Salt 0.8.7

It has been a month since salt 0.8.0, and it has been a long month! But Salt is still coming along strong. 0.8.7 has a lot of changes and a lot of updates. This update makes Salt’s ZeroMQ back end better, strips facter from the dependencies, and introduces interfaces to handle more capabilities.
Many of the major updates are in the background, but the changes should shine through to the surface. A number of the new features are still a little thin, but the back end to support expansion is in place.

I also recently gave a presentation to the Utah Python users group in Salt Lake City, the slides from this presentation are available here:
https://github.com/downloads/thatch45/salt/Salt.pdf

The video from this presentation will be available shortly.

The major new features and changes in Salt 0.8.7 are:

Revamp ZeroMQ topology on the master for better scalability
State enforcement
Dynamic state enforcement managers
Extract the module loader into salt.loader
Make Job ids more granular
Replace facter functionality with the new salt grains interface
Support for “virtual” salt modules
Introduce the salt-call command
Better debugging for minion modules

The new ZeroMQ topology allows for better scalability, this will be required by the need to execute massive file transfers to multiple machines in parallel and state management. The new ZeroMQ topology is available in the aforementioned presentation.

0.8.7 introduces the capability to declare states, this is similar to the capabilities of Puppet. States in salt are declared via state data structures. This system is very young, but the core feature set is available. Salt states work around rendering files which represent Salt high data. More on the Salt state system will be documented in the near future.

The system for loading salt modules has been pulled out of the minion class to be a standalone module, this has enabled more dynamic loading of Salt modules and enables many of the updates in 0.8.7 – https://github.com/thatch45/salt/blob/master/salt/loader.py

Salt Job ids are now microsecond precise, this was needed to repair a race condition unveiled by the speed improvements in the new ZeroMQ topology.

The new grains interface replaces the functionality of Facter, the idea behind grains differs from Facter in that the grains are only used for static system data, dynamic data needs to be derived from a call to a salt module. This makes grains much faster to use, since the grains data is generated when the minion starts.

Virtual salt modules allows for a salt module to be presented as something other than its module name. The idea here is that based on information from the minion decisions about which module should be presented can be made. The best example is the pacman module. The pacman module will only load on Arch Linux minions, and will be called pkg. Similarly the yum module will be presented as pkg when the minion starts on a Fedora/RedHat system.

The new salt-call command allows for minion modules to be executed from the minion. This means that on the minion a salt module can be executed, this is a great tool for testing Salt modules. The salt-call command can also be used to view the grains data.

In previous releases when a minion module threw an exception very little data was returned to the master. Now the stack trace from the failure is returned making debugging of minion modules MUCH easier.

Salt is nearing the goal of 1.0, where the core feature set and capability is complete!

Salt 0.8.7 can be downloaded from github here:

https://github.com/downloads/thatch45/salt/salt-0.8.7.tar.gz

-Thomas S Hatch

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