Minimal Programmatic Puppet Class Creation


This post began when I was trying to programmatically create my own Puppet class, googled this exact title, and came up totally empty handed. After wading through dozens of StackOverflow posts and puppet docs, I still wasn't sure what I needed to accomplish this or how it would fit into our Beaker tests. I admittedly don't have much experience with Puppet, and ended up spending a few hours with a coworker learning about the most efficient way to achieve this. This is essentially the post I wish I had found a week ago (or will wish existed 6 months from now when I need to do the same thing and have forgotten all of this).

WARNING: This post is for n00bs, not l33t puppet haxxors. You've been warned.

OTHER WARNING: This post assumes that you already have a remote puppet master, and are most likely using Beaker or some other testing harness to interact with that master. You'll also need to make sure $test_harness has root privileges on the master, as you'll be writing to /etc.

The Endgame

Specifically, I wanted to ensure that a UTF-8 encoded class (with non \A[a-z][a-z0-9_]*\Z characters) would not be displayed in the Puppet Enterprise GUI (per Puppet's acceptable character specs). I needed a bare module with a single class that I could programmatically throw at a master, and then verify had successfully been applied.

The Solution(s)

Since it's impossible to verify that the unicode isn't showing up because it's unicode, and not because I goofed on adding the class (yeah, yeah, our logging could be improved), I first needed to get this test working with a kosher name.


Ok, so really the crux of this problems is what files you need, and where they need to go on your system. Since this requires just the one class, and none of the other infra around puppetized applications, only a simple init.pp is necessary. Mine looks like this:

class myclass {
  file { '/tmp/make_sure_this_exists':
    ensure => present

A few important notes:

  • No trailing whitespace! Anywhere!
  • 2 spaces, not tab characters
  • Single quotes

There are more official style guideline, and even a puppet-linter you can use to verify your init.pp is correct.

Ok, so we've got this file, where does it go on the master? As far as I can tell most Puppet-y things that we humans deal with live in /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments, and since we're taking the easy road here we're going to be working in the production environment. Before you do anything that directory should look something like this:

└── production
    ├── environment.conf
    ├── hieradata
    ├── manifests
    │   └── site.pp
    └── modules

Modules is going to be the directory we need to work with. A puppet module is a self-contained bundle of code you use to tell puppet some part of how you want your system to look. There are huge, widely used puppet modules such as Apache, or there are cute little 5-line modules like ours, and both specify various related aspects of a system state to achieve a goal. That's as much as I'll say about modules, but you can read more here if interested.

NOTE: In order for agents to be classified by this class, it needs to go on the master. This might not be strictly true all of the time, but it definitely wasn't going to show up in the GUI or get applied to agents from another agent.

Doing the Thing Manually

  1. Make the directory. To make our module, we'll need to make the following directory from the production directory:

    mkdir -p modules/myclass/manifests`

    where myclass matches the class name you have in your init.pp.

  2. Copy the file. Then put the init.pp in that directory, and your set!

  3. Verify it worked. There are a few ways to verify that you were successful:

    • SSH into the master, run puppet agent -t, then SSH into your agent and verify that the file /tmp/make_sure_this_exists does indeed exist
    • In the GUI, head to Nodes > Classification, create a new group, then go to $node_group_page > classes tab and verify your class is in the dropdown for adding a class.

Automate it

So now that we know what we're doing, automating it with Beaker is pretty easy, especially if we're working in the production environment.

  1. Make the directory.

    @class_name = 'classy'
    @modules_path = "/etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/modules/#{@class_name}/manifests"
    on(master, "mkdir -p #{@modules_path}")
  2. Copy the file. Please note, I needed to define my init.pp content inside the file for reasons, but you can also have a local file and use ruby to read from it, which is a little more best-practice-y. Also note that you'll need to give the file proper permissions once you've made it!

      manifest =<<-EOS
    class #{@class_name} {
      file { '/tmp/make_sure_this_exists':
        ensure => present
      create_remote_file(master,"#{@modules_path}/init.pp", manifest)
      on(master, "chmod 644 #{@modules_path}/init.pp")
  3. Verify that it worked.

    on(master, 'puppet agent -t')
    agent = agents.find {|agent| not_controller agent}
    ls_output = on(agent, 'ls /tmp/make_sure_this_exists').stdout
    assert_equal(ls_output, '/tmp/make_sure_this_exists', error_message)

There are lots of ways to verify that it worked, this runs puppet agent -t on the master (which compiles the catalog and applies it to all the agents), then verifies that the output of 'ls' on the master includes the file our class put there.


Hopefully this was helpful and what you are looking for! This is really the bare minimum, need-to-know-basis level of creating a custom class, for when you just need to get the thing done and don't want to learn All Of Puppet. If you do want to learn all of puppet though, there are some links below! Enjoy.

Puppet Resources