Chef (software)

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Chef Software Inc. company logo.png
Developer(s) Chef
Stable release
  • 2015-03-30 12.2.1 (client),[1]
  • 2015-03-27 12.0.7 (server)[2]
/ March 30, 2015; 23 days ago (2015-03-30)
Development status Active
Written in Ruby (client) and Ruby / Erlang (server)
Operating system GNU/Linux, AT&T Unix, MS Windows, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, IBM AIX illumos
Type Configuration management, System administration, Network management, Cloud management, Continuous delivery, DevOps
License Apache License

Chef is a configuration management tool written in Ruby and Erlang. It uses a pure-Ruby, domain-specific language (DSL) for writing system configuration "recipes". Chef is used to streamline the task of configuring and maintaining a company's servers, and can integrate with cloud-based platforms such as Rackspace, Internap, Amazon EC2, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, SoftLayer, and Microsoft Azure to automatically provision and configure new machines. Chef contains solutions for both small and large scale systems, with features and pricing for the respective ranges.


The user writes "recipes" that describe how Chef manages server applications and utilities (such as Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, or Hadoop) and how they are to be configured. These recipes (which can be grouped together as a "cookbook" for easier management) describe a series of resources that should be in a particular state: packages that should be installed, services that should be running, or files that should be written. These various resources can be configured to specific versions of software to run and can ensure that software is installed in the correct order based on dependencies. Chef makes sure each resource is properly configured and corrects any resources that are not in the desired state.[3]

Chef can run in client/server mode, or in a standalone configuration named "chef-solo". In client/server mode, the Chef client sends various attributes about the node to the Chef server. The server uses Solr to index these attributes and provides an API for clients to query this information. Chef recipes can query these attributes and use the resulting data to help configure the node.

Traditionally, Chef is used to manage Linux but later versions support Microsoft Windows as well.[4]

It is one of the four major configuration management systems on Linux, along with CFEngine, Bcfg2, and Puppet.[5][6]


Chef began as an internal tool for Opscode, a consultant company whose business model was to build end-to-end server/deployment tools. However, as the project began to develop, its creators realized its broader use and created a more adaptable model of the product.[7]

The project was originally named "marionette" (due to the heavy use of the Puppet software), but the word was too long and cumbersome to type and the "recipe" format that the modules were prepared in led to the naming of "Chef".[7]

In February 2013, Opscode released version 11 of Chef. Changes in this release included a complete rewrite of the core API server in Erlang.[8]

Platform support[edit]

Chef is supported on multiple platforms according to a supported platforms matrix for client and server products.[9] Major platform support for client includes AIX, RHEL/CentOS, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, Solaris (operating system), Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu. Other client platforms include ArchLinux, Debian, Fedora, and others. Chef Server is supported on RHEL/CentOS/Oracle Linux, and Ubuntu.


Chef is used by Airbnb, Mozilla, Expedia, Facebook,[10] HP Public Cloud,[11] Prezi,[12],[13] Rackspace,[14] Get Satisfaction, IGN, Marshall University, Socrata, University of Minnesota, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Bonobos, Splunk, and Cheezburger, among others.[15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]