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Puppet module to help manage Apt

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The APT module provides a simple interface for managing APT source, key, and definitions with Puppet.

Module Description

APT automates obtaining and installing software packages on *nix systems.

**Note:* While this module allows the use of short keys, we STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you DO NOT USE short keys, as they pose a serious security issue in that they open you up to collision attacks.*


What APT affects:

  • package/service/configuration files for APT
  • your system's sources.list file and sources.list.d directory
    • NOTE: Setting the purge_sources_list and purge_sources_list_d parameters to 'true' will destroy any existing content that was not declared with Puppet. The default for these parameters is 'false'.
  • system repositories
  • authentication keys

Beginning with APT

To begin using the APT module with default parameters, declare the class

include apt

Puppet code that uses anything from the APT module requires that the core apt class be declared/\s+$//e


Using the APT module consists predominantly in declaring classes that provide desired functionality and features.


apt provides a number of common resources and options that are shared by the various defined types in this module, so you MUST always include this class in your manifests.

The parameters for apt are not required in general and are predominantly for development environment use-cases.

class { 'apt':
  always_apt_update    => false,
  disable_keys         => undef,
  proxy_host           => false,
  proxy_port           => '8080',
  purge_sources_list   => false,
  purge_sources_list_d => false,
  purge_preferences_d  => false,
  update_timeout       => undef

Puppet will manage your system's sources.list file and sources.list.d directory but will do its best to respect existing content.

If you declare your apt class with purge_sources_list and purge_sources_list_d set to 'true', Puppet will unapologetically purge any existing content it finds that wasn't declared with Puppet.


Installs the build depends of a specified package.

apt::builddep { 'glusterfs-server': }


Forces a package to be installed from a specific release. This class is particularly useful when using repositories, like Debian, that are unstable in Ubuntu.

apt::force { 'glusterfs-server':
  release => 'unstable',
  version => '3.0.3',
  require => Apt::Source['debian_unstable'],


A native Puppet type and provider for managing GPG keys for APT is provided by this module.

apt_key { 'puppetlabs':
  ensure => 'present',
  id     => '4BD6EC30',

You can additionally set the following attributes:

  • source: HTTP, HTTPS or FTP location of a GPG key or path to a file on the target host;
  • content: Instead of pointing to a file, pass the key in as a string;
  • server: The GPG key server to use. It defaults to;
  • keyserver_options: Additional options to pass to --keyserver.

Because it is a native type it can be used in and queried for with MCollective.


Adds a key to the list of keys used by APT to authenticate packages. This type uses the aforementioned apt_key native type. As such it no longer requires the wget command that the old implementation depended on.

apt::key { 'puppetlabs':
  key        => '4BD6EC30',
  key_server => '',

apt::key { 'jenkins':
  key        => 'D50582E6',
  key_source => '',


Adds an apt pin for a certain release.

apt::pin { 'karmic': priority => 700 }
apt::pin { 'karmic-updates': priority => 700 }
apt::pin { 'karmic-security': priority => 700 }

Note you can also specifying more complex pins using distribution properties.

apt::pin { 'stable':
  priority        => -10,
  originator      => 'Debian',
  release_version => '3.0',
  component       => 'main',
  label           => 'Debian'

If you wish to pin a number of packages you may specify the packages as a space delimited string using the packages attribute or pass in an array of package names.


When you wish to hold a package in Puppet is should be done by passing in 'held' as the ensure attribute to the package resource. However, a lot of public modules do not take this into account and generally do not work well with an ensure of 'held'.

There is an additional issue that when Puppet is told to hold a package, it will hold it at the current version installed, there is no way to tell it in one go to install a specific version and then hold that version without using an exec resource that wraps dpkg --set-selections or apt-mark.

At first glance this could also be solved by just passing the version required to the ensure attribute but that only means that Puppet will install that version once it processes that package. It does not inform apt that we want this package to be held. In other words; if another package somehow wants to upgrade this one (because of a version requirement in a dependency), apt should not allow it.

In order to solve this you can use apt::hold. It's implemented by creating a preferences file with a priority of 1001, meaning that under normal circumstances this preference will always win. Because the priority is > 1000 apt will interpret this as 'this should be the version installed and I am allowed to downgrade the current package if needed'.

With this you can now set a package's ensure attribute to 'latest' but still get the version specified by apt::hold. You can do it like this:

apt::hold { 'vim':
  version => '2:7.3.547-7',

Since you might just want to hold Vim at version 7.3 and not care about the rest you can also pass in a version with a glob:

apt::hold { 'vim':
  version => '2:7.3.*',


Adds a ppa repository using add-apt-repository.

apt::ppa { 'ppa:drizzle-developers/ppa': }


Sets the default apt release. This class is particularly useful when using repositories, like Debian, that are unstable in Ubuntu.

class { 'apt::release':
  release_id => 'precise',


Adds an apt source to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/.

apt::source { 'debian_unstable':
  location          => '',
  release           => 'unstable',
  repos             => 'main contrib non-free',
  required_packages => 'debian-keyring debian-archive-keyring',
  key               => '46925553',
  key_server        => '',
  pin               => '-10',
  include_src       => true

If you would like to configure your system so the source is the Puppet Labs APT repository

apt::source { 'puppetlabs':
  location   => '',
  repos      => 'main',
  key        => '4BD6EC30',
  key_server => '',

Hiera example

      location: ''
      release: 'unstable'
      repos: 'main contrib non-free'
      required_packages: 'debian-keyring debian-archive-keyring'
      key: '55BE302B'
      key_server: ''
      pin: '-10'
      include_src: 'true'

      location: ''
      repos: 'main'
      key: '4BD6EC30'
      key_server: ''


The APT module is mostly a collection of defined resource types, which provide reusable logic that can be leveraged to manage APT. It does provide smoke tests for testing functionality on a target system, as well as spec tests for checking a compiled catalog against an expected set of resources.

Example Test

This test will set up a Puppet Labs apt repository. Start by creating a new smoke test in the apt module's test folder. Call it puppetlabs-apt.pp. Inside, declare a single resource representing the Puppet Labs APT source and gpg key

apt::source { 'puppetlabs':
  location   => '',
  repos      => 'main',
  key        => '4BD6EC30',
  key_server => '',

This resource creates an apt source named puppetlabs and gives Puppet information about the repository's location and key used to sign its packages. Puppet leverages Facter to determine the appropriate release, but you can set it directly by adding the release type.

Check your smoke test for syntax errors

$ puppet parser validate tests/puppetlabs-apt.pp

If you receive no output from that command, it means nothing is wrong. Then apply the code

$ puppet apply --verbose tests/puppetlabs-apt.pp
notice: /Stage[main]//Apt::Source[puppetlabs]/File[puppetlabs.list]/ensure: defined content as '{md5}3be1da4923fb910f1102a233b77e982e'
info: /Stage[main]//Apt::Source[puppetlabs]/File[puppetlabs.list]: Scheduling refresh of Exec[puppetlabs apt update]
notice: /Stage[main]//Apt::Source[puppetlabs]/Exec[puppetlabs apt update]: Triggered 'refresh' from 1 events>

The above example used a smoke test to easily lay out a resource declaration and apply it on your system. In production, you may want to declare your APT sources inside the classes where they’re needed.



Adds the necessary components to get backports for Ubuntu and Debian. The release name defaults to $lsbdistcodename. Setting this manually can cause undefined behavior (read: universe exploding).

By default this class drops a Pin-file for Backports pinning it to a priority of 200, lower than the normal Debian archive which gets a priority of 500 to ensure your packages with ensure => latest don't get magically upgraded from Backports without your explicit say-so.

If you raise the priority through the pin_priority parameter to 500, identical to the rest of the Debian mirrors, normal policy goes into effect and the newest version wins/becomes the candidate apt will want to install or upgrade to. This means that if a package is available from Backports it and its dependencies will be pulled in from Backports unless you explicitly set the ensure attribute of the package resource to installed/present or a specific version.


This module should work across all versions of Debian/Ubuntu and support all major APT repository management features.


Puppet Labs modules on the Puppet Forge are open projects, and community contributions are essential for keeping them great. We can’t access the huge number of platforms and myriad of hardware, software, and deployment configurations that Puppet is intended to serve.

We want to keep it as easy as possible to contribute changes so that our modules work in your environment. There are a few guidelines that we need contributors to follow so that we can have a chance of keeping on top of things.

You can read the complete module contribution guide on the Puppet Labs wiki.


The original code for this module comes from Evolving Web and was licensed under the MIT license. Code added since the fork of this module is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License like the rest of the Puppet Labs products.

The LICENSE contains both licenses.


A lot of great people have contributed to this module. A somewhat current list follows:

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