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Bork - (no longer under development)

Bork puts the 'sh' back into IT. Bork Bork Bork.

Bork is no longer under active development. If you fork it and your fork gets some steam going, please let me know, I'm happy to add you to this list.

Known Active Forks:

the Swedish Chef Puppet of Config Management

Bork is a bash DSL for making declarative assertions about the state of a system.

Bork is written against Bash 3.2 and common unix utilities such as sed, awk and grep. It is designed to work on any UNIX-based system and maintain awareness of platform differences between BSD and GPL versions of unix utilities.


From source

  1. Clone this repository: git clone /usr/local/src/bork

  2. Symlink the bork binaries into your $PATH:

  ln -sf /usr/local/src/bork/bin/bork /usr/local/bin/bork

via Homebrew (Mac OS X)

  1. Install via Homebrew: brew install bork

Usage and Operations

Running bork without arguments will output some help:

bork usage:

bork operation [config-file] [options]

where "operation" is one of:

- check:      perform 'status' for a single command
    example:  bork check ok github mattly/dotfiles
- compile:    compile the config file to a self-contained script output to STDOUT
    --conflicts=(y|yes|n|no)  If given, sets an automatic answer for conflict resolution.
    example:  bork compile --conflicts=y >
- do:         perform 'satisfy' for a single command
    example:  bork do ok github mattly/dotfiles
- satisfy:    satisfy the config file's conditions if possible
- status:     determine if the config file's conditions are met
- types:      list types and their usage information

Let's explore these in more depth:

Assertions and Config Files

At the heart of bork is making assertions in a declarative manner via the ok function. That is, you tell it what you want the system to look like instead of how to make it look like that. An assertion takes a type and a number of arguments. It invokes the type's handler function with an action such as status, install, or upgrade, which determines the imperative commands needed to test the assertion or bring it up to date. There are a number of included types in the types directory, and bork makes it easy to create your own.

Here's a basic example:

ok brew                                       # presence and updatedness of Homebrew
ok brew git                                   # presence and updatedness of Homebrew git package
ok directory $HOME/code                       # presence of the ~/code directory
ok github $HOME/code/dotfiles mattly/dotfiles # presence, drift of git repository in ~/code/dotfiles
cd $HOME
for file in $HOME/code/dotfiles/configs/.[!.]*
do                                            # for each file in ~/code/dotfiles/configs,
  ok symlink "$(basename $file)" $file       # presense of a symlink to file in ~ with a leading dot

When run, bork will test each ok assertion and determine if it's met or not. If not, bork can go ahead and satisfy the assertion by installing, upgrading, or altering the configuration of the item to match the assertion. It will then test the assertion again. Declarations are idempotent -- if the assertion is already met, bork will not do anything.

When you're happy with your config script, you can compile it to a standalone script which does not require bork to run. The compiled script can be passed around via curl, scp or the like and run on completely new systems.

Assertion Types

You can run bork types from the command line to get a list of the assertion types and some basic information about their usage and options.

Generic assertions

          check: runs a given command.  OK if returns 0, FAILED otherwise.

File System

      directory: asserts presence of a directory
           file: asserts the presence, checksum, owner and permissions of a file
       download: asserts the presence of a file compared to an http(s) url
        symlink: assert presence and target of a symlink

Source Control

            git: asserts presence and state of a git repository
         github: front-end for git type, uses github urls

Language Package Managers

            gem: asserts the presence of a gem in the environment's ruby
            npm: asserts the presence of a nodejs module in npm's global installation
            pip: asserts presence of packages installed via pip
          pipsi: asserts presence of pipsi or packages installed via pipsi
            apm: asserts the presence of an atom package
         go-get: asserts the presence of a go package

Mac OS X specific

           brew: asserts presence of packages installed via Homebrew on Mac OS X
       brew-tap: asserts a Homebrew formula repository has been tapped; does NOT assert updatedness of a tap's formula. Use `ok brew` for that.
           cask: asserts presence of apps installed via on Mac OS X
       defaults: asserts settings for OS X's 'defaults' system
            mas: asserts a Mac app is installed and up-to-date from the App Store
                 via the 'mas' utility
         scutil: verifies OS X machine name with scutil

Linux specific:

            apt: asserts packages installed via apt-get on Debian or Ubuntu Linux
            yum: asserts packages installed via yum on CentOS or RedHat Linux
         zypper: asserts packages installed via zypper (SUSE)

User management (currently Linux-only)

          group: asserts presence of a unix group (Linux only, for now)
           user: assert presence of a user on the system

UNIX utilities

       iptables: asserts presence of iptables rule

Runtime Operations

Per the usage guide, bork has a few main modes of operation:

  • status: Reports on the status of the assertions in a config file.
  • satisfy: Checks the status of assertions in a config file, satisfying them where needed.
  • compile: Compiles a config file to a standalone script.
  • check: Performs a status report on a single assertion.
  • do: Performs a satisfy operation on a single assertion.

bork status

The status command will confirm that assertions are met or not, and output their status. It will not take any action to satisfy those assertions. There are a handful of statuses an assertion can return, and this since this mode is the closest bork can do to a true dry run(*) you can use it to test a script against a pre-existing machine.

  • Some types, such as git, need to modify local state by talking to the network (such as performing git fetch), without modifying the things the assertion aims to check.

The status command will give you output such as:

outdated: brew
ok: brew git
missing: brew fish
ok: directory /Users/mattly/code/mattly
conflict (upgradable): github mattly/dotfiles
local git repository has uncommitted changes
ok: symlink /Users/mattly/.gitignore /Users/mattly/code/mattly/dotfiles/configs/gitignore
conflict (clobber required): symlink /Users/mattly/.lein /Users/mattly/code/mattly/dotfiles/configs/lein
not a symlink: /Users/mattly/.lein
mismatch (upgradable): defaults tilesize integer 36
expected type: integer
received type: float
expected value: 36
received value: 55

Each item reports its status like so:

  • ok: The assertion is met as best we can determine.
  • missing: The assertion is not met, and no trace of it ever being met was found.
  • outdated: The assertion is met, but can be upgraded to a newer version.
  • mismatch (upgradable): The assertion is not met as specified, something is different. It can be satisfied easily. An explanation will be given.
  • conflict (upgradable): The assertion is not met as specified. It can be satisfied easily, but doing so may result in data loss.
  • conflict (clobber required): The assertion is not met as specified. Bork cannot currently satisfy this assertion. In the future, it will be able to, but doing so may result in data loss.

bork check ok github mattly/dotfiles

The check command will take a single assertion on the command line and perform a status check as above for it.

bork satisfy

The satisfy command is where the real magic happens. For every assertion in the config file, bork will check its status as described in the status command above, and if it is not ok it will attempt to make it ok, typically via installing or upgrading something -- but sometimes a conflict is detected which could lose data, such as a local git repository having uncommitted changes. In that case, bork will warn you about the problem and ask if you want to proceed. Sometimes conflicts are detected which bork does not know how to resolve — it will warn you about the problem so you can fix it yourself.

bork do ok github mattly/dotfiles

The do command will take a single assertion on the command line and perform a satisfy operation on it as above.

bork compile

The compile command will output to STDOUT a standalone shell script that does not require bork to run. You may pass this around as with any file via curl or scp or whatever you like and run it. Any sub-configs via include will be included in the output, and any type that needs to include resources to do what it does, such as the file type, will include their resources in the script as base64 encoded data.

Custom Types

Writing new types is pretty straightforward, and there is a guide to writing them in the docs/ directory. If you wish to use a type that is not in bork's types directory, you can let bork know about it with the register declaration:

register etc/
ok pgdb my_app_db

Composing Config Files

You may compose config files into greater operations with the include directive with a path to a script relative to the current script's directory.

# this is
include etc/
# this is etc/
# these will be read from the etc/ directory

Taking Further Action on Changes

Bork doesn't have callbacks per-se, but after each assertion there are a handful of functions you can call to take further action:

ok brew fish
if did_install; then
  sudo echo "/usr/local/bin/fish" >> /etc/shells
  chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish

There are four functions to help you take further actions on change:

  • did_install: did the previous assertion result in the item being installed from scratch?
  • did_upgrade: did the previous assertion result in the existing item being upgraded?
  • did_update: did the previous assertion result in either the item being installed or upgraded?
  • did_error: did attempting to install or upgrade the previous assertion result in an error?


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch: git checkout -b feature/my-new-feature
  3. Commit your changes: git commit -am 'Add some feature'
  4. Push to the branch: git push origin feature/my-new-feature
  5. Submit a pull request

Contribution Guidelines

  1. Prefer clarity of intent over brevity. Bash can be an obtuse language, but it doesn't have to be. Many people have said bork has some of the clearest bash code they've ever seen, and that's a standard to strive for.

  2. Favor helper abstractions over arbitrary platform-specific checks. See md5cmd, http, and permission_cmd, and look at how they're used.

  3. Types are independent, stateless, and atomic. Do not attempt to maintain a cache in a type file unless you're talking to the network. An assertion is the whole of the assertion — don't attempt to create a multi-stage assertion type that depends on maintaining state. Find a way to express the whole of the assertion in one go.

  4. Leave Dependency Management to the user. Is a needed binary not installed for a type? Return $STATUS_FAILED_PRECONDITION in your status check. Let the user decide the best way to satisfy any dependencies.


Feel free to join us in IRC:

Requirements / Dependencies

  • Bash 3.2




Apache License 2.0