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Umbrella Project: Chef Workstation


ChefDK is now EOL and will receive no further updates. It has been replaced with Chef Workstation. Download Chef Workstation for the latest features and tools.

ChefDK brings Chef Infra Client and the development tools developed by the Chef Community together and acts as the consistent interface to this awesomeness. This awesomeness is composed of:

This repository contains the code for the chef command. The full package is built with omnibus. Project and component build definitions are in the omnibus directory in this repository.


You can get the latest release of ChefDK from the downloads page.

On macOS, you can also use homebrew-cask to brew cask install chef/chef/chefdk.

Once you install the package, the chef-client suite, berks, kitchen, and this application (chef) will be symlinked into your system bin directory, ready to use.

Pre-release Candidates

The following commands will download the latest ChefDK package from the current channel. The current channel holds builds that have passed testing and are candidates for release. More information about flags supported by available here:

Linux and macOS

In a terminal, run:

curl | sudo bash -s -- -c current -P chefdk

To download a specific version, append the -v flag. EG, -v 0.9.0.


Open up a Powershell command prompt as Administrator and run:

. { iwr -useb } | iex; install -channel current -project chefdk

To download a specific version, append the -version flag. EG, -version 0.9.0.


For help with Berkshelf, Test Kitchen, ChefSpec, [Foodcritic][], Delivery CLI or Push Jobs Client, visit those projects' homepages for documentation and guides. For help with chef-client and knife, visit the Chef documentation and Learn Chef.

The chef Command

Our goal is for chef to become a workflow tool that builds on the ideas of Berkshelf to provide an awesome experience that encourages quick iteration and testing (and makes those things easy) and provides a way to easily, reliably, and repeatably roll out new automation code to your infrastructure.

While we've got a long way to go before we reach that goal we do have some helpful bits of functionality already included in the chef command:

chef generate

The generate subcommand generates skeleton Chef Infra code layouts so you can skip repetitive boilerplate and get down to automating your infrastructure quickly. Unlike other generators, it only generates the minimum required files when creating a cookbook so you can focus on the task at hand without getting overwhelmed by stuff you don't need.

The following generators are built-in:

  • chef generate cookbook Creates a single cookbook.
  • chef generate recipe Creates a new recipe file in an existing cookbook.
  • chef generate attribute Creates a new attributes file in an existing cookbook.
  • chef generate template Creates a new template file in an existing cookbook. Use the -s SOURCE option to copy a source file's content to populate the template.
  • chef generate file Creates a new cookbook file in an existing cookbook. Supports the -s SOURCE option similar to template.

The chef generate command also accepts additional --generator-arg key=value pairs that can be used to supply ad-hoc data to a generator cookbook. For example, you might specify --generator-arg database=mysql and then only write a template for recipes/mysql.rb if context.database == 'mysql'.

chef gem

chef gem is a wrapper command that manages installation and updating of rubygems for the Ruby installation embedded in the ChefDK package. This allows you to install knife plugins, Test Kitchen drivers, and other Ruby applications that are not packaged with ChefDK.

Gems are installed to a .chefdk directory in your home directory; any executables included with a gem you install will be created in ~/.chefdk/gem/ruby/2.1.0/bin. You can run these executables with chef exec, or use chef shell-init to add ChefDK's paths to your environment. Those commands are documented below.

chef exec

chef exec <command> runs any arbitrary shell command with the PATH environment variable and the ruby environment variables (GEM_HOME, GEM_PATH, etc.) setup to point at the embedded ChefDK omnibus environment.

chef shell-init

chef shell-init SHELL_NAME emits shell commands that modify your environment to make ChefDK your primary ruby. It supports bash, zsh, fish and PowerShell (posh). For more information to help you decide if this is desirable and instructions, see "Using ChefDK as Your Primary Development Environment" below.

chef install

chef install reads a Policyfile.rb document, which contains a run_list and optional cookbook version constraints, finds a set of cookbooks that provide the desired recipes and meet dependency constraints, and emits a Policyfile.lock.json describing the expanded run list and locked cookbook set. The Policyfile.lock.json can be used to install the cookbooks on another machine. The policy lock can be uploaded to a Chef Infra Server (via the chef push command) to apply the expanded run list and locked cookbook set to nodes in your infrastructure. See the for further details.

chef push

chef push POLICY_GROUP uploads a Policyfile.lock.json along with the cookbooks it references to a Chef Infra Server. The policy lock is applied to a POLICY_GROUP, which is a set of nodes that share the same run list and cookbook set. This command operates in compatibility mode and has the same caveats as chef install. See the for further details.

chef update

chef update updates a Policyfile.lock.json with the latest cookbooks from upstream sources. It supports an --attributes flag which will cause only attributes from the Policyfile.rb to be updated.

chef diff

chef diff shows an itemized diff between Policyfile locks. It can compare Policyfile locks from local disk, git, and/or the Chef Infra Server, based on the options given.

chef verify

chef verify tests the embedded applications. By default it runs a quick "smoke test" to verify that the embedded applications are installed correctly and can run basic commands. As an end user this is probably all you'll ever need, but verify can also optionally run unit and integration tests by supplying the --unit and --integration flags, respectively.

You can also focus on a specific suite of tests by passing it as an argument. For example chef verify git will only run the smoke tests for the git suite.

WARNING: The integration tests will do dangerous things like start HTTP servers with access to your filesystem and even create users and groups if run with sufficient privileges. The tests may also be sensitive to your machine's configuration. If you choose to run these, we recommend to only run them on dedicated, isolated hosts (we do this in our build cluster to verify each build).

Using ChefDK as Your Primary Development Environment

By default, ChefDK only adds a few select applications to your PATH and packages them in such a way that they are isolated from any other Ruby development tools you have on your system. If you're happily using your system ruby, rvm, rbenv, chruby or any other development environment, you can continue to do so. Just ensure that the ChefDK provided applications appear first in your PATH before any gem-installed versions and you're good to go.

If you'd like to use ChefDK as your primary Ruby/Chef Infra development environment, however, you can do so by initializing your shell with ChefDK's environment.

To try it temporarily, in a new terminal session, run:

eval "$(chef shell-init SHELL_NAME)"

where SHELL_NAME is the name of your shell (usually bash, but zsh is also common). This modifies your PATH and GEM_* environment variables to include ChefDK's paths (run without the eval to see the generated code). Now your default ruby and associated tools will be the ones from ChefDK:

which ruby
# => /opt/chefdk/embedded/bin/ruby

To add ChefDK to your shell's environment permanently, add the initialization step to your shell's profile:

echo 'eval "$(chef shell-init SHELL_NAME)"' >> ~/.YOUR_SHELL_PROFILE

Where YOUR_SHELL_PROFILE is ~/.bash_profile for most bash users, ~/.zshrc for zsh, and ~/.bashrc on Ubuntu.


You can use chef shell-init with PowerShell on Windows.

To try it in your current session:

chef shell-init powershell | Invoke-Expression

To enable it permanently:

"chef shell-init powershell | Invoke-Expression" >> $PROFILE


chef shell-init also supports fish.

To try it:

eval (chef shell-init fish)

To permanently enable:

echo 'eval (chef shell-init SHELL_NAME)' >> ~/.config/fish/

Uninstallation Instructions


You can uninstall ChefDK on Mac using the below commands.

First, remove the main package files:

# Remove the installed files
sudo rm -rf /opt/chefdk

# Remove the system installation entry
sudo pkgutil --forget com.getchef.pkg.chefdk

Next, remove the symlinks which the ChefDK installs:

# Symlinks are in /usr/local/bin
ls -la /usr/local/bin | egrep '/opt/chefdk' | awk '{ print $9 }' | sudo xargs -I % rm -f /usr/local/bin/%


You can use Add / Remove Programs on Windows to remove the Chef Development Kit from your system.


You can use rpm to uninstall ChefDK on RHEL based systems:

rpm -qa *chefdk*
yum remove <package>
rm -rf /opt/chefdk
rm -rf ~/.chefdk


You can use dpkg to uninstall ChefDK on Ubuntu based systems:

dpkg --list | grep chefdk # or dpkg --status chefdk

# Purge chefdk from the system.
# see man dkpg for details
dpkg -P chefdk


For information on contributing to this project see

For ChefDK Developers

See the Development Guide for how to get started with development on the ChefDK itself, as well as details on how dependencies, packaging, and building works.


DEPRECATED: A streamlined development and deployment workflow for Chef Infra platform.




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