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Application: govuk-puppet

Puppet manifests used to provision remaining parts of the legacy GOV.UK stack (as at Mar 2023: crawler, data sync/backup, Licensify, CKAN)

AWS (EC2), on the Unknown - have you configured and merged your app in govuk-puppet/hieradata_aws/common.yaml machine class


This repository contains the puppet modules and manifests for GOV.UK.

⚠️ Puppet configuration is only for EC2

Most GOV.UK applications and services have now been migrated to new infrastructure (EKS) and no longer use puppet for configuration. Configuration for EKS is defined in the govuk-infrastructure and govuk-helm-charts repositories.

Some services may not have been migrated yet and still run on EC2, in which case you may need to make change to the puppet configuration. We’re in the process of retiring migrated services running on EC2, consquently there might duplicate configuration until this is finished. Make sure you know which infrastructure you need make changes to.

Getting started

In order to run/test the Puppet manifests you will need Ruby 1.9.x and Bundler.

Dependencies are managed with Bundler and librarian-puppet, but hopefully this should be transparent unless you need to update the dependencies yourself.


Please familiarise yourself with our Puppet standards before contributing to this repository:

Run rake spec and rake lint to run the tests and lint before checking in.


All modules from librarian-puppet are cached in this repo under vendor/puppet/ in order to ensure that third-party code doesn’t change underneath us, protect us from downtime, and improve build times.


If you’re using this repo for the first time or the contents of Gemfile[.lock] or Puppetfile[.lock] have recently changed then you’ll need to run:

$ bundle install
$ bundle exec rake librarian:install

Please avoid using librarian-puppet directly because it’s not very good at respecting or maintaining its own config file.

Running these commands will often be the solution to Puppet errors about unknown classes or functions such as:

  • Unknown function validate_bool at …
  • Could not find class apt for …
  • Puppet::Parser::AST::Resource failed with error ArgumentError: Invalid resource type apt::source …

It may affect errors relating to classes you have not modified when running spec tests after a rebase.

This should also fix errors while trying to run govuk_puppet, of the form:

  • chown: changing ownership of '/home/vagrant/.puppet/[…]': Operation not permitted


If you need to add a new module to the Puppetfile then you will need to run the following to install it and update the cache:

$ bundle exec rake librarian:package

If you need to update an existing module to a newer version, you’ll need to run the following:

$ bundle exec rake 'librarian:update[alphagov/tune_ext]'

Afterwards you should commit the Puppetfile, Puppetfile.lock and any new files in vendor/puppet/. If updating a module then you will need to manually delete the old tarball from the cache directory.

NB: There should never be any changes to .librarian/puppet/config.


Assuming that your dependencies are installed, run all the tests:

$ bundle exec rake

The module tests are located in modules/<module>/spec. See the RSpec Puppet documentation for more details. The specs are run in parallel by default.

Puppet-lint is a tool that checks various syntax and style rules common to well written Puppet code. It can be run with:

$ bundle exec rake lint

This outputs a set of errors or warnings that should be fixed. See the Puppet Style Guide for more information.

Scoped testing

You can run the tests for a specific module or modules by setting an environment variable, mods for the rake task, e.g.

$ bundle exec rake mods=nginx,varnish

The manifests/ directory is considered one module called manifests for this purpose.

$ bundle exec rake mods=manifests,govuk

Precommit Testing

This repo uses pre-commit for managing its pre- commit hooks. This is available via brew:

brew install pre-commit

The pre-commit hooks are configured in the .pre-commit-config.yaml file in the root of this repo. To make the pre-commit hooks work you first need to install the pre-commit shim in your local .git/hooks directory:

pre-commit install

This will run hooks configured in .pre-commit-config.yaml when you run a git commit and will pass each hook the list of files staged as part of the commit. You can test the hooks by doing:

pre-commit run

You can also run the hooks on all files to test the status of the entire repo. This might be useful, for example, as part of a PR builder job:

pre-commit run --all-files

Node testing

Some issues that span multiple classes or modules may not be picked up unit testing. Duplicate resources and mislabelled dependencies are such examples. To catch these, all available govuk::node classes can be exercised with:

$ bundle exec rake spec:nodes

Compiling node complete node catalogs takes quite a long time, so you may wish to restrict it to certain classes of node by setting the environment variable classes for the rake task, e.g.

$ bundle exec rake spec:nodes classes=frontend,backend

Test Hieradata

During spec tests spec/fixtures/hiera/hiera.yaml is used to configure hieradata which only uses spec/fixtures/hieradata/common.yaml for its values (i.e. nothing from hieradata/).

During node tests the hieradata uses the vagrant environment.

Test Coverage

Each test suite’s results are followed by a summary of how many resources that suite covers, how many the tests touch and the coverage as a percentage. e.g.

Total resources:   175
Touched resources: 36
Resource coverage: 20.57%

A list of untouched resources can be gained by setting the FULL_COVERAGE_REPORT environment variable before running the tests:

FULL_COVERAGE_REPORT=true bundle exec rake spec

Warning Given the number of modules that have limited tests this will produce a very large amount of output unless the tests are scoped.

Rspec Basic Mode

It is sometimes useful to have access to the normal RSpec Rake task. This exposes the SPEC and SPEC_OPTS environment variables that mean you can set the test specification and RSpec options respectively. This gives finer grain control when it is needed. e.g.

$ bundle exec rake rspec_basic_mode SPEC="./modules/collectd/spec/classes/collectd__package_spec.rb:7" SPEC_OPTS="-c"

runs the single test at line 7 of collectd__package_spec.rb with colour mode enabled.

Warning using this option disables parallel running of tests and the mod arguments will not work.

Vagrant testing


You will need an up-to-date checkout of the private govuk-provisioning repository for node definitions.


It is recommended that you use Vagrant > 1.4 from a binary/system install. alphagov/gds-boxen can set this up for you.


You need only bring up the subset of nodes that you’re working on. For example, to bring up a frontend and backend:

vagrant up frontend-1.frontend backend-1.backend

Vagrant will run the Puppet provisioner against the node when it boots up. Nodes should look almost identical to that of our real production/staging/preview environments, including network addresses. To access a node’s services like HTTP/HTTPS you can point your hosts file to the host-only IP address (eth1).

Physical attributes like memory and num_cores will be ignored because they don’t scale appropriately to local VMs, but can still be customised as described below.


Node definitions can be overridden with a nodes.local.yaml file in this directory. This is merged on top of all other node definitions. The following keys are currently available for customisation:

  • box_dist Ubuntu distribution. Currently “trusty”.
  • box_version Internal version number of the GDS basebox.
  • memory Amount of RAM. Default is “384”.
  • ip IP address for hostonly networking. Currently all subnets are /16.
  • class Name of the Puppet class/role.

For example to increase the amount of RAM on a PuppetMaster:

  memory: 768


Some errors that you might encounter..

NFS failed mounts
[frontend-1.frontend] Mounting NFS shared folders...
Mounting NFS shared folders failed. This is most often caused by the NFS
client software not being installed on the guest machine. Please verify
that the NFS client software is properly installed, and consult any resources
specific to the linux distro you're using for more information on how to do this.

This seems to be caused by a combination of OSX, VirtualBox, and Cisco AnyConnect. Try temporarily disconnecting from the VPN when bringing up a new node. You can also set VAGRANT_GOVUK_NFS=no as an environment variable to disable the use of NFS. This is less performant but fine for checking puppet runs.


MIT License