Building SPM Packages

The first step when using Salt Package Manager is to build packages for each of of the formulas that you want to distribute. Packages can be built on any system where you can install Salt.

Package Build Overview

To build a package, all state, pillar, jinja, and file templates used by your formula are assembled into a folder on the build system. These files can be cloned from a Git repository, such as those found at the saltstack-formulas organization on GitHub, or copied directly to the folder.

The following diagram demonstrates a typical formula layout on the build system:


In this example, all formula files are placed in a myapp-formula folder. This is the folder that is targeted by the spm build command when this package is built.

Within this folder, pillar data is placed in a pillar.example file at the root, and all state, jinja, and template files are placed within a subfolder that is named after the application being packaged. State files are typically contained within a subfolder, similar to how state files are organized in the state tree. Any non-pillar files in your package that are not contained in a subfolder are placed at the root of the spm state tree.

Additionally, a FORMULA file is created and placed in the root of the folder. This file contains package metadata that is used by SPM.

Package Installation Overview

When building packages, it is useful to know where files are installed on the Salt master. During installation, all files except pillar.example and FORMULA are copied directly to the spm state tree on the Salt master (located at \srv\spm\salt).

If a pillar.example file is present in the root, it is renamed to <formula name>.sls.orig and placed in the pillar_path.



Even though the pillar data file is copied to the pillar root, you still need to manually assign this pillar data to systems using the pillar top file. This file can also be duplicated and renamed so the .orig version is left intact in case you need to restore it later.

Building an SPM Formula Package

  1. Assemble formula files in a folder on the build system.

  2. Create a FORMULA file and place it in the root of the package folder.

  3. Run spm build <folder name>. The package is built and placed in the /srv/spm_build folder.

    spm build /path/to/salt-packages-source/myapp-formula
  4. Copy the .spm file to a folder on the repository system.

Types of Packages

SPM supports different types of packages. The function of each package is denoted by its name. For instance, packages which end in -formula are considered to be Salt States (the most common type of formula). Packages which end in -conf contain configuration which is to be placed in the /etc/salt/ directory. Packages which do not contain one of these names are treated as if they have a -formula name.


By default, most files from this type of package live in the /srv/spm/salt/ directory. The exception is the pillar.example file, which will be renamed to <package_name>.sls and placed in the pillar directory (/srv/spm/pillar/ by default).


By default, files from this type of package live in the /srv/spm/reactor/ directory.


The files in this type of package are configuration files for Salt, which normally live in the /etc/salt/ directory. Configuration files for packages other than Salt can and should be handled with a Salt State (using a formula type of package).

Technical Information

Packages are built using BZ2-compressed tarballs. By default, the package database is stored using the sqlite3 driver (see Loader Modules below).

Support for these are built into Python, and so no external dependencies are needed.

All other files belonging to SPM use YAML, for portability and ease of use and maintainability.

SPM-Specific Loader Modules

SPM was designed to behave like traditional package managers, which apply files to the filesystem and store package metadata in a local database. However, because modern infrastructures often extend beyond those use cases, certain parts of SPM have been broken out into their own set of modules.

Package Database

By default, the package database is stored using the sqlite3 module. This module was chosen because support for SQLite3 is built into Python itself.

Please see the SPM Development Guide for information on creating new modules for package database management.

Package Files

By default, package files are installed using the local module. This module applies files to the local filesystem, on the machine that the package is installed on.

Please see the SPM Development Guide for information on creating new modules for package file management.