Systems Management with Chef

Joshua Timberman (Chef Software, Inc.), James Casey (Opscode, Inc.)
Location: Portland 255
Average rating: ***..
(3.71, 31 ratings)
Slides:   external link


This is a hands on tutorial that will cover the basics that everyone
needs to know about how to use Chef for system and infrastructure
management. We will discuss the server API, the code primitives, and
the tools required to successfully use Chef.

Hands-on exercises throughout the tutorial will reinforce the material
discussed. The agenda we will cover:

  • Verification of workstation setup
  • Flavors of Chef (the various ways to run / use Chef)
  • Introducing the Server API primitives and Chef Repository
  • Create a new cookbook to manage a basic web site
  • Refactor the cookbook to improve it with better patterns
  • Tying it all together – wrap up of the work performed
  • Further resources and references

Intended Audience

This tutorial is intended for Linux/Unix system administrators, developers, and
anyone else responsible for managing infrastructure. While Chef is capable of managing Windows systems, the hands on exercises will target Linux.

Take Aways

Students will have a virtual machine with a code repository full of
the exercises and examples discussed throughout the tutorial.

The code used and demonstrated is working code, plus the presentation
material will include further references and resources.

The slides will be available to attendees after the tutorial.


Students must bring a wifi-enabled laptop to the tutorial in order to
complete the exercises as written.

The majority of the work will happen on a virtual machine provided
ahead of time so students aren’t downloading large files over the
conference wifi. USB keys may be made available during the tutorial
in order to distribute the keys to students that didn’t receive these
instructions in time.

Student laptops must be capable of running a “VirtualBox” or “VMware”
based virtual machine. Download the appropriate image:

* [VirtualBox Image](
* [VMware Image](

The virtual machine image already has Chef and the required tools (git, vim/emacs, ssh, etc) installed.

QUESTIONS for the speaker?: Use the “Leave a Comment or Question” section at the bottom to address them.

Joshua Timberman

Chef Software, Inc.

Joshua Timberman is a Code Cleric at CHEF, where he Cures Technical Debt Wounds for 1d8+5 lines of code, casts Protection from Yaks, and otherwise helps continuously improve internal technical process.

Photo of James Casey

James Casey

Opscode, Inc.

James has worked for over fifteen years in companies ranging from mobile and finance startups to CERN, the large scientific collaboration in the world. He specializes in building tools for operating large computing infrastructures.

He has previously created monitoring tools at CERN for the Large Hadron Collider and currently works at Opscode where he is a Development Lead for Chef.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Joshua Timberman
Joshua Timberman
07/23/2013 6:19am PDT

Slide deck is posted on my Speakerdeck page

Picture of Joshua Timberman
Joshua Timberman
07/21/2013 12:22pm PDT

Hi Rupa,

My flight won’t arrive until Monday afternoon, but I’ll have USB flash drives with the VM images available on Tuesday before the tutorial starts.

Picture of Rupa Dachere
Rupa Dachere
07/21/2013 3:29am PDT

Josh, If you’re around on Sunday, do you have a thumbdrive with the VMDK’s? The wifi at the hotel is slower than molasses…

Lou Solot
07/19/2013 10:48am PDT

I wasn’t familiar with VirtualBox but I figured it might be too late for a new image so I went ahead and downloaded it. I am now good to go. Thanks for the quick response!

Note: If anyone else is using VirtualBox on Mac OS X (I’m on 10.7.2) you might need to do a chmod o-w /Applications or else the VM will not start.

Picture of Joshua Timberman
Joshua Timberman
07/19/2013 9:49am PDT

Hi Lou,

I won’t have a chance to make a new VM image. Can you try the VirtualBox image? It’s a VMDK… or, install VirtualBox on your system?

Lou Solot
07/19/2013 5:27am PDT

Hi Joshua,

I am using my work provided Macbook Pro which has VMware Fusion 4.1.4 installed. Unfortunately, the image provided requires version 5.x. Is it possible to provide an image with a downgraded compatibility level?


Picture of Joshua Timberman
Joshua Timberman
07/16/2013 9:09am PDT


That isn’t planned as part of the hands on exercises at this time, but maybe :).

Picture of Luciano Afranllie Ruiz
Luciano Afranllie Ruiz
07/16/2013 1:09am PDT

Thanks, what is the idea, to create a new user during the tutorial?

Picture of Joshua Timberman
Joshua Timberman
07/15/2013 1:47am PDT

Hi Luciano,

Login: vagrant Password: vagrant

(note that we’re not using vagrant for the tutorial, I just built the VM images with my existing vagrant template :)).

Picture of Luciano Afranllie Ruiz
Luciano Afranllie Ruiz
07/15/2013 12:36am PDT

Hi, is provided VM user/passwd information available somewhere? Thanks.


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