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Easily create full-stack installers for your project across a variety of platforms.

Omnibus Icon Omnibus

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Easily create full-stack installers for your project across a variety of platforms.

Seth Chisamore and Christopher Maier of CHEF gave an introductory talk on Omnibus at ChefConf 2013, entitled Eat the Whole Bowl: Building a Full-Stack Installer with Omnibus:

This project is managed by the CHEF Release Engineering team. For more information on the Release Engineering team's contribution, triage, and release process, please consult the CHEF Release Engineering OSS Management Guide.


Omnibus is designed to run with a minimal set of prerequisites. You will need the following:

  • Ruby 1.9+
  • Bundler

Get Started

Omnibus provides both a DSL for defining Omnibus projects for your software, as well as a command-line tool for generating installer artifacts from that definition.

To get started, install Omnibus locally on your workstation.

$ gem install omnibus

You can now create an Omnibus project in your current directory by using the project generator feature.

$ omnibus project $MY_PROJECT_NAME

This will generate a complete project skeleton in the directory omnibus-$MY_PROJECT_NAME

This minimal project will actually build.

$ cd omnibus-$MY_PROJECT_NAME
$ bundle install --binstubs
$ bin/omnibus build project $MY_PROJECT_NAME

More details can be found in the generated project README file.

More documentation

If you are creating OSX packages, please see the OSX-specifc documentation.

Configuration DSL

Though the template project will build, it won't do anything exciting. For that, you'll need to use the Omnibus DSL to define the specifics of your own application.


Omnibus "software" files define individual software components that go into making your overall package. They are the building blocks of your application. The Software DSL provides a way to define where to retrieve the software sources, how to build them, and what dependencies they have. These dependencies are also defined in their own Software DSL files, thus forming the basis for a dependency-aware build ordering.

All Software definitions should go in the config/software directory of your Omnibus project repository.

CHEF has created software definitions for a number of commonly-needed components, available in the omnibus-software repository. When you create a new project skeleton using Omnibus, this is automatically added to the project's Gemfile, making all these software definitions available to you. (If you prefer, however, you can write your own versions of these same definitions in your project repository; local copies in config/software have precedence over anything from the omnibus-software repository.)

An example:

name 'ruby'
default_version '1.9.2-p290'
source url: '{version}.tar.gz',
       md5: '604da71839a6ae02b5b5b5e1b792d5eb'

dependency 'zlib'
dependency 'ncurses'
dependency 'openssl'

relative_path "ruby-#{version}"

build do
  command './configure'
  command 'make'
  command 'make install'

Some of the DSL methods available include:

DSL Method Description
name The name of the software component (this should come first)
default_version The version of the software component
source Directions to the location of the source
dependency An Omnibus software-defined component that this software depends on
relative_path The relative path of the extracted tarball
build The build instructions
command An individual build step

You can support building multiple verisons of the same software in the same software definition file using the version method and giving a block:

name 'ruby'
default_version '1.9.2-p290'

version '1.9.2-p290' do
  source url: '{version}.tar.gz',
         md5: '604da71839a6ae02b5b5b5e1b792d5eb'

version '2.1.1' do
  source url: '{version}.tar.gz',
         md5: 'e57fdbb8ed56e70c43f39c79da1654b2'

Since the software definitions are simply ruby code, you can conditionally execute anything by wrapping it with pure ruby that tests for the version number.

For more DSL methods, please consult the documentation.


A Project DSL file defines your actual application; this is the thing you are creating a full-stack installer for in the first place. It provides a means to define the dependencies of the project (again, as specified in Software DSL definition files), as well as ways to set installer package metadata.

All Project definitions (yes, you can have more than one) should go in the config/projects directory of your Omnibus project repository.

name            'chef-full'
maintainer      'YOUR NAME'
homepage        ''

install_path    '/opt/chef'
build_version   '0.10.8'
build_iteration 4

dependency 'chef'

Some DSL methods available include:

DSL Method Description
name The name of the project
install_path The desired install location of the package
build_version The package version
build_iteration The package iteration number
dependency An Omnibus software-defined component to include in this package

For more information, please see the documentation.


A note on builds

As stated above, the generated project skeleton can run "as-is". However, Omnibus determines the platform for which to build an installer based on the platform it is currently running on. That is, you can only generate a .deb file for Ubuntu if you're actually running Omnibus on Ubuntu.

This is currently achieved using Test Kitchen, which is included with any newly generated Omnibus project.


The project definitions can override specific software dependencies by passing in override to use the correct version:

name 'chef-full'
# <snip>

# This will override the default version of "chef"
override :chef, version: '2.1.1'

dependency 'chef'

There is no checking that the version override that you supply has been provided in a version override block in the software definition.

Git caching

As of Omnibus 3.0.0, projects are no longer built using rake. Instead, we have rewritten the software dependencies to leverage git caching. This means we cache compiled software definitions, so future Omnibus project builds are much faster.

For more information on potential breaking changes, please see the CHANGELOG entry for Omnibus 3.0.0.


Copyright 2012-2014 Chef Software, Inc.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.
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