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pxe_dust (20) Versions 2.2.0

Configures local bootstrapping and installing operating systems via PXE booting.

cookbook 'pxe_dust', '~> 2.2.0', :supermarket
cookbook 'pxe_dust', '~> 2.2.0'
knife supermarket install pxe_dust
knife supermarket download pxe_dust
Quality 33%


This cookbook handles local bootstrapping and PXE booting life cycle:

  • server: Configures a tftpd server for serving Ubuntu and Debian installers over PXE.
  • installers: Downloads the Chef full stack installers and writes out Chef bootstraps.
  • bootstrap_template: Builds a template for use with knife to take advantage of the locally mirrored content.
  • esxi: Bootstraps ESXi via PXE at tftp.


Requires Chef 10.12 or later since it now uses the full-chef installer.


Please refer to the [TESTING file]( to see the currently (and passing) tested platforms. The release was tested on:
* Ubuntu 12.04
* Ubuntu 14.04
* Debian 6.0-7.1 (have with manual testing)
* VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.0.0.update03
* VMware-VMvisor-Installer-201501001
* VMware-VMvisor-Installer-6.0.0.update01 (The [boot.cfg](templates/default/esxi-boot.cfg.erb) is for this one)


Required: apache2, tftp

Optional (recommended): apt (for recipe[apt::cacher-ng]).

DO NOT USE chef-client::delete-validator in conjunction with this cookbook, since it uses the validation.pem to help bootstrap new machines.

pxe_dust Data Bag

In order to manage configuration of machines registering themselves with their Chef Server or Chef Software Hosted Chef, we will use the pxe_dust data bag.

% knife data bag create pxe_dust
% knife data bag from file pxe_dust examples/default.json

Here is an example of the default.json:

    "id": "default",
    "platform": "ubuntu",
    "arch": "amd64",
    "version": "14.04",
    "user": {
        "fullname": "Ubuntu",
        "username": "ubuntu",
        "crypted_password": "$6$Trby4Y5R$bi90k7uYY5ImXe5MWGFW9kel2BnMCcYO9EnwngTFIXKG2/nWcLKTJZ3verMFnpFbITI9.eHwZ.HR1UPeKbCAV1"

Any settings provided by the data bag may be overridden by setting ['pxe_dust']['default'] attributes, for example:

node['pxe_dust']['default']['environment'] = 'qa'

Here are currently supported options available for inclusion in the example default.json:

  • platform: OS platform for the installer, (ie. 'ubuntu' or 'debian').
  • arch: Architecture of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images, default is 'amd64'.
  • interface: Which interface to install from, default is 'auto'.
  • version: Ubuntu version of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images and full stack clients, default is '12.04'.
  • domain: Default domain for nodes, default is none.
  • boot_volume_size: Size of the LVM boot volume to create, default is '30GB'.
  • packages: Additional operating system packages to add to the preseed file, default is none.
  • run_list: Run list for nodes, this value is NOT set as a default and will be passed to all boot types unless explicitly overwritten.
  • environment: Environment for nodes, this value is NOT set as a default and will be passed to all boot types unless explicitly overwritten.
  • netboot_url: URL of the netboot image to use for OS installation.
  • bootstrap: Optional additional bootstrapping configuration. http_proxy: HTTP proxy, default is none. http_proxy_user: HTTP proxy user, default is none. http_proxy_pass: HTTP proxy pass, default is none. https_proxy: HTTPS proxy, default is none.
  • chef: Whether or not to bootstrap the node with Chef, default is 'true'.
  • halt: Whether to wait for user input at end of bootstrap, default is 'false'.
  • user: crypted_password: SHA512 password for the default user, default 'ubuntu'. This may be generated and added to the data bag. fullname: Full name of the default user, default 'Ubuntu'. username: Username of the default user, default 'ubuntu'.
  • root: crypted_password: SHA512 password for the root user, default 'ubuntu'. This is used on Debian since Ubuntu does not have a root.
  • external_preseed: Direct pxeboot clients to an existing (unmanaged by pxe_dust) preseed file.

Additional data bag items may be used to support booting multiple operating systems. Examples of various Ubuntu and Debian installations are included in the examples directory. Important to note is the use of the addresses option to support tftp booting by MAC address (this is currently required for not using the default) and the explicit need for a run_list and/or an environment if one is to be provided.



Sets the URL to the preseed file, architecture, the domain and which interfaces to use.


The preseed file is full of opinions mostly exposed via attributes, you will want to update this. If there is a node providing an apt-cacher-ng caching proxy via recipe[apt::cacher-ng], it is provided in the preseed.cfg. The initial user and password is configured and any additional required packages may be added to the pxe_dust data bag items. The preseed finishes by calling the chef-bootstrap script.

This is the preseed/late_command that bootstraps the node with Chef via the full stack installer.


This is a basic kickstart to bootstrap ESXi 6.0. It installs ESXi on the main harddrive and enables DHCP on the first NIC.


This is the boot.cfg for ESXi 6.0 to work with the tftp setup with this cookbook.



The default recipe includes recipe pxe_dust::server.


recipe[pxe_dust::server] includes the apache2, tftp::server and pxe_dust::bootstrap_template recipes.

The recipe does the following:

  1. Downloads the proper netboot.tar.gzs to boot from.
  2. Untars them to the ['tftp']['directory'] directory.
  3. Instructs the installer prompt to automatically install.
  4. Passes the URL of the preseed.cfgs to the installer.
  5. Uses the preseed.cfg template to pass in any apt-cacher-ng caching proxies or other additional settings.


Downloads the full stack installers listed in the pxe_dust data bag and writes out the Chef bootstrap templates for the initial chef-client run connecting to the Chef server.


This recipe sets up PXE to help deploy ESXi from VMware. You need to acquire the
ISO from VMWare before running this recipe. There is an attribute default['pxe_dust']['esx_iso']
that defaults to: VMware-VMvisor-Installer-6.0.0.update01-3029758.x86_64.iso which at the time
of creating this recipe was the most up-to-date. You may need to override this with
a different version so keep that in mind. If you put that ISO in the /tmp directory
on the tftp machine the recipe will take the ISO and extract what it needs and
add the option to the PXE boot menu. You can start up the machine and select the
3rd menu label and boot into installing ESXi on that host.

The root password is Ubuntu!! due to the ESXi security restrictions.

This recipe has been tested from ESXi 5.0,5.5,6.0 update 1.


This recipe creates a bootstrap template that uses a local that uses the cached full stack installers from the installers recipe. It may then be downloaded from http://NODE/NODE.erb and put in your .chef/bootstrap/ directory for use with knife. You may also use the http://NODE/ if you want a local, perhaps for use with [](vagrant-omnibus)'s OMNIBUS_INSTALL_URL setting.


Add recipe[pxe_dust::server] to a node's or role's run list. Create the pxe_dust data bag and update the defaults.json item before adding it.

On an Ubuntu system, the password can be generated by installing the mkpasswd package and running:

mkpasswd -m sha-512

The default is the hash of the password ubuntu, if you'd like to test. This must be set in the pxe_dust data bag to a valid sha-512 hash of the password or you will not be able to log in.

If you do not need PXE booting, you may still want to use the pxe_dust::installers and pxe_dust::bootstrap_template for bootstrapping nodes (like with LXC or Vagrant).

If you would like to bootstrap ESXi, add the node run_list recipe[pxe_dust::esxi] after you've done the previous steps,
you'll get a new menu item to bootstrap into ESXi, with a [kickstart](templates/default/esxi-ks.cfg.erb) that sets everything up as DHCP.


  • node['pxe_dust']['chefversion'] the Chef version that pxe_dust should provide, unset by default which downloads latest
  • node['pxe_dust']['dir'] the location where apache will serve pxe_dust content, default is '/var/www/pxe_dust'
  • node['pxe_dust']['default'] attributes that may be used to override any settings provided by the pxe_dust data bag items
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_server'] defaults to true where this cookbook will set up a dhcp server for you.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_interface'] defaults to eth1 as the interface you want your dhcp server to listen on.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_subnet'] defaults to as the subnet that the leases will be.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_netmask'] defaults to as the netmask for the leases.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_range'] defaults to as the range of the leases.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_dns'] defaults to, as your offered DNS servers.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_domain'] defaults to an domain.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_gateway'] defaults to the as your externally routed address.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_broadcast'] defaults to as the broadcast address.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_lease_time'] defaults to 600 as your minimum lease time.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_max_lease_time'] defaults to 7200 as your max lease time.
  • node['pxe_dust']['dhcpd_next_server'] defaults to your tftp server
  • node['pxe_dust']['esxi_iso] The name of the VMWare ESXi ISO that you'd like to install. The recipe expects it in /tmp of the machine that will host the tftp server.
  • node['pxe_dust']['esxi_rootpasswd'] defaults to Ubuntu!!, you can override it here.

License and Author

Author JJ Asghar (
Author Matt Ray (
Author Joshua Timberman
Copyright Copyright (c) 2011-2016, Chef Software, Inc.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

Dependent cookbooks

apache2 >= 1.6
tftp >= 0.0.0
apt >= 0.0.0

Contingent cookbooks

There are no cookbooks that are contingent upon this one.


  • Added ESXi pxe boot support
  • Updated the maintainer email
  • Updated the maintainer name


  • Added documentation for dhcp server and recipe
  • Added a way to turn off dhcp server with an override


  • Updated test-kitchen to use chef_zero
  • Changed Berksfile to be source
  • Updated location for the chef-full.erb bootstrap template
  • Updated the server_test minitest to look for apache, added serverspec for in.tftp
  • Created examples/pxe_dust/ to have databag for integration testing
  • Updated default.json from the above for 14.04
  • Added serverspec tests for integration testing
  • Other random updates for 14.04 updates
  • Removed 10.04/13.04 support
  • Added dhcpd server recipe


  • yaboot recipe for pxe booting PPC machines
  • added chef data bag attribute to turn off Chef bootstrapping if desired
  • added halt data bag attribute to turn off reboot at end of preseed
  • cleaned up downloading redundant ISOs


  • [COOK-2174]: pxe_dust needs to not depend on the apache2's default site being enabled
  • node['pxe_dust']['default'] attributes may be used to override any data bag settings
  • use ['apt']['cacher_port'] from search results and gate on ['apt']['cacher-client']['restrict_environment']
  • Use of the local has been documented and the files moved into the doc_root which is now browseable.
  • Chef-Solo safe
  • Debian 7.1 support
  • Test-Kitchen coverage


  • custom machines (crushinator) don't clean up when changed
  • foodcritic cleanups


  • refactor the default recipe to include installers and bootstrap_template recipes
  • bootstrap_template recipe generates a local mirror bootstrap template that uses a local and local full stack installers
  • installers recipe broken out to download the Chef full stack installers and write out Chef bootstraps.
  • require platform in the pxe_dust data bag


  • switched to LVM for Ubuntu
  • Ruby syntax cleanup per
  • enforce pxe-booted NIC as eth0 via the pxelinux.cfg.erb, 'IPAPPEND 2' and a udev rule in the
  • added DEBCONF_DEBUG=5 for ridiculous amounts of debugging with preseed
  • foodcritic cleanups


  • added ability to set the environment for nodes
  • support OS installation off of network interface besides eth0


  • [COOK-1621]: support unmanaged preseed files (Craig Tracey)
  • support new Omnitruck downloads for the Omnibus installer


  • [COOK-1502]: pxe_dust has some if statements that could that could be reduced (Scott M. Likens)
  • Changing the addresses databag items to have the hostname as their value (Austin Page)
  • Updating default chef version (Austin Page)
  • support multiple items in the run list from the data bag
  • switch from eth0 to auto for pxelinux.cfg
  • take an optional list of packages to install


  • take default run_lists when none-specified
  • clean up installer when finished


  • added attribute for always pulling latest Chef installer


  • [COOK-1369]: Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin support


  • updated to use apt cookbook using apt-cacher-ng
  • make local mirrors of the netboots
  • added Debian support


  • [COOK-999]: uses the full stack intaller for bootstrapping nodes.


  • Fixes COOK-481, COOK-594

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