered by the EULA when packaged as part of the Chef Workstation installation. Accept the license in a similar way to the Chef Infra Client license - specify the CHEF_LICENSE environment variable, specify the chef_license config under the verifier section in kitchen.yml or persist the acceptance locally.

Test Kitchen: Pin to Chef 14

You can pin to a specific version of chef in your kitchen.yml:

  name: chef_zero
  product_name: chef
  product_version: 14.12.3

knife bootstrap

knife usage does not require accepting the EULA. A Chef Infra Client instance does require EULA acceptance. Using knife bootstrap to manage a Chef Infra Client instance will prompt a user to accept the license locally before allowing for bootstrapping the remote instance. Without this, knife bootstrap would fail.

In most usage cases via Chef Workstation, this license will already have been accepted and will transfer across transparently. But if a user installs Chef Workstation and the first command they ever run is knife bootstrap, it will perform the same license acceptance flow as the Chef Infra Client product.

knife bootstrap in Chef Infra Client 14

The knife bootstrap command in Chef Infra Client 14 cannot accept the Chef Infra Client 15 EULA on remote nodes unless you use a custom template and add chef_license “accept” to the client.rb. This applies to workstations who have Chef Infra Client <= 14.x, ChefDK <= 3.x or Chef Workstation <= 0.3 installed.

knife bootstrap: Pin to Chef 14

Specify the following argument:

knife bootstrap --bootstrap-version 14.12.3


chef-run in Chef Workstation >= 0.3 has been updated to add support for accepting the license locally when remotely running Chef Infra Client 15. As of Chef Workstation <= 0.4 there is no way to manage the version of Chef Infra Client installed on the remote node. It defaults to the latest stable version available.

To accept the license, complete one of the following three tasks. Either pass the --chef-license command line flag, set the CHEF_LICENSE environment variable, or add the following to your ~/.chef-workstation/config.toml file:

chef_license = "accept"


Use a custom Chef configuration template. In your provisioners config, include:

  "type":            "chef-client",
  "config_template": "path/to/client.rb"

In path/to/client.rb, include:

chef_license 'accept'

You may also add it to the execute_command, but this is not backwards-compatible, so it is not suggested.

Packer: Pin to Chef 14

In your Packer provisioners config, include:

  "type":            "chef-client",
  "install_command": "curl -L | sudo bash -s -- -v 14.12.9"

Terraform Chef Provisioner


Terraform deprecated the Chef Provisioner in the 0.13.4 release and they will remove it in a future version. Terraform continues to support the Chef Provider.

The license can be accepted via the Chef Infra Client config file, which is specified by the client_options Terraform provisioner config:

provisioner "chef" {
  client_options = ["chef_license 'accept'"]
Terraform: Pin to Chef 14

In your Terraform provisioner config, include:

provisioner "chef" {
  version = "14.12.3"


This license acceptance can be done via the arguments API:

config.vm.provision 'chef_zero' do |chef|
  chef.arguments = '--chef-license accept'

See the Vagrant documentation for details. The --chef-license argument is not backwards-compatible to non-EULA Chef Infra Client versions. So instead, users can use the custom config path and point at a local file, which specifies the chef_license config. The environment variable is not currently supported.

Vagrant: Pin to Chef 14

This version pinning can be done using the version API. In your Chef provisioner config:

config.vm.provision 'chef_zero' do |chef|
  chef.version = '14.12.3'

Pre-upgrade support

Chef Software aims to make upgrading from a non-EULA version to a EULA version as simple as possible. For some products (Chef Infra Client 14.12.9, Chef InSpec 3.9.3), we added backwards-compatible support for the --chef-license command that performs a no-op. This allows customers to start specifying that argument in whatever way they manage those products before upgrading.

Alternatively, users can specify the CHEF_LICENSE environment variable when invoking any of the EULA products to accept the license. This environment variable is ignored by non-EULA products, and so is backwards-compatible to older versions.

chef-client cookbook

For users that manage their Chef Infra Client installation using the chef-client cookbook, we added a new attribute that can be specified. Specify the node attribute node['chef_client']['chef_license'] = 'accept' when running the cookbook to apply the license acceptance in a backwards-compatible way.

This functionality allows users to set that attribute for a Chef Infra Client 14 install, upgrade to Chef Infra Client 15, and have the product continue to work correctly.

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