Help for a total newbe


I am learning chef and really liking it for sure! I get (for the most part) recipes, cookbooks etc but what I don’t get is how to connect a remote node and run a cookbook. I cannot seem to find a document that clearly (in my skewed mind) gives directions how to build this. I have all the tools I need to build CentOS VM’s and test. So can anyone point me to a very clear document on how to build a chef server and then run a cookbook on a remote node? It is likely I have missed something in the documentation but it always seems to fall a bit short, probably it is out of date?!??

Any help is MUCH appreciated!


Check out and walk through the tutorials. It should get you to where you want to go.


To understand running recipes, a good starting point is to understand the concept of bootstrapping. Chef operates on a pull-bases, rather than a push basis, so the node needs to have a client installed that then connects to the server, retrieves the recipes and runs them. Of course you can manually install the client, the configuration file (/etc/chef/client.rb) and the certificates that authenticate the client with the server, or you can do almost all of that with a single command on your workstation, knife bootstrap.

The second part of the puzzle is to install the chef server (you actually have to do that before bootstrapping nodes). You need a dedicated server for that (nothing else should run on it). It can be made to work on a non-dedicated server, but for learning purposes, you want everything to be as simple and as little error-prone as possible, no port conflicts or the like. You simply install the chef server from an RPM and then run the command “chef-server-ctl reconfigure” to set it up.

Next, you have to create users, connect your workstation (so you can upload cookbooks to the server), and then bootstrap the nodes. It’s best to look those up in the documentation.


Kevin Keane
Whom the IT Pros Call
The NetTech
Our values: Privacy, Liberty, Justice



Thank you for the response. Since sending you that email I have made allot of progress with chef. I think I get it. I was struggling because it seemed that the documentation always left something out (or probably more that I skipped over it :slight_smile: ). I still struggle to find a very clear document on how to use CentOS to install this. I have VMWare Fusion so I have been playing locally on my laptop. At any rate, thank you for the response and great information!

Brent Weaver
GE Digital