Quest Objectives

  • Learn about the value of Puppet and Puppet Enterprise
  • Familiarize yourself with the Quest structure and tool

The Learning VM

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

-Arthur C. Clarke

Welcome to the Quest Guide for the Learning Virtual Machine. This guide will be your companion as you make your way through a series of interactive quests on the accompanying VM. This first quest serves as an introduction to Puppet and gives you an overview of the quest structure and the integrated quest tool. We've done our best to keep it short so you can get on to the meatier stuff in the quests that follow.

You should have started up the VM by now, and have an open SSH session from your terminal or SSH client.

If you need to, return to the Setup section and review the instructions to get caught up. The username is root, and the generated password can be found on the splash screen displayed after starting up the VM or, if you are already logged in, with the command cat /var/local/password. (Note that you will have a cleaner experience if you log out of the terminal provided by your virtualization software before connecting via SSH. If a session remains open, your terminal's character width will be bound to that defined by your virtualization software's interface.)

If you're comfortable in a Unix command-line environment, feel free to take a look around and get a feel for what you're working with.

Getting Started

The Learning VM includes a quest tool that will provide structure and feedback as you progress. You'll learn more about this tool below, but for now, type the following command to start your first quest: the "Welcome" quest.

quest begin welcome

What is Puppet?

Puppet is an open-source IT automation tool. The Puppet Domain Specific Language (DSL) is a Ruby-based coding language that provides a precise and adaptable way to describe a desired state for each machine in your infrastructure. Once you've described a desired state, Puppet does the work to bring your systems in line and keep them there.

The easy-to-read syntax of Puppet's DSL gives you an operating-system-independent language to specify which packages should be installed, what services you want running, which users accounts you need, how permissions are set, and just about any other detail of a system you might want to manage. If you're the DIY type or have unique needs, you can write the Puppet code to do all these things from scratch. But if you'd rather not re-invent the wheel, a wide variety of pre-made Puppet modules can help you get the setup you're looking for without pounding out the code yourself.

Why not just run a few shell commands or write a script? If you're comfortable with shell scripting and concerned with a few changes on a few machines, this may indeed be simpler. The appeal of Puppet is that it allows you to describe all the details of a configuration in a way that abstracts away from operating system specifics, then manage those configurations on as many machines as you like. It lets you control your whole infrastructure (think hundreds or thousands of nodes) in a way that is simpler to maintain, understand, and audit than a collection of complicated scripts.

Puppet Enterprise (PE) is a complete configuration management platform, with an optimized set of components proven to work well together. It combines a version of open source Puppet (including a preconfigured production-grade Puppet master stack), with MCollective, PuppetDB, Hiera, and more than 40 other open source projects that Puppet Labs has integrated, certified, performance-tuned, and security-hardened to make a complete solution for automating mission-critical enterprise infrastructure.

In addition to these integrated open source projects, PE has many of its own features, including a graphical web interface for analyzing reports and controlling your infrastructure, orchestration features to keep your applications running smoothly as you coordinate updates and maintenance, event inspection, role-based access control, certificate management.

Task 1:

Now that you know what Puppet and Puppet Enterprise are, check and see what version of Puppet is running on this Learning VM. Type the following command:

puppet -V

You will see something like the following:


This would indicate that Puppet Version 4.4.1 is installed.

What is a Quest?

At this point we've introduced you to the Learning VM and Puppet. You'll get your hands on Puppet soon enough. But first, what's a quest? This guide contains collection structured tutorials that we call quests. Each quest includes interactive tasks that give you a chance to try things out for yourself as you learn them.

If you executed the puppet -V command earlier, you've already completed your first task. (If not, go ahead and do so now.)

If you don't see your progress register, it may be because your bash_history file hasn't been initialized. To fix this, run the command

exec bash

The Quest Tool

The Learning VM includes a quest tool that will help you keep track of which quests and tasks you've completed successfully and which are still pending. We've written a couple of tasks in this quest to demonstrate the features of the quest tool itself.

Task 2:

To explore the command options for the quest tool, type the following command:

quest --help

The quest --help command provides you with a list of all the options for the quest command. You can invoke the quest command with each of those options, such as:

    quest - Track the status of quests and tasks.

    quest [global options] command [command options] [arguments...]

    --help - Show this message

    begin  - Begin a quest
    help   - Shows a list of commands or help for one command
    list   - List available quests
    status - Show status of the current quest

Task 3:

Find out how much progress you have made so far:

quest status

While you can use the quest commands to find more detailed information about your progress through the quests, you can check the quest status display at the bottom right of your terminal window to keep up with your progress in real time.

Structure of this Quest Guide

We've organized the quests for the Learning VM around the belief that the more quickly you're exposed to real Puppet code in realistic conditions, the more quickly you'll learn. As far as is reasonable, we've tried to construct quests around plausible use cases, and to this end, most quests will introduce several related concepts at once.

After this Welcome quest, the Power of Puppet quest will give you a glimpse of the big picture so you have context for the quests that follow.

The first several quests after that, up to and including the Modules quest, are your foundations. Learning about these things is like tying your shoe laces: no matter where you're trying to get to, you're going to get tripped up if you don't have a solid understanding of things like resources, classes, manifests, and modules.

We want to show that once you've taken care of these basics, though, there's quite a lot you can do with Puppet using modules from the Puppet Forge. After the foundations section, we've included some quests that will walk you through downloading, configuring, and deploying existing Puppet modules.

Next, we introduce you to the Puppet language constructs you'll need to get started writing and deploying your own modules: things like variables, conditionals, class parameters, resource ordering, and defined resource types. With these concepts under your belt, you'll be in a much better position not just to create your own Puppet code, but to understand what's going on under the hood of modules you want to deploy.


In this introductory quest we gave a brief overview of what Puppet is and the advantages of using Puppet to define and maintain the state of your infrastructure.

We also introduced the concept of the quest and interactive task. You tried out the quest tool and reviewed the mechanics completing quests and tasks.

Now that you know what Puppet and Puppet Enterprise are, and how to use the quest tool, you're ready to move on to the next quest: The Power of Puppet.

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