Word of maoo

Adding Berkshelf feature to Packer

June 15, 2015 - tagged #packer #chef #berkshelf

In order to use Chef (the Berkshelf Way) with Packer, it is a common approach to define a script that wraps the invocation of Packer and runs the berks install (or berks vendor) command that resolves the Chef cookbooks that you need; an interesting discussion can be found on Packer issue #590

As others, we ended up with our "own" Packer wrapper script, though it is hard to debug, error-prone and "hacky"; that's why we tried to enhance Packer chef-solo provisioner.

To make the solution a bit more generic, we introduced a pre_local_commands parameter to the chef-solo Packer provisioner, allowing to run commands and resolve cookbooks (and/or databags), as in the following example:

"provisioners": [
    "type": "chef-solo",
    "cookbook_paths": [
    "data_bags_path": "/tmp/databags/data_bags",
    "pre_local_commands" : [
      "/bin/rm -rf /tmp/databags",
      "/usr/bin/git clone git@github.com:maoo/data_bags_test.git /tmp/databags",
      "/bin/rm -rf /tmp/berks-vendor",
      "/opt/chefdk/bin/berks vendor /tmp/berks-vendor"
    "run_list": ["nginx::default"]


To test it, you can:

If you have the same issue, you may want to test this solution and share your thoughts.