Salt 0.9.5 Release Notes



Salt 0.9.5 is one of the largest steps forward in the development of Salt.

0.9.5 comes with many milestones, this release has seen the community of developers grow out to an international team of 46 code contributors and has many feature additions, feature enhancements, bug fixes and speed improvements.


Be sure to read the upgrade instructions about the switch to msgpack before upgrading!


Nothing has proven to have more value to the development of Salt that the outstanding community that has been growing at such a great pace around Salt. This has proven not only that Salt has great value, but also the expandability of Salt is as exponential as I originally intended.

0.9.5 has received over 600 additional commits since 0.9.4 with a swath of new committers. The following individuals have contributed to the development of 0.9.5:

  • Aaron Bull Schaefer

  • Antti Kaihola

  • Bas Tichelaar

  • Brad Barden

  • Brian Wagner

  • Byron Clark

  • Chris Scheller

  • Christer Edwards

  • Clint Savage

  • Corey Quinn

  • David Boucha

  • Eivind Uggedal

  • Eric Poelke

  • Evan Borgstrom

  • Jed Glazner

  • Jeff Schroeder

  • Jeffrey C. Ollie

  • Jonas Buckner

  • Kent Tenney

  • Martin Schnabel

  • Maxim Burgerhout

  • Mitch Anderson

  • Nathaniel Whiteinge

  • Seth House

  • Thomas S Hatch

  • Thomas Schreiber

  • Tor Hveem

  • lzyeval

  • syphernl

This makes 21 new developers since 0.9.4 was released!

To keep up with the growing community follow Salt on Black Duck Open Hub (, to join the Salt development community, fork Salt on GitHub, and get coding (!

Major Features

SPEED! Pickle to msgpack

For a few months now we have been talking about moving away from Python pickles for network serialization, but a preferred serialization format had not yet been found. After an extensive performance testing period involving everything from JSON to protocol buffers, a clear winner emerged. Message Pack ( proved to not only be the fastest and most compact, but also the most "salt like". Message Pack is simple, and the code involved is very small. The msgpack library for Python has been added directly to Salt.

This move introduces a few changes to Salt. First off, Salt is no longer a "noarch" package, since the msgpack lib is written in C. Salt 0.9.5 will also have compatibility issues with 0.9.4 with the default configuration.

We have gone through great lengths to avoid backwards compatibility issues with Salt, but changing the serialization medium was going to create issues regardless. Salt 0.9.5 is somewhat backwards compatible with earlier minions. A 0.9.5 master can command older minions, but only if the serial config value in the master is set to pickle. This will tell the master to publish messages in pickle format and will allow the master to receive messages in both msgpack and pickle formats.

Therefore the suggested methods for upgrading are either to just upgrade everything at once, or:

  1. Upgrade the master to 0.9.5

  2. Set serial to pickle in the master config

  3. Upgrade the minions

  4. Remove the serial option from the master config

Since pickles can be used as a security exploit the ability for a master to accept pickles from minions at all will be removed in a future release.

C Bindings for YAML

All of the YAML rendering is now done with the YAML C bindings. This speeds up all of the sls files when running states.

Experimental Windows Support

David Boucha has worked tirelessly to bring initial support to Salt for Microsoft Windows operating systems. Right now the Salt Minion can run as a native Windows service and accept commands.

In the weeks and months to come Windows will receive the full treatment and will have support for Salt States and more robust support for managing Windows systems. This is a big step forward for Salt to move entirely outside of the Unix world, and proves Salt is a viable cross platform solution. Big Thanks to Dave for his contribution here!

Dynamic Module Distribution

Many Salt users have expressed the desire to have Salt distribute in-house modules, states, renderers, returners, and grains. This support has been added in a number of ways:

Modules via States

Now when salt modules are deployed to a minion via the state system as a file, then the modules will be automatically loaded into the active running minion - no restart required - and into the active running state. So custom state modules can be deployed and used in the same state run.

Modules via Module Environment Directories

Under the file_roots each environment can now have directories that are used to deploy large groups of modules. These directories sync modules at the beginning of a state run on the minion, or can be manually synced via the Salt module salt.modules.saltutil.sync_all.

The directories are named:

  • _modules

  • _states

  • _grains

  • _renderers

  • _returners

The modules are pushed to their respective scopes on the minions.

Module Reloading

Modules can now be reloaded without restarting the minion, this is done by calling the salt.modules.sys.reload_modules function.

But wait, there's more! Now when a salt module of any type is added via states the modules will be automatically reloaded, allowing for modules to be laid down with states and then immediately used.

Finally, all modules are reloaded when modules are dynamically distributed from the salt master.

Enable / Disable Added to Service

A great deal of demand has existed for adding the capability to set services to be started at boot in the service module. This feature also comes with an overhaul of the service modules and initial systemd support.

This means that the service state can now accept - enable: True to make sure a service is enabled at boot, and - enable: False to make sure it is disabled.

Compound Target

A new target type has been added to the lineup, the compound target. In previous versions the desired minions could only be targeted via a single specific target type, but now many target specifications can be declared.

These targets can also be separated by and/or operators, so certain properties can be used to omit a node:

salt -C 'webserv* and G@os:Debian or E@db.*'

will match all minions with ids starting with webserv via a glob and minions matching the os:Debian grain. Or minions that match the db.* regular expression.

Node Groups

Often the convenience of having a predefined group of minions to execute targets on is desired. This can be accomplished with the new nodegroups feature. Nodegroups allow for predefined compound targets to be declared in the master configuration file:

  group1: ',, and bl*'
  group2: 'G@os:Debian and'

And then used via the -N option:

salt -N group1

Minion Side Data Store

The data module introduces the initial approach into storing persistent data on the minions, specific to the minions. This allows for data to be stored on minions that can be accessed from the master or from the minion.

The Minion datastore is young, and will eventually provide an interface similar to a more mature key/value pair server.

Major Grains Improvement

The Salt grains have been overhauled to include a massive amount of extra data. this includes hardware data, os data and salt specific data.

Salt -Q is Useful Now

In the past the salt query system, which would display the data from recent executions would be displayed in pure Python, and it was unreadable.

0.9.5 has added the outputter system to the -Q option, thus enabling the salt query system to return readable output.

Packaging Updates

Huge strides have been made in packaging Salt for distributions. These additions are thanks to our wonderful community where the work to set up packages has proceeded tirelessly.


Salt on FreeBSD? There a port for that:

This port was developed and added by Christer Edwards. This also marks the first time Salt has been included in an upstream packaging system!

Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise

Salt packages have been prepared for inclusion in the Fedora Project and in EPEL for Red Hat Enterprise 5 and 6. These packages are the result of the efforts made by Clint Savage (herlo).


A team of many contributors have assisted in developing packages for Debian and Ubuntu. Salt is still actively seeking inclusion in upstream Debian and Ubuntu and the package data that has been prepared is being pushed through the needed channels for inclusion.

These packages have been prepared with the help of:

  • Corey

  • Aaron Toponce

  • and`

More to Come

We are actively seeking inclusion in more distributions. Primarily getting Salt into Gentoo, SUSE, OpenBSD, and preparing Solaris support are all turning into higher priorities.


Salt continues to be refined into a faster, more stable and more usable application. 0.9.5 comes with more debug logging, more bug fixes and more complete support.

More Testing, More BugFixes

0.9.5 comes with more bugfixes due to more testing than any previous release. The growing community and the introduction a dedicated QA environment have unearthed many issues that were hiding under the covers. This has further refined and cleaned the state interface, taking care of things from minor visual issues to repairing misleading data.

Custom Exceptions

A custom exception module has been added to throw salt specific exceptions. This allows Salt to give much more granular error information.

New Modules


The new data module manages a persistent datastore on the minion. Big thanks to bastichelaar for his help refining this module


FreeBSD kernel modules can now be managed in the same way Salt handles Linux kernel modules.

This module was contributed thanks to the efforts of Christer Edwards


Support has been added for managing services in Gentoo. Now Gentoo services can be started, stopped, restarted, enabled, disabled, and viewed.


The pip module introduces management for pip installed applications. Thanks goes to whitinge for the addition of the pip module


The rh_service module enables Red Hat and Fedora specific service management. Now Red Hat like systems come with extensive management of the classic init system used by Red Hat


The saltutil module has been added as a place to hold functions used in the maintenance and management of salt itself. Saltutil is used to salt the salt minion. The saltutil module is presently used only to sync extension modules from the master server.


Systemd support has been added to Salt, now systems using this next generation init system are supported on systems running systemd.


The virtualenv module has been added to allow salt to create virtual Python environments. Thanks goes to whitinge for the addition of the virtualenv module


Support for gathering disk information on Microsoft Windows minions The windows modules come courtesy of Utah_Dave


The win_service module adds service support to Salt for Microsoft Windows services


Salt can now manage local users on Microsoft Windows Systems


The yumpkg module introduces in 0.9.4 uses the yum API to interact with the yum package manager. Unfortunately, on Red Hat 5 systems salt does not have access to the yum API because the yum API is running under Python 2.4 and Salt needs to run under Python 2.6.

The yumpkg5 module bypasses this issue by shelling out to yum on systems where the yum API is not available.

New States


The new mysql_database state adds the ability to systems running a mysql server to manage the existence of mysql databases.

The mysql states are thanks to syphernl


The mysql_user state enables mysql user management.


The virtualenv state can manage the state of Python virtual environments. Thanks to Whitinge for the virtualenv state

New Returners


A returner allowing Salt to send data to a cassandra server. Thanks to Byron Clark for contributing this returner