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Antonio Terceiro: Migrating from Chef™ to itamae

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Debian

The Debian CI platform is comprised of 30+ (virtual) machines. Maintaining this many machines, and being able to add new ones with some degree of reliability requires one to use some sort of configuration management.

Until about a week ago, we were using Chef for our configuration management. I was, for several years, the main maintainer of Chef in Debian, so using it was natural to me, as I had used it before for personal and work projects. But last year I decided to request the removal of Chef from Debian, so that it won't be shipped with Debian 11 (bullseye).

After evaluating a few options, I believed that the path of least resistance was to migrate to itamae. itamae was inspired by chef, and uses a DSL that is very similar to the Chef one. Even though the itamae team claim it's not compatible with Chef, the changes that I needed to do were relatively limited. The necessary code changes might look like a lot, but a large part of them could be automated or done in bulk, like doing simple search and replace operations, and moving entire directories around.

In the rest of this post, I will describe the migration process, starting with the infrastructure changes, the types of changes I needed to make to the configuration management code, and my conclusions about the process.

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