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Chef vs Puppet Labs: What are the differences?

Developers describe Chef as "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. On the other hand, Puppet Labs is detailed as "Server automation framework and application". 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.

Chef and Puppet Labs can be categorized as "Server Configuration and Automation" 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, Puppet Labs provides the following key features:

  • Insight- Puppet Enterprise's event inspector gives immediate and actionable insight into your environment, showing you what changed, where and how by classes, nodes and resources.
  • Discovery- Puppet Enterprise delivers a dynamic and fully-pluggable discovery service that allows you to take advantage of any data source or real-time query results to quickly locate, identify and group cloud nodes.
  • Provisioning- Automatically provision and configure bare metal, virtual, and private or public cloud capacity, all from a single pane. Save time getting your cloud projects off the ground by reusing the same configuration modules you set up for your physical deployments.

"Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" is the top reason why over 104 developers like Chef, while over 45 developers mention "Devops" as the leading cause for choosing Puppet Labs.

Chef and Puppet Labs are both open source tools. It seems that Chef with 5.85K GitHub stars and 2.36K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Puppet Labs with 5.37K GitHub stars and 2.1K GitHub forks.

Airbnb, Facebook, and Slack are some of the popular companies that use Chef, whereas Puppet Labs is used by Uber Technologies, Twitch, and PayPal. Chef has a broader approval, being mentioned in 360 company stacks & 80 developers stacks; compared to Puppet Labs, which is listed in 180 company stacks and 49 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 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.

Want advice about which of these to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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    What are some alternatives to Chef and Puppet Labs?
    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.
    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.
    AWS OpsWorks
    Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component 
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    Decisions about Chef and Puppet Labs
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    How developers use Chef and Puppet Labs
    Avatar of Cyrus Stoller
    Cyrus Stoller uses Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

    I'm using puppet to configure my servers. This makes it really simple to ensure that I have the same environment. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the repeatability definitely makes it worth the effort. I found puppet to be a little easier to pick up relative to chef, but I've used both. They're both great solutions.

    I really like that there are a lot of modules available on the puppet forge that are being actively maintained.

    Avatar of Trusted Shops GmbH
    Trusted Shops GmbH uses Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

    We provision all servers with puppet. We have one central Puppet server which uses puppet modules referenced by a Puppetfile. Those puppet modules are partly from forge and partly self written.

    All modules which are self written, have to be tested using rspec-puppet and beaker.

    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 Opstax Ltd
    Opstax Ltd uses Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

    Opstax uses puppet for role/profile based configuration management and the distribution of small/static code.

    Avatar of GeniusLink
    GeniusLink uses Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

    Configures or servers and allows us to be region independent we have 5 regions across the globe.

    Avatar of Zinc
    Zinc uses ChefChef

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

    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 Michael Wieland
    Michael Wieland uses Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

    The server is set up using Puppet

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