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Chef is a configuration management tool designed to bring automation to your entire infrastructure.

This README focuses on developers who want to modify Chef source code. If you just want to use Chef, check out these resources:

Reporting Issues

Issues can be reported by using GitHub Issues.

Full details on how to report issues can be found in the CONTRIBUTING doc.

Note that this repository is primarily for reporting chef-client issues. For reporting issues against other Chef projects, please look up the appropriate repository to report issues against in the Chef docs in the community contributions section. If you can't determine the appropriate place to report an issue, then please open it against the repository you think best fits and it will be directed to the appropriate project.

Installing From Git

NOTE: As a Chef user, please download the omnibus package of Chef or Chef-DK

We do not recommend installing from gems, or building from source. The following instructions apply only to those doing software development on Chef.



  • git
  • C compiler, header files, etc.
  • ruby 2.3.3 or later
  • rubygems
  • bundler gem

We support too many platforms, and there are too many different ways to manage ruby installs, so it is assumed the user understands how to accomplish this for their platform and needs (see previous note about downloading the pre-built omnibus install if you do not understand how to accomplish this).

Chef Installation

Then get the source and install it:

git clone
cd chef
bundle install
bundle exec rake gem
bundle exec rake install


Please read our Community Contributions Guidelines, and ensure you are signing all your commits with DCO sign-off.

The general development process is:

  1. Fork this repo and clone it to your workstation.
  2. Create a feature branch for your change.
  3. Write code and tests.
  4. Push your feature branch to github and open a pull request against master.

Once your repository is set up, you can start working on the code. We do utilize RSpec for test driven development, so you'll need to get a development environment running. Follow the above procedure ("Installing from Git") to get your local copy of the source running.


This repository only uses rspec for testing.

# all tests
bundle exec rspec

# single test
bundle exec rspec spec/PATH/TO/FILE_spec.rb

# all tests under a subdir
bundle exec rspec spec/PATH/TO/DIR

When you submit a PR rspec tests will run automatically on travis and appveyor.

Building the Full Package

To build chef as a standalone package, we use the omnibus system.

To build:

git clone
cd chef/omnibus
bundle install
bundle exec omnibus build chef

The prerequisites necessary to run omnibus itself are not documented here. The automation we use is the opscode-ci cookbook cookbook, which serves as the most current documentation.

Updating Dependencies

If you want to change our constraints (change which packages and versions we accept in the chef), there are several places to do so:

In addition there are several places versions are pinned for CI tasks:

In order to update everything run rake dependencies. Note that the Gemfile.lock pins windows platforms and to fully regenerate the lockfile you must use the following commands or run rake dependencies:update_gemfile_lock:

bundle lock --update --add-platform ruby
bundle lock --update --add-platform x64-mingw32
bundle lock --update --add-platform x86-mingw32

How Chef Builds and Versions

Chef is an amalgam of many components. These components update all the time, necessitating new builds. This is an overview of the process of versioning, building and releasing Chef.

Chef Packages

Chef is distributed as packages for debian, rhel, ubuntu, windows, solaris, aix, and os x. It includes a large number of components from various sources, and these are versioned and maintained separately from chef project, which bundles them all together conveniently for the user.

These packages go through several milestones:

  • master: When code is checked in to master, the patch version of chef is bumped (e.g. 0.9.10 -> 0.9.11) and a build is kicked off automatically to create and test the packages in Chef's Jenkins cluster.
  • unstable: When a package is built, it enters the unstable channel. When all packages for all OS's have successfully built, the test phase is kicked off in Jenkins across all supported OS's. These builds are password-protected and generally only available to the test systems.
  • current: If the packages pass all the tests on all supported OS's, it is promoted as a unit to current, and is available via Chef's artifactory by running curl | sudo bash -s -- -c current -P chef
  • stable: Periodically, Chef will pick a release to "bless" for folks who would like a slower update schedule than "every time a build passes the tests." When this happens, it is manually promoted to stable and an announcement is sent to the list. It can be reached at or installed using the curl command without specifying -c current. Packages in stable are no longer available in current.

Additionally, periodically Chef will update the desired versions of chef components and check that in to master, triggering a new build with the updated components in it.

Automated Version Bumping

Whenever a change is checked in to master, the patch version of chef is bumped. To do this, the lita-versioner bot listens to github for merged PRs, and when it finds one, takes these actions:

  1. Bumps the patch version in lib/chef/version.rb (e.g. 0.9.14 -> 0.9.15).
  2. Runs rake bundle:install to update the Gemfile.lock to include the new version.
  3. Runs rake changelog:update to update the
  4. Pushes to master and submits a new build to Chef's Jenkins cluster.

Bumping the minor version of Chef

After each "official" stable release we need to bump the minor version. To do this:

  1. Run bundle exec rake version:bump_minor

Submit a PR with the changes made by the above.

Addressing a Regression

Sometimes, regressions split through the cracks. Since new functionality is always being added and the minor version is bumped immediately after release, we can't simply roll forward. In this scenario, we'll need to perform a special regression release process. In the example that follows, the stable release with a regression is 1.10.60 while master is currently sitting at 1.11.30. Note: To perform this process, you must be a Chef employee.

  1. If the regression has not already been addressed, open a Pull Request against master with the fix.
  2. Wait until that Pull Request has been merged and 1.11.31 has passed all the necessary tests and is available in the current channel.
  3. Inspect the Git history and find the SHA associated with the Merge Commit for the Pull Request above.
  4. Apply the fix for the regression via a cherry-pick:
    1. Check out the stable release tag: git checkout v1.10.60
    2. Cherry Pick the SHA with the fix: git cherry-pick SHA
    3. Address any conflicts (if necessary)
    4. Tag the sha with the appropriate version: git tag -a v1.10.61 -m "Release v1.10.61"
    5. Push the new tag to origin: git push origin --tags
  5. Log in to Jenkins and trigger a chef-trigger-release job specifying the new tag as the GIT_REF.

Component Versions

Chef has two sorts of component: ruby components like berkshelf and test-kitchen, and binary components like openssl and even ruby itself.

In general, you can find all chef desired versions in the Gemfile and omnibus_overrides.rb files. The Gemfile.lock is the locked version of the Gemfile.

Binary Components

The versions of binary components (as well as rubygems and bundler, which can't be versioned in a Gemfile) are stored in omnibus_overrides.rb.

These have software definitions either in omnibus/config/software or, more often, in the omnibus-software project.

Rubygems Components

Our rubygems component versions are locked down with Gemfile.lock, and can be updated with bundle update or rake dependencies:update_gemfile_lock.

Build Tooling Versions

The external environment necessary to build omnibus (compilers, make, git, etc) is configured by the opscode-ci cookbook cookbook. In order to reliably create omnibus builds that cookbook should be used to install the prerequisites. It may be possible to install the latest version of utilities on a suitably recent distribution and be able to build an omnibus package, but the necessary prerequisites will not be documented here. In most cases a recent MacOS with Xcode and a few homebrew packages or a recent Ubuntu distribution with packages like build-essentials should suffice.

Test Versions

chef is tested by the chef-acceptance framework, which contains suites that are run on the Jenkins test machines. The definitions of the tests are in the acceptance directory. The version of chef-acceptance and test-kitchen, are governed by acceptance/Gemfile.

The test tooling versions are locked down with acceptance/Gemfile.lock, which can be updated by running rake dependencies.


Chef - A configuration management system

Author: Adam Jacob ([email protected])
Copyright: Copyright 2008-2016, Chef Software, Inc.
License: Apache License, Version 2.0
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.