Notes on Chef - Understanding Resources and Providers
Title: Understanding resources and providers in Chef Date: 2010-05-07 08:36:45
Chef is a pretty huge system, and one area that I didn't quite follow before was how recipes described in cookbooks were actually executed on the client machines when they were run. One of the key ideas with chef is that when you're writing recipes, you're effectively decoupling the results you'd want from an action, from the implementation, so you end up with a cross platform way to perform a given task.
Resources and Providers
You do this primarily in chef by writing Resources, which are high level ways to describe an action, like install a software package, or edit a group or user, then writing a Provider, which describes how you might actually implement this action on a given platform, or server setup.
For example on the group resource, when you're on a Linux system, you'll use a provider like
Chef::Provider::User::Useradd by default, which is effectively a wrapper around a compiled binary like
useradd, but if you're running Chef a Mac OS box, the default provider would be
Chef::Provider::User::Dscl, which is essentially the same kind of wrapper around the
It's this abstraction layer that decouples the action, from the implementation, and without understanding this, you won't get too far when writing cookbooks.
An example - the Script Resource
A good example of resource and providers would be the Script resource, because it shows how the code you might write when using a resource ends up looking like a cross between bash and ruby.
script "install_something" do interpreter "bash" user "root" cwd "/tmp" code <_-EOH install="install" tarball.tar.gz="tarball.tar.gz" make="make" tar="tar" pre="pre" _.="_." http:_="http:_" _="_" cd="cd" configure="configure" eoh="eoh" tarball="tarball" _-zxf="_-zxf" end="end" www.example.com="www.example.com" wget="wget">
In the snippet above, we're doing a common task - downloading a tarfile, then doing the
make installdance to compile it, but in the the first few lines, we're telling the resource to use the bash provider, and to switch to the root user first, before running the command by calling actions and attributes that the Resource has made available to us. It pays to check the docs on the opscode page if you see a command that you don't recognise when looking at recipes, as they're often described in the
One trick peculiar to the Script resource, is this shortcut to run the same string of commands without needing to explicitly set the interpreter in the block:bash "install_something" do user "root" cwd "/tmp" code <_-EOH install="install" tarball.tar.gz="tarball.tar.gz" make="make" tar="tar" pre="pre" _.="_." http:_="http:_" _="_" cd="cd" configure="configure" eoh="eoh" tarball="tarball" _-zxf="_-zxf" end="end" www.example.com="www.example.com" wget="wget">
As mentioned before, you have more than one Provider for a given resource. In this case, we currently have 5 different providers, that correspond to the main shells or interpreters for running scripts, listed below:Chef::Resource::Script::Bash bash Chef::Resource::Script::Csh csh Chef::Resource::Script::Perl perl Chef::Resource::Script::Python python Chef::Resource::Script::Ruby ruby
This post should give a some high level insight into how Resources and Providers work, but as ever, if you're working with Chef, and their wiki isn't in your bookmarks You're Doing it Wrong - check the relevant pages, and with some luck this powerful feature of chef should become a bit less cryptic.