Chef vs Puppet: Everything you need to know

21 mei 2021 om 10:00 by ParTech Media - Post a comment

There are hundreds of choices when it comes to open source systems management tools. But we wanted to make your life easier by comparing the top 2 tools against each other - Chef and Puppet. We’ll also understand their pros, cons, and similarities.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Chef?
  2. What is Puppet?
  3. What do Chef and Puppet have in common?
  4. Pros and cons of Chef
  5. Pros and cons of Puppet
  6. Final Thoughts

What is Chef?

Chef is an open-source automation platform that allows you to transform infrastructure into a set of codes. The beauty about Chef is that it works with most environments, be it cloud, on-premise, or a hybrid environment. Here is an interesting reason why it is called Chef. It converts system tasks into cookbooks and recipes. These cookbooks and recipes can be later used to run more system tasks on a daily basis. Hence this open-source application is referred to as Chef.

Chef operates on a number of different platforms. We have listed some of them below.

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • OpenStack
  • IBM Bluemix
  • Cisco IO
  • Nexus
  • Amazon Web Services
  • VMware
  • Rackspace

Chef allows you to automate the processes of configuration, deployment, and management across your network. The application is not particular to any determined size of the infrastructure and can be applied to a variety.

What is Puppet?

Puppet is an open-source systems management tool. It is similar to Chef and is mainly designed to centralize and automate configuration management. It constitutes its own declarative language. This helps to describe system configuration.

Like Chef, Puppet is also supported on a number of platforms including -

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • SUSE Linux
  • Ubuntu
  • Fedora
  • Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 10
  • macOS 10.12 and 10.13
  • Arch Linux
  • Gentoo Linux
  • Oracle Solaris version
  • FreeBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • AIX (all versions above 6.1)

Puppet was primarily designed to manage the configuration of systems like Unix and Windows. However, with evolution, the developers came to extend the support for many other platforms, as seen in the list above.

All the information in Puppet is stored inside “puppet manifests''. It then discovers all this information using a utility called Facter. Once Facter has discovered all the information inside these manifests, it is compiled into a system-specific catalog containing all systems and their corresponding resources. But at the end of the day, Puppet is a model-driven software and can be used with very limited knowledge of programming.

What do Chef and Puppet have in common?

Here are some of the similarities between Chef and Puppet -

They are highly scalable

Both Chef and Puppet can handle large volumes of data and infrastructure without breaking down. As a developer, all you need to do is supply it with the IP address and hostname that need to be configured. Once you have provided both the platforms with this essential data, it will run like a clock on a full charge.

Have their own DSL

DSL stands for Domain Specific Language. When it comes to configuration languages, both Chef and Puppet have their own set of languages. With Chef, you have the Ruby DSL and with Puppet, you have the Puppet DSL. Both these languages are difficult to learn, but some basic knowledge of programming and development can make it easy.

They are interoperable

Both Chef and Puppet are interoperable and can be used across a number of platforms. This includes the famous Linux and Unix. Both Chef and Puppet are also configurable on platforms like Windows.

The setup is quite similar

Both Chef and Puppet run on a master-client architecture. In this setup, the server runs on the master machine, while the client runs as an agent on all client machines. With Chef, you have a component named ‘workstation’ and it will handle all the configurations and management. With Puppet, however, you have an agent-master certification that needs to be fulfilled.

Managing Chef and Puppet is quite similar

Chef and Puppet both work on a pull-type configuration. This translates to the fact that all your slave nodes automatically pull their configuration from the master or central server. All you need to do is give them the address of the nodes and they will take care of the rest.

Pros and Cons of Chef


  • It is a code-driven approach and offers greater flexibility.
  • It offers more control over configurations over time.
  • It has a dedicated ‘knife’ tool to assist you with the installation
  • The platform has a massive collection of configurations
  • Chef also has a massive collection of module recipes
  • As it is centered around GIT, it gives you a strong set of version controls to play with


  • Learning Chef can be a challenge if you’re not well versed with Ruby
  • Chef does not support push functionality
  • Chef is not as simple as Puppet
  • This complication can lead to the formation of large codebases over time.

Pros and cos of Puppet


  • Puppet has a well-established community called Puppet labs
  • The initial setup and installation is easy
  • Pupper offers one of the best Web UI in the systems management tools space
  • Puppet also has strong reporting capabilities by default.
  • The interface offered by Puppet is mature by design and function
  • Puppet works on most of the operating systems available out there.


  • It has a model-driven approach and offers less control.
  • Puppet is based on Ruby and you need to be familiar with it
  • Support for Puppet versions in the pre-Ruby versions are being called back as you read this
  • The Puppet codebase can become large very quickly
  • The codebase can be hard to understand for new employees joining the team.

Final Thoughts

The right tool depends on the goals and needs of your organization. If you’re a small business with a fairly new team, Chef is your best choice. However, if you’re a large enterprise with an established team, Puppet is your best choice.