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Chef
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Chef vs Packer: What are the differences?

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.

What is Packer? Create identical machine images for multiple platforms from a single source configuration. Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.

Chef can be classified as a tool in the "Server Configuration and Automation" category, while Packer is grouped under "Infrastructure Build Tools".

Some of the features offered by Chef are:

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

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

  • Super fast infrastructure deployment. Packer images allow you to launch completely provisioned and configured machines in seconds, rather than several minutes or hours.
  • Multi-provider portability. Because Packer creates identical images for multiple platforms, you can run production in AWS, staging/QA in a private cloud like OpenStack, and development in desktop virtualization solutions such as VMware or VirtualBox.
  • Improved stability. Packer installs and configures all the software for a machine at the time the image is built. If there are bugs in these scripts, they'll be caught early, rather than several minutes after a machine is launched.

"Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" is the primary reason why developers consider Chef over the competitors, whereas "Cross platform builds" was stated as the key factor in picking Packer.

Chef and Packer are both open source tools. Packer with 9.1K GitHub stars and 2.47K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Chef with 5.86K GitHub stars and 2.36K GitHub forks.

Airbnb, Facebook, and Slack are some of the popular companies that use Chef, whereas Packer is used by Instacart, Oscar Health, and Razorpay. Chef has a broader approval, being mentioned in 360 company stacks & 80 developers stacks; compared to Packer, which is listed in 115 company stacks and 21 developer stacks.

What is Chef?

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.

What is Packer?

Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.
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Why do developers choose Chef?
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      What are some alternatives to Chef and Packer?
      Ansible
      Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
      Puppet Labs
      Puppet is an automated administrative engine for your Linux, Unix, and Windows systems and performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.
      Capistrano
      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.
      Fabric
      Fabric is a Python (2.5-2.7) library and command-line tool for streamlining the use of SSH for application deployment or systems administration tasks. It provides a basic suite of operations for executing local or remote shell commands (normally or via sudo) and uploading/downloading files, as well as auxiliary functionality such as prompting the running user for input, or aborting execution.
      Salt
      Salt is a new approach to infrastructure management. Easy enough to get running in minutes, scalable enough to manage tens of thousands of servers, and fast enough to communicate with them in seconds. Salt delivers a dynamic communication bus for infrastructures that can be used for orchestration, remote execution, configuration management and much more.
      See all alternatives
      Decisions about Chef and Packer
      John Kodumal
      John Kodumal
      CTO at LaunchDarkly · | 3 upvotes · 61.6K views
      atLaunchDarklyLaunchDarkly
      Ansible
      Ansible
      Spinnaker
      Spinnaker
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Packer
      Packer
      Armory
      Armory

      LaunchDarkly is almost a five year old company, and our methodology for deploying was state of the art... for 2014. We recently undertook a project to modernize the way we #deploy our software, moving from Ansible-based deploy scripts that executed on our local machines, to using Spinnaker (along with Terraform and Packer) as the basis of our deployment system. We've been using Armory's enterprise Spinnaker offering to make this project a reality.

      See more
      Marcel Kornegoor
      Marcel Kornegoor
      CTO at AT Computing · | 5 upvotes · 196.7K views
      atAT ComputingAT Computing
      Linux
      Linux
      Ubuntu
      Ubuntu
      CentOS
      CentOS
      Debian
      Debian
      Red Hat Enterprise Linux
      Red Hat Enterprise Linux
      Fedora
      Fedora
      Visual Studio Code
      Visual Studio Code
      Jenkins
      Jenkins
      VirtualBox
      VirtualBox
      GitHub
      GitHub
      Docker
      Docker
      Kubernetes
      Kubernetes
      Google Compute Engine
      Google Compute Engine
      Ansible
      Ansible
      Puppet Labs
      Puppet Labs
      Chef
      Chef
      Python
      Python
      #ATComputing

      Since #ATComputing is a vendor independent Linux and open source specialist, we do not have a favorite Linux distribution. We mainly use Ubuntu , Centos Debian , Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora during our daily work. These are also the distributions we see most often used in our customers environments.

      For our #ci/cd training, we use an open source pipeline that is build around Visual Studio Code , Jenkins , VirtualBox , GitHub , Docker Kubernetes and Google Compute Engine.

      For #ServerConfigurationAndAutomation, we have embraced and contributed to Ansible mainly because it is not only flexible and powerful, but also straightforward and easier to learn than some other (open source) solutions. On the other hand: we are not affraid of Puppet Labs and Chef either.

      Currently, our most popular #programming #Language course is Python . The reason Python is so popular has to do with it's versatility, but also with its low complexity. This helps sysadmins to write scripts or simple programs to make their job less repetitive and automating things more fun. Python is also widely used to communicate with (REST) API's and for data analysis.

      See more
      Pedro Arnal Puente
      Pedro Arnal Puente
      CTO at La Cupula Music SL · | 7 upvotes · 107.3K views
      atLa Cupula Music SLLa Cupula Music SL
      Debian
      Debian
      Amazon EC2
      Amazon EC2
      Amazon S3
      Amazon S3
      Amazon RDS for Aurora
      Amazon RDS for Aurora
      Redis
      Redis
      Amazon ElastiCache
      Amazon ElastiCache
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Packer
      Packer
      Ansible
      Ansible

      Our base infrastructure is composed of Debian based servers running in Amazon EC2 , asset storage with Amazon S3 , and Amazon RDS for Aurora and Redis under Amazon ElastiCache for data storage.

      We are starting to work in automated provisioning and management with Terraform , Packer , and Ansible .

      See more
      Interest over time
      Reviews of Chef and Packer
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      How developers use Chef and Packer
      Avatar of Goyoboard
      Goyoboard uses ChefChef

      Out custom recipes makes it simple for developers bootstrap process (using vagrant) and that same recipe is also the one that is used to prep instances

      Avatar of Zinc
      Zinc uses ChefChef

      We use Chef for our configuration management and our service discovery.

      Avatar of Bob P
      Bob P uses PackerPacker

      Packer makes it easy to setup custom images to import into vagrant.

      Avatar of EverTrue
      EverTrue uses ChefChef

      Configuration management for any services not provided by AWS.

      Avatar of Hund
      Hund uses ChefChef

      Distributed application deployments and server configuration.

      Avatar of James Salas
      James Salas uses ChefChef

      Configuration and deployment of application

      Avatar of Zinc
      Zinc uses PackerPacker

      We use Packer to build our Base AMIs.

      Avatar of Endource
      Endource uses PackerPacker

      Application deployment packages

      Avatar of Go Furuya
      Go Furuya uses PackerPacker

      To make the "Golden Image"

      Avatar of Scott Miller
      Scott Miller uses PackerPacker

      Used for packing AMIs

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