So you want to contribute to the Salt project? Excellent! You can help in a number of ways:
Using Salt and opening well-written bug reports.
Joining a working group.
Answering questions on irc, the community Slack, the salt-users mailing list, Server Fault, or r/saltstack on Reddit.
Providing workarounds, patches, or other code without tests.
Telling other people about problems you solved using Salt.
If you’d like to update docs or fix an issue, you’re going to need the Salt repo. The best way to contribute is using Git.
To hack on Salt or the docs you’re going to need to set up your development environment. If you already have a workflow that you’re comfortable with, you can use that, but otherwise this is an opinionated guide for setting up your dev environment. Follow these steps and you’ll end out with a functioning dev environment and be able to submit your first PR.
This guide assumes at least a passing familiarity with Git, a common version control tool used across many open source projects, and is necessary for contributing to Salt. For an introduction to Git, watch Salt Docs Clinic - Git For the True Beginner. Because of its widespread use, there are many resources for learning more about Git. One popular resource is the free online book Learn Git in a Month of Lunches.
We recommend pyenv, since it allows installing multiple different Python versions, which is important for testing Salt across all the versions of Python that we support.
git clone https://github.com/pyenv/pyenv.git ~/.pyenv export PATH="$HOME/.pyenv/bin:$PATH" git clone https://github.com/pyenv/pyenv-virtualenv.git $(pyenv root)/plugins/pyenv-virtualenv
Install pyenv using brew:
brew update brew install pyenv brew install pyenv-virtualenv
Now add pyenv to your
echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.pyenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc pyenv init 2>> ~/.bashrc pyenv virtualenv-init 2>> ~/.bashrc
For other shells, see the pyenv instructions.
Go ahead and restart your shell. Now you should be able to install a new version of Python:
pyenv install 3.7.0
If that fails, don’t panic! You’re probably just missing some build dependencies. Check out pyenv common build problems.
Now that you’ve got your version of Python installed, you can create a new virtual environment with this command:
pyenv virtualenv 3.7.0 salt
Then activate it:
pyenv activate salt
Sweet! Now you’re ready to clone Salt so you can start hacking away! If you get stuck at any point, check out the resources at the beginning of this guide. IRC and Slack are particularly helpful places to go.
Salt uses the fork and clone workflow for Git contributions. See Using the Fork-and-Branch Git Workflow for how to implement it. But if you just want to hurry and get started you can go ahead and follow these steps:
Clones are so shallow. Well, this one is anyway:
git clone --depth=1 --origin salt https://github.com/saltstack/salt.git
This creates a shallow clone of Salt, which should be fast. Most of the
time that’s all you’ll need, and you can start building out other
commits as you go. If you really want all 108,300+ commits you can
git fetch --unshallow. Then go make a sandwich because it’s
gonna be a while.
You’re also going to want to head over to GitHub and create your own fork of Salt. Once you’ve got that set up you can add it as a remote:
git remote add yourname <YOUR SALT REMOTE>
If you use your name to refer to your fork, and
salt to refer to the
official Salt repo you’ll never get
Each time you start work on a new issue you should fetch the most recent
Here at Salt we use pre-commit and
nox to make it easier for
contributors to get quick feedback, for quality control, and to increase
the chance that your merge request will get reviewed and merged. Nox
enables us to run multiple different test configurations, as well as
other common tasks. You can think of it as Make with superpowers.
Pre-commit does what it sounds like: it configures some Git pre-commit
hooks to run
black for formatting,
isort for keeping our imports
pylint to catch issues like unused imports, among
others. You can easily install them in your virtualenv with:
python -m pip install pre-commit nox pre-commit install
Currently there is an issue with the pip-tools-compile pre-commit hook on Windows.
The details around this issue are included here:
Please ensure you export
SKIP=pip-tools-compile to skip pip-tools-compile.
Now before each commit, it will ensure that your code at least looks right before you open a pull request. And with that step, it’s time to start hacking on Salt!
One last prerequisite is to have
imagemagick installed, as it is required
by Sphinx for generating the HTML documentation.
# On Mac, via homebrew brew install imagemagick
# Example Linux installation: Debian-based sudo apt install imagemagick
Perhaps you’ve come to this guide because you found a problem in Salt, and you’ve diagnosed the cause. Maybe you need some help figuring out the problem. In any case, creating quality bug reports is a great way to contribute to Salt even if you lack the skills, time, or inclination to fix it yourself. If that’s the case, head on over to Salt’s issue tracker on GitHub.
Creating a good report can take a little bit of time - but every minute you invest in making it easier for others to reproduce and understand your issue is time well spent. The faster someone can understand your issue, the faster it will be able to get fixed correctly.
The thing that every issue needs goes by many names, but one at least as good as any other is MCVE - Minimum Complete Verifiable Example.
In a nutshell:
Minimum: All of the extra information has been removed. Will 2 or 3 lines of master/minion config still exhibit the behavior?
Complete: Minimum also means complete. If your example is missing information, then it’s not complete. Salt, Python, and OS versions are all bits of information that make your example complete. Have you provided the commands that you ran?
Verifiable: Can someone take your report and reproduce it?
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast - it may feel like you’re taking a long time to create your issue if you’re creating a proper MCVE, but a MCVE eliminates back and forth required to reproduce/verify the issue so someone can actually create a fix.
If you don’t already have an issue in mind, you can search for help wanted issues. If you also search for good first issue then you should be able to find some issues that are good for getting started contributing to Salt. Documentation issues are also good starter issues. When you find an issue that catches your eye (or one of your own), it’s a good idea to comment on the issue and mention that you’re working on it. Good communication is key to collaboration - so if you don’t have time to complete work on the issue, just leaving some information about when you expect to pick things up again is a great idea!
Before approving code contributions, Salt requires:
meaningful passing tests
Documentation fixes just require correct documentation.
If you aren’t into writing documentation or tests, we still welcome your
contributions! But your PR will be labeled
Needs Testcase and
Help Wanted until someone can get to write the tests/documentation.
Of course, if you have a desire but just lack the skill we are more than
happy to collaborate and help out! There’s the documentation working
group and the testing
We also regularly stream our test clinic live on
Twitch every Tuesday afternoon
and Thursday morning, Central Time. If you’d like specific help with
tests, bring them to the clinic. If no community members need help, you
can also just watch tests written in real time.
Salt uses both docstrings, as well as normal reStructuredText files in
salt/doc folder for documentation. Sphinx is used to generate the
documentation, and does require setting up imagemagick on your OS.
Since we use
nox, you can build your docs and view them in your browser
with this one-liner:
python -m nox -e 'docs-html(compress=False, clean=False)'; cd doc/_build/html; python -m webbrowser http://localhost:8000/contents.html; python -m http.server
The first time this will take a while because there are a lot of modules. Maybe you should go grab some dessert if you already finished that sandwich. But once Sphinx is done building the docs, python should launch your default browser with the URL http://localhost:8000/contents.html. Now you can navigate to your docs and ensure your changes exist. If you make changes, you can simply run this:
cd -; python -m nox -e 'docs-html(compress=False, clean=False)'; cd doc/_build/html; python -m http.server
And then refresh your browser to get your updated docs. This one should be quite a bit faster since Sphinx won’t need to rebuild everything.
If your change is a docs-only change, you can go ahead and commit/push
your code and open a PR. You can indicate that it’s a docs-only change by
[Documentation] to the title of your PR. Otherwise you’ll
want to write some tests and code.
Note: If you run into any issues in this section, check the Troubleshooting section.
If you’re going to hack on the Salt codebase you’re going to want to be able to run Salt locally. The first thing you need to do is install Salt as an editable pip install:
python -m pip install -e .
This will let you make changes to Salt without having to re-install it.
After all of the dependencies and Salt are installed, it’s time to set
up the config for development. Typically Salt runs as
root, but you
can specify which user to run as. To configure that, just copy the
master and minion configs. We have .gitignore setup to ignore the
local/ directory, so we can put all of our personal files there.
mkdir -p local/etc/salt/
Create a master config file as
cat <<EOF >local/etc/salt/master user: $(whoami) root_dir: $PWD/local/ publish_port: 55505 ret_port: 55506 EOF
And a minion config as
cat <<EOF >local/etc/salt/minion user: $(whoami) root_dir: $PWD/local/ master: localhost id: saltdev master_port: 55506 EOF
Now you can start your Salt master and minion, specifying the config dir.
salt-master --config-dir=local/etc/salt/ --log-level=debug --daemon salt-minion --config-dir=local/etc/salt/ --log-level=debug --daemon
Now you should be able to accept the minion key:
salt-key -c local/etc/salt -Ay
And check that your master/minion are communicating:
salt -c local/etc/salt \* test.version
Rather than running
test.version from your master, you can run it
from the minion instead:
salt-call -c local/etc/salt test.version
Note that you’re running
salt-call instead of
salt, and you’re
not specifying the minion (
\*), but if you’re running the dev
version then you still will need to pass in the config dir. Now that
you’ve got Salt running, you can hack away on the Salt codebase!
If you need to restart Salt for some reason, if you’ve made changes and they don’t appear to be reflected, this is one option:
kill -INT $(pgrep salt-master) kill -INT $(pgrep salt-minion)
If you’d rather not use
kill, you can have a couple of terminals
open with your salt virtualenv activated and omit the
argument. Salt will run in the foreground, so you can just use ctrl+c to
You can write tests first or tests last, as long as your tests are
meaningful and complete! Typically the best tests for Salt are going
to be unit tests. Testing is a whole topic on its
But you may also want to write functional or integration tests. You’ll
find those in the
When you’re thinking about tests to write, the most important thing to keep in mind is, “What, exactly, am I testing?” When a test fails, you should know:
What, specifically, failed?
Why did it fail?
As much as possible, what do I need to do to fix this failure?
If you can’t answer those questions then you might need to refactor your tests.
When you’re running tests locally, you should make sure that if you remove your code changes your tests are failing. If your tests aren’t failing when you haven’t yet made changes, then it’s possible that you’re testing the wrong thing.
But whether you adhere to TDD/BDD, or you write your code first and your tests last, ensure that your tests are meaningful.
As previously mentioned, we use
nox, and that’s how we run our
tests. You should have it installed by this point but if not you can
install it with this:
python -m pip install nox
Now you can run your tests:
python -m nox -e "pytest-3.7(coverage=False)" -- tests/unit/cli/test_batch.py
It’s a good idea to install
espeak or use
Mac if you’re running some long-running tests. You can do something like
python -m nox -e "pytest-3.7(coverage=False)" -- tests/unit/cli/test_batch.py; espeak "Tests done, woohoo!"
That way you don’t have to keep monitoring the actual test run.
When you write your commit message you should use imperative style. Do this:
Add frobnosticate capability
Don’t do this:
Added frobnosticate capability
But that advice is backwards for the changelog. We follow the
keepachangelog approach for
our changelog, and use towncrier to generate it for each release. As a
contributor, all that means is that you need to add a file to the
salt/changelog directory, using the
<issue #>.<type> format. For
instanch, if you fixed issue 123, you would do:
echo "Made sys.doc inform when no minions return" > changelog/123.fixed
And that’s all that would go into your file. When it comes to your commit message, it’s usually a good idea to add other information, such as
What does a reviewer need to know about the change that you made?
If someone isn’t an expert in this area, what will they need to know?
This will also help you out, because when you go to create the PR it will automatically insert the body of your commit messages.
Once you’ve done all your dev work and tested locally, you should check out our PR guidelines. After you read that page, it’s time to open a new PR. Fill out the PR template - you should have updated or created any necessary docs, and written tests if you’re providing a code change. When you submit your PR, we have a suite of tests that will run across different platforms to help ensure that no known bugs were introduced.
You’ve made your changes, added documentation, opened your PR, and have passing tests… now what? When can you expect your code to be merged?
When you open your PR, a reviewer will get automatically assigned. If your PR is submitted during the week you should be able to expect some kind of communication within that business day. If your tests are passing and we’re not in a code freeze, ideally your code will be merged that day. If you haven’t heard from your assigned reviewer, ping them on GitHub, irc, or Community Slack.
It’s likely that your reviewer will leave some comments that need addressing - it may be a style change, or you forgot a changelog entry, or need to update the docs. Maybe it’s something more fundamental - perhaps you encountered the rare case where your PR has a much larger scope than initially assumed.
Whatever the case, simply make the requested changes (or discuss why the requests are incorrect), and push up your new commits. If your PR is open for a significant period of time it may be worth rebasing your changes on the most recent changes to Salt. If you need help, the previously linked Git resources will be valuable.
But if, for whatever reason, you’re not interested in driving your PR to completion then just note that in your PR. Something like, “I’m not interested in writing docs/tests, I just wanted to provide this fix - someone else will need to complete this PR.” If you do that then we’ll add a “Help Wanted” label and someone will be able to pick up the PR, make the required changes, and it can eventually get merged in.
In any case, now that you have a PR open, congrats! You’re a Salt developer! You rock!
Once the minion starts, you may see an error like the following:
zmq.core.error.ZMQError: ipc path "/path/to/your/virtualenv/var/run/salt/minion/minion_event_7824dcbcfd7a8f6755939af70b96249f_pub.ipc" is longer than 107 characters (sizeof(sockaddr_un.sun_path)).
This means that the path to the socket the minion is using is too long. This is a system limitation, so the only workaround is to reduce the length of this path. This can be done in a couple different ways:
Create your virtualenv in a path that is short enough.
Edit the :conf_minion:
sock_dir minion config variable and reduce
its length. Remember that this path is relative to the value you set
NOTE: The socket path is limited to 107 characters on Solaris and Linux, and 103 characters on BSD-based systems.
If you forget to pass your config path to any of the
you might see
No permissions to access "/var/log/salt/master", are you running as the correct user?
-c local/etc/salt (or whatever you named it)
You might need to raise your file descriptor limit. You can check it with:
If the value is less than 3072, you should increase it with:
ulimit -n 3072 # For c-shell: limit descriptors 3072
You may see some failure messages when installing requirements. You can directly access your nox environment and possibly install pygit (or other dependency) that way. When you run nox, you’ll see a message like this:
nox > Re-using existing virtual environment at .nox/pytest-parametrized-3-crypto-none-transport-zeromq-coverage-false.
For this, you would be able to install with:
.nox/pytest-parametrized-3-crypto-none-transport-zeromq-coverage-false/bin/python -m pip install pygit2