Salt and State


So far we have covered the basics of how salt works (It puts a service called a minion onto a host, and that minion calls back to a 0MQ server for instructions from a salt-master)

We can build minions manually (boo-hiss) or we can use salt-cloud to build VMs in our provider of choice.

Then we can write simple modules that just do-stuff on the minions. There are a lot of these.

While most of the time this is used for server config, in fact this is an ad-hoc remote execution setup. And it knocks fabric into a cocked-hat.

One minor issue

OK, OK. Security. Its a biggie. The salt team has written it’s own security setup. It has been reviewed. But salt is growing at such a pace, and the sheer difficulty of doing this right indicates that salt could face a big, stonking hole in the future.

Its worth bearing in mind, especially as everything runs as root (!).

However security is a trade off, and salt brings a lot to the party and looks to be making simple security choices. I am unable to compare it to chef or puppet, however my previous choice of fabric relied on ssh - which is a real battle-tested comms system.

In the end, if you have a bunch of servers automated, I suspect that rogue injection of commands into zeroMQ is less likely than attacking salt-master directly.

So I will stick with it.

Managing State

OK. I could issue one command after another, expect-style to create my remote servers.

But that would be the old-way.

So now we manage state with config files, and let the minion work out how to get there.

I would recommend reading this now, or very soon


The top file determines which state files are going to be synched with which minions.


     - nginx

Now, that means every machine we have will get nginx installed on it (maybe not great) Next we need to define the nginx state that we want.

/srv/salt/nginx/init.sls file:

$ ls /srv/salt/nginx/
init.sls  nginx.conf


    - installed
    - running
    - enable: True
    - require:
      - pkg: nginx
    - watch:
      - file: /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

    - source: salt://nginx/nginx.conf


user www-data;
worker_processes 4;
pid /var/run/;

events {

Now we install it:

<salt-master>$ sudo salt 'myinstance' state.highstate

And after a while we can visit the host in a browser: