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The big difference that I see between Puppet and Chef is what they think the experience of automating your infrastructure should be like. The huge feature in common is that they both believe that you should.

I think the Puppet developers really want it to be declarative; foremost, to be easy to pick up, model what you have and have Puppet build it. While there is the option of writing Puppet configurations in Ruby, the majority of users that choose Puppet seem to stick with its custom language. The language and its conditionals are relatively simple, and the dependency graph helps make sure everything gets done the right way.

images  Chef wants to be powerful. It wants to be by your side and not in your way, helping you build whatever you need with the help of Space Robots. However, Space Robots aren’t the easiest people to learn to talk to. Generally speaking, if Chef itself makes it hard for you to do something, it is considered a bug.

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There are strengths and weaknesses to these choices. Nobody chooses a feature because they think it will be terrible, but rather because in their world the benefits outweigh the pitfalls.

Many of the developers and users of Chef and Puppet have used other tools, so there are some similarities from having a common ancestry, but they are written and used by different people. Thus, there are many more differences than the one I have described above. Everyone needs to pick up both hammers and get a feel for how they like their grip and weight; and miss the nail a couple times to see how it hurts; for themselves. Or ask a more specific question about how you would solve a certain problem with both.

 

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Key Difference: Puppet is a configuration management tool which is written in Ruby. It is a product of Puppet Labs. Chef is also a configuration tool, but it is written in Ruby and Erlang. It is a product of Opscode. Both the tools differ primarily in technology. Puppet’s technology has been designed for simplicity. On the other hand, Chef’s technology is designed for cloud automation.

  Puppet is an IT automation software which can also be considered as a configuration management tool. It assists system administrators to manage infrastructure during its complete lifecycle. This tool is from Puppet Labs and was founded by Luke Kanies in 2005. It comprises a language, client server processes and the Resource Abstraction Layer. It works on two important approaches to IT automation – Declarative Approach and Model Based Approach. It is available in open source as well as commercial software. In Puppet, an end state is defined by a policy, which is the desired end state. Puppet software works to meet all the requirements to reach that state. This system is divided into two parts – a central server and the clients.

Some of the important features of Puppet are:

  • It provides the flexibility to carry out routine or normal administrative tasks on any number of systems.
  • Free access to the latest version of Puppet
  • Powerful, flexible and extensible due to its Open Source Feature
  • Repeatable configurations

Chef is a configuration tool which is written in Ruby and Erlang. It is a product form Opscode. It assists in the description of the infrastructure with code. It works for cloud, on site or even a hybrid network. It is available in two flavors –

  • Enterprise Chef – It provides a solution to manage and automate large scale infrastructures.
  • Open Source Chef – It is a free and open source version of Chef server.

Both flavors provide integration with many cloud providers, multiple environment support, text based search capabilities, etc. However, some additional advanced features are provided in the Enterprise Chef. It is based on a no assumption model, in which Chef provides a way to describe and automate the processes as well as the infrastructure. Then later it becomes a part of the agile process. The usable definitions are known as cookbooks and recipes in Chef. These definitions are written using Ruby.

Both Puppet and Chef offer a free open source version. Both the tools differ primarily in the technology. Puppet’s technology has been designed for simplicity. On the other hand, Chef’s technology is designed for cloud automation. The model driven technology of Puppet is quiet popular with regular users. However, Chef remains to be popular with developers.

Comparison between Puppet and Chef:

 

Puppet

Chef

Definition Puppet is an open source configuration management tool which is written in Ruby. It is a product of Puppet Labs. Chef is also a configuration tool, but it is written in Ruby and Erlang. It is a product of Opscode.
Supported Platforms It is officially supported on a broader range of OS. It is officially supported on a less broader range of OS.
Community Larger user base Comparatively smaller user base
Pricing It has a free open source version. Puppet Enterprise is free for the first 10 nodes and then $99 per node (per year) after that. It also has a free open source version. Private Chef ranges from $120 per month for 20 servers to $600 per month for 100 servers.
API Integration It seems to have no extended API Chef has an extended API
Type of application It is a user application It is also a user application but also can become a part of the application
Configuring the Configuration Server Comparatively difficult Comparatively easy
Code Execution Both on puppermaster and puppet client On the node/client
Ordered Execution Some support Better support
Company Puppet Labs Opscode
Notable Customers Twitter and Nokia Facebook and Splunk
Frindliness More sysadmin friendly More programmer friendly
Language Mainly Puppet’s custom JSON-like language, although a Ruby option is available beginning in version 2.6 A subset of Ruby
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