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Chef

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344
Packer

538
501
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42
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Chef vs Packer: What are the differences?

What is Chef? Build, destroy and rebuild servers on any public or private cloud. Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

What is Packer? Create identical machine images for multiple platforms from a single source configuration. Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.

Chef can be classified as a tool in the "Server Configuration and Automation" category, while Packer is grouped under "Infrastructure Build Tools".

Some of the features offered by Chef are:

  • Access to 800+ Reusable Cookbooks
  • Integration with Leading Cloud Providers
  • Enterprise Platform Support including Windows and Solaris

On the other hand, Packer provides the following key features:

  • Super fast infrastructure deployment. Packer images allow you to launch completely provisioned and configured machines in seconds, rather than several minutes or hours.
  • Multi-provider portability. Because Packer creates identical images for multiple platforms, you can run production in AWS, staging/QA in a private cloud like OpenStack, and development in desktop virtualization solutions such as VMware or VirtualBox.
  • Improved stability. Packer installs and configures all the software for a machine at the time the image is built. If there are bugs in these scripts, they'll be caught early, rather than several minutes after a machine is launched.

"Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" is the primary reason why developers consider Chef over the competitors, whereas "Cross platform builds" was stated as the key factor in picking Packer.

Chef and Packer are both open source tools. Packer with 9.1K GitHub stars and 2.47K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Chef with 5.86K GitHub stars and 2.36K GitHub forks.

Airbnb, Facebook, and Slack are some of the popular companies that use Chef, whereas Packer is used by Instacart, Oscar Health, and Razorpay. Chef has a broader approval, being mentioned in 360 company stacks & 80 developers stacks; compared to Packer, which is listed in 115 company stacks and 21 developer stacks.

Advice on Chef and Packer
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Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef
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AnsibleAnsible

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
AnsibleAnsible

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa
Recommends
KubernetesKubernetes
at

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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Pros of Chef
Pros of Packer
  • 109
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 76
    Reusable components
  • 47
    Integration testing with Vagrant
  • 43
    Repeatable
  • 30
    Mock testing with Chefspec
  • 14
    Ruby
  • 8
    Can package cookbooks to guarantee repeatability
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 3
    Has marketplace where you get readymade cookbooks
  • 3
    Matured product with good community support
  • 2
    Less declarative more procedural
  • 2
    Open source configuration mgmt made easy(ish)
  • 27
    Cross platform builds
  • 9
    Vm creation automation
  • 4
    Bake in security
  • 1
    Good documentation
  • 1
    Easy to use

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What is Chef?

Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

What is Packer?

Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.

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What companies use Chef?
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What are some alternatives to Chef and Packer?
Ansible
Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
Puppet Labs
Puppet is an automated administrative engine for your Linux, Unix, and Windows systems and performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.
Terraform
With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
Jenkins
In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
Capistrano
Capistrano is a remote server automation tool. It supports the scripting and execution of arbitrary tasks, and includes a set of sane-default deployment workflows.
See all alternatives