Standalone Minion

Since the Salt minion contains such extensive functionality it can be useful to run it standalone. A standalone minion can be used to do a number of things:

  • Use salt-call commands on a system without connectivity to a master

  • Masterless States, run states entirely from files local to the minion


When running Salt in masterless mode, it is not required to run the salt-minion daemon. By default the salt-minion daemon will attempt to connect to a master and fail. The salt-call command stands on its own and does not need the salt-minion daemon.

As of version 2016.11.0 you can have a running minion (with engines and beacons) without a master connection. If you wish to run the salt-minion daemon you will need to set the master_type configuration setting to be set to 'disable'.

Minion Configuration

Throughout this document there are several references to setting different options to configure a masterless Minion. Salt Minions are easy to configure via a configuration file that is located, by default, in /etc/salt/minion. Note, however, that on FreeBSD systems, the minion configuration file is located in /usr/local/etc/salt/minion.

You can learn more about minion configuration options in the Configuring the Salt Minion docs.

Telling Salt Call to Run Masterless

The salt-call command is used to run module functions locally on a minion instead of executing them from the master. Normally the salt-call command checks into the master to retrieve file server and pillar data, but when running standalone salt-call needs to be instructed to not check the master for this data. To instruct the minion to not look for a master when running salt-call the file_client configuration option needs to be set. By default the file_client is set to remote so that the minion knows that file server and pillar data are to be gathered from the master. When setting the file_client option to local the minion is configured to not gather this data from the master.

file_client: local

Now the salt-call command will not look for a master and will assume that the local system has all of the file and pillar resources.

Running States Masterless

The state system can be easily run without a Salt master, with all needed files local to the minion. To do this the minion configuration file needs to be set up to know how to return file_roots information like the master. The file_roots setting defaults to /srv/salt for the base environment just like on the master:

    - /srv/salt

Now set up the Salt State Tree, top file, and SLS modules in the same way that they would be set up on a master. Now, with the file_client option set to local and an available state tree then calls to functions in the state module will use the information in the file_roots on the minion instead of checking in with the master.

Remember that when creating a state tree on a minion there are no syntax or path changes needed, SLS modules written to be used from a master do not need to be modified in any way to work with a minion.

This makes it easy to "script" deployments with Salt states without having to set up a master, and allows for these SLS modules to be easily moved into a Salt master as the deployment grows.

The declared state can now be executed with:

salt-call state.apply

Or the salt-call command can be executed with the --local flag, this makes it unnecessary to change the configuration file:

salt-call state.apply --local

External Pillars

External pillars are supported when running in masterless mode.