Blog entries

SaltStack Meetup with Thomas Hatch in Paris France

2014/05/22 by Arthur Lutz

This monday (19th of may 2014), Thomas Hatch was in Paris for dotScale 2014. After presenting SaltStack there (videos will be published at some point), he spent the evening with members of the French SaltStack community during a meetup set up by Logilab at IRILL.

Here is a list of what we talked about :

  • Since Salt seems to have pushed ZMQ to its limits, SaltStack has been working on RAET (Reliable Asynchronous Event Transport Protocol ), a transport layer based on UDP and elliptic curve cryptography (Dan Berstein's CURVE-255-19) that works more like a stack than a socket and has reliability built in. RAET will be released as an optionnal beta feature in the next Salt release.
  • Folks from Dailymotion bumped into a bug that seems related to high latency networks and the auth_timeout. Updating to the very latest release should fix the issue.
  • Thomas told us about how a dedicated team at SaltStack handles pull requests and another team works on triaging github issues to input them into their internal SCRUM process. There are a lot of duplicate issues and old inactive issues that need attention and clutter the issue tracker. Help will be welcome.
  • Continuous integration is based on Jenkins and spins up VMs to test pull request. There is work in progress to test multiple clouds, various latencies and loads.
  • For the Docker integration, salt now keeps track of forwarded ports and relevant information about the containers.
  • salt-virt bumped into problems with chroots and timeouts due to ZMQ.
  • Multi-master: the problem lies with syncronisation of data which is sent to minions but also the data that is sent to the masters. Possible solutions to be explored are : the use of gitfs, there is no built-in solution for keys (salt-key has to be run on all masters), mine.send should send the data at both masters, for the jobs cache: one could use an external returner.
  • Thomas talked briefly about ioflo which should bring queuing, data hierarchy and data pub-sub to Salt.
  • About the rolling release question: versions in Salt are definitely not git snapshots, things get backported into previous versions. No clear definition yet of length of LTS versions.
  • salt-cloud and libcloud : in the next release, libcloud will not be a hard dependency. Some clouds didn't work in libcloud (for example AWS), so these providers got implemented directly in salt-cloud or by using third-party libraries (eg. python-boto).
  • Documentation: a sprint is planned next week. Reference documentation will not be completly revamped, but tutorial content will be added.

Boris Feld showed a demo of vagrant images orchestrated by salt and a web UI to monitor a salt install.

Thanks again to Thomas Hatch for coming and meeting up with (part of) the community here in France.

Compte rendu présentation Salt à Solution Linux

2014/05/21 by Arthur Lutz

Logilab était à l'édition 2014 de Solutions Linux qui se déroulait au CNIT à Paris. David Douard participait à la table ronde sur les outils libres pour la supervision lors de la session Administration Système, Devops, au cours de laquelle un certain nombre de projets libres ont été mentionnés : nagios, shinken, graphite, ElasticSearch, logstash, munin, saltstack, kibana, centreon, rsyslog.

Suite à des présentations sur OpenLDAP, LXC, btrfs et ElasticSearch David Douard a présenté notre approche agile de l'administration système articulée autour de Salt et en particulier le principe de l'administration système pilotée par les tests (diapos) (Test-Driven Infrastructure).

Merci aux organisateurs de Solutions Linux pour cette édition 2014.

Salt April Meetup in Paris (France)

2014/05/14 by Arthur Lutz

On the 15th of april, in Paris (France), we took part in yet another Salt meetup. The community is now meeting up once every two months.

We had two presentations:

  • Arthur Lutz made an introduction to returners and the scheduler using the SalMon monitoring system as an example. Salt is not only about configuration management Indeed!
  • The folks from Is Cool Entertainment did a presentation about how they are using salt-cloud to deploy and orchestrate clusters of EC2 machines (islands in their jargon) to reproduce parts of their production environment for testing and developement.

More discussions about various salty subjects followed and were pursued in an Italian restaurant (photos here).

In case it is not already in your diary : Thomas Hatch is coming to Paris next week, on Monday the 19th of May, and will be speaking at dotscale during the day and at a Salt meetup in the evening. The Salt Meetup will take place at IRILL (like the previous meetups, thanks again to them) and should start at 19h. The meetup is free and open to the public, but registering on this framadate would be appreciated.

Mini compte rendu Meetup Debian à Nantes

2014/03/13 by Arthur Lutz

Hier soir, je suis allé au premier meetup Debian à Nantes. C'était bien sympatique, une vingtaine de personnes ont répondu présent à l'appel de Damien Raude-Morvan et Thomas Vincent. Merci à eux d'avoir lancé l'initiative (le pad d'organisation).


Après un tour de table des participants, et de quelques discussions sur debian en général (et une explication par Damien de l'état de Java dans Debian), Damien a présenté l'association Debian France ainsi que le concours du nouveau contributeur Debian. La liste d'idées est longue et sympatique n'hésitez pas à aller jeter un oeil et faire une contribution.

Ensuite Thomas nous a présenté l'équipe de traduction francaise de debian et ses principles de fonctionnement (qualité avant quantité, listes de discussion, IRC, processus de traduction, etc.).


Finalement, j'ai rapidement présenté Salt et sa place dans Debian. Pour l'archive publique : les diapos de la présentation.

À la prochaine !

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Retour sur MiniDebConf Paris 2014

2014/03/05 by Arthur Lutz

Nous sommes heureux d'avoir participé à la MiniDebConf Paris.

Nous avons sponsorisé l'évenement mais aussi effectué deux présentations :

Avec une cinquantaine de participants sur les deux jours, c'est toujours agréable de rencontrer la communauté francaise autour de Debian. Merci donc à l'association Debian France d'avoir organisé cette conférence.

Second Salt Meetup builds the french community

2014/03/04 by Arthur Lutz

On the 6th of February, the Salt community in France met in Paris to discuss Salt and choose the tools to federate itself. The meetup was kindly hosted by IRILL.

There were two formal presentations :

  • Logilab did a short introduction of Salt,
  • Majerti presented a feedback of their experience with Salt in various professional contexts.

The presentation space was then opened to other participants and Boris Feld did a short presentation of how Salt was used at NovaPost.

We then had a short break to share some pizza (sponsored by Logilab).

After the break, we had some open discussion about various subjects, including "best practices" in Salt and some specific use cases. Regis Leroy talked about the states that Makina Corpus has been publishing on github. The idea of reconciling the documentation and the monitoring of an infrastructure was brought up by Logilab, that calls it "Test Driven Infrastructure".

The tools we collectively chose to form the community were the following :

  • a mailing-list kindly hosted by the AFPY (a pythonic french organization)
  • a dedicated #salt-fr IRC channel on freenode

We decided that the meetup would take place every two months, hence the third one will be in April. There is already some discussion about organizing events to tell as many people as possible about Salt. It will probably start with an event at NUMA in March.

After the meetup was officially over, a few people went on to have some drinks nearby. Thank you all for coming and your participation.

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A Salt Configuration for C++ Development

2014/01/24 by Damien Garaud

At Logilab, we've been using Salt for one year to manage our own infrastructure. I wanted to use it to manage a specific configuration: C++ development. When I instantiate a Virtual Machine with a Debian image, I don't want to spend time to install and configure a system which fits my needs as a C++ developer:

This article is a very simple recipe to get a C++ development environment, ready to use, ready to hack.

Give Me an Editor and a DVCS

Quite simple: I use the YAML file format used by Salt to describe what I want. To install these two editors, I just need to write:



For Mercurial, you'll guess:


You can write these lines in the same init.sls file, but you can also decide to split your configuration into different subdirectories: one place for each thing. I decided to create a dev and editor directories at the root of my salt config with two init.sls inside.

That's all for the editors. Next step: specific C++ development packages.

Install Several "C++" Packages

In a cpp folder, I write a file init.sls with this content:









The choice of these packages is arbitrary. You add or remove some as you need. There is not a unique right solution. But I want more. I want some LLVM packages. In a cpp/llvm.sls, I write:




{% if not grains['oscodename'] == 'wheezy' %}
{% endif %}

The last line specifies that you install the lldb package if your Debian release is not the stable one, i.e. jessie/testing or sid in my case. Now, just include this file in the init.sls one:

# ...
# at the end of 'cpp/init.sls'
  - .llvm

Organize your sls files according to your needs. That's all for packages installation. You Salt configuration now looks like this:

|-- cpp
|   |-- init.sls
|   `-- llvm.sls
|-- dev
|   `-- init.sls
|-- edit
|   `-- init.sls
`-- top.sls

Launching Salt

Start your VM and install a masterless Salt on it (e.g. apt-get install salt-minion). For launching Salt locally on your naked VM, you need to copy your configuration (through scp or a DVCS) into /srv/salt/ directory and to write the file top.sls:

    - dev
    - edit
    - cpp

Then just launch:

> salt-call --local state.highstate

as root.

And What About Configuration Files?

You're right. At the beginning of the post, I talked about a "ready to use" Mercurial with some HG extensions. So I use and copy the default /etc/mercurial/hgrc.d/hgext.rc file into the dev directory of my Salt configuration. Then, I edit it to set some extensions such as color, rebase, pager. As I also need Evolve, I have to clone the source code from With Salt, I can tell "clone this repo and copy this file" to specific places.

So, I add some lines to dev/init.sls.
      - rev: tip
      - target: /opt/local/mutable-history
      - require:
         - pkg: mercurial

      - source: salt://dev/hgext.rc
      - user: root
      - group: root
      - mode: 644

The require keyword means "install (if necessary) this target before cloning". The other lines are quite self-explanatory.

In the end, you have just six files with a few lines. Your configuration now looks like:

|-- cpp
|   |-- init.sls
|   `-- llvm.sls
|-- dev
|   |-- hgext.rc
|   `-- init.sls
|-- edit
|   `-- init.sls
`-- top.sls

You can customize it and share it with your teammates. A step further would be to add some configuration files for your favorite editor. You can also imagine to install extra packages that your library depends on. Quite simply add a subdirectory amazing_lib and write your own init.sls. I know I often need Boost libraries for example. When your Salt configuration has changed, just type: salt-call --local state.highstate.

As you can see, setting up your environment on a fresh system will take you only a couple commands at the shell before you are ready to compile your C++ library, debug it, fix it and commit your modifications to your repository.

SaltStack Paris Meetup on Feb 6th, 2014 - (S01E02)

2013/12/20 by Nicolas Chauvat

Logilab has set up the second meetup for salt users in Paris on Feb 6th, 2014 at IRILL, near Place d'Italie, starting at 18:00. The address is 23 avenue d'Italie, 75013 Paris.

Here is the announce in french

Please forward it to whom may be interested, underlining that pizzas will be offered to refuel the chatters ;)

Conveniently placed a week after the Salt Conference, topics will include anything related to salt and its uses, demos, new ideas, exchange of salt formulas, commenting the talks/videos of the saltconf, etc.

If you are interested in Salt, Python and Devops and will be in Paris at that time, we hope to see you there !

SaltStack Paris Meetup - some of what was said

2013/10/09 by Arthur Lutz

Last week, on the first day of OpenWorldForum 2013, we met up with Thomas Hatch of SaltStack to have a talk about salt. He was in Paris to give two talks the following day (1 & 2), and it was a great opportunity to meet him and physically meet part of the French Salt community. Since Logilab hosted the Great Salt Sprint in Paris, we offered to co-organise the meetup at OpenWorldForum.


About 15 people gathered in Montrouge (near Paris) and we all took turns to present ourselves and how or why we used salt. Some people wanted to migrate from BCFG2 to salt. Some people told the story of working a month with CFEngine and meeting the same functionnality in two days with salt and so decided to go for that instead. Some like salt because they can hack its python code. Some use salt to provision pre-defined AMI images for the clouds (salt-ami-cloud-builder). Some chose salt over Ansible. Some want to use salt to pilot temporary computation clusters in the cloud (sort of like what StarCluster does with boto and ssh).

When Paul from Logilab introduced salt-ami-cloud-builder, Thomas Hatch said that some work is being done to go all the way : build an image from scratch from a state definition. On the question of Debian packaging, some efforts could be done to have salt into wheezy-backports. Julien Cristau from Logilab who is a debian developer might help with that.

Some untold stories where shared : some companies that replaced puppet by salt, some companies use salt to control an HPC cluster, some companies use salt to pilot their existing puppet system.

We had some discussions around salt-cloud, which will probably be merged into salt at some point. One idea for salt-cloud was raised : have a way of defining a "minimum" type of configuration which translates into the profiles according to which provider is used (an issue should be added shortly). The expression "pushing states" was often used, it is probably a good way of looking a the combination of using salt-cloud and the masterless mode available with salt-ssh. salt-cloud controls an existing cloud, but Thomas Hatch points to the fact that with salt-virt, salt is becoming a cloud controller itself, more on that soon.

Mixing pillar definition between 'public' and 'private' definitions can be tricky. Some solutions exist with multiple gitfs (or mercurial) external pillar definitions, but more use cases will drive more flexible functionalities in the future.

Presentation and live demo

For those in the audience that were not (yet) users of salt, Thomas went back to explaining a few basics about it. Salt should be seen as a "toolkit to solve problems in a infrastructure" says Thomas Hatch. Why is it fast ? It is completely asynchronous and event driven.

He gave a quick presentation about the new salt-ssh which was introduced in 0.17, which allows the application of salt recipes to machines that don't have a minion connected to the master.

The peer communication can be used so as to add a condition for a state on the presence of service on a different minion.

While doing demos or even hacking on salt, one can use salt/test/ which makes fake minions, not everyone has hundreds of servers in at their fingertips.

Smart modules are loaded dynamically, for example, the git module that gets loaded if a state installs git and then in the same highstate uses the git modules.

Thomas explained the difference between grains and pillars : grains is data about a minion that lives on the minion, pillar is data about the minion that lives on the master. When handling grains, the grains.setval can be useful (it writes in /etc/salt/grains as yaml, so you can edit it separately). If a minion is not reachable one can obtain its grains information by replacing test=True by cache=True.

Thomas shortly presented saltstack-formulas : people want to "program" their states, and formulas answer this need, some of the jinja2 is overly complicated to make them flexible and programmable.

While talking about the unified package commands (a salt command often has various backends according to what system runs the minion), for example salt-call --local pkg.install vim, Thomas told this funny story : ironically, salt was nominated for "best package manager" at some linux magazine competition. (so you don't have to learn how to use FreeBSD packaging tools).

While hacking salt, one can take a look at the Event Bus (see test/, many applications are possible when using the data on this bus. Thomas talks about a future IOflow python module where a complex logic can be implemented in the reactor with rules and a state machine. One example use of this would be if the load is high on X number of servers and the number of connexions Y on these servers then launch extra machines.

To finish on a buzzword, someone asked "what is the overlap of salt and docker" ? The answer is not simple, but Thomas thinks that in the long run there will be a lot of overlap, one can check out the existing lxc modules and states.

Wrap up

To wrap up, Thomas announced a salt conference planned for January 2014 in Salt Lake City.

Logilab proposes to bootstrap the French community around salt. As the group suggest this could take the form of a mailing list, an irc channel, a meetup group , some sprints, or a combination of all the above. On that note, next international sprint will probably take place in January 2014 around the salt conference.

Rencontre autour de SaltStack lors de l'OpenWorldForum

2013/09/25 by Arthur Lutz

Suite à l'organisation du sprint français autour de SaltStack, nous continuons d'essayer de fédérer la communauté française utilisatrice (ou tout simplement curieuse) de solutions de gestion centralisées autour de la technologie Salt (qui est écrit en Python et que nous pouvons donc facilement adapter à nos besoins en contribuant au projet).

Au sein de l'OpenWorldForum nous animons un SaltStack meetup / BOF le jeudi 3 octobre de 18h30 à 20h30 avec Thomas Hatch fondateur de SaltStack. La totalité de l’événement (dont le meetup) est gratuit, il suffit de s'inscrire.

Logilab tiendra un stand le jeudi et le vendredi lors du forum, n'hésitez pas à venir discuter avec nous. Le TDI (Test-Driven Infrastructure), qui consiste à appliquer le TDD (Test-driven development) (développement piloté par les tests) à l'administration système sera un des thèmes de notre présence.

We hosted the Salt Sprint in Paris

2013/07/30 by Arthur Lutz

Last Friday, we hosted the French event for the international Great Salt Sprint. Here is a report on what was done and discussed on this occasion.

We started off by discussing various points that were of interest to the participants :

  • automatically write documentation from salt sls files (for Sphinx)
  • salt-mine add security layer with restricted access (bug #5467 and #6437)
  • test compatibility of salt-cloud with openstack
  • module bridge bug correction : traceback on KeyError
  • setting up the network in debian (equivalent of rh_ip)
  • configure existing monitoring solution through salt (add machines, add checks, etc) on various backends with a common syntax

We then split up into pairs to tackle issues in small groups, with some general discussions from time to time.

6 people participated, 5 from Logilab, 1 from nbs-system. We were expecting more participants but some couldn't make it at the last minute, or though the sprint was taking place at some other time.

Unfortunately we had a major electricity black out all afternoon, some of us switched to battery and 3G tethering to carry on, but that couldn't last all afternoon. We ended up talking about design and use cases. ERDF (French electricity distribution company) ended up bringing generator trucks for the neighborhood !

Arthur & Benoit : monitoring adding machines or checks

Some unfinished draft code for supervision backends was written and pushed on github. We explored how a common "interface" could be done in salt (using a combination of states and __virtual___). The official documentation was often very useful, reading code was also always a good resource (and the code is really readable).

While we were fixing stuff because of the power black out, Benoit submitted a bug fix.

David & Alain : generate documentation from salt state & salt master

The idea is to couple the SLS description and the current state of the salt master to generate documentation about one's infrastructure using Sphinx. This was transmitted to the mailing-list.

Design was done around which information should be extracted and display and how to configure access control to the salt-master, taking a further look to external_auth and salt-api will probably be the way forward.

General discussions

We had general discussions around concepts of access control to a salt master, on how to define this access. One of the things we believe to be missing (but haven't checked thoroughly) is the ability to separate the "read-only" operations to the "read-write" operations in states and modules, if this was done (through decorators?) we could easily tell salt-api to only give access to data collection. Complex scenarios of access were discussed. Having a configuration or external_auth based on ssh public keys (similar to mercurial-server would be nice, and would provide a "limited" shell to a mercurial server.


The power black out didn't help us get things done, but nevertheless, some sharing was done around our uses cases around SaltStack and features that we'd want to get out of it (or from third party applications). We hope to convert all the discussions into bug reports or further discussion on the mailing-lists and (obviously) into code and pull-requests. Check out the scoreboard for an overview of how the other cities contributed.

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The Great Salt Sprint Paris Location is Logilab

2013/07/12 by Nicolas Chauvat

We're happy to be part of the second Great Salt Sprint that will be held at the end of July 2013. We will be hosting the french sprinters on friday 26th in our offices in the center of Paris.

The focus of our Logilab team will probably be Test-Driven System Administration with Salt, but the more participants and the topics, the merrier the event.

Please register if you plan on joining us. We will be happy to meet with fellow hackers.

photo by Sebastian Mary under creative commons licence.

Mini-DebConf Paris 2012

2012/11/29 by Julien Cristau

Last week-end, I attended the mini-DebConf organized at EPITA (near Paris) by the French Debian association and sponsored by Logilab.

The event was a great success, with a rather large number of attendees, including people coming from abroad such as Debian kernel maintainers Ben Hutchings and Maximilian Attems, who talked about their work with Linux.

Among the other speakers were Loïc Dachary about OpenStack and its packaging in Debian, and Josselin Mouette about his work deploying Debian/GNOME desktops in a large enterprise environment at EDF R&D.

On my part I gave a talk on Saturday about Debian's release team, and the current state of the wheezy (to-be Debian 7.0) release.

On Sunday I presented together with Vladimir Daric the work we did to migrate a computation cluster from Red Hat to Debian. Attendees had quite a few questions about our use of ZFS on Linux for storage, and salt for configuration management and deployment.

Slides for the talks are available on the mini-DebConf web page (wheezy state, migration to debian cluster also viewable on slideshare), and videos will soon be on

Now looking forward to next summer's DebConf13 in Switzerland, and hopefully next year's edition of the Paris event.