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RightScale Cookbooks

Welcome to the RightScale cookbooks -- your infrastructure, codified!


These cookbooks are available at

These cookbooks are a set of interchangeable parts for your infrastructure written using the open-source systems integration framework called Chef.

They can be used without modification by mixing-and-matching recipes or as a starting point for your own creations. These cookbooks are built for use within RightScale's ServerTemplates to create 3-tier deployment architectures for High Availability in the cloud. These deployments fit the requirements for many auto-scaling HA deployments, however no single infrastructure need is exactly the same -- the source code is provided here to give you the control over how much (or how little) customization you want.

These are your cookbooks!

Each cookbook has its own README file that goes into depth about what it does and how to use it -- this is the information you need if you want to create a runlist or ServerTemplate by mixing and matching recipes.

For a deeper understanding of how to navigate and find things in these cookbooks, be sure to take a look at the DESIGN DETAILS section. This will give you an intro into some of the design patterns and conventions used throughout this collection. NOTE: This section is not for the faint of heart as it deals with some advanced Chef topics.

Whether you are looking to write your own cookbooks or to just make some minor tweaks to these, please see the CUSTOMIZATION section for some best practices regarding overriding vs. forking. We are happy if you modify and make these cookbooks your own, however, if you ever implement a change that you think will be useful to others or would like to see the change folded in to next release, then please feel free to contribute it back. For more information about how to do this see the guidelines under the CONTRIBUTING section.

Some of these cookbooks leverage Chef resources that are specific to the RightScale Platform -- these resources are used for such things as managing machine tags associated with the node, running recipes in parallel and the ability to trigger a "remote recipe" to run on one node to from another. For more information, please see the RIGHTSCALE RESOURCES section below.

These cookbooks have been tested on multiple clouds and multiple operating systems using ServerTemplates on the RightScale Cloud Management Platform.


Many of the cookbooks use the same overarching design and conventions.

Navigating the source

In the cookbooks, resource calls in recipes can be calls to built-in resources, light weight resources, or definitions. Built-in resources are part of Chef and are documented in Chef Resources. Light weight resources are often named the same as one of the cookbooks, but several are just prefixed with the cookbook name such as rightscale_server_collection; they are defined in the resources/ directory (for example the sys_firewall resource is defined in cookbooks/sys_firewall/resources/default.rb and the rightscale_server_collection resource is defined in cookbooks/rightscale/resources/server_collection.rb. Light weight resources have accompanying providers; these are located in the providers/ subdirectories of cookbooks and will either be in the same cookbook as the resource or, in the case of the Abstract Cookbooks (see below) pattern, in the each of the implementation cookbooks. In the RightScale cookbooks, definitions are prefixed with the cookbook name; they are located in the definitions/ directory in the cookbook (for example rightscale_marker is defined in cookbooks/rightscale/definitions/rightscale_marker.rb).

Dependency Resolution

Typically cookbooks depend on other cookbooks for resources, providers, and definitions. If a dependency is not specified in the metadata.rb for a cookbook, its recipes may load without the cookbooks they depend on and will fail to execute. In addition, there are also resources that are set up in recipes from other cookbooks; when setting up a ServerTemplate with these kinds of dependencies, the recipes for those dependent cookbooks need to appear earlier in the boot scripts. This pattern is explained in "The Default Recipe" and "Abstract Cookbooks and LWRPs" below.

The Default Recipe

Some of our cookbooks contains a default.rb recipe. In this recipe we install packages, setup configurations and initialize Chef resources that other cookbooks may depend on. We also setup any prerequisites and attributes that might be needed for the other recipes in the cookbook. Be sure to add the default recipe to your ServerTemplate boot scripts or your Role's runlist before running any other of the recipes in the cookbook. You should also add the default recipe of the cookbooks that your cookbook depends on.

For more information, please see: What is RightScale's Default Pattern.

Abstract Cookbooks and LWRPs

Another convention used in the RightScale cookbooks is the Abstract Cookbook pattern. Typically, this pattern is used to distinguish and decouple server and client installation.

In this pattern the abstract cookbook contains a resource that defines a set of general actions (for example initializing, backing up, and restoring a database) and a set of recipes that use these actions. The default.rb recipe in abstract cookbooks sets up the provider and all provider-specific inputs, and installs the client. The install_server.rb recipe sets all generic server inputs, includes the default.rb recipe and installs the server. The concrete cookbooks contain providers that implement the actions for a specific variety of the abstract cookbook (for example a MySQL or PostgreSQL database) and a setup_server.rb recipe that sets up server specific inputs and hard codes the provider name and version of the server.

This differs slightly from the typical use of Chef Resources and Providers, where both light weight resources and providers are typically contained in the same cookbook.

For an example of an abstract cookbook, please see the "db" cookbook. The corresponding concrete cookbooks are "db_mysql" and "db_postgres".

To group, abstract cookbooks with their concrete cookbooks, each concrete cookbook is prefixed with the name of the abstract cookbook. This can be seen repeated throughout our collection with groupings such as "app", "db", "lb", "logging", "repo", etc.

The only grouping that is currently an exception is the "sys" grouping of cookbooks. These are distinct system related cookbooks.

For more information, please see: Abstract Cookbook Pattern


Definitions are often used for common sequences of resources in recipes that are used in multiple recipes but do not warrant a separate recipe that could be called with include_recipe (for example the db::do_primary_backup and db::do_secondary_backup recipes use the db_do_backup definition that uses a set of resources from the db and block_device cookbooks to perform a database backup).

In addition to housing reusable recipe snippets used within the cookbook, we also use definitions as external methods that other cookbooks can call. For example, rightscale_logrotate_app which allows other cookbooks to add their logrotate configurations while deferring details of logrotate to the rightscale cookbook.

In the RightScale cookbooks, definitions are named with the cookbook name as a prefix so you can easily find which cookbook a definition comes from (for example the rightscale_marker definition is defined in the rightscale cookbook and the db_do_backup definition is defined in the db cookbook).


All of the recipes in the RightScale cookbooks begin with a single call to the rightscale_marker definition which is defined in the rightscale cookbook. It is used for better readability and debugging of the logs of Chef recipe runs. The definition prints log messages with the cookbook and recipe name showing the beginning and end of the recipe run. Note that there is no need for marking the end of a recipe.

12:12:42: *******************************************
12:12:42: *RS>  Running rightscale::default   *******

Including these log lines at the beginning and end of every recipe run allows grouping of recipe logs in "Audit Entries" tab in the RightScale UI.

If you include the rightscale cookbook as dependency of your own cookbook, you can use the rightscale_marker definition as well:



RightScale provides some custom Chef resources that are available when running a RightImage launched from the RightScale platform. These resources include remote_recipe, right_link_tag, server_collection, rs_shutdown, and executable_schedule.

For documentation, see Chef Resources.


If you need to change the behavior of the RightScale cookbooks in a way that cannot be achieved using the inputs or in your own cookbooks, you can use a cookbook override. For more information see Override Chef Cookbooks.


The dependencies for working with the RightScale Cookbooks can be installed with Bundler:

bundle install

Rake Tasks:

  • There are several Rake tasks to check the cookbooks with Foodcritic (Foodcritic currently only works with Ruby 1.9.2 and higher):
    • foodcritic Runs Foodcritic with the standard suite of rules
    • foodcritic_correctness Runs Foodcritic with just the correctness rules
    • foodcritic_syntax Runs Foodcritic with just the syntax rules
  • To generate HTML documentation for the cookbooks run rake yard.


Contributors to the RightScale cookbooks need to agree to and sign the RightScale Contributors Agreement before contributions will be accepted.

To contribute changes back to the RightScale cookbooks:

  1. Fork the repository on GitHub.
  2. Make changes in your forked repository.
  3. Rebase from the master branch.
  4. Make a pull request.


RightScale Cookbooks

Copyright RightScale, Inc. All rights reserved. All access and use subject to the RightScale Terms of Service available at and, if applicable, other agreements such as a RightScale Master Subscription Agreement.

Maintained by the RightScale ServerTemplate Team

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