Controlrepo Toolset

Table of Contents

Quick Start

Note: This assumes you are inside the controlrepo directory.

Add this to your Gemfile:

source ''

gem 'controlrepo'

Install all the gems:

bundle install

Add this to your Rakefile:

require 'controlrepo/rake_tasks'

Create directories:

mkdir -p spec/acceptance/nodesets

Generate your controlrepo.yaml:

bundle exec rake generate_controlrepo_yaml > spec/controlrepo.yaml

Generate your nodesets:

bundle exec rake generate_nodesets > spec/acceptance/nodesets/controlrepo-nodes.yml

Optional: Get hiera working

Run spec tests:

bundle exec rake controlrepo_spec

Run acceptance tests:

bundle exec rake controlrepo_acceptance


This gem provides a toolset for testing Puppet Controlrepos (Repos used with r10k). The main purpose of this project is to provide a set of tools to help smooth out the process of setting up and running both spec and acceptance tests for a controlrepo. Due to the fact that controlrepos are fairly standardised in nature it seemed ridiculous that you would need to set up the same testing framework that we would normally use within a module for a controlrepo. This is because at this level we are normally just running very basic tests that test a lot of code. It would also mean that we would need to essentially duplicated our Puppetfile into a .fixtures.yml file, along with a few other things.

This toolset requires some config before it can be used so definitely read that section before getting started.


gem install controlrepo

This gem can just be installed using gem install however I would recommend using Bundler to manage your gems.

Config Files

This project uses one main config file to determine what classes we should be testing and how, this is controlrepo.yaml. The controlrepo.yaml config file provides information about what classes to test when, however it needs more information than that:

If we are doing spec testing we need sets of facts to compile the puppet code against, these are stored in factsets.

If we are doing acceptance testing then we need information about how to spin up VMs to do the testing on, these are configured in nodesets.

There is one thing that is not configured using config files and that is the environment to test. To change the environment that tests run in simply use the CONTROLREPO_env environment variable e.g.

CONTROLREPO_env=development bundle exec rake controlrepo_spec



Hopefully this config file will be fairly self explanatory once you see it, but basically this is the place where we define what classes we want to test and the factsets/nodesets that we want to test them against. The config file must contain the following sections:

classes: A list (array) of classes that we want to test, usually this would be your roles, possibly profiles if you want. (F you don't know what roles and profiles are please READ THIS)

nodes: The nodes that we want to test against. The nodes that we list here map directly to either a factset or a nodeset depending on weather we are running spec or acceptance tests respectively.

node_groups: The node_groups section is just for saving us some typing. Here we can set up groups of nodes which we can then refer to in our test matrix. We can create groups by simply specifying an array of servers to be in the group, or we can use the subtractive include/exclude syntax.

class_groups: The class_groups section is jmuch the same as the node_groups sections, except that it creates groups of classes, not groups of nodes (duh). All the same rules apply and you can also use the include/exclude syntax.

test_matrix: This where the action happens! This is the section where we set up which classes are going to be tested against which nodes. It should be an array of hashes with the following format:

  - {nodes_to_test}:
      classes: '{classes_to_test}'
      tests: '{all_tests|acceptance|spec}' # One of the three
      options: # Optional (haha, get it?)
        {valid_option}: {value} # Check the doco for available options

Why an array of hashes? Well, that is so that we can refer to the same node or node group twice, which we may want/need to do. In the example below we have not referred to the same group twice but we have referred to centos6a and centos7b in all of out tests as they are in all_nodes, non_windows_servers and centos_severs. However we have left the more specific references to last. This is because entries in the test_matrix will override entries above them if applicable. Meaning that we are still only testing each class on the two centos servers once (Because the gem does de-duplication before running the tests), but also making sure we run roles::frontend_webserver twice before checking for idempotency.

A full example:

  - 'roles::backend_dbserver'
  - 'roles::frontend_webserver'
  - 'roles::load_balancer'
  - 'roles::syd_f5_load_balancer'
  - 'roles::windows_server'

  - centos6a
  - centos7b
  - server2008r2a
  - ubuntu1404a

    - centos6a
    - centos7b
    include: 'all_nodes'
    exclude: 'server2008r2a'

    - 'roles::windows_server'
    - 'roles::backend_dbserver'
    include: 'all_classes'
    exclude: 'windows_roles'

  - all_nodes:
      classes: 'all_classes'
      tests: 'spec'
  - non_windows_servers:
      classes: 'all_classes'
      tests: 'all_tests'
  - centos_severs:
      classes: 'roles::frontend_webserver'
      tests: 'acceptance'
        runs_before_idempotency: 2

Include/Exclude syntax: This can be used with either node_groups or class_groups and allows us to save some time by using existing groups to create new ones e.g.

  windows_nodes: # This has to be defined first
    - sevrer2008r2
    - server2012r2
    include: 'all_nodes' # Start with all nodes
    exclude: 'windows_nodes' # Then remove the windows ones from that list

It's important to note that in order to reference a group using the include/exclude syntax is has to have been defined already i.e. it has to come above the group that references it (Makes sense right?)

NOTE: You can change where the gem creates it's temporary directory for running the tests by exporting the CONTROLREPO_temp environment variable.

Test Options

check_idempotency Default: true

Weather or not to check that puppet will be idempotent

runs_before_idempotency Default: 1

The number of runs to try before checking that it is idempotent. Required for some things that require restarts of the server or restarts of puppet.


This gem comes with a few pre-canned factsets. These are listed under nodes when you run bundle exec rake generate_controlrepo_yaml. You can also add your own factsets by putting them in:


Factsets are used by the controlrepo gem to generate spec tests, which compile a given class against a certain set of facts. To create these factsets all we need to do is log onto a real machine that has puppet installed and run:

puppet facts

Which will give raw json output of every fact which puppet knows about. Usually I would recommend running this on each of the types of machines that you run in your infrastructure so that you have a good coverage. To make life easier you might want to direct it into a file instead of copying it from the command line:

puppet facts > fact_set_name.json

Once we have our factset all we need to do is copy it into spec/factsets/ inside out controlrepo and commit it to version control. Factsets are named based on their filename, not the name of the server they came from (Although you can, if you want). i.e the following factset file:


Would map to a node named server2008r2 in controlrepo.yaml



Nodesets are used when running acceptance tests. They instruct the controlrepo gem how to spin up virtual machines to run the code on. Actually, that's a lie... What's really happening with nodesets is that we are using Beaker to spin up the machines and then a combination of Beaker and RSpec to test them. But you don't need to worry about that too much. Due to the fact that we are using beaker to do the heavy lifting here the nodeset files follow the same format they would for normal Beaker tests, which at the time of writing supports the following hypervisors:

Before we configure a hypervisor to spin up a node however, we have to make sure that it can clone from a machine which is ready. The controlrepo gem requires it's VMs to have puppet pre-installed. It doesn't matter what version of puppet, as long as it is on the PATH and the type setting is configured correctly i.e.

type: AIO # For machines that have the all-in-one agent installed (>=4.0 or >=2015.2)
# OR
type: pe # For puppet enterprise agents <2015.2
# OR
type: foss # For open source puppet <4.0

Here is an example of a nodeset file that you can use yourselves. It uses freely available Vagrant boxes from puppetlabs and Virtualbox as the Vagrant provider.

      - agent
    type: aio
    platform: el-6-64
    box: puppetlabs/centos-6.6-64-puppet
    hypervisor: vagrant_virtualbox
      - agent
    type: aio
    platform: el-7-64
    box: puppetlabs/centos-7.0-64-puppet
    hypervisor: vagrant_virtualbox
      - agent
    type: aio
    platform: ubuntu-12.04-32
    box: puppetlabs/ubuntu-12.04-32-puppet
    hypervisor: vagrant_virtualbox
      - agent
    type: aio
    platform: debian-7.8-64
    box: puppetlabs/debian-7.8-64-puppet
    hypervisor: vagrant_virtualbox

Hiera Data

If you have hiera data inside your controlrepo (or somewhere else) the Controlrepo gem can be configured to use it. Just dump your hiera.yaml file from the puppet master into the spec/ directory and you are good to go. NOTE: This assumes that the path to your hiera data (datadir) is relative to the root of the controlrepo, if not it will fall over.


For the Controlrepo gem to be able to clone the controlrepo (itself) from git (into a temp dir) it needs an r10k.yaml file under the spec/ directory. Don't worry about any of the paths here, we dynamically generate and override them. I realise that this is kind of redundant and will be looking into changing it in the future.

Spec testing

Once you have your controlrepo.yaml and factsets set up you are ready to go with spec testing.

To run the tests:

bundle exec rake controlrepo_spec

This will do the following things:

  1. Create a temporary directory
  2. Clone all repos in the Puppetfile into the temporary directory
  3. Generate tests that use rspec-puppet
  4. Install required gems into temp dir using Bundler
  5. Run the tests

Adding your own spec tests

When using this gem adding your own spec tests is exactly the same as if you were to add them to a module, simply create them under spec/{classes,defines,etc.} in the Controlrepo and they will be run like normal, along with all of the it { should compile } tests.

Acceptance testing

Acceptance testing works in much the same way as spec testing except that it requires a nodeset file along with controlrepo.yaml

To run the tests:

bundle exec rake controlrepo_acceptance

This will do the following things:

  1. Create a temporary directory
  2. Clone all repos in the Puppetfile into the temporary directory
  3. Generate tests that use RSpec and Beaker
  4. Install required gems into temp dir using Bundler
  5. Run the tests, each test consists of:
    • Spin up the VM
    • Copy over the code
    • Run puppet and catch any errors
    • Run puppet again to catch anything that might not be idempotent
    • Destroy the VM

Using workarounds

There may be situations where you cannot test everything that is in your puppet code, some common reasons for this include:

  • Code is destined for a Puppet Master but the VM image is not a Puppet Master which means we can't restart certain services etc.
  • A file is being pulled from somewhere that is only accessible in production
  • Something is trying to connect to something else that does not exist

Fear not! There is a solution for this, it's also a good way to practice writing nasty puppet code. For this exact purpose I have added the ability for the controlrepo gem to include extra bits of code in the tests to fix things. All you need to do is put a file containing puppet code here:


What this will do is it will take any puppet code from any files it finds in that directory and have it executed alongside the code that you are actually testing. For example if we are testing some code that notifies the pe-puppetserver service, but are not managing that service in our code because it is managed by the PE module that ships with Puppet Enterprise:

# Somewhere in our code
file { '/etc/puppetlabs/puppet/puppet.conf':
  ensure  => file,
  content => '#nothing',
  notify  => Service['pe-puppetserver'], # This will fail without the PE module!

We can add the service to the pre_conditions to make sure that out catalogs can compile e.g.

# spec/pre_conditions/services.pp
service { 'pe-puppetserver':
  ensure => 'running',

However this is going to pose an issue when we get to acceptance testing. Due to the fact that acceptance tests actually run the code, not just try to compile a catalog, it will not be able to find the 'pe-pupetserver' service and will fail. One way to get around this is to use some of the optional parameters to the service resource e.g.

# We are not going to actually have this service anywhere on our servers but
# our code needs to refresh it. This is to trick puppet into doing nothing
service { 'pe-puppetserver':
  ensure     => 'running',
  enable     => false,
  hasrestart => false, # Force Puppet to use start and stop to restart
  start      => 'echo "Start"', # This will always exit 0
  stop       => 'echo "Stop"', # This will also always exit 0
  hasstatus  => false, # Force puppet to use our command for status
  status     => 'echo "Status"', # This will always exit 0 and therefore Puppet will think the service is running
  provider   => 'base',

Here we are specifying custom commands to run for starting, stopping and checking the status of a service. We know what the exit codes of these commands are going to be so we know what puppet will think the service is doing because we have read the documentation. If there are things other than services you need to check then I would recommend checking the documentation to see if you can mock things like we have here.

Resource collectors are likely to come in handy here too. They allow you to override values of resources that match given criteria. This way we can override things for the sake of testing without having to change the code.

NOTE: If you need to run some pre_conditions during acceptance tests but not spec tests or vice versa you can check the status of the $controlrepo_accpetance variable. It will be true when run as an acceptance test and undef otherwise. If you want to limit pre_conditions to only certain nodes just use conditional logic based on facts like you normally would.

Extra Tooling

I have provided some extra tools to use if you would prefer to write your own tests which I will go over here.

Accessing fact sets in a traditional RSpec test

We can access all of our fact sets using Controlrepo.facts. Normally it would be implemented something like this:

Controlrepo.facts.each do |facts|
  context "on #{facts['fqdn']}" do
    let(:facts) { facts }
    it { should compile }

Accessing Roles in a traditional RSpec test

This gem allows us to easily and dynamically test all of the roles and profiles in our environment against fact sets from all of the nodes to which they will be applied. All we need to do is create a spec test that calls out to the Controlrepo ruby class:

require 'spec_helper'
require 'controlrepo'

Controlrepo.roles.each do |role|
  describe role do
    Controlrepo.facts.each do |facts|
      context "on #{facts['fqdn']}" do
        let(:facts) { facts }
        it { should compile }

This will iterate over each role in the controlrepo and test that it compiles with each set of facts.

The same can also be done with profiles just by using the profiles method instead:

require 'spec_helper'
require 'controlrepo'

Controlrepo.profiles.each do |profile|
  describe profile do
    Controlrepo.facts.each do |facts|
      context "on #{facts['fqdn']}" do
        let(:facts) { facts }
        it { should compile }

It is not limited to just doing simple "It should compile" tests. You can put any tests you want in here.

Also since the profiles, roles and facts methods simply return arrays, you can iterate over them however you would like i.e. you could write a different set of tests for each profile and then just use the facts method to run those tests on every fact set.


You can also filter your fact sets based on the value of any fact, including structured facts. (It will drill down into nested hashes and match those too, it's not just a dumb equality match)

Just pass a hash to the facts method and it will return only the fact sets with facts that match the hash e.g. Testing a certain profile on against only your Windows fact sets:

require 'spec_helper'
require 'controlrepo'

describe 'profile::windows_appserver' do
    'kernel' => 'windows'
    }).each do |facts|
    context "on #{facts['fqdn']}" do
      let(:facts) { facts }
      it { should compile }

Using hiera data (In manual tests)

You can also point these tests at your hiera data, you do this as you normally would with rspec tests. However we do provide one helper to make this marginally easier. Controlrepo.hiera_config will look for hiera.yaml in the root of your control repo and also the spec directory, you will however need to set up the file itself e.g.

require 'controlrepo'

RSpec.configure do |c|
  c.hiera_config = Controlrepo.hiera_config_file

Extra Configuration

You can modify the regexes that the gem uses to filter classes that it finds into roles and profiles. Just set up a Controlrepo object and pass regexes to the below settings.

repo =
repo.role_regex = /.*/ # Tells the class how to find roles, will be applied to repo.classes
repo.profile_regex = /.*/ # Tells the class how to find profiles, will be applied to repo.classes

Note that you will need to call the roles and profiles methods on the object you just instantiated, not the main class e.g. repo.roles not Controlrepo.roles

Rake tasks

I have included a couple of little rake tasks to help get you started with testing your control repos. Set them up by adding this to your Rakefile

require 'controlrepo/rake_tasks'

The tasks are as follows:


bundle exec rake generate_fixtures

This task will go though your Puppetfile, grab all of the modules in there and convert them into a .fixtures.yml file. (You only need this if you are writing your own custom spec tests) It will also take the environment.conf file into account, check to see if you have any relative pathed directories and also include them into the .fixtures.yml as symlinks. e.g. If your files look like this:


forge ""

# Modules from the Puppet Forge
mod "puppetlabs/stdlib", "4.6.0"
mod "puppetlabs/apache", "1.5.0"


modulepath = site:modules:$basemodulepath
environment_timeout = 0

Then the .fixtures.yml file that this rake task will create will look like this:

    profiles: site/profiles
    roles: site/roles
      repo: puppetlabs/stdlib
      ref: 4.6.0
      repo: puppetlabs/apache
      ref: 1.5.0

Notice that the symlinks are not the ones that we provided in environment.conf? This is because the rake task will go into each of directories, find the modules and create a symlink for each of them (This is what rspec expects).


bundle exec rake generate_controlrepo_yaml

This will try to generate a controlrepo.yaml file, it will:

  • Parse your environment.conf to work out where your roles and profiles might live
  • Find your roles classes and pre-polulate them into the "classes" section
  • Look though all of the factsets that ship with the gem, and also the ones you have created under spec/factsets/*.json
  • Populate the "nodes" section with all of the factsets it finds
  • Create node groups of windows and non-windows nodes
  • Create a basic test_matrix


bundle exec rake generate_nodesets

This task will generate nodeset file required by beaker, based on the factsets that exist in the repository. If you have any fact sets for which puppetlabs has a compatible vagrant box (i.e. centos, debian, ubuntu) it will detect the version specifics and set up the nodeset file, complete with box URL. If it doesn't know how to deal with a fact set it will output a boilerplate nodeset section and comment it out.


bundle exec rake hiera_setup

Automatically modifies your hiera.yaml to point at the hieradata relative to it's position.

This rake task will look for a hiera.yaml file (Using the same method we use for this). It will then look for a hieradata directory in the root for your control repo (needs to match this). It will then modify the datadirs of any backends it finds in hiera.yaml to point at these directories.