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Install Chef Workstation

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Start your infrastructure automation quickly and easily with Chef Workstation. Chef Workstation gives you everything you need to get started with Chef - ad hoc remote execution, remote scanning, configuration tasks, cookbook creation tools as well as robust dependency and testing software - all in one easy-to-install package.

Chef Workstation includes:

  • Chef Infra Client
  • Chef InSpec
  • Chef Habitat
  • chef and knife command line tools
  • Testing tools such as Test Kitchen, ChefSpec, and Cookstyle
  • Everything else needed to author cookbooks and upload them to the Chef Infra Server

Supported Platforms

Supported Host Operating Systems:

Apple macOS10.13, 10.14, 10.15, 11.0
Microsoft Windows10, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2, Server 2016, Server 2019
Red Hat Enterprise Linux / CentOS7.x, 8.x
Ubuntu16.04, 18.04, 20.04
Debian9.x, 10.x

System Requirements

Minimum system requirements:

  • RAM: 2GB
  • Disk: 4GB
  • Running minimum settings may limit your ability to take advantage of Chef Workstation tools such as Test Kitchen which creates and manages virtualized test environments.

Recommended system requirements:

  • RAM: 4GB
  • Disk 8GB

Chef Workstation App Requirements

  • Windows: No additional requirements
  • Mac: No additional requirements
  • Linux: You must have a graphical window manager running with support for system tray icons.
    • On some distributions you may need to install additional libraries. After you install the Chef Workstation package from the terminal, the post-install message will tell you which, if any, additional libraries are required to run the Chef Workstation App.


The Chef Workstation installer must run as a privileged user.

Chef Workstation installs to /opt/chef-workstation/ on macOS / Linux and C:\opscode\chef-workstation\ on Windows. These file locations should help avoid interference between these components and other applications that may be running on the target machine.


  1. Dependency: Xcode is recommended for running Chef Workstation on macOS. While Chef Workstation works without Xcode, it is required for native Ruby Gem installation. Run xcode-select --install from the terminal to install Xcode.
  2. Visit the Chef Workstation downloads page and select the appropriate package for your macOS version. Click on the Download button.
  3. Follow the steps to accept the license and install Chef Workstation.

Alternately, install Chef Workstation using Homebrew:

brew cask install chef-workstation


  1. Visit the Chef Workstation downloads page and select the appropriate package for your Windows version. Click on the Download button.
  2. Follow the steps to accept the license and install Chef Workstation. You will have the option to change your install location; by default the installer uses the C:\opscode\chef-workstation\ directory.
  3. Optional: Set the default shell. On Microsoft Windows it is strongly recommended to use Windows PowerShell instead of cmd.exe.

Headless Unattended Install

“Headless” systems are configured to operate without a monitor (the “head”) keyboard, and mouse. They are usually controlled over a network connection.

To install Chef Workstation on a headless Windows system, exclude the Chef Workstation App from auto-starting on login by using the following command in Windows PowerShell or cmd.exe. Replace MsiPath with the path of the downloaded Chef Workstation installer.

msiexec /q /i MsiPath ADDLOCAL=ALL REMOVE=ChefWSApp

Spaces and Directories

Directories that are used by Chef products on Windows cannot have spaces. For example, C:\Users\User Name will not work, but C:\Users\UserName will. Chef commands may fail if used against a directory with a space in its name.

Top-level Directory Names

Windows will throw errors when path name lengths are too long. For this reason, it’s often helpful to use a very short top-level directory, much like what is done in UNIX and Linux. For example, Chef uses /opt/ to install Chef Workstation on macOS. A similar approach can be done on Microsoft Windows, by creating a top-level directory with a short name. For example: C:\chef.


  1. Visit the Chef Workstation downloads page and download the appropriate package for your distribution:

  2. Use your distribution’s package manager to install Chef Workstation:

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

      rpm -Uvh chef-workstation-20.12.212-1.el7.x86_64.rpm
    • Debian/Ubuntu:

      dpkg -i chef-workstation_20.12.212-1_amd64.deb

Verify the Installation

To verify the installation, run:

chef -v

Which returns the versions of all installed Chef tools:

Chef Workstation version: 20.12.212
Chef Infra Client version: 16.8.14
Chef InSpec version: 4.24.8
Chef CLI version: 3.0.33
Chef Habitat version: 1.6.181
Test Kitchen version: 2.8.0
Cookstyle version: 7.4.0


From Chef Workstation

For all platforms, follow the steps provided under Installing.

From ChefDK


The Chef Workstation package conflicts with an installed ChefDK package to prevent unintentional upgrades.

Prior to installing Chef Workstation, first uninstall ChefDK:

Ubuntu, Debian, and related:

sudo dpkg -P chefdk

Red Hat, CentOS, and related:

sudo rpm -e chefdk


For other platforms, follow the steps provided under Installing.



Run uninstall_chef_workstation in your terminal.


Use Add / Remove Programs to remove Chef Workstation.


Ubuntu, Debian, and related:

sudo dpkg -P chef-workstation

Red Hat, CentOS, and related:

sudo rpm -e chef-workstation

Next Steps

Now that you’ve installed Chef Workstation, proceed to the Getting Started guide to configure your Chef Workstation installation.