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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.

Advice on Chef and Puppet Labs
Rogério R. Alcântara
Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs
in

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 · 49.4K 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 · 13.5K 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
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

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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Pros of Chef
Pros of Puppet Labs
  • 110
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 76
    Reusable components
  • 47
    Integration testing with Vagrant
  • 43
    Repeatable
  • 30
    Mock testing with Chefspec
  • 14
    Ruby
  • 8
    Can package cookbooks to guarantee repeatability
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 3
    Has marketplace where you get readymade cookbooks
  • 3
    Matured product with good community support
  • 2
    Less declarative more procedural
  • 2
    Open source configuration mgmt made easy(ish)
  • 51
    Devops
  • 44
    Automate it
  • 26
    Reusable components
  • 21
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 18
    Great community
  • 12
    Cloud management
  • 12
    Very scalable
  • 10
    Easy to maintain
  • 9
    Free tier
  • 6
    Works with Amazon EC2
  • 4
    Declarative
  • 4
    Ruby
  • 3
    Works with Azure
  • 3
    Works with OpenStack
  • 1
    Nginx
  • 1
    Ease of use

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Chef
Cons of Puppet Labs
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 3
      Steep learning curve
    • 1
      Customs types idempotence

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    - No public GitHub repository available -

    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.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    Jobs that mention Chef and Puppet Labs as a desired skillset
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    San Francisco, CA, US; Seattle, WA, US
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    San Francisco, CA, US; Atlanta, GA, US; New York, NY, US
    Pinterest
    San Francisco, CA, US; Palo Alto, CA, US; Seattle, WA, US; New York, NY, US
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    London, England, United Kingdom
    What companies use Chef?
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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.
    Terraform
    With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
    Jenkins
    In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
    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.
    See all alternatives