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Contributing to Chef Projects

We're glad you want to contribute to a Chef project! This document will help answer common questions you may have during your first contribution.

Submitting Issues

Not every contribution comes in the form of code. Submitting, confirming, and triaging issues is an important task for any project. At Chef we use GitHub to track all project issues.

If you are familiar with Chef and know the component that is causing you a problem, you can file an issue in the corresponding GitHub project. All of our Open Source Software can be found in our Chef GitHub organization. All projects include GitHub issue templates to help gather information needed for a thorough review.

We ask you not to submit security concerns via GitHub. For details on submitting potential security issues please see

In addition to GitHub issues, we also utilize a feedback site that helps our product team track and rank feature requests. If you have a feature request, this is an excellent place to start

Contribution Process

We have a 3 step process for contributions:

  1. Commit changes to a git branch, making sure to sign-off those changes for the Developer Certificate of Origin.
  2. Create a GitHub Pull Request for your change, following the instructions in the pull request template.
  3. Perform a Code Review with the project maintainers on the pull request.

Pull Request Requirements

Chef Projects are built to last. We strive to ensure high quality throughout the experience. In order to ensure this, we require that all pull requests to Chef projects meet these specifications:

  1. Tests: To ensure high quality code and protect against future regressions, we require all the code in Chef Projects to have at least unit test coverage. We use RSpec for unit testing.
  2. Green CI Tests: We use Travis CI and/or AppVeyor CI systems to test all pull requests. We require these test runs to succeed on every pull request before being merged.

Code Review Process

Code review takes place in GitHub pull requests. See this article if you're not familiar with GitHub Pull Requests.

Once you open a pull request, project maintainers will review your code and respond to your pull request with any feedback they might have. The process at this point is as follows:

  1. Two thumbs-up (👍) are required from project maintainers. See the master maintainers document for Chef projects at
  2. Your change will be merged into the project's master branch
  3. Our Expeditor bot will automatically update the project's changelog with your contribution. For projects such as Chef and Chef-DK the version will be automatically incremented and a build kicked off to the project's current channel.

If you would like to learn about when your code will be available in a release of Chef, read more about Chef Release Cycles.

Developer Certification of Origin (DCO)

Licensing is very important to open source projects. It helps ensure the software continues to be available under the terms that the author desired.

Chef uses the Apache 2.0 license to strike a balance between open contribution and allowing you to use the software however you would like to.

The license tells you what rights you have that are provided by the copyright holder. It is important that the contributor fully understands what rights they are licensing and agrees to them. Sometimes the copyright holder isn't the contributor, such as when the contributor is doing work on behalf of a company.

To make a good faith effort to ensure these criteria are met, Chef requires the Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO) process to be followed.

The DCO is an attestation attached to every contribution made by every developer. In the commit message of the contribution, the developer simply adds a Signed-off-by statement and thereby agrees to the DCO, which you can find below or at

Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
    have the right to submit it under the open source license
    indicated in the file; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the
    best of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open
    source license and I have the right under that license to   
    submit that work with modifications, whether created in whole
    or in part by me, under the same open source license (unless
    I am permitted to submit under a different license), as
    Indicated in the file; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
    person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified

(d) I understand and agree that this project and the contribution
    are public and that a record of the contribution (including
    all personal information I submit with it, including my
    sign-off) is maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed
    consistent with this project or the open source license(s)

For more information on the change see the Chef Blog post Introducing Developer Certificate of Origin

DCO Sign-Off Methods

The DCO requires a sign-off message in the following format appear on each commit in the pull request:

Signed-off-by: Julia Child <>

The DCO text can either be manually added to your commit body, or you can add either -s or --signoff to your usual git commit commands. If you forget to add the sign-off you can also amend a previous commit with the sign-off by running git commit --amend -s. If you've pushed your changes to GitHub already you'll need to force push your branch after this with git push -f.

Chef Obvious Fix Policy

Small contributions, such as fixing spelling errors, where the content is small enough to not be considered intellectual property, can be submitted without signing the contribution for the DCO.

As a rule of thumb, changes are obvious fixes if they do not introduce any new functionality or creative thinking. Assuming the change does not affect functionality, some common obvious fix examples include the following:

  • Spelling / grammar fixes
  • Typo correction, white space and formatting changes
  • Comment clean up
  • Bug fixes that change default return values or error codes stored in constants
  • Adding logging messages or debugging output
  • Changes to 'metadata' files like Gemfile, .gitignore, build scripts, etc.
  • Moving source files from one directory or package to another

Whenever you invoke the "obvious fix" rule, please say so in your commit message:

commit 370adb3f82d55d912b0cf9c1d1e99b132a8ed3b5
Author: Julia Child <>
Date:   Wed Sep 18 11:44:40 2015 -0700

  Fix typo in the README.

  Obvious fix.


Release Cycles

Our primary shipping vehicle is operating system specific packages that includes all the requirements of Chef. The packages are built with our Omnibus packing project.

We also release our software as gems to Rubygems but we strongly recommend using Chef packages since they are the only combination of native libraries & gems required by Chef that we test throughly.

Our version numbering roughly follows Semantic Versioning standard. Our standard version numbers look like X.Y.Z which mean:

  • X is a major release, which may not be fully compatible with prior major releases
  • Y is a minor release, which adds both new features and bug fixes
  • Z is a patch release, which adds just bug fixes

After shipping a release of Chef we bump the Minor version by one to start development of the next minor release. All merges to master trigger an increment of the Patch version, and a build through our internal testing pipeline. We do a Minor release approximately every month, which consist of shipping one of the already auto-incremented and tested Patch versions. For example after shiping 12.10.24, we incremented Chef to 12.11.0. From there 18 commits where merged bringing the version to 12.11.18, which we shipped as an omnibus package.

Announcements of releases are made to the chef mailing list when they are available and are mirrored to the #announcements channel on the Chef Community Slack.

Chef Community

Chef is made possible by a strong community of developers and system administrators. If you have any questions or if you would like to get involved in the Chef community you can check out:

Also here are some additional pointers to some awesome Chef content: