Learning Chef
A Guide to Configuration Management and Automation
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: November 2014
Pages: 366

Get a hands-on introduction to the Chef, the configuration management tool for solving operations issues in enterprises large and small. Ideal for developers and sysadmins new to configuration management, this guide shows you to automate the packaging and delivery of applications in your infrastructure. You’ll be able to build (or rebuild) your infrastructure’s application stack in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

After teaching you how to write Ruby-based Chef code, this book walks you through different Chef tools and configuration management concepts in each chapter, using detailed examples throughout. All you need to get started is command-line experience and familiarity with basic system administration.

  • Configure your Chef development environment and start writing recipes
  • Create Chef cookbooks with recipes for each part of your infrastructure
  • Use Test Kitchen to manage sandbox testing environments
  • Manage single nodes with Chef client, and multiple nodes with Chef Server
  • Use data bags for storing shared global data between nodes
  • Simulate production Chef Server environments with Chef Zero
  • Classify different types of services in your infrastructure with roles
  • Model life stages of your application, including development, testing, staging, and production
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oreillyLearning Chef
 
4.0

(based on 5 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

80%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Helpful examples (4)
  • Well-written (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (3)
    • Novice (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Developer (4)

    Reviewed by 5 customers

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    4.0

    Excellent book for picking up Chef

    By Andrei Maxim

    from Bucharest

    About Me Developer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Novice

      Comments about oreilly Learning Chef:

      I needed to pick up Chef and write some cookbooks for a Rails application that I work on and manually deployed to a staging server. This is a very good introductory text for somebody who needs to pick up Chef, has a good understanding of Ruby and the task at hand.

      After going through most of the book and reading some things online I was able to write a couple of cookbooks and LWRPs that fit the need quite nicely and I was even able to refactor and improve some of the older cookbooks.

       
      5.0

      Learning Chef by Mischa Taylor and Seth

      By Marvin Lee

      from Malaysia

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate

        Comments about oreilly Learning Chef:

        Learning Chef is a book to introduce system administrators and software developers to the automation of systems or infrastructure automation.
        The introduction chapters guide the readers to setup the Chef Development Environment, installing necessary tools and the 'Test Kitchen' sandbox environment.
        Chef itself is written in Ruby, so there is a chapter introducing Ruby for new users.
        The book is quite hands-on for readers so you can follow the source code examples that came with the book organized in chapters.
        Readers will get to learn how to write recipes, cookbooks, and managing the Chef Server or Nodes.
        Although Chef is designed to be a tool for administrative or operational tasks, it has many features including searching for recipes based on IP addresses, shared information for nodes (data bags), roles grouping and environment categorization.
        If you are a system administrator, this is definitely a book for you.

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Fantastic Examples and Great Shortcuts

        By Craig

        from Cornell University, Ithaca NY

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Intermediate

            Comments about oreilly Learning Chef:

            Chef is a pretty whiz-bang, "how did I ever manage servers without this?" product. But like all complex systems, if you don't know the theory and design decisions behind it, Chef can be pretty hard to debug, especially when you're starting out.

            Learning Chef strikes a really good balance between "this is what you do" and "this is why you do it." I was able to follow the examples well AND get myself out of trouble. Then when I confronted our real-world Chef server at work, I was surprised at how much I understood.

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Good introduction to Chef

            By Shing

            from London

            About Me Developer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Accurate
            • Concise
            • Easy to understand
            • Helpful examples
            • Well-written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Intermediate
              • Novice

              Comments about oreilly Learning Chef:

              I have read and tried the examples of the first seven chapters in the book. The instruction on setting up the environment and examples are clear and easy to follow.

              The authors have done a good job in explaining the concept in Chef. The chapter in Ruby has good coverage of the parts of Ruby that are relevant in Chef. As I did not know any Ruby, I found it very useful.

              (6 of 30 customers found this review helpful)

               
              2.0

              Not Ready for Pime Time

              By kgunders

              from Boise, ID

              About Me DevOps, Sys Admin

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Easy to understand
              • Helpful examples

              Cons

              • Not comprehensive enough
              • Too basic
              • Too many errors

              Best Uses

              • Novice

              Comments about oreilly Learning Chef:

              Day job uses Chef to manage several hundred nodes. If they would have asked me, I would have recommended SaltStack, but they didn't so I needed to get up to speed on Chef in a hurry. Online Chef docs leave much to be desired (big $ support contracts anyone??). And pretty much all the other Chef books out there suck or are mediocre at best so this preview release seemed timely and worth taking a chance. Glad I got it 50% off because it has a long ways to go before becoming useful as anything other than base primer targeting novice to junior level sysadmins.

              Book is a follow along, tutorial format that mandates use of author's favorite toolsets. I don't like the vendor lockin. There are other options for running virtual machines other than VirtualBox. Probably all of which are in wider use, e.g. VMware, various cloud providers, SmartOS, etc. Yeah, I know Virtual Box is free and favored by winweenies, but us *nix geeks prefer to keep our options open and eschew software from companies run by major jerks, even if it is free (e.g. many Linux distros have replaced MySQL with MariaDB). So it would be nice if this book talked at least a bit about them. Also no mention of things like rvm.io for managing Ruby virtual env. Perhaps I make much ado about nothing but it just put me off and left a bad taste in my mouth right out of the gate.

              The book is also too basic. Just because I'm just learning Chef, doesn't mean that I am not interested in advanced features. Indeed, it's the advanced stuff that most warrants/requires explanation. So where's the beef? As it stands now, the Appendices are the most valuable parts, if you can get past the typos. Speaking of which....

              Learning Chef is full of typos & grammar errors. Kick the current tech editor to the curb and find someone who knows Chef. And Ruby. Seriously. Other minor, but annoying grammar errors, such as "to" when mean "for" are distracting but tolerable as it would seem one of the authors is perhaps not a native English speaker.

              Yes, I do realize that this is a preview release (hence 2 stars instead of 1). Perhaps my criticism is harsh but I'm hoping also constructive. This book has potential if they flesh it out and put some meat on its bones, fix the typos, etc. And I am hoping that they will. In it's current state, however, I could not recommend it.

              Well, that's my two cents worth. You get what you pay for. If you're lucky.

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