The purpose of this tutorial is to demonstrate how quickly you can configure a system to be managed by Salt States. For detailed information about the state system please refer to the full states reference.
This tutorial will walk you through using Salt to configure a minion to run the Apache HTTP server and to ensure the server is running.
Before continuing make sure you have a working Salt installation by following the instructions in the Salt install guide.
The Salt Project community can help offer advice and help troubleshoot technical issues as you're learning about Salt. One of the best places to talk to the community is on the Salt Project Slack workspace.
States are stored in text files on the master and transferred to the minions on
demand via the master's File Server. The collection of state files make up the
To start using a central state system in Salt, the Salt File Server must first
be set up. Edit the master config file (
uncomment the following lines:
If you are deploying on FreeBSD via ports, the
file_roots path defaults
Restart the Salt master in order to pick up this change:
On the master, in the directory uncommented in the previous step,
/srv/salt by default), create a new file called
top.sls and add the following:
The top file is separated into environments (discussed
later). The default environment is
base. Under the
base environment a
collection of minion matches is defined; for now simply specify all hosts
The expressions can use any of the targeting mechanisms used by Salt — minions can be matched by glob, PCRE regular expression, or by grains. For example:
- match: grain
In the same directory as the top file, create a file
webserver.sls, containing the following:
apache: # ID declaration
pkg: # state declaration
- installed # function declaration
The first line, called the ID declaration, is an arbitrary identifier. In this case it defines the name of the package to be installed.
The package name for the Apache httpd web server may differ depending on
OS or distro — for example, on Fedora it is
httpd but on
Debian/Ubuntu it is
sls files can be written in many formats. Salt requires only
a simple data structure and is not concerned with how that data structure
is built. Templating languages and DSLs are a dime-a-dozen and everyone
has a favorite.
Building the expected data structure is the job of Salt Renderers and they are dead-simple to write.
In this tutorial we will be using YAML in Jinja2 templates, which is the
default format. The default can be changed by editing
renderer in the master configuration file.
Next, let's run the state we created. Open a terminal on the master and run:
salt '*' state.apply
Our master is instructing all targeted minions to run
state.apply. When this function is executed without any SLS
targets, a minion will download the top file and attempt to
match the expressions within it. When the minion does match an expression the
modules listed for it will be downloaded, compiled, and executed.
This action is referred to as a "highstate", and can be run using the
However, to make the usage easier to understand ("highstate" is not
necessarily an intuitive name), a
state.apply function was added in version 2015.5.0, which
when invoked without any SLS names will trigger a highstate.
state.highstate still exists and
can be used, but the documentation (as can be seen above) has been updated
state.apply, so keep
the following in mind as you read the documentation:
Once completed, the minion will report back with a summary of all actions taken and all changes made.
If you have created custom grain modules, they will not be available in the top file until after the first highstate. To make custom grains available on a minion's first highstate, it is recommended to use this example to ensure that the custom grains are synced when the minion starts.
SLS File Namespace
Note that in the example above, the SLS file
webserver.sls was referred to simply as
webserver. The namespace
for SLS files when referenced in
top.sls or an Include declaration
follows a few simple rules:
.sls is discarded (i.e.
Each subdirectory under the configured file_roots (default:
/srv/salt/) is represented with a dot (following the Python
import model) in Salt states and on the command line.
webserver/dev.sls on the filesystem is referred to as
webserver.dev in Salt
Because slashes are represented as dots, SLS files can not contain
dots in the name (other than the dot for the SLS suffix). The SLS
webserver_1.0.sls can not be matched, and
would match the directory/file
A file called
init.sls in a subdirectory is referred to by the path
of the directory. So,
webserver/init.sls is referred to as
webserver/init.sls happen to exist,
webserver/init.sls will be ignored and
webserver.sls will be the
file referred to as
If the expected output isn't seen, the following tips can help to narrow down the problem.
Salt can be quite chatty when you change the logging setting to
salt-minion -l debug
By not starting the minion in daemon mode (
one can view any output from the minion as it works:
Increase the default timeout value when running salt. For example, to change the default timeout to 60 seconds:
salt -t 60
For best results, combine all three:
salt-minion -l debug # On the minion
salt '*' state.apply -t 60 # On the master