Collection of Packer scripts and templates for producing machine images used by our internal projects.
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Utilizes packer to quickly provision VM images for local testing through Virtualbox, QEMU, or Amazon EC2 AMIs for deployment and staging environments.

Requires packer >= 0.3.9 for Amazon block device mapping support and Puppet masterless provisioning. Requires packer >= 0.5.0 for QEMU provisioning.

To generate an image simply run packer specifying the builder and the packer template file. We've included a example template to get the ball rolling.

packer build --only=virtualbox example.json 


packer build --only=qemu example.json 


packer build --only=amazon-ebs example.json 

To authenticate your credentials on Amazon you need the following environment variables defined

export AWS_ACCESS_KEY="..."
export AWS_SECRET_KEY="..."

Using Parcelles as a Submodule

If you wish to keep a project's machine configuration within the same repository as the application code, a simple solution is to pull all the scripts and Puppet manifests from parcelles as a submodule in your project but keep both a private app.json packer template describing specific machine configuration details (disks, region, base AMI, etc) and a site.pp in your project root.

Custom app.json

You can base your app.json on the included example.json, but remember packer uses relative file paths. Change the following to properly load the included modules:

  • ['builders'][0]['http_directory'] from 'http' to 'parcelles/http'
  • ['provisioners'][0]['source'] from 'puppet/hieradata' to $YOUR_PROJECTS_HIERADATA_DIR
  • ['provisioners'][1]['override'][*]['scripts'] from 'scripts/*' to 'parcelles/scripts/*'
  • ['provisioners'][2]['manifest_file'] from 'puppet/site.pp' to $YOUR_PROJECTS_SITE_MANIFEST_FILE
  • ['provisioners'][2]['hiera_config_test'] from 'puppet/hiera.yaml' to 'parcelles/puppet/hiera.yaml'
  • ['provisioners'][2]['module_paths'] from ['puppet/modules'] to ['parcelles/puppet/modules']

Custom site.pp

This is a standard Puppet manifest and supports any valid Puppet syntax from 3.1 and up. See the each module's individual configuration for additional info.

node default {
  Exec {
    path => $::path,

  include base
  include nginx
  include mysql
  include php

  package { 'redis-server':
    ensure => latest,

Validade your configuration with:

packer validate app.json


Most of our infrastructure is based on Ubuntu Server and the provisioning scripts and manifests assume it as the base OS (apt, upstart, etc...). The goal is to get the machine to bootstrap Puppet, sudo permissions, and disk state. All other things are then handled by Puppet.

virtualbox only

Grants the ubuntu user password-less sudo like the default Amazon AMI for Ubuntu Server.

amazon-ebs only

We follow a block device naming convention with for our EBS-backed images and always create a primary partition on the block device (/dev/xvdf -> /dev/xvdf1) instead of formatting it directly. This allows us to grow the EBS disk independent of the partitions contained:

  • /dev/xvdf stores the main database datadir (mongo/mysql). Formated to xfs to allow simple backups through ec2-consistent-snapshot.
  • /dev/xvdg the static data served by the webserver. Formated to ext4.

Installs the latest stable Puppet from the main Puppet Labs repository.

Puppet Modules


Our opinionated touches of what should be present with every Ubuntu.

  • Tracking of bash history with timestamps
  • vim as the default editor.
  • Preconfigured unattended-upgrades for upgrades.
  • Sane tmux defaults.
  • Disable password login through sshd, enable agent forwarding and add authorized keys specified by hiera. Don't forget to create a folder hieradata with a file common.yaml specifying keys in the following format or you may be locked out of the final generated image.
  • ntp clock sync.
  • Other useful utilities such as git, curl, htop, tree...
  • Full dist-upgrade of all packages to latest version
  • Useful EC2 utilities for Amazon images, see ec2tools.

Declare ssh keys to be added in hieradata/common.yaml. They use puppet's create resourse syntax. For each key you need to define the owner, type, actual key signature, and status.


        type: "ssh-rsa"
        key: "AAAABB...AQQwggyfood"
        ensure: "present"
        type: "ssh-rsa"
        key: "AAAAB3...5/gSHiggy1k"
        ensure: "present"


internal usage

ec2-consistent-snapshot and ec2-api-tools along with their respective Perl and Java dependencies. (Required by base)


internal usage

For optimal compatibility with most java applications and tools, we default to using the Oracle JRE7. This module usually is pulled by default by other modules that require Java. (Required by ec2tools and ruby)


Latest stable mongodb from 10gen's (now MongoDB Inc) repository.

  • Mounts the datadir /var/lib/mongodb to the preformatted /dev/xvdf1


Latest mysql-server from Ubuntu's repository.

  • Mounts the datadir /var/lib/mysql to the preformatted /dev/xvdf1.
  • Allows connections from any address (We control permissions through firewall or EC2 security groups).
  • Creates database user ubuntu with super user privileges.


Latest stable nginx from ppa:nginx/stable.

  • Mounts publicly-served directory /srv/www to /dev/xvdg1
  • Includes new default nginx.conf with a few optimizations inspired by HTML5 boilerplate.


Latest stable PHP and common dependencies of PHP applications such as WordPress and Moodle. Sets up socket on /var/run/php5-fpm.sock' so php-fpm` can communicate with nginx (Must specify in your applications nginx vhost configuration).


Installs and compiles Ruby through rbenv along with common gem depencies such as imagemagick and libsqlite3. Defaults to installing Ruby 1.9.3-p448 but you can override. Note the usage of class syntax with parameters instead of include syntax.


  class {'ruby':
    user => 'ubuntu',
    version => '2.0.0-p247'


Big thanks to cpan and rbenv for providing idimotic Puppet resource modules used by parcelles.