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An attempt to make a better server provisioning system
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Pawnee - making server provisioning easier

[NOTE: This is still a work in progress and not ready for use yet]


You may wonder why do we need another provisioning system, here's my answer.


This system will:

  1. Setup recipes as gems
    • Gems get prefixed so you can search for them
    • Gems inherit from main gem
  2. Gems recipes can be overridden in a rails folder
    • either by a load path solution or monkeypatching
      • they have a classname that can be predicted from the gem name
        • so anything that overrides that class can monkeypatch or replace parts of it
  3. It should use bundler
    • so you just list the things you need on your server in a certain group (that only gets run on when installing)
    • you could use :path => '...'
    • the gems don't install the things in a bundle, just provide a task you can run to set them up
  4. It should run gems locally or remote
    • based on the --servers option passed in
  5. It should integrate with capistrano
    • we need a place to store server info....
      • redis somewhere?
      • Serverfile/Serverfile.lock
    • the servers and roles should be maintained by this system
    • but deploying should be a separate thing (not like rubber)
  6. It should use thor for template stuff
    • and just overwrite it so files get copied to remote destinations if needed
  7. It should be able to go up to root
    • you should be able to login as one user and as long as they are a sudoer all commands should be able to jump up to root when needed

A note on idempotence. Being idempotent is a big selling point for chef. Pawnee strives for idempotence but provides it in different ways. For example, where chef would provide a more dsl like way to declare what to do when changes are made, pawnee tries to avoid too much DSL, so the recipe developer will need to be aware that the task may be run multiple times. We find that either way the recipe developer needs to understand this situation, and with the Pawnee way, its made clearer in the code.


Add any pawnee gem's you want to use to bundler:

gem 'pawnee-nginx'

You can see currently available recipe gems here

Or you can create your own recipy gems


Config File

Setup a config/pawnee.yml file. In this file you can specify any options you want to pass along with the servers:

Here's an example config with server's:

      - domain:
        roles: [nginx, unicorn]
      - domain:
        roles: [unicorn]

Then run:

    bundle exec pawnee setup


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request

Pawnee Provides Helpers For:

  • files
  • directories
  • packages
  • service calls (via invoking methods in other recipes)
  • compile (untar/make/make install)
  • users
  • cron? not complete
  • env not complete

Standard Tasks

Pawnee defined some convention for task names so all gem's can provide standard ways to call things

- #setup
- #teardown
- #restart
- #stop
- #start


In a task, recipes can access and change the self.options hash. These values will be passed from one task to another. Gem tasks will be executed in the order they are defined in bundler (at the moment, this may change)


standard config options:

  • servers
  • git_repo_url
  • web_root
  • aws...
  • s3...

exposed by unicorn for example

app_server_locations ['localhost:3000', 'localhost:3001'] - gets picked up on by nginx maybe?

ThorSsh Extensions to Thor

We make a few modifications to allow it to be used as the base to pawnee 1) We make it so all actions can be run either locally or remotely via ssh through the thor-ssh gem 2) We make options mutable and use that to allow the passing around of options

server connection system

  • fog
  • looks at fog api and tags to figure out what servers are running and their roles

core gem

  • provides dsl features for setting stuff up
    • packages ['...', '...'] # uses apt
    • file copy in with erb
  • all DSL commands can be run either locally or remote
    • so file copy uploads if needed
  • provides setup for defaults
    • ec2/s3 credentials
    • deploy_path(/mnt/[name])
  • provides generator for building new gems


  • include in deploy.rb to setup servers and roles
  • standard cap deploy


  • gems define a roles they provide
    • [logically, this can only be one role right?]
    • multiple gems can provide the same role, but one gem can not provide multiple
  • you say which roles you want to run (as --roles)
  • servers say which roles they provide

1) list of gems that run the listed roles 2) run on each server that provides

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