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The inspec Packer provisioner allows inspec profiles to be run to test the machine.
InSpec - Provisioners

InSpec Provisioner

@include 'packer-plugin-sdk/provisioners/unmaintained-plugin.mdx'

Type: inspec

The inspec Packer provisioner runs InSpec profiles. It dynamically creates a target configured to use SSH, runs an SSH server, executes inspec exec, and marshals InSpec tests through the SSH server to the machine being provisioned by Packer.

-> Note: Inspec is required to be installed on the host machine and available in it's corresponding path. It is not required to be installed on the provisioned image.

Basic Example

This is a fully functional template that will test an image on DigitalOcean. Replace the mock api_token value with your own.

source "digitalocean" "example"{
    api_token = "<digital ocean api token>"
    image     = "ubuntu-14-04-x64"
    region    = "sfo1"

build {
    sources = [
    provisioner "inspec" {
        profile = ""
  "provisioners": [
      "type": "inspec",
      "profile": ""

  "builders": [
      "type": "digitalocean",
      "api_token": "<digital ocean api token>",
      "image": "ubuntu-14-04-x64",
      "region": "sfo1"

Configuration Reference

Required Parameters:

  • profile (string) - The profile to be executed by InSpec.

Optional Parameters:

  • inspec_env_vars (array of strings) - Environment variables to set before running InSpec. Usage example:
   inspec_env_vars = [ "FOO=bar" ]
  "inspec_env_vars": [ "FOO=bar" ]
  • command (string) - The command to invoke InSpec. Defaults to inspec.

  • extra_arguments (array of strings) - Extra arguments to pass to InSpec. These arguments will not be passed through a shell and arguments should not be quoted. Usage example:

   extra_arguments = [ "--sudo", "--reporter", "json" ]
  "extra_arguments": [ "--sudo", "--reporter", "json" ]
  • attributes (array of strings) - Attribute Files used by InSpec which will be passed to the --input-file argument of the inspec command when this provisioner runs InSpec. Specify this if you want a different location. Note that also using "--input-file" in extra_arguments will override this setting.

  • attributes_directory (string) - The directory in which to place the temporary generated InSpec Attributes file. By default, this is the system-specific temporary file location. The fully-qualified name of this temporary file will be passed to the --input-file argument of the inspec command when this provisioner runs InSpec. Specify this if you want a different location.

  • backend (string) - Backend used by InSpec for connection. Defaults to ssh.

  • host (string) - Host used for by InSpec for connection. Defaults to localhost.

  • local_port (uint) - The port on which to attempt to listen for SSH connections. This value is a starting point. The provisioner will attempt to listen for SSH connections on the first available of ten ports, starting at local_port. A system-chosen port is used when local_port is missing or empty.

  • ssh_host_key_file (string) - The SSH key that will be used to run the SSH server on the host machine to forward commands to the target machine. InSpec connects to this server and will validate the identity of the server using the system known_hosts. The default behavior is to generate and use a one-time key.

  • ssh_authorized_key_file (string) - The SSH public key of the InSpec ssh_user. The default behavior is to generate and use a onetime key. If this key is generated, the corresponding private key is passed to inspec command with the -i inspec_ssh_private_key_file option.

  • user (string) - The --user to use. Defaults to the user running Packer.

  • valid_exit_codes (list of ints) - A list of valid exit codes returned by inspec to be accepted by the provisioner. The default is (0,101) (accept skipped tests). See InSpec exit codes for a list and explanation of inspec exit codes.

@include 'packer-plugin-sdk/provisioners/common-config.mdx'

Accepting the InSpec license

Chef InSpec requires accepting the license before starting to use the tool. This can be done via inspec_env_vars in the template:

 provisioner "inspec" {
    inspec_env_vars = [ "CHEF_LICENSE=accept"]
    profile         = ""
  "provisioners": [
        "type": "inspec",
        "inspec_env_vars": [ "CHEF_LICENSE=accept"],
        "profile": ""

See their official docs to learn other ways to accept the license.

Default Extra Variables

In addition to being able to specify extra arguments using the extra_arguments configuration, the provisioner automatically defines certain commonly useful InSpec Attributes:

  • packer_build_name is set to the name of the build that Packer is running. This is most useful when Packer is making multiple builds and you want to distinguish them slightly when using a common profile.

  • packer_builder_type is the type of the builder that was used to create the machine that the script is running on. This is useful if you want to run only certain parts of the profile on systems built with certain builders.


To debug underlying issues with InSpec, add "-l" to "extra_arguments" to enable verbose logging.

  extra_arguments = ["-l", "debug"]
  "extra_arguments": ["-l", "debug"]