shef(1) Interactive Chef Console


shef [named configuration] (options)
-S, --server CHEF_SERVER_URL
The chef server URL
-z, --client
chef-client mode
-c, --config CONFIG
The configuration file to use
-j, --json-attributes JSON_ATTRIBS
Load attributes from a JSON file or URL
-l, --log-level LOG_LEVEL
Set the logging level
-s, --solo
chef-solo shef session
-a, --standalone
standalone shef session
-v, --version
Show chef version
-h, --help
Show command options

When no --config option is specified, shef attempts to load a default configuration file:

If a named configuration is given, shef will load ~/.chef/named configuration/shef.rb
If no named configuration is given shef will load ~/.chef/shef.rb if it exists
Shef falls back to loading /etc/chef/client.rb or /etc/chef/solo.rb if -z or -s options are given and no shef.rb can be found.
The --config option takes precedence over implicit configuration paths.


shef is an irb(1) (interactive ruby) session customized for Chef. shef serves two primary functions: it provides a means to interact with a Chef Server interactively using a convenient DSL; it allows you to define and run Chef recipes interactively.


Shef uses irb's subsession feature to provide multiple modes of interaction. In addition to the primary mode which is entered on start, recipe and attributes modes are available.


The following commands are available in the primary session:
Prints a list of available commands
Prints the Chef version
Switches to recipe mode
Switches to attributes mode
Initiates a chef run
reinitializes shef
echo :on|:off
Turns irb's echo function on or off. Echo is on by default.
tracing :on|:off
Turns irb's function tracing feature on or off. Tracing is extremely verbose and expected to be of interest primarily to developers.
Returns the node object for the current host. See knife-node(1) for more information about nodes.
Prints the attributes of node

In addition to these commands, shef provides a DSL for accessing data on the Chef Server. When working with remote data in shef, you chain method calls in the form object type.operation, where object type is in plural form. The following object types are available:


For each object type the following operations are available:

object type.all(&block)
Loads all items from the server. If the optional code block is given, each item will be passed to the block and the results returned, similar to ruby's Enumerable#map method.
object name)
Aliased as object type.load
Loads the singular item identified by object name.
object, &block)
Aliased as object type.find
Runs a search against the server and returns the matching items. If the optional code block is given each item will be passed to the block and the results returned.
The query may be a Solr/Lucene format query given as a String, or a Hash of conditions. If a Hash is given, the options will be ANDed together. To join conditions with OR, use negative queries, or any advanced search syntax, you must provide give the query in String form.
object type.transform(:all|query, &block)
Aliased as object type.bulk_edit
Bulk edit objects by processing them with the (required) code block. You can edit all objects of the given type by passing the Symbol :all as the argument, or only a subset by passing a query as the argument. The query is evaluated in the same way as with search.
The return value of the code block is used to alter the behavior of transform. If the value returned from the block is nil or false, the object will not be saved. Otherwise, the object is saved after being passed to the block. This behavior can be exploited to create a dry run to test a data transformation.


Recipe mode implements Chef's recipe DSL. Exhaustively documenting this DSL is outside the scope of this document. See the following pages in the Chef documentation for more information:

Once you have defined resources in the recipe, you can trigger a convergence run via run_chef


A "Hello World" interactive recipe
chef > recipe
chef:recipe > echo :off
chef:recipe > file "/tmp/hello_world"
chef:recipe > run_chef
[Sat, 09 Apr 2011 08:56:56 -0700] INFO: Processing file[/tmp/hello_world] action create ((irb#1) line 2)
[Sat, 09 Apr 2011 08:56:56 -0700] INFO: file[/tmp/hello_world] created file /tmp/hello_world
chef:recipe > pp ls '/tmp'
Search for nodes by role, and print their IP addresses
chef > nodes.find(:roles => 'monitoring-server') {|n| n[:ipaddress] }
=> [""]
Remove the role obsolete from every node in the system
chef > nodes.transform(:all) {|n| n.run_list.delete('role[obsolete]') }
=> [node[], node[ree-woot], node[graphite-dev], node[fluke.localdomain], node[ghost.local], node[kallistec]]


The name shef is clever in print but is confusing when spoken aloud. Pronouncing shef as chef console is an imperfect workaround.

shef often does not perfectly replicate the context in which chef-client(8) configures a host, which may lead to discrepancies in observed behavior.

shef has to duplicate much code from chef-client's internal libraries and may become out of sync with the behavior of those libraries.


Chef was written by Adam Jacob [email protected] with many contributions from the community. Shef was written by Daniel DeLeo.


This manual page was written by Daniel DeLeo [email protected]. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and / or modify this document under the terms of the Apache 2.0 License.


Shef is distributed with Chef.