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Anatomy of a Chef Run

Each chef run has 2 phases - the compile phase and the converge phase.

Compile phase

In the compile phase, the chef client loads libraries, cookbooks, and recipess. Then it takes the run list, reads the listed recipes, and buids a collection of the resources that need to be executed in this run. Ruby code within the recipe may alter what resources are added to the resource collection based on information about the node. For example, if the node’s OS family is ‘debian’, package commands need to use ‘apt’ to install packages. So if you are installing emacs, the resource collection on an ubuntu box will have an ‘apt’ resource for installing that package - but the resource collection on a RHEL box will have a ‘yum’ resource instead.

The compile phase also has logic for creating a minimal, ordered collection of resources to run. Part of this process is deduplication. If multiple recipies include apt’s default recipe (which calls ‘apt-get update’), the compile phase adds this to the resource collection once. Any other calls to the same resource are reported in the run output as duplicates.

[2015-07-09T22:34:01+00:00] WARN: Previous bash[pip install to VE]:
  /tmp/kitchen/cookbooks/dev-django-skeleton/recipes/django_project.rb:75:in `from_file'
[2015-07-09T22:34:01+00:00] WARN: Current  bash[pip install to VE]:
  /tmp/kitchen/cookbooks/dev-django-skeleton/recipes/django_project.rb:86:in `from_file'

Converge phase

The converge phase is the phase in which the resource code actually gets run. As the each resource runs, information is added to the run status object - some of which can later be written back to the chef server as the node status at the end of the run.

Run status information

The Customizing Chef book has some useful information about what chef collects in the run status object. For example, the run status object has a reference to the node object at the start of each run (basically node information from the chef server combined with the data collected by ohai). It also has a reference to the run context object:

This object contains a variety of useful data about the overall
Chef run, such as the cookbook files needed to perform the run,
the list of all resources to be applied during the run, and the
list of all notifications triggered by resources during the run.

Excerpt From: "Customizing Chef" chapter 5 by Jon Cowie

Two very useful methods are ‘all_resources’ and ‘updated_resources’. One of the examples on the book is a reporting handler that logs both of those lists to a log file (see Handler Example 2: Report Handler)