Customizing Chef
Getting the Most Out of Your Infrastructure Automation
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: August 2014
Pages: 388

Take advantage of Chef’s highly customizable design to tackle specific automation issues that you can’t solve by simply using Chef’s tools, resources, and services out of the box. With this practical guide, you’ll examine the internal structure of this configuration management technology and learn where, how, and why to add custom code.

Author Jon Cowie not only provides code snippets and practical advice for customizing Chef, but also helps you determine case by case whether it’s in your best interests to customize at all. If you have intermediate-to-advanced Chef experience, this book is indispensable.

  • Explore Chef’s typical setups and why you’d want to customize them
  • Learn the Ruby concepts needed to write customizations
  • Customize the Chef run process and explore Chef’s internal classes
  • Gain more insight into your Chef runs through handlers and Chef’s event stream
  • Level up your Chef recipes by writing your own resources and providers
  • Create and extend plugins for Knife—Chef’s command-line tool
  • Interact with the Chef API to write scripts and reports
  • Learn how to contribute customizations to the Chef community
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oreillyCustomizing Chef

(based on 1 review)

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Excellent source of knowledge about Chef internals!

By A Chef user

from London, United Kingdom

About Me Developer, DevOps, Infrastructure Engineer, Systems Engineer

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Helpful examples
  • Real-life examples
  • Well-written


  • Not for an absolute beginner

Best Uses

  • Developer
  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Customizing Chef:

I am a long time Chef user and despite that I found the "Customizing Chef" book to be a valuable resource for someone who would like to learn more about Chef internals, how to extend cookbooks and recipes, how to write custom fully-featured resources, and extend Knife and write custom Ohai plugins.

The book contains a lot of examples and code samples to illustrate and articulate some of the more advanced concepts, so that you never feel let out, and also does a fantastic job at keeping the examples very relevant as most are definitely driven by real-life use cases.

Worth noting is, that the book is probably not for an absolute beginners (for that I would recommend anyone to read the "Learning Chef" book first) and people who are new to Chef, albeit the first few chapters provide an excellent introduction to Chef, Ruby and core concepts behind configuration management. If you have used Chef before (or you are a developer who is looking to take on and/or extend Chef) and would like to simply broaden and extend your knowledge, then you will find this book to be exactly what you are looking for.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who, like myself, is looking to learn more and gain knowledge about Chef internals, and who is interested in getting more value from Chef through more advanced usage. You won't be disappointed.

If you are still unsure, let the author of the book himself convince you in his brief talk on the subject (see linked video).

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