Here are some useful tips & tricks.

How Can I Manage Whole Directories of Files Without Explicitly Listing the Files?

The file type has a “recurse” attribute, which can be used to synchronize the contents of a target directory recursively with a chosen source. In the example below, the entire /etc/httpd/conf.d directory is synchronized recursively with the copy on the server:

file { "/etc/httpd/conf.d":
  source  => "puppet://server/vol/mnt1/adm/httpd/conf.d",
  recurse => true,

You can also set purge => true to keep the directory clear of all files or directories not managed by Puppet.

How Do I Run a Command Whenever A File Changes?

The answer is to use an exec resource with refreshonly set to true, such as in this case of telling bind to reload its configuration when it changes:

file { "/etc/bind": source => "/dist/apps/bind" }

exec { "/usr/bin/ndc reload":
  subscribe   => File["/etc/bind"],
  refreshonly => true

The exec has to subscribe to the file so it gets notified of changes.

How Can I Ensure a Group Exists Before Creating a User?

In the example given below, we’d like to create a user called tim who we want to put in the fearme group. By using the require attribute, we can create a dependency between the user tim and the group fearme. The result is that user tim will not be created until puppet is certain that the fearme group exists.

group { "fearme":
        ensure => present,
        gid    => 1000
user { "tim":
        ensure     => present,
        gid        => "fearme",
        groups     => ["adm", "staff", "root"],
        membership => minimum,
        shell      => "/bin/bash",
        require    => Group["fearme"]

Note that Puppet will set this relationship up for you automatically, so you should not normally need to do this.

How Can I Require Multiple Resources Simultaneously?

Give the require attribute an array as its value. In the example given below, we’re again adding the user tim (just as we did earlier in this document), but in addition to requiring tim’s primary group, fearme, we’re also requiring another group, fearmenot. Any reasonable number of resources can be required in this way.

user { "tim":
        ensure     => present,
        gid        => "fearme",
        groups     => ["adm", "staff", "root", "fearmenot"],
        membership => minimum,
        shell      => "/bin/bash",
        require    => [ Group["fearme"],

Can I use complex comparisons in if statements and variables?

In Puppet version 0.24.6 onwards you can use complex expressions in if statements and variable assignments. You can see examples of how to do this in the language reference.

Can I output Facter facts in YAML?

Facter supports output of facts in YAML as well as to standard out. You need to run:

# facter --yaml

To get this output, which you can redirect to a file for further processing.

Can I check the syntax of my templates?

ERB files are easy to syntax check. For a file mytemplate.erb, run:

$ erb -x -T '-' -P mytemplate.erb | ruby -c

The trim option specified corresponds to what Puppet uses.

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