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Configuration Management – Ansible, Salt, Chef, Puppet

You need to setup a couple of servers, provision, configure and maintain them? Nowadays there are a couple of configuration management tools available. This week’s 1-pager introduces the 4 most popular ones: Ansible, SaltStack, Chef and Puppet. We try to give an orientation as to which tool to check out first in which context. Of course this is up for debate. No matter what we recommend, there will be differing opinions out there. E.g. at Corinna’s work they use Ansible for more than just a handful of machines. We indicate tendencies, not laws set in stone 🙂

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Content of 1-pager:

Tools for Configuation Management

Few Machines:

  • work directly on files and system ressources
  • little work up front
  • easy remote execution

The “Control machine” has “Hosts”. Write “Playbooks” in YAML, which execute sequentially. Needs only ssh and Python.

The “Master” has “Minions”. Write “SaLtState Formulas” in YAML, which execute sequentially.


Many Machines & Clusters:

  • abstract – work on modules, define ressources
  • maintain several distributions

The “Server” has “Clients”. Write “Recipies” and “Cookbooks” in Ruby DSL, which execute sequentially.

The “Master” has “Agents”. Write “Manifests” in a custom language, which execute in random order.



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  1. Mike H 2016/10/17

    Resources is spelt wrong

    • Corinna 2016/11/06

      Mike, thank you! (It’s written with double s in German, that’s why it’s a frequent mistake 🙁 )

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