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Our Boxen

This is a template Boxen project designed for your organization to fork and modify appropriately. The Boxen rubygem and the Boxen puppet modules are only a framework for getting things done. This repository template is just a basic example of how to do things with them.

Getting Started

To give you a brief overview, we're going to:

  • Install dependencies (basically Xcode)
  • Bootstrap a boxen for your self/team/org/company
  • Then convert your local copy of that boxen to the post-bootstrapped version

There are a few potential conflicts to keep in mind. Boxen does its best not to get in the way of a dirty system, but you should check into the following before attempting to install your boxen on any machine (we do some checks before every Boxen run to try and detect most of these and tell you anyway):

  • Boxen requires at least the Xcode Command Line Tools installed.
  • Boxen will not work with an existing rvm install.
  • Boxen may not play nice with a GitHub username that includes dash(-)
  • Boxen may not play nice with an existing rbenv install.
  • Boxen may not play nice with an existing chruby install.
  • Boxen may not play nice with an existing homebrew install.
  • Boxen may not play nice with an existing nvm install.
  • Boxen recommends installing the full Xcode.


Install the Xcode Command Line Tools and/or full Xcode. This will grant you the most predictable behavior in building apps like MacVim.

How do you do it?

OS X 10.9 (Mavericks)

If you are using b26abd0 of boxen-web or newer, it will be automatically installed as part of Boxen. Otherwise, follow instructions below.

OS X < 10.9

  1. Install Xcode from the Mac App Store.
  2. Open Xcode.
  3. Open the Preferences window (Cmd-,).
  4. Go to the Downloads tab.
  5. Install the Command Line Tools.


Create a new git repository somewhere on the internet. It can be private or public -- it really doesn't matter. If you're making a repository on GitHub, you may not want to fork this repo to get started. The reason for that is that you can't really make private forks of public repositories easily.

Once you've done that, you can run the following to bootstrap your boxen:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/boxen
sudo chown ${USER}:staff /opt/boxen
git clone /opt/boxen/repo
cd /opt/boxen/repo
git remote rm origin
git remote add origin <the location of my new git repository>
git push -u origin master

Now that your boxen is bootstrapped, you can run the following to install the default configuration from this repo:

cd /opt/boxen/repo


That's enough to get your boxen into a usable state on other machines, usually. From there, we recommend setting up boxen-web as an easy way to automate letting other folks install your boxen.

If you don't want to use boxen-web, folks can get using your boxen like so:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/boxen
sudo chown ${USER}:staff /opt/boxen
git clone <location of my new git repository> /opt/boxen/repo
cd /opt/boxen/repo

Keep in mind this requires you to encrypt your hard drive by default. If you do not want to do encrypt your hard drive, you can use the --no-fde.

./script/boxen --no-fde

It should run successfully, and should tell you to source a shell script in your environment. For users without a bash or zsh config or a ~/.profile file, Boxen will create a shim for you that will work correctly. If you do have a ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc, your shell will not use ~/.profile so you'll need to add a line like so at the end of your config:

[ -f /opt/boxen/ ] && source /opt/boxen/

Once your shell is ready, open a new tab/window in your Terminal and you should be able to successfully run boxen --env. If that runs cleanly, you're in good shape.

What You Get

This template project provides the following by default:

  • Homebrew
  • Homebrew-Cask
  • Git
  • Hub
  • dnsmasq w/ .dev resolver for localhost
  • rbenv
  • Full Disk Encryption requirement
  • Node.js 0.8
  • Node.js 0.10
  • Node.js 0.12
  • Ruby 1.9.3
  • Ruby 2.0.0
  • Ruby 2.1.8
  • Ruby 2.2.4
  • ack
  • Findutils
  • GNU tar


You can always check out the number of existing modules we already provide as optional installs under the boxen organization. These modules are all tested to be compatible with Boxen. Use the Puppetfile to pull them in dependencies automatically whenever boxen is run.

Including boxen modules from github (boxen/puppet-)

You must add the github information for your added Puppet module into your Puppetfile at the root of your boxen repo (ex. /path/to/your-boxen/Puppetfile):

# Core modules for a basic development environment. You can replace
# some/most of these if you want, but it's not recommended.

github "repository", "2.0.2"
github "dnsmasq",    "1.0.0"
github "gcc",        "1.0.0"
github "git",        "1.2.2"
github "homebrew",   "1.1.2"
github "hub",        "1.0.0"
github "inifile",    "0.9.0", :repo => "cprice404/puppetlabs-inifile"
github "nginx",      "1.4.0"
github "nodejs",     "2.2.0"
github "ruby",       "4.1.0"
github "stdlib",     "4.0.2", :repo => "puppetlabs/puppetlabs-stdlib"
github "sudo",       "1.0.0"

# Optional/custom modules. There are tons available at

github "java",     "1.6.0"

In the above snippet of a customized Puppetfile, the bottom line includes the Java module from Github using the tag "1.6.0" from the github repository "boxen/puppet-java/releases". The function "github" is defined at the top of the Puppetfile and takes the name of the module, the version, and optional repo location:

def github(name, version, options = nil)
  options ||= {}
  options[:repo] ||= "boxen/puppet-#{name}"
  mod name, version, :github_tarball => options[:repo]

Now Puppet knows where to download the module from when you include it in your site.pp or mypersonal.pp file:

# include the java module referenced in my Puppetfile with the line
# github "java",     "1.6.0"
include java


Hiera is preferred mechanism to make changes to module defaults (e.g. default global ruby version, service ports, etc). This repository supplies a starting point for your Hiera configuration at config/hiera.yml, and an example data file at hiera/common.yaml. See those files for more details.

The default config/hiera.yml is configured with a hierarchy that allows individuals to have their own hiera data file in hiera/users/{github_login}.yaml which augments and overrides site-wide values in hiera/common.yaml. This default is, as with most of the configuration in the example repo, a great starting point for many organisations, but is totally up to you. You might want to, for example, have a set of values that can't be overridden by adding a file to the top of the hierarchy, or to have values set on specific OS versions:

# ...
  - "global-overrides.yaml"
  - "users/%{::github_login}"
  - "osx-%{::macosx_productversion_major}"
  - common

Node definitions

Puppet has the concept of a 'node', which is essentially the machine on which Puppet is running. Puppet looks for node definitions in the manifests/site.pp file in the Boxen repo. You'll see a default node declaration that looks like the following:

node default {
  # core modules, needed for most things
  include dnsmasq

  # more...

How Boxen interacts with Puppet

Boxen runs everything declared in manifests/site.pp by default. But just like any other source code, throwing all your work into one massive file is going to be difficult to work with. Instead, we recommend you use modules in the Puppetfile when you can and make new modules in the modules/ directory when you can't. Then add include $modulename for each new module in manifests/site.pp to include them. One pattern that's very common is to create a module for your organization (e.g., modules/github) and put an environment class in that module to include all of the modules your organization wants to install for everyone by default. An example of this might look like so:

# modules/github/manifests/environment.pp

 class github::environment {
   include github::apps::mac

   include ruby::1-8-7

   include projects::super-top-secret-project

If you'd like to read more about how Puppet works, we recommend checking out the official documentation for:

Creating a personal module

See the documentation in the modules/people directory for creating per-user modules that don't need to be applied globally to everyone.

Creating a project module

See the documentation in the modules/projects directory for creating organization projects (i.e., repositories that people will be working in).

Binary packages

We support binary packaging for everything in Homebrew, rbenv, and nvm. See config/boxen.rb for the environment variables to define.

Sharing Boxen Modules

If you've got a Boxen module you'd like to be grouped under the Boxen org, (so it can easily be found by others), please file an issue on this repository with a link to your module. We'll review the code briefly, and if things look pretty all right, we'll fork it under the Boxen org and give you read+write access to our fork. You'll still be the maintainer, you'll still own the issues and PRs. It'll just be listed under the boxen org so folks can find it more easily.

upgrading boxen

See FAQ-Upgrading.

Integrating with Github Enterprise

If you're using a Github Enterprise instance rather than, you will need to set the BOXEN_GITHUB_ENTERPRISE_URL and BOXEN_REPO_URL_TEMPLATE variables in your Boxen config.


See FAQ.

Use Issues or #boxen on