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Developing Salt

If you want to help develop Salt there is a great need and your patches are welcome!

To assist in Salt development, you can help in a number of ways.

Setting a Github pull request

This is the preferred method for contributions, simply create a Github fork, commit your changes to the fork, and then open up a pull request.

Posting patches to the mailing list

If you have a patch for Salt, please format it via :command:`git format-patch` and send it to the Salt users mailing list. This allows the patch to give you the contributor the credit for your patch, and gives the Salt community an archive of the patch and a place for discussion.

Contributions Welcome!

The goal here is to make contributions clear, make sure there is a trail for where the code has come from, but most importantly, to give credit where credit is due!

The Open Comparison Contributing Docs explains the workflow for forking, cloning, branching, committing, and sending a pull request for the git repository.

git pull upstream develop is a shorter way to update your local repository to the latest version.

Editing and Previewing the Docs

You need sphinx-build to build the docs. In Debian/Ubuntu this is provided in the python-sphinx package.


cd doc; make html
  • The docs then are built in the docs/_build/html/ folder. If you make changes and want to see the results, make html again.
  • The docs use reStructuredText for markup. See a live demo at
  • The help information on each module or state is culled from the python code that runs for that piece. Find them in salt/modules/ or salt/states/

Installing Salt for development

Clone the repository using:

git clone

Create a new virtualenv:

virtualenv /path/to/your/virtualenv

Activate the virtualenv:

source /path/to/your/virtualenv/bin/activate

Install Salt (and dependencies) into the virtualenv:

pip install -e ./salt       # the path to the salt git clone from above


Installing M2Crypto

If you and encounter the error command 'swig' failed with exit status 1 while installing M2Crypto, try installing it with the following command:

env SWIG_FEATURES="-cpperraswarn -includeall -D__`uname -m`__ -I/usr/include/openssl" pip install M2Crypto

Running a self-contained development version

During development it is easiest to be able to run the Salt master and minion that are installed in the virtualenv you created above, and also to have all the configuration, log, and cache files contained in the virtualenv as well.

Copy the master and minion config files into your virtualenv:

mkdir -p /path/to/your/virtualenv/etc/salt
cp ./salt/conf/master.template /path/to/your/virtualenv/etc/salt/master
cp ./salt/conf/minion.template /path/to/your/virtualenv/etc/salt/minion

Edit the master config file:

  1. Uncomment and change the user: root value to your own user.
  2. Uncomment and change the root_dir: / value to point to /path/to/your/virtualenv.
  3. If you are also running a non-development version of Salt you will have to change the publish_port and ret_port values as well.

Edit the minion config file:

  1. Repeat the edits you made in the master config for the user and root_dir values as well as any port changes.
  2. Uncomment and change the master: salt value to point at localhost.
  3. Uncomment and change the id: value to something descriptive like "saltdev". This isn't strictly necessary but it will serve as a reminder of which Salt installation you are working with.

Start the master and minion, accept the minon's key, and verify your local Salt installation is working:

salt-master -c ./etc/salt/master -d
salt-minion -c ./etc/salt/minion -d
salt-key -c ./etc/salt/master -L
salt-key -c ./etc/salt/master -A
salt -c ./etc/salt/master '*'

File descriptor limit

Check your file descriptor limit with:

ulimit -n

If it is less than 1024, you should increase it with:

ulimit -n 1024

Running the tests

You will need mock to run the tests:

pip install mock

If you are on Python < 2.7 then you will also need unittest2:

pip install unittest2

Finally you use to run the tests with the following command:

./ test
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