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Capistrano vs Chef: What are the differences?

What is Capistrano? A remote server automation and deployment tool written in Ruby. Capistrano is a remote server automation tool. It supports the scripting and execution of arbitrary tasks, and includes a set of sane-default deployment workflows.

What is Chef? Build, destroy and rebuild servers on any public or private cloud. Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

Capistrano and Chef belong to "Server Configuration and Automation" category of the tech stack.

Some of the features offered by Capistrano are:

  • Reliably deploy web application to any number of machines simultaneously, in sequence or as a rolling set
  • Automate audits of any number of machines (checking login logs, enumerating uptimes, and/or applying security patches)
  • Script arbitrary workflows over SSH

On the other hand, Chef provides the following key features:

  • Access to 800+ Reusable Cookbooks
  • Integration with Leading Cloud Providers
  • Enterprise Platform Support including Windows and Solaris

"Automated deployment with several custom recipes" is the primary reason why developers consider Capistrano over the competitors, whereas "Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" was stated as the key factor in picking Chef.

Capistrano and Chef are both open source tools. It seems that Capistrano with 11.1K GitHub stars and 1.71K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Chef with 5.85K GitHub stars and 2.36K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Chef has a broader approval, being mentioned in 360 company stacks & 80 developers stacks; compared to Capistrano, which is listed in 293 company stacks and 81 developer stacks.

Advice on Capistrano and Chef
Rogério R. Alcântara
Needs advice
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Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef
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Personal Dotfiles management

Given that they are all “configuration management” tools - meaning they are designed to deploy, configure and manage servers - what would be the simplest - and yet robust - solution to manage personal dotfiles - for n00bs.

Ideally, I reckon, it should:

  • be containerized (Docker?)
  • be versionable (Git)
  • ensure idempotency
  • allow full automation (tests, CI/CD, etc.)
  • be fully recoverable (Linux/ macOS)
  • be easier to setup/manage (as much as possible)

Does it make sense?

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Replies (3)
terry chay
Principal Engineer at RaiseMe · | 9 upvotes · 37.4K views
Recommends
AnsibleAnsible

I recommend whatever you are most comfortable with/whatever might already be installed in the system. Note that, for personal dotfiles, it does not need to be containerized or have full automation/testing. It just needs to handle multiple OS and platform and be idempotent. Git will handle the heavy lifting. Note that you'll have to separate out certain files like the private SSH keys and write your CM so that it will pull it from another store or assist in manually importing them.

I personally use Ansible since it is a serverless design and is in Python, which I prefer to Ruby. Saltstack was too new when I started to port my dotfile management scripts from shell into a configuration management tool. I think any of the above is fine.

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Recommends
SaltSalt

You should check out SaltStack. It's a lot more powerful than Puppet, Chef, & Ansible. If not Salt, then I would go Ansible. But stay away from Puppet & Chef. 10+ year user of Puppet, and 2+ year user of Chef.

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Attila Fulop
Management Advisor at artkonekt · | 3 upvotes · 3.2K views
Recommends

Chef is a definite no-go for me. I learned it the hard way (ie. got a few tasks in a prod system) and it took quite a lot to grasp it on an acceptable level. Ansible in turn is much more straightforward and much easier to test.

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Needs advice
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Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef
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AnsibleAnsible

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
AnsibleAnsible

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa
Recommends
KubernetesKubernetes
at

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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