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Native Facter

An implementation of facter functionality in C++11, providing:

  • a shared library which gather facts about the system
  • an executable for standalone command line usage
  • a ruby file to enable require 'facter'.

Please see our extensibility document to learn more about extending native facter using custom and external facts.

Build Requirements

  • GCC 4.8+ or Clang 5.0+ (OSX)
  • CMake >= 2.8.12
  • Boost C++ Libraries >= 1.54
  • yaml-cpp >= 0.5.1

Optional Build Libraries

  • OpenSSL - enables SSH fingerprinting facts.
  • libblkid (Linux only) - enables the partitions fact.
  • libcurl >= 7.18.0 - enables facts that perform HTTP requests.

Initial Setup

Note: Testing custom facts requires Ruby 1.9+ with libruby built as a dynamic library; that often implies development builds of Ruby.

Setup on Fedora 20

The following will install all required tools and libraries:

yum install cmake boost-devel openssl-devel yaml-cpp-devel libblkid-devel libcurl-devel gcc-c++ make

Setup on Mac OSX Mavericks (homebrew)

This assumes Clang is installed and the system OpenSSL libraries will be used.

The following will install all required libraries:

brew install cmake boost yaml-cpp

Setup on Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty)

The following will install most required tools and libraries:

apt-get install build-essential cmake libboost-all-dev libssl-dev libyaml-cpp-dev libblkid-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev

Setup on Windows

MinGW-w64 is used for full C++11 support, and Chocolatey can be used to install. You should have at least 2GB of memory for compilation.

  • install CMake
  • install MinGW-w64

    choco install mingw --params "/threads:win32"

For the remaining tasks, build commands can be executed in the shell from Start > MinGW-w64 project > Run Terminal

  • select an install location for dependencies, such as C:\tools or cmake\release\ext; we'll refer to it as $install

  • build Boost

    .\bootstrap mingw
    .\b2 toolset=gcc --build-type=minimal install --prefix=$install --with-program_options --with-system --with-filesystem --with-date_time --with-thread --with-regex --with-log --with-locale --with-chrono boost.locale.iconv=off
  • build yaml-cpp

    cmake -G "MinGW Makefiles" -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=$install -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$install .
    mingw32-make install

In Powershell:

choco install cmake 7zip.commandline -y
choco install mingw --params "/threads:win32" -y
$env:PATH = "C:\tools\mingw64\bin;$env:PATH"
$install = "C:\tools"

(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile("https://downloads.sourceforge.net/boost/boost_1_54_0.7z", "$pwd/boost_1_54_0.7z")
7za x boost_1_54_0.7z
pushd boost_1_54_0
.\bootstrap mingw
.\b2 toolset=gcc --build-type=minimal install --prefix=$install --with-program_options --with-system --with-filesystem --with-date_time --with-thread --with-regex --with-log --with-locale --with-chrono boost.locale.iconv=off

(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile("https://yaml-cpp.googlecode.com/files/yaml-cpp-0.5.1.tar.gz", "$pwd/yaml-cpp-0.5.1.tar.gz")
7za x yaml-cpp-0.5.1.tar.gz
7za x yaml-cpp-0.5.1.tar
pushd yaml-cpp-0.5.1
cmake -G "MinGW Makefiles" -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH="$install" -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX="$install" .
mingw32-make install

Note that OpenSSL isn't needed on Windows.


All of the following examples start by assuming the current directory is the root of the repo.

Note the use of git submodules, so use git submodule update --init to ensure the submodules are populated.

On Windows, add -G "MinGW Makefiles" -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=\<binary install path\> -DBOOST_STATIC=ON to the cmake invocation.

Before building facter, use cmake to generate build files:

$ mkdir release
$ cd release
$ cmake ..

To generate build files with debug information:

$ mkdir debug
$ cd debug
$ cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug ..


To build facter, use 'make':

$ cd release
$ make

To build facter with debug information:

$ cd debug
$ make


You can run facter from where it was built:

$ release/bin/facter

For a debug build:

$ debug/bin/facter


You can run facter tests using the test target:

$ cd release
$ make test

For a debug build:

$ cd debug
$ make test

For verbose test output, run ctest instead of using the test target:

$ cd release
$ ctest -V

To run ruby tests (make install required):

$ cd lib
$ rspec


You can install facter into your system:

$ cd release
$ make && sudo make install

By default, facter will install files into /usr/local/bin, /usr/local/lib, and /usr/local/include. If the project is configured with Ruby in the PATH, facter.rb will be installed to that Ruby's vendor dir.

To install to a different location, set the install prefix:

$ cd release
$ make clean install

This would install facter into ~/bin, ~/lib, and ~/include.

Ruby Usage

Using the Ruby API requires that facter.rb is installed into the Ruby load path, as done in the previous install steps.

    require 'facter'

    # Use the Facter API...
    puts "kernel: #{Facter.value(:kernel)}"


Run the following command to remove files that were previously installed:

$ sudo xargs rm < release/install_manifest.txt


To generate API documentation, install doxygen 1.8.7 or later.

$ cd lib
$ doxygen

To view the documentation, open lib/html/index.html in a web browser.