Puppet is configuration management tool that simplifies complex task of deploying new software, applying software updates and rollback software packages in large cluster


Configuration management is an important task of IT department in any organization. It is process of managing infrastructure changes in structured and systematic way. Manual rolling back of infrastructure to previous version of software is cumbersome, time consuming and error prone. Puppet is configuration management tool that simplifies complex task of deploying new software, applying software updates and rollback software packages in large cluster. Puppet does this through Infrastructure as Code (IAC). Code is written for infrastructure on one central location and is pushed to nodes in all environments (Dev, Test, Production) using puppet tool. Configuration management tool has two approaches for managing infrastructure; Configuration push and pull. In push configuration, infrastructure as code is pushed from centralized server to nodes whereas in pull configuration nodes pulls infrastructure as code from central server as shown in fig. 1.

Figure 1: Infrastructure As Code [1]

Puppet uses push and pull configuration in centralized manner as shown in fig. 2.

Figure 2: push-pull-config Image [1]

Another popular infrastructure tool is Ansible. It does not have master and client nodes. Any node in Ansible can act as executor. Any node containing list of inventory and SSH credential can play master node role to connect with other nodes as opposed to puppet architecture where server and agent software needs to be setup and installed. Configuring Ansible nodes is simple, it just requires python version 2.5 or greater. Ansible uses push architecture for configuration.

Master slave architecture

Puppet uses master slave architecture as shown in fig. 3. Puppet server is called as master node and client nodes are called as puppet agent. Agents poll server at regular interval and pulls updated configuration from master. Puppet Master is highly available. It supports multi master architecture. If one master goes down backup master stands up to serve infrastructure.


  • nodes (puppet agents) sends information (for e.g IP, hardware detail, network etc.) to master. Master stores such information in manifest file.
  • Master node compiles catalog file containing configuration information that needs to be implemented on agent nodes.
  • Master pushes catalog to puppet agent nodes for implementing configuration.
  • Client nodes send back updated report to Master. Master updates its inventory.
  • All exchange between master and agent is secured through SSL encryption (see fig. 3)
Figure 3: Master and Slave Architecture [1]

fig. 4, shows flow between master and slave.

Figure 4: Master Slave Workflow 1 [1]

fig. 5 shows SSL workflow between master and slave.

Figure 5: Master Slave SSL Workflow [1]

Puppet comes in two forms. Open source Puppet and Enterprise In this tutorial we will showcase installation steps of both forms.

Install Opensource Puppet on Ubuntu

We will demonstrate installation of Puppet on Ubuntu

Prerequisite - Atleast 4 GB RAM, Ubuntu box ( standalone or VM )

First, we need to make sure that Puppet master and agent is able to communicate with each other. Agent should be able to connect with master using name.

configure Puppet server name and map with its ip address

$ sudo nano /etc/hosts

contents of the /etc/hosts should look like

<ip_address> my-puppet-master

my-puppet-master is name of Puppet master to which Puppet agent would try to connect

press <ctrl> + O to Save and <ctrl> + X to exit

Next, we will install Puppet on Ubuntu server. We will execute the following commands to pull from official Puppet Labs Repository

$ curl -O https://apt.puppetlabs.com/puppetlabs-release-pc1-xenial.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i puppetlabs-release-pc1-xenial.deb
$ sudo apt-get update

Intstall the Puppet server

$ sudo apt-get install puppetserver

Default instllation of Puppet server is configured to use 2 GB of RAM. However, we can customize this by opening puppetserver configuration file

$ sudo nano /etc/default/puppetserver

This will open the file in editor. Look for JAVA_ARGS line and change the value of -Xms and -Xmx parameters to 3g if we wish to configure Puppet server for 3GB RAM. Note that default value of this parameter is 2g.

JAVA_ARGS="-Xms3g -Xmx3g -XX:MaxPermSize=256m"

press <ctrl> + O to Save and <ctrl> + X to exit

By default Puppet server is configured to use port 8140 to communicate with agents. We need to make sure that firewall allows to communicate on this port

$ sudo ufw allow 8140

next, we start Puppet server

$ sudo systemctl start puppetserver

Verify server has started

$ sudo systemctl status puppetserver

we would see “active(running)” if server has started successfully

$ sudo systemctl status puppetserver
● puppetserver.service - puppetserver Service
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/puppetserver.service; disabled; vendor pr
   Active: active (running) since Sun 2019-01-27 00:12:38 EST; 2min 29s ago
  Process: 3262 ExecStart=/opt/puppetlabs/server/apps/puppetserver/bin/puppetser
 Main PID: 3269 (java)
   CGroup: /system.slice/puppetserver.service
           └─3269 /usr/bin/java -Xms3g -Xmx3g -XX:MaxPermSize=256m -Djava.securi

Jan 27 00:11:34 ritesh-ubuntu1 systemd[1]: Starting puppetserver Service...
Jan 27 00:11:34 ritesh-ubuntu1 puppetserver[3262]: OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM warn
Jan 27 00:12:38 ritesh-ubuntu1 systemd[1]: Started puppetserver Service.
lines 1-11/11 (END)

configure Puppet server to start at boot time

$ sudo systemctl enable puppetserver

Next, we will install Puppet agent

$ sudo apt-get install puppet-agent

start Puppet agent

$ sudo systemctl start puppet

configure Puppet agent to start at boot time

$ sudo systemctl enable puppet

next, we need to change Puppet agent config file so that it can connect to Puppet master and communicate

$ sudo nano /etc/puppetlabs/puppet/puppet.conf

configuration file will be opened in an editor. Add following sections in file

certname = <puppet-agent>
server = <my-puppet-server>

server = <my-puppet-server>

Note: my-puppet-server is the name that we have set up in /etc/hosts file while installing Puppet server. And certname is the name of the certificate

Puppet agent sends certificate signing request to Puppet server when it connects first time. After signing request, Puppet server trusts and identifies agent for managing.

execute following command on Puppet Master in order to see all incoming cerficate signing requests

$ sudo /opt/puppetlabs/bin/puppet cert list

we will see something like

$ sudo /opt/puppetlabs/bin/puppet cert list
 "puppet-agent" (SHA256) 7B:C1:FA:73:7A:35:00:93:AF:9F:42:05:77:9B:
  • Note that puppet-agent is the name that we have configured for certname in puppet.conf file*

After validating that request is from valid and trusted agent, we sign the request

$ sudo /opt/puppetlabs/bin/puppet cert sign puppet-agent

we will see message saying certificate was signed if successful

$ sudo /opt/puppetlabs/bin/puppet cert sign puppet-agent
Signing Certificate Request for:
  "puppet-agent" (SHA256) 7B:C1:FA:73:7A:35:00:93:AF:9F:42:05:77:9B:05:09:2F:
Notice: Signed certificate request for puppet-agent
Notice: Removing file Puppet::SSL::CertificateRequest puppet-agent
at '/etc/puppetlabs/puppet/ssl/ca/requests/puppet-agent.pem'

Next, we will verify installation and make sure that Puppet server is able to push configuration to agent. Puppet uses domian specific language code written in manifests ( .pp ) file

create default manifest site.pp file

$ sudo nano /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/manifests/site.pp

This will open file in edit mode. Make following changes to this file

file {'/tmp/it_works.txt':                        # resource type file and filename
  ensure  => present,                             # make sure it exists
  mode    => '0644',                              # file permissions
  content => "It works!\n",  # Print the eth0 IP fact

domain specific language is used to create it_works.txt file inside /tmp directory on agent node. ensure directive make sure that file is present. It creates one if file is removed. mode directive specifies that process has write permission on file to make changes. content directive is used to define content of the changes applied [hid-sp18-523-open]

next, we test the installation on single node

sudo /opt/puppetlabs/bin/puppet agent --test

successfull verification will display

Info: Using configured environment 'production'
Info: Retrieving pluginfacts
Info: Retrieving plugin
Info: Caching catalog for puppet-agent
Info: Applying configuration version '1548305548'
Notice: /Stage[main]/Main/File[/tmp/it_works.txt]/content:
--- /tmp/it_works.txt    2019-01-27 02:32:49.810181594 +0000
+++ /tmp/puppet-file20190124-9628-1vy51gg    2019-01-27 02:52:28.717734377 +0000
@@ -0,0 +1 @@
+it works!

Info: Computing checksum on file /tmp/it_works.txt
Info: /Stage[main]/Main/File[/tmp/it_works.txt]: Filebucketed /tmp/it_works.txt
to puppet with sum d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e
Notice: /Stage[main]/Main/File[/tmp/it_works.txt]/content: content
changed '{md5}d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e' to '{md5}0375aad9b9f3905d3c545b500e871aca'
Info: Creating state file /opt/puppetlabs/puppet/cache/state/state.yaml
Notice: Applied catalog in 0.13 seconds

Installation of Puppet Enterprise

First, download ubuntu-<version and arch>.tar.gz and CPG signature file on Ubuntu VM

Second, we import Puppet public key

$ wget -O - https://downloads.puppetlabs.com/puppet-gpg-signing-key.pub | gpg --import

we will see ouput as

--2019-02-03 14:02:54--  https://downloads.puppetlabs.com/puppet-gpg-signing-key.pub
Resolving downloads.puppetlabs.com
(downloads.puppetlabs.com)... 2600:9000:201a:b800:10:d91b:7380:93a1
, 2600:9000:201a:800:10:d91b:7380:93a1, 2600:9000:201a:be00:10:d91b:7380:93a1, ...
Connecting to downloads.puppetlabs.com (downloads.puppetlabs.com)
|2600:9000:201a:b800:10:d91b:7380:93a1|:443... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 3139 (3.1K) [binary/octet-stream]
Saving to: ‘STDOUT’

-                   100%[===================>]   3.07K  --.-KB/s    in 0s

2019-02-03 14:02:54 (618 MB/s) - written to stdout [3139/3139]

gpg: key 7F438280EF8D349F: "Puppet, Inc. Release Key
(Puppet, Inc. Release Key) <release@puppet.com>" not changed
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:              unchanged: 1

Third, we print fingerprint of used key

$ gpg --fingerprint 0x7F438280EF8D349F

we will see successful output as

pub   rsa4096 2016-08-18 [SC] [expires: 2021-08-17]
      6F6B 1550 9CF8 E59E 6E46  9F32 7F43 8280 EF8D 349F
uid           [ unknown] Puppet, Inc. Release Key
(Puppet, Inc. Release Key) <release@puppet.com>
sub   rsa4096 2016-08-18 [E] [expires: 2021-08-17]

Fourth, we verify release signature of installed package

$ gpg --verify puppet-enterprise-VERSION-PLATFORM.tar.gz.asc

successful output will show as

gpg: assuming signed data in 'puppet-enterprise-2019.0.2-ubuntu-18.04-amd64.tar.gz'
gpg: Signature made Fri 25 Jan 2019 02:03:23 PM EST
gpg:                using RSA key 7F438280EF8D349F
gpg: Good signature from "Puppet, Inc. Release Key
(Puppet, Inc. Release Key) <release@puppet.com>" [unknown]
gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
gpg:          There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
Primary key fingerprint: 6F6B 1550 9CF8 E59E 6E46  9F32 7F43 8280 EF8D 349

Next, we need to unpack installation tarball. Store location of path in $TARBALL variable. This variable will be used in our installation.

$ export TARBALL=path of tarball file

then, we extract tarball

$ tar -xf $TARBALL

Next, we run installer from installer directory

$ sudo ./puppet-enterprise-installer

This will ask us to chose installation option; we could chose from guided installation or text based installation

$ sudo ./puppet-enterprise-installer
    Puppet Enterprise Installer

## Installer analytics are enabled by default.
## To disable, set the DISABLE_ANALYTICS environment variable and rerun
this script.
For example, "sudo DISABLE_ANALYTICS=1 ./puppet-enterprise-installer".
## If puppet_enterprise::send_analytics_data is set to false in your
existing pe.conf, this is not necessary and analytics will be disabled.

Puppet Enterprise offers three different methods of installation.

[1] Express Installation (Recommended)

This method will install PE and provide you with a link at the end
of the installation to reset your PE console admin password

Make sure to click on the link and reset your password before proceeding
to use PE

[2] Text-mode Install

This method will open your EDITOR (vi) with a PE config file (pe.conf)
for you to edit before you proceed with installation.

The pe.conf file is a HOCON formatted file that declares parameters
and values needed to install and configure PE.
We recommend that you review it carefully before proceeding.

[3] Graphical-mode Install

This method will install and configure a temporary webserver to walk
you through the various configuration options.

NOTE: This method requires you to be able to access port 3000 on this
machine from your desktop web browser.


 How to proceed? [1]:


Press 3 for web based Graphic-mode-Install

when successfull, we will see output as

## We're preparing the Web Installer...

2019-02-02T20:01:39.677-05:00 Running command:
mkdir -p /opt/puppetlabs/puppet/share/installer/installer
2019-02-02T20:01:39.685-05:00 Running command:
cp -pR /home/ritesh/pe/puppet-enterprise-2019.0.2-ubuntu-18.04-amd64/*

## Go to https://<localhost>:3000 in your browser to continue installation.

By default Puppet Enterprise server uses 3000 port. Make sure that firewall allows communication on port 3000

$ sudo ufw allow 3000

Next, go to https://localhost:3000 url for completing installation

Click on get started button.

Chose install on this server

Enter <mypserver> as DNS name. This is our Puppet Server name. This can be configured in confile file also.

Enter console admin password

Click continue

we will get confirm the plan screen with following information

The Puppet master component
DNS aliases

click continue and verify installer validation screen.

click Deploy Now button

Puppet enterprise will be installed and will display message on screen

Puppet agent ran sucessfully

login to console with admin password that was set earlier and click on nodes links to manage nodes.

Installing Puppet Enterprise as Text mode monolithic installation

$ sudo ./puppet-enterprise-installer

Enter 2 on How to Proceed for text mode monolithic installation. Following message will be displayed if successfull.

2019-02-02T22:08:12.662-05:00 - [Notice]: Applied catalog in 339.28 seconds
2019-02-02T22:08:13.856-05:00 - [Notice]:
Sent analytics: pe_installer - install_finish - succeeded
* /opt/puppetlabs/puppet/bin/puppet infrastructure configure
--detailed-exitcodes --environmentpath /opt/puppetlabs/server/data/environments
--environment enterprise --no-noop --install=2019.0.2 --install-method='repair'
* returned: 2

## Puppet Enterprise configuration complete!

Documentation: https://puppet.com/docs/pe/2019.0/pe_user_guide.html
Release notes: https://puppet.com/docs/pe/2019.0/pe_release_notes.html

If this is a monolithic configuration, run 'puppet agent -t' to complete the
setup of this system.

If this is a split configuration, install or upgrade the remaining PE components,
and then run puppet agent -t on the Puppet master, PuppetDB, and PE console,
in that order.
2019-02-02T22:08:14.805-05:00 Running command: /opt/puppetlabs/puppet/bin/puppet
agent --enable

This is called as monolithic installation as all components of Puppet Enterprise such as Puppet master, PuppetDB and Console are installed on single node. This installation type is easy to install. Troubleshooting errors and upgrading infrastructure using this type is simple. This installation type can easily support infrastructure of up to 20,000 managed nodes. Compiled master nodes can be added as network grows. This is recommended installation type for small to mid size organizations [2].

pe.conf configuration file will be opened in editor to configure values. This file contains parameters and values for installing, upgrading and configuring Puppet.

Some important parameters that can be specified in pe.conf file are


Lastly, we run puppet after installation is complete

$ puppet agent -t

Text mode split installation is performed for large networks. Compared to monolithic installation split installation type can manage large infrastucture that requires more than 20,000 nodes. In this type of installation different components of Puppet Enterprise (master, PuppetDB and Console) are installed on different nodes. This installation type is recommended for organizations with large infrastructure needs [3].

In this type of installation, we need to install componenets in specific order. First master then puppet db followed by console.

Puppet Enterprise master and agent settings can be configured in puppet.conf file. Most configuration settings of Puppet Enterprise componenets such as Master, Agent and security certificates are all specified in this file.

Config section of Agent Node


certname = <http://your-domain-name.com/>
server = puppetserver
environment = testing
runinterval = 4h

Config section of Master Node


certname =  <http://your-domain-name.com/>
server = puppetserver
environment = testing
runinterval = 4h
strict_variables = true


dns_alt_names = puppetserver,puppet, <http://your-domain-name.com/>
reports = pupated
storeconfigs_backend = puppetdb
storeconfigs = true
environment_timeout = unlimited

Comment lines, Settings lines and Settings variables are main components of puppet configuration file. Comments in config files are specified by prefixing hash character. Setting line consists name of setting followed by equal sign, value of setting are specified in this section. Setting variable value generally consists of one word but multiple can be specified in rare cases [4].


[1] Edureka, “Puppet tutorial – devops tool for configuration management.” Web Page, May-2017 [Online]. Available: https://www.edureka.co/blog/videos/puppet-tutorial/

[2] Puppet, “Text mode installation: Monolithic.” Web Page, Nov-2017 [Online]. Available: https://puppet.com/docs/pe/2017.1/install_text_mode_mono.html

[3] Puppet, “Text mode installation : Split.” Web Page, Nov-2017 [Online]. Available: https://puppet.com/docs/pe/2017.1/install_text_mode_split.html

[4] Puppet, “Config files: The main config files.” Web Page, Apr-2014 [Online]. Available: https://puppet.com/docs/puppet/5.3/config_file_main.html

Last modified June 17, 2021 : add aliasses (6b7beab5)