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Chef Automate’s workflow engine automatically creates phase jobs as project code is promoted through the phases of a workflow pipeline. These phase jobs are dispatched to special nodes, called runners, that automatically execute each job as it is created.


ChefDK 2.0 or later should only be installed on runners that are associated with Chef Automate 1.5 or later. Using ChefDK 2.0 on runners that are associated with an earlier version of Chef Automate will result in an error during deployment. If you are running an older version of Chef Automate, you should either downgrade your runners to use ChefDK 1.x or upgrade to Chef Automate 1.5 or later.


phase job

A job corresponding to a phase (for example, your build cookbook’s unit recipe).


Any node that a job can be dispatched to. Usually refers to a node that will run a phase job.

Managing Runners

Adding a Runner

You can add a new runner via automate-ctl from your Chef Automate server. Log in to your Chef Automate server and run the install-runner command.


You can pin to a specific ChefDK version through the --chefdk-version option on the install-runner command or by using a version of ChefDK that you have installed locally on your Chef Automate server using the -I option. As an example, this is useful if you have not upgraded your cookbooks to be Chef Client 13 compliant and the latest version of ChefDK installs Chef Client 13 on your runner.

After the install-runner command succeeds, the new runner should show up in the UI under Workflow -> Runners -> Manage Runners. If you see it there, click the Test button. That will test an ssh connection to your runner to verify that jobs can be dispatched to it. If there are any issues, you should get an error in the UI.

Supported runner platforms are listed here.

Removing a Runner

You can delete a runner via automate-ctl from your Chef Automate server. Log in to your Chef Automate server and run the delete-runner command.

After the delete-runner command succeeds, the specified runner should be deleted from the UI under Workflow -> Runners -> Manage Runners.

Runner can also be removed using the delivery-cli-api command.

To see a list of runners:

delivery api get runners

To delete a runner:

delivery api delete runners/<runner_hostname>

Upgrading the version of ChefDK on a Runner

If you need to upgrade the version of ChefDK on your runner, you can do so by logging into the runner, upgrading ChefDK, and manually appending the Chef Automate server certificate to the cert file that ships in ChefDK.

Typically, we recommend re-running the install-runner command rather than manually updating as the installation process will take care of this certification change for you when it bootstraps the node.

Configuring Chef Automate Projects

Chef Automate 0.6 or later can use runners, and when setting up a project using delivery setup, ChefDK v1.1.16 or later specifies the use of runners in the ./delivery/config.json file. If you are running an older version of ChefDK, or your config.json was set up to use Push Jobs-based build nodes, you must edit the file in the following manner:

At the bare minimum, you must set the version to v2:

   "job_dispatch": {
      "version": "v2"

and remove the build_nodes setting from config.json.

"build_nodes": {
  "default"    : ["name:name_of_builder"]

You can also set which runners you want jobs to run on for your project. You can set default, per phase, and matrix per phase filters to customize exactly which runners are targeted at various points of your pipeline. Refer to the job_dispatch configuration settings for more details and examples.

For more detail on config.json, see its config.json.

Cancelling Jobs

You can cancel queued or running phase jobs in the new job dispatch system. Simply click the trash can in the UI next to a phase run from the change view for the job you wish to cancel.

Managing and Inspecting Jobs

You can see the job queue, running jobs, what your runners are currently doing, runner health, and so on. Navigate to Workflow -> Runners in the UI to see all the possibilities.

Job Dispatch and Push Jobs

Any project configured to use runners will not use Push Jobs as the transport mechanism for managing the phase builds (unit, lint, provision, etc.). Push Jobs is still required to execute the delivery_push_job resource that the delivery-sugar cookbook exposes. This means that if you use the default deploy.rb recipe from delivery-truck, then Push Jobs is still used within the deploy phase.

The SSH-based Job Dispatch system used with runners is not a replacement for Push Jobs. Job Dispatch is a targeted solution for managing phase builds and Push Jobs allows users to perform remote tasks on pools of nodes. Job Dispatch uses SSH connections and allows additional features, such as cancelling jobs.