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What is Chef?

Chef is a popular, open-source, IaC (Infrastructure as Code) management tool. It eases administration, configuration, and deployment of server resources across a network from a central location. 

What is IaC?

IaC (or Infrastructure as code) is the procedure of provisioning, coordinating, and controlling servers via machine-readable files, that are defined in commonly reused records called cookbooks rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools.


  • Ensure that each computer that will be a node is running on a supported platform.
  • Ensure that the server is sufficiently powerful to run the software.
  • Ensure that all firewall and network settings are correctly configured in advance.
  • The NTP service (Network Time Protocol) is enabled to prevent clock drift.


Installation and Configuration of Chef

First, we need to download and install the RPM package. Here is the command to pull that RPM to the server.

[root@host tmp]# curl -O
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time    Time  Current
Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100    327M     100     327M     0  0  4511k 
0  0:01:14  0:01:14 --:--:-- 4337k
[root@host tmp]# 

RPM installation 

To install the package, we use this command.

[root@host tmp]# rpm -Uvh chef-server-core-13.1.13-1.el7.x86_64.rpm
warning: chef-server-core-13.1.13-1.el7.x86_64.rpm: Header V4 DSA/SHA1 Signature, key ID 83ef826a: NOKEY
Preparing...                          ################################# [100%]
Updating / installing...
   1:chef-server-core-13.1.13-1.el7   ################################# [100%]
[root@host tmp]# 

Once the core Chef package is installed, we will have access to the "chef-server-ctl" command. After this, we will need to reconfigure Chef to ready the Chef cookbooks. This reconfiguration may take anywhere from 5-30 minutes.

[root@host tmp]# chef-server-ctl reconfigure  
            Chef License Acceptance

Before you can continue, 3 product licenses
must be accepted. View the license at

Licenses that need accepting:
  * Chef Infra Server
  * Chef Infra Client
  * Chef InSpec

Do you accept the 3 product licenses (yes/no)?

> yes
Persisting 3 product licenses...
✔ 3 product licenses persisted.

Starting Chef Infra Client, version 15.4.45
resolving cookbooks for run list: ["private-chef::default"]
Synchronizing Cookbooks:
  - private-chef (0.1.1)
  - enterprise (0.15.1)
  - runit (5.1.1)
  - packagecloud (1.0.1)
  - yum-epel (3.3.0)
Installing Cookbook Gems:
Compiling Cookbooks...
Recipe: private-chef::default
Running handlers:
Running handlers complete
Chef Infra Client finished, 482/1032 resources updated in 02 minutes 45 seconds
Chef Server Reconfigured!
[root@host tmp]# 

Once Chef is reconfigured, we can check the service list to get a list of available software.

[root@host tmp]# chef-server-ctl service-list
[root@host tmp]# 

Creating The Chef user 

Once Chef is installed and configured, we will need to create a Chef user. 

Here are the parameters we will use.

  • Username: denis
  • First name: Denis 
  • Last name: Bosack 
  • Password: p@Assw0rd
  • Filename: Location where the key is going to authenticate the user later on (e.g dbosack.pem)
[root@host]# chef-server-ctl user-create denis Denis Bosack 'p@Assw0rd' --filename /home/dbosack/dbosack.pem

Creating An Organization 

Next, we can create an organization. Here are the parameters we will use.

  • Organization name: liquidweb 
  • Full name: LiquidWeb
  • User assigned: denis 
  • Filename: /home/dbosack/org-validator.pem
[root@host]# chef-server-ctl org-create liquidweb 'LiquidWeb Inc.' --association_user denis --filename /home/dbosack/org-validator.pem

If we wanted to, we could stop right here as we have a Chef server, user, and organization running. With this information, we can set up everything that we need. If you would like to add additional plugins, like the web user interface for Chef, follow the added steps below. 

Chef-Manage Plugin 

One of the most popular features that Chef users like to use is a plugin called Chef-Manage. Chef-Manage is a ruby-on-rails application that provides a web-user interface that will allow us to see the configuration, users we have, organizations, cookbooks, nodes, etc. 

[root@host dbosack]# chef-server-ctl install chef-manage

After the installation of Chef-Manage, we will need to reconfigure Chef again.

[root@host tmp]# chef-server-ctl reconfigure

Since Chef uses a test and repair approach, the settings that were previously configured would not need to be adjusted or overwritten since there were no modifications. This time, the reconfiguration should be much faster than the first time. 

After we reconfigure Chef, we also need to reconfigure Chef-Manage, we can do that by running the following command: 

[root@host]# chef-manage-ctl reconfigure 
During the installation, you will need to accept the license agreement when asked type “yes”.

Once the Chef-Manage reconfiguration is done, you can access the login screen by typing your public IP address in a browser:

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About the Author: Denis Bosack

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