Cooking Your Way to Happiness: System Provisioning with Chef

Trotter Cashion (Mashion, LLC)
Average rating: ***..
(3.08, 13 ratings)

System provisioning is a difficult task that is often done using a set of instructions saved in a text file on someone’s computer. Even the places that are “doing it right” rely on a large number of bash scripts with directories full of one off templates for each host; a system utterly unmaintainable. Chef is a tool that seeks to change all of this by allowing developers and system administrators to write and maintain their provisioning scripts in Ruby and then to share these scripts as cookbooks with others. This results in much simpler system provisioning and allows inexperienced administrators to leverage the knowledge of experts by importing their cookbooks. Chef takes the arduous, multi-hour and even multi-day task of setting up new boxes and reduces it to something that can be done in as little as five minutes. Though it is not the first automated provisioning framework (Puppet is still quite popular), it is definitely the current best.

In this talk, I’ll be covering how easy it is to get going with Chef using Chef Solo. Chef Solo requires very little setup on either the developer’s machine or the machine to be provisioned and is a much smaller time investment than the larger Chef Server. Though the current Chef documentation online is very thorough, it is also very difficult to understand if you don’t already understand Chef’s point of view of provisioning. This talk will help participants gain enough knowledge know why they should use Chef, how to get started with Chef Solo, and what parts of the documentation are most important to them as they get going.

Photo of Trotter Cashion

Trotter Cashion

Mashion, LLC

Trotter Cashion is a Senior Software Engineer at Algorithmics, working on a collateral management messaging exchange for the financial industry. He began his career at Eastmedia in New York, where he helped develop the first OpenID server in Rails, before working as an Application Architect on He is the author of Rails Refactoring to Resources, a Short Cut (e-book) for Addison Wesley and a co-author of the Rails Way. He has also spoken at Gotham Ruby Conference, RailsConf Europe, and Philly ETE.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Kai Storbeck
07/22/2010 1:18pm PDT

I initially thought this talk would touch a few more in depth subjects about Chef. I’m reading here that that assumption was wrong.

Perhaps make the daily schedule that’s printed on paper contain a short description about the targeted audience.

  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • (mt) Media Temple, Inc.
  • ActiveState
  • CommonPlaces
  • DB Relay
  • FireHost
  • GoDaddy
  • HP
  • HTSQL by Prometheus Research
  • Impetus Technologies Inc.
  • Infobright, Inc
  • JasperSoft
  • Kaltura
  • Marvell
  • Mashery
  • NorthScale, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • OpSource
  • Oracle
  • Parallels
  • PayPal
  • Percona
  • Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc.
  • Rhomobile
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • SourceGear
  • Symbian
  • VoltDB
  • WSO2
  • Linux Pro Magazine

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