Debug Recipes, chef-client Runs

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Elements of good approaches to building cookbooks and recipes that are reliable include:

  • A consistent syntax pattern when constructing recipes
  • Using the same patterns in Ruby
  • Using platform resources before creating custom ones
  • Using community-authored lightweight resources before creating custom ones

Ideally, the best way to debug a recipe is to not have to debug it in the first place. That said, the following sections discuss various approaches to debugging recipes and failed chef-client runs.

Basic

Some simple ways to quickly identify common issues that can trigger recipe and/or chef-client run failures include:

  • Using an empty run-list
  • Using verbose logging with knife
  • Using logging with the chef-client
  • Using the log resource in a recipe to define custom logging

Empty Run-lists

Use an empty run-list to determine if a failed chef-client run has anything to do with the recipes that are defined within that run-list. This is a quick way to discover if the underlying cause of a chef-client run failure is a configuration issue. If a failure persists even if the run-list is empty, check the following:

  • Configuration settings in the knife.rb file
  • Permissions for the user to both the Chef server and to the node on which the chef-client run is to take place

Knife

Use the verbose logging that is built into knife:

-V, --verbose
Set for more verbose outputs. Use -VV for maximum verbosity.

Note

Plugins do not always support verbose logging.

chef-client

Use the verbose logging that is built into the chef-client:

-l LEVEL, --log_level LEVEL
The level of logging to be stored in a log file.
-L LOGLOCATION, --logfile c
The location of the log file. This is recommended when starting any executable as a daemon. Default value: STDOUT.

log Resource

Use the log resource to create log entries. The log resource behaves like any other resource: built into the resource collection during the compile phase, and then run during the execution phase. (To create a log entry that is not built into the resource collection, use Chef::Log instead of the log resource.)

Note

By default, every log resource that executes will count as an updated resource in the updated resource count at the end of a Chef run. You can disable this behavior by adding count_log_resource_updates false to your Chef client.rb configuration file.

Syntax

A log resource block adds messages to the log file based on events that occur during the chef-client run:

log 'message' do
  message 'A message add to the log.'
  level :info
end

The full syntax for all of the properties that are available to the log resource is:

log 'name' do
  level                      Symbol
  message                    String # defaults to 'name' if not specified
  notifies                   # see description
  provider                   Chef::Provider::ChefLog
  subscribes                 # see description
  action                     Symbol # defaults to :write if not specified
end

where

  • log is the resource
  • name is the name of the resource block
  • message is the log message to write
  • action identifies the steps the chef-client will take to bring the node into the desired state
  • level, message, and provider are properties of this resource, with the Ruby type shown. See “Properties” section below for more information about all of the properties that may be used with this resource.

Actions

This resource has the following actions:

:nothing
Define this resource block to do nothing until notified by another resource to take action. When this resource is notified, this resource block is either run immediately or it is queued up to be run at the end of the chef-client run.
:write
Default. Write to log.

Attributes

This resource has the following properties:

ignore_failure

Ruby Types: TrueClass, FalseClass

Continue running a recipe if a resource fails for any reason. Default value: false.

level

Ruby Type: Symbol

The level of logging that is to be displayed by the chef-client. The chef-client uses the mixlib-log (https://github.com/chef/mixlib-log) to handle logging behavior. Options (in order of priority): :debug, :info, :warn, :error, and :fatal. Default value: :info.

message

Ruby Type: String

The message to be added to a log file. Default value: the name of the resource block See “Syntax” section above for more information.

notifies

Ruby Type: Symbol, ‘Chef::Resource[String]’

A resource may notify another resource to take action when its state changes. Specify a 'resource[name]', the :action that resource should take, and then the :timer for that action. A resource may notifiy more than one resource; use a notifies statement for each resource to be notified.

A timer specifies the point during the chef-client run at which a notification is run. The following timers are available:

:before
Specifies that the action on a notified resource should be run before processing the resource block in which the notification is located.
:delayed
Default. Specifies that a notification should be queued up, and then executed at the very end of the chef-client run.
:immediate, :immediately
Specifies that a notification should be run immediately, per resource notified.

The syntax for notifies is:

notifies :action, 'resource[name]', :timer
provider

Ruby Type: Chef Class

Optional. Explicitly specifies a provider.

retries

Ruby Type: Integer

The number of times to catch exceptions and retry the resource. Default value: 0.

retry_delay

Ruby Type: Integer

The retry delay (in seconds). Default value: 2.

subscribes

Ruby Type: Symbol, ‘Chef::Resource[String]’

A resource may listen to another resource, and then take action if the state of the resource being listened to changes. Specify a 'resource[name]', the :action to be taken, and then the :timer for that action.

A timer specifies the point during the chef-client run at which a notification is run. The following timers are available:

:before
Specifies that the action on a notified resource should be run before processing the resource block in which the notification is located.
:delayed
Default. Specifies that a notification should be queued up, and then executed at the very end of the chef-client run.
:immediate, :immediately
Specifies that a notification should be run immediately, per resource notified.

The syntax for subscribes is:

subscribes :action, 'resource[name]', :timer

Providers

This resource has the following providers:

Chef::Provider::Log::ChefLog, log
The default provider for all platforms.

Examples

The following examples demonstrate various approaches for using resources in recipes. If you want to see examples of how Chef uses resources in recipes, take a closer look at the cookbooks that Chef authors and maintains: https://github.com/chef-cookbooks.

Specify a log entry

log 'a string to log'

Set debug logging level

log 'a debug string' do
  level :debug
end

Create log entry when the contents of a data bag are used

log 'a debug string' do
  level :debug
end

Add a message to a log file

log 'message' do
  message 'This is the message that will be added to the log.'
  level :info
end

Advanced

Some more complex ways to debug issues with a chef-client run include:

  • Using the chef_handler cookbook
  • Using the chef-shell and the breakpoint resource to add breakpoints to recipes, and to then step through the recipes using the breakpoints
  • Using the debug_value method from chef-shell to indentify the location(s) from which attribute values are being set
  • Using the ignore_failure method in a recipe to force the chef-client to move past an error to see what else is going on in the recipe, outside of a known failure
  • Using chef-solo to run targeted chef-client runs for specific scenarios

chef_handler

Use a handler to identify situations that arise during a chef-client run, and then tell the chef-client how to handle these situations when they occur.

There are three types of handlers:

Handler Description
exception An exception handler is used to identify situations that have caused a chef-client run to fail. An exception handler can be loaded at the start of a chef-client run by adding a recipe that contains the chef_handler resource to a node’s run-list. An exception handler runs when the failed? property for the run_status object returns true.
report A report handler is used when a chef-client run succeeds and reports back on certain details about that chef-client run. A report handler can be loaded at the start of a chef-client run by adding a recipe that contains the chef_handler resource to a node’s run-list. A report handler runs when the success? property for the run_status object returns true.
start A start handler is used to run events at the beginning of the chef-client run. A start handler can be loaded at the start of a chef-client run by adding the start handler to the start_handlers setting in the client.rb file or by installing the gem that contains the start handler by using the chef_gem resource in a recipe in the chef-client cookbook. (A start handler may not be loaded using the chef_handler resource.)

Read more about exception, report, and start handlers.

chef-shell

chef-shell is a recipe debugging tool that allows the use of breakpoints within recipes. chef-shell runs as an Interactive Ruby (IRb) session. chef-shell supports both recipe and attribute file syntax, as well as interactive debugging features.

chef-shell is tool that is run using an Interactive Ruby (IRb) session. chef-shell currently supports recipe and attribute file syntax, as well as interactive debugging features. chef-shell has three run modes:

Mode Description
Standalone Default. No cookbooks are loaded, and the run-list is empty.
Solo chef-shell acts as a chef-solo client. It attempts to load the chef-solo configuration file and JSON attributes. If the JSON attributes set a run-list, it will be honored. Cookbooks will be loaded in the same way that chef-solo loads them. chef-solo mode is activated with the -s or --solo command line option, and JSON attributes are specified in the same way as for chef-solo, with -j /path/to/chef-solo.json.
Client chef-shell acts as a chef-client. During startup, it reads the chef-client configuration file and contacts the Chef server to get attributes and cookbooks. The run-list will be set in the same way as normal chef-client runs. chef-client mode is activated with the -z or --client options. You can also specify the configuration file with -c CONFIG and the server URL with -S SERVER_URL.

Configure

chef-shell determines which configuration file to load based on the following:

  1. If a configuration file is specified using the -c option, chef-shell will use the specified configuration file
  2. When chef-shell is started using a named configuration as an argument, chef-shell will search for a chef-shell.rb file in that directory under ~/.chef. For example, if chef-shell is started using production as the named configuration, the chef-shell will load a configuration file from ~/.chef/production/chef_shell.rb
  3. If a named configuration is not provided, chef-shell will attempt to load the chef-shell.rb file from the .chef directory. For example: ~/.chef/chef_shell.rb
  4. If a chef-shell.rb file is not found, chef-shell will attempt to load the client.rb file
  5. If a chef-shell.rb file is not found, chef-shell will attempt to load the solo.rb file

chef-shell.rb

The chef-shell.rb file can be used to configure chef-shell in the same way as the client.rb file is used to configure the chef-client. For example, to configure chef-shell to authenticate to the Chef server, copy the node_name, client_key, and chef_server_url settings from the knife.rb file:

node_name                'your-knife-clientname'
client_key               File.expand_path('~/.chef/my-client.pem')
chef_server_url          'https://api.opscode.com/organizations/myorg'

and then add them to the chef-shell.rb file. Other configuration possibilities include disabling Ohai plugins (which will speed up the chef-shell boot process) or including arbitrary Ruby code in the chef-shell.rb file.

Run as a chef-client

By default, chef-shell loads in standalone mode and does not connect to the Chef server. The chef-shell can be run as a chef-client to verify functionality that is only available when the chef-client connects to the Chef server, such as search functionality or accessing data stored in data bags.

chef-shell can use the same credentials as knife when connecting to a Chef server. Make sure that the settings in chef-shell.rb are the same as those in knife.rb, and then use the -z option as part of the command. For example:

$ chef-shell -z

Manage

When chef-shell is configured to access a Chef server, chef-shell can list, show, search for and edit cookbooks, clients, nodes, roles, environments, and data bags.

The syntax for managing objects on the Chef server is as follows:

$ chef (named_configuration) > items.command

where:

  • named_configuration is a named configuration, such as production, staging, or test
  • items is the type of item to search for: cookbooks, clients, nodes, roles, environments or a data bag
  • command is the command: list, show, find, or edit

For example, to list all of the nodes in a configuration named “preprod”:

$ chef (preprod) > nodes.list

to return something similar to:

$ => [node[i-f09a939b], node[i-049a936f], node[i-eaaaa581], node[i-9154b1fb],
     node[i-6a213101], node[i-c2687aa9], node[i-7abeaa11], node[i-4eb8ac25],
     node[i-9a2030f1], node[i-a06875cb], node[i-145f457f], node[i-e032398b],
     node[i-dc8c98b7], node[i-6afdf401], node[i-f49b119c], node[i-5abfab31],
     node[i-78b8ac13], node[i-d99678b3], node[i-02322269], node[i-feb4a695],
     node[i-9e2232f5], node[i-6e213105], node[i-cdde3ba7], node[i-e8bfb083],
     node[i-743c2c1f], node[i-2eaca345], node[i-aa7f74c1], node[i-72fdf419],
     node[i-140e1e7f], node[i-f9d43193], node[i-bd2dc8d7], node[i-8e7f70e5],
     node[i-78f2e213], node[i-962232fd], node[i-4c322227], node[i-922232f9],
     node[i-c02728ab], node[i-f06c7b9b]]

The list command can take a code block, which will applied (but not saved) to each object that is returned from the server. For example:

$ chef (preprod) > nodes.list {|n| puts "#{n.name}: #{n.run_list}" }

to return something similar to:

$ => i-f09a939b: role[lb], role[preprod], recipe[aws]
     i-049a936f: role[lb], role[preprod], recipe[aws]
     i-9154b1fb: recipe[erlang], role[base], role[couchdb], role[preprod],
     i-6a213101: role[chef], role[preprod]
     # more...

The show command can be used to display a specific node. For example:

$ chef (preprod) > load_balancer = nodes.show('i-f09a939b')

to return something similar to:

$ => node[i-f09a939b]

or:

$ chef (preprod) > load_balancer.ec2.public_hostname

to return something similar to:

$ => "ec2-111-22-333-44.compute-1.amazonaws.com"

The find command can be used to search the Chef server from the chef-shell. For example:

$ chef (preprod) > pp nodes.find(:ec2_public_hostname => 'ec2*')

A code block can be used to format the results. For example:

$ chef (preprod) > pp nodes.find(:ec2_public_hostname => 'ec2*') {|n| n.ec2.ami_id } and nil

to return something similar to:

$ => ["ami-f8927a91",
      "ami-f8927a91",
      "ami-a89870c1",
      "ami-a89870c1",
      "ami-a89870c1",
      "ami-a89870c1",
      "ami-a89870c1"
      # and more...

Or:

chef (preprod) > amis = nodes.find(:ec2_public_hostname => 'ec2*') {|n| n.ec2.ami_id }
chef (preprod) > puts amis.uniq.sort

to return something similar to:

$ => ami-4b4ba522
     ami-a89870c1
     ami-eef61587
     ami-f8927a91

breakpoint Resource

chef-shell allows the current position in a run-list to be manipulated during a chef-client run. Add breakpoints to a recipe to take advantage of this functionality.

Use the breakpoint resource to add breakpoints to recipes. Run the chef-shell in chef-client mode, and then use those breakpoints to debug recipes. Breakpoints are ignored by the chef-client during an actual chef-client run. That said, breakpoints are typically used to debug recipes only when running them in a non-production environment, after which they are removed from those recipes before the parent cookbook is uploaded to the Chef server.

Syntax

A breakpoint resource block creates a breakpoint in a recipe:

breakpoint 'name' do
  action :break
end

where

  • :break will tell the chef-client to stop running a recipe; can only be used when the chef-client is being run in chef-shell mode

Actions

This resource has the following actions:

:break
Use to add a breakpoint to a recipe.
:nothing
Define this resource block to do nothing until notified by another resource to take action. When this resource is notified, this resource block is either run immediately or it is queued up to be run at the end of the chef-client run.

Attributes

This resource does not have any properties.

Providers

This resource has the following providers:

Chef::Provider::Breakpoint, breakpoint
The default provider for all recipes.

Examples

The following examples demonstrate various approaches for using resources in recipes. If you want to see examples of how Chef uses resources in recipes, take a closer look at the cookbooks that Chef authors and maintains: https://github.com/chef-cookbooks.

A recipe without a breakpoint

yum_key node['yum']['elrepo']['key'] do
  url  node['yum']['elrepo']['key_url']
  action :add
end

yum_repository 'elrepo' do
  description 'ELRepo.org Community Enterprise Linux Extras Repository'
  key node['yum']['elrepo']['key']
  mirrorlist node['yum']['elrepo']['url']
  includepkgs node['yum']['elrepo']['includepkgs']
  exclude node['yum']['elrepo']['exclude']
  action :create
end

The same recipe with breakpoints

breakpoint "before yum_key node['yum']['repo_name']['key']" do
  action :break
end

yum_key node['yum']['repo_name']['key'] do
  url  node['yum']['repo_name']['key_url']
  action :add
end

breakpoint "after yum_key node['yum']['repo_name']['key']" do
  action :break
end

breakpoint "before yum_repository 'repo_name'" do
  action :break
end

yum_repository 'repo_name' do
  description 'description'
  key node['yum']['repo_name']['key']
  mirrorlist node['yum']['repo_name']['url']
  includepkgs node['yum']['repo_name']['includepkgs']
  exclude node['yum']['repo_name']['exclude']
  action :create
end

breakpoint "after yum_repository 'repo_name'" do
  action :break
end

where the name of each breakpoint is an arbitrary string. In the previous examples, the names are used to indicate if the breakpoint is before or after a resource, and then also to specify which resource.

Step Through Run-list

To explore how using the breakpoint to manually step through a chef-client run, create a simple recipe in chef-shell:

$ chef > recipe_mode
  chef:recipe > echo off
  chef:recipe > file "/tmp/before-breakpoint"
  chef:recipe > breakpoint "foo"
  chef:recipe > file "/tmp/after-breakpoint"

and then run the chef-client:

$ chef:recipe > run_chef
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:17:49 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/before-breakpoint]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:17:49 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/before-breakpoint] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:17:49 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/before-breakpoint] at /tmp/before-breakpoint
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:17:49 -0800] DEBUG: Processing [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new']
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:17:49 -0800] DEBUG: [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new'] using Chef::Provider::Breakpoint

The chef-client ran the first resource before the breakpoint (file[/tmp/before-breakpoint]), but then stopped after execution. The chef-client attempted to name the breakpoint after its position in the source file, but the chef-client was confused because the resource was entered interactively. From here, chef-shell can resume the chef-client run:

$ chef:recipe > chef_run.resume
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:27:08 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/after-breakpoint] at /tmp/after-breakpoint

A quick view of the /tmp directory shows that the following files were created:

after-breakpoint
before-breakpoint

The chef-client run can also be rewound, and then stepped through.

$ chef:recipe > Chef::Log.level = :debug # debug logging won't turn on automatically in this case
    => :debug
  chef:recipe > chef_run.rewind
    => 0
  chef:recipe > chef_run.step
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:52 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/before-breakpoint]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:52 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/before-breakpoint] using Chef::Provider::File
    => 1
  chef:recipe > chef_run.step
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:54 -0800] DEBUG: Processing [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new']
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:54 -0800] DEBUG: [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new'] using Chef::Provider::Breakpoint
    => 2
  chef:recipe > chef_run.step
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:56 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/after-breakpoint]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:40:56 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/after-breakpoint] using Chef::Provider::File
    => 3

From the output, the rewound run-list is shown, but when the resources are executed again, they will repeat their checks for the existence of files. If they exist, the chef-client will skip creating them. If the files are deleted, then:

$ chef:recipe > ls("/tmp").grep(/breakpoint/).each {|f| rm "/tmp/#{f}" }
    => ["after-breakpoint", "before-breakpoint"]

Rewind, and then resume the chef-client run to get the expected results:

$ chef:recipe > chef_run.rewind
  chef:recipe > chef_run.resume
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:48:56 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/before-breakpoint]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:48:56 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/before-breakpoint] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:48:56 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/before-breakpoint] at /tmp/before-breakpoint
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:48:56 -0800] DEBUG: Processing [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new']
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:48:56 -0800] DEBUG: [./bin/../lib/chef/mixin/recipe_definition_dsl_core.rb:56:in 'new'] using Chef::Provider::Breakpoint
  chef:recipe > chef_run.resume
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:49:20 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/after-breakpoint]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:49:20 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/after-breakpoint] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 14:49:20 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/after-breakpoint] at /tmp/after-breakpoint

Debug Existing Recipe

chef-shell can be used to debug existing recipes. The recipe first needs to be added to a run-list for the node, so that it is cached when starting chef-shell and then used for debugging. chef-shell will report which recipes are being cached when it is started:

loading configuration: none (standalone session)
Session type: standalone
Loading..............done.

This is the chef-shell.
 Chef Version: 12.17.44
 https://www.chef.io/
 https://docs.chef.io/

run `help' for help, `exit' or ^D to quit.

Ohai2u YOURNAME@!
chef (12.17.44)>

To just load one recipe from the run-list, go into the recipe and use the include_recipe command. For example:

$ chef > recipe_mode
  chef:recipe > include_recipe "getting-started"
    => [#<Chef::Recipe:0x10256f9e8 @cookbook_name="getting-started",
  ... output truncated ...

To load all of the recipes from a run-list, use code similar to the following:

node.run_list.expand(node.chef_environment).recipes.each do |r|
  include_recipe r
end

After the recipes that are to be debugged have been loaded, use the run_chef command to run them.

Advanced Debugging

In chef-shell, it is possible to get extremely verbose debugging using the tracing feature in Interactive Ruby (IRb). chef-shell provides a shortcut for turning tracing on and off. For example:

$ chef > tracing on
  /Users/danielsdeleo/.rvm/ree-1.8.7-2009.10/lib/ruby/1.8/tracer.rb:150: warning: tried to create Proc object without a block
  /Users/danielsdeleo/.rvm/ree-1.8.7-2009.10/lib/ruby/1.8/tracer.rb:146: warning: tried to create Proc object without a block
  tracing is on
    => nil

and:

$ chef > tracing off
  #0:(irb):3:Object:-: tracing off
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:108:Shell::Extensions::ObjectCoreExtensions:>:       def off
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:109:Shell::Extensions::ObjectCoreExtensions:-:         :off
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:110:Shell::Extensions::ObjectCoreExtensions:<:       end
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:273:main:>:       def tracing(on_or_off)
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:274:main:-:         conf.use_tracer = on_or_off.on_off_to_bool
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:161:Shell::Extensions::Symbol:>:       def on_off_to_bool
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:162:Shell::Extensions::Symbol:-:         self.to_s.on_off_to_bool
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:148:Shell::Extensions::String:>:       def on_off_to_bool
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:149:Shell::Extensions::String:-:         case self
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:153:Shell::Extensions::String:-:           false
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:157:Shell::Extensions::String:<:       end
  #0:/opt/chef/embedded/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.3/gems/chef-11.4.4/lib/chef/shell/ext.rb:163:Shell::Extensions::Symbol:<:       end
  tracing is off
   => nil
  chef >

debug_value

Use the debug_value method to discover the location within the attribute precedence hierarchy from which a particular attribute (or sub-attribute) is set. This method is available when running chef-shell in chef-client mode:

$ chef-shell -z

For example, the following attributes exist in a cookbook. Some are defined in a role file:

default_attributes 'test' => {'source' => 'role default'}
override_attributes 'test' => {'source' => 'role override'}

And others are defined in an attributes file:

default[:test][:source]  = 'attributes default'
set[:test][:source]      = 'attributes normal'
override[:test][:source] = 'attributes override'

To debug the location in which the value of node[:test][:source] is set, use chef-shell and run a command similar to:

$ pp node.debug_value('test', 'source')

This will pretty-print return all of the attributes and sub-attributes as an array of arrays; :not_present is returned for any attribute without a value:

[['set_unless_enabled?', false],
 ['default', 'attributes default'],
 ['env_default', :not_present],
 ['role_default', 'role default'],
 ['force_default', :not_present],
 ['normal', 'attributes normal'],
 ['override', 'attributes override'],
 ['role_override', 'role override'],
 ['env_override', :not_present],
 ['force_override', :not_present],
 ['automatic', :not_present]]

where

  • set_unless_enabled indicates if the attribute collection is in set_unless mode; this typically returns false
  • Each attribute type is listed in order of precedence
  • Each attribute value shown is the value that is set for that precedence level
  • :not_present is shown for any attribute precedence level that has no attributes

A blog post by Joshua Timberman provides another example of using this method.

ignore_failure Method

All resources share a set of common actions, attributes, and so on. Use the following attribute in a resource to help identify where an issue within a recipe may be located:

Attribute Description
ignore_failure Continue running a recipe if a resource fails for any reason. Default value: false.

chef-solo

chef-solo is a command that executes chef-client in a way that does not require the Chef server in order to converge cookbooks. chef-solo uses chef-client’s Chef local mode, and does not support the following functionality present in chef-client / server configurations:

  • Centralized distribution of cookbooks
  • A centralized API that interacts with and integrates infrastructure components
  • Authentication or authorization

Note

chef-solo can be run as a daemon.

The chef-solo executable is run as a command-line tool.

Options

This command has the following syntax:

chef-solo OPTION VALUE OPTION VALUE ...

This command has the following options:

-c CONFIG, --config CONFIG
The configuration file to use.
-d, --daemonize

Run the executable as a daemon.

This option is only available on machines that run in UNIX or Linux environments. For machines that are running Microsoft Windows that require similar functionality, use the chef-client::service recipe in the chef-client cookbook: https://supermarket.chef.io/cookbooks/chef-client. This will install a chef-client service under Microsoft Windows using the Windows Service Wrapper.

-E ENVIRONMENT_NAME, --environment ENVIRONMENT_NAME
The name of the environment.
-f, --[no-]fork
Contain the chef-client run in a secondary process with dedicated RAM. When the chef-client run is complete, the RAM is returned to the master process. This option helps ensure that a chef-client uses a steady amount of RAM over time because the master process does not run recipes. This option also helps prevent memory leaks such as those that can be introduced by the code contained within a poorly designed cookbook. Use --no-fork to disable running the chef-client in fork node. Default value: --fork.
-F FORMAT, --format FORMAT

The output format: doc (default) or min.

  • Use doc to print the progress of the chef-client run using full strings that display a summary of updates as they occur.
  • Use min to print the progress of the chef-client run using single characters.

A summary of updates is printed at the end of the chef-client run. A dot (.) is printed for events that do not have meaningful status information, such as loading a file or synchronizing a cookbook. For resources, a dot (.) is printed when the resource is up to date, an S is printed when the resource is skipped by not_if or only_if, and a U is printed when the resource is updated.

Other formatting options are available when those formatters are configured in the client.rb file using the add_formatter option.

--force-formatter
Show formatter output instead of logger output.
--force-logger
Show logger output instead of formatter output.
-g GROUP, --group GROUP
The name of the group that owns a process. This is required when starting any executable as a daemon.
-h, --help
Show help for the command.
-i SECONDS, --interval SECONDS
The frequency (in seconds) at which the chef-client runs. When the chef-client is run at intervals, --splay values are applied first, then the chef-client run occurs, and then --interval values are applied.
-j PATH, --json-attributes PATH

The path to a file that contains JSON data.

Use this option to define a run_list object. For example, a JSON file similar to:

"run_list": [
  "recipe[base]",
  "recipe[foo]",
  "recipe[bar]",
  "role[webserver]"
],

may be used by running chef-client -j path/to/file.json.

In certain situations this option may be used to update normal attributes.

Warning

Any other attribute type that is contained in this JSON file will be treated as a normal attribute. For example, attempting to update override attributes using the -j option:

{
  "name": "dev-99",
  "description": "Install some stuff",
  "override_attributes": {
    "apptastic": {
      "enable_apptastic": "false",
      "apptastic_tier_name": "dev-99.bomb.com"
    }
  }
}

will result in a node object similar to:

{
  "name": "maybe-dev-99",
  "normal": {
  "name": "dev-99",
    "description": "Install some stuff",
    "override_attributes": {
      "apptastic": {
        "enable_apptastic": "false",
        "apptastic_tier_name": "dev-99.bomb.com"
      }
    }
  }
}
-l LEVEL, --log_level LEVEL
The level of logging to be stored in a log file.
-L LOGLOCATION, --logfile c
The location of the log file. This is recommended when starting any executable as a daemon.
--[no-]color
View colored output. Default setting: --color.
-N NODE_NAME, --node-name NODE_NAME
The name of the node.
-o RUN_LIST_ITEM, --override-runlist RUN_LIST_ITEM
Replace the current run-list with the specified items.
-r RECIPE_URL, --recipe-url RECIPE_URL
The URL location from which a remote cookbook tar.gz is to be downloaded.
-s SECONDS, --splay SECONDS
A random number between zero and splay that is added to interval. Use splay to help balance the load on the Chef server by ensuring that many chef-client runs are not occuring at the same interval. When the chef-client is run at intervals, --splay values are applied first, then the chef-client run occurs, and then --interval values are applied.
-u USER, --user USER
The user that owns a process. This is required when starting any executable as a daemon.
-v, --version
The version of the chef-client.
-W, --why-run
Run the executable in why-run mode, which is a type of chef-client run that does everything except modify the system. Use why-run mode to understand why the chef-client makes the decisions that it makes and to learn more about the current and proposed state of the system.

Examples

Use a URL

$ chef-solo -c ~/solo.rb -j ~/node.json -r http://www.example.com/chef-solo.tar.gz

The tar.gz is archived into the file_cache_path, and then extracted to cookbooks_path.

Use a directory

$ chef-solo -c ~/solo.rb -j ~/node.json

chef-solo will look in the solo.rb file to determine the directory in which cookbooks are located.

Use a URL for cookbook and JSON data

$ chef-solo -c ~/solo.rb -j http://www.example.com/node.json -r http://www.example.com/chef-solo.tar.gz

where -r corresponds to recipe_url and -j corresponds to json_attribs, both of which are configuration options in solo.rb.

“Hello World”

This example shows how to run chef-shell in standalone mode. (For chef-solo or chef-client modes, you would need to run chef-shell using the -s or -z command line options, and then take into consideration the necessary configuration settings.)

When the chef-client is installed using RubyGems or a package manager, chef-shell should already be installed. When the chef-client is run from a git clone, it will be located in chef/bin/chef shell. To start chef-shell, just run it without any options. You’ll see the loading message, then the banner, and then the chef-shell prompt:

$ bin/chef-shell
  loading configuration: none (standalone session)
  Session type: standalone
  Loading..............done.

  This is the chef-shell.
   Chef Version: 12.17.44
   https://www.chef.io/
   https://docs.chef.io/

  run `help' for help, `exit' or ^D to quit.

  Ohai2u YOURNAME@!
  chef (12.17.44)>

(Use the help command to print a list of supported commands.) Use the recipe_mode command to switch to recipe context:

$ chef > recipe_mode
  chef:recipe_mode >

Typing is evaluated in the same context as recipes. Create a file resource:

$ chef:recipe_mode > file "/tmp/ohai2u_shef"
    => #<Chef::Resource::File:0x1b691ac
       @enclosing_provider=nil,
       @resource_name=:file,
       @before=nil,
       @supports={},
       @backup=5,
       @allowed_actions=[:nothing, :create, :delete, :touch, :create_if_missing],
       @only_if=nil,
       @noop=nil,
       @collection=#<Chef::ResourceCollection:0x1b9926c
       @insert_after_idx=nil,
       @resources_by_name={"file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef]"=>0},
       @resources=[#<Chef::Resource::File:0x1b691ac ...>]>,
       @updated=false,
       @provider=nil,
       @node=<Chef::Node:0xdeeaae
       @name="eigenstate.local">,
       @recipe_name=nil,
       @not_if=nil,
       @name="/tmp/ohai2u_shef",
       @action="create",
       @path="/tmp/ohai2u_shef",
       @source_line="/Users/danielsdeleo/ruby/chef/chef/(irb#1) line 1",
       @params={},
       @actions={},
       @cookbook_name=nil,
       @ignore_failure=false>

(The previous example was formatted for presentation.) At this point, chef-shell has created the resource and put it in the run-list, but not yet created the file. To initiate the chef-client run, use the run_chef command:

$ chef:recipe_mode > run_chef
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:42:47 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:42:47 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:42:47 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef] at /tmp/ohai2u_shef
    => true

chef-shell can also switch to the same context as attribute files. Set an attribute with the following syntax:

$ chef:recipe_mode > attributes_mode
  chef:attributes > set[:hello] = "ohai2u-again"
    => "ohai2u-again"
  chef:attributes >

Switch back to recipe_mode context and use the attributes:

$ chef:attributes > recipe_mode
    => :attributes
  chef:recipe_mode > file "/tmp/#{node.hello}"

Now, run the chef-client again:

$ chef:recipe_mode > run_chef
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:53:22 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:53:22 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:53:22 -0800] DEBUG: Processing file[/tmp/ohai2u-again]
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:53:22 -0800] DEBUG: file[/tmp/ohai2u-again] using Chef::Provider::File
  [Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:53:22 -0800] INFO: Creating file[/tmp/ohai2u-again] at /tmp/ohai2u-again
    => true
  chef:recipe_mode >

Because the first resource (file[/tmp/ohai2u_shef]) is still in the run-list, it gets executed again. And because that file already exists, the chef-client doesn’t attempt to re-create it. Finally, the files were created using the ls method:

$ chef:recipe_mode > ls("/tmp").grep(/ohai/)
    => ["ohai2u-again", "ohai2u_shef"]
      Shell Tutorial

Get Specific Nodes

To get a list of nodes using a recipe named postfix use search(:node,"recipe:postfix"). To get a list of nodes using a sub-recipe named delivery, use chef-shell. For example:

search(:node, 'recipes:postfix\:\:delivery')

Note

Single (‘ ‘) vs. double (” ”) is important. This is because a backslash () needs to be included in the string, instead of having Ruby interpret it as an escape.