Only very advanced CycleCloud users will need to understand how to build Chef cookbooks. However, many users will benefit from a basic knowledge of how CycleCloud uses Chef. In particular, users should understand the concept of a run_list, recipe, and Chef attributes.

Basic Chef Concepts

Each node in a CycleCloud cluster is initialized by following a Chef run_list. The run_list is an ordered set of features or recipes to be applied to initialize the node. The recipes themselves implement the low-level system operations required to apply the feature. Cookbooks are collections of recipes that make up a feature. Cookbooks and recipes are parameterized by Chef attributes to allow further customization and configuration of the feature.

CycleCloud ships with a set of pre-defined cluster templates which can be used to provision a set of cluster types that is sufficient for many users. And, further customization is easily accomplished using Cluster-Init. So most users will never need to modify run_lists or build their own recipes and cookbooks.

However, CycleCloud clusters are provisioned using a set of Common Cookbooks available to all CycleCloud clusters, and those cookbooks have a set of attributes which users may wish to customize. Some of the most commonly used attributes are documented below.


Prefer Cluster Template features to direct modification of Chef attributes.

Common Cookbook attributes are subject to change. Attribute settings are commonly superceded as the features they control are made available as more general/powerful features of CycleCloud itself. If a customization is available in both the Cluster Template and via a Chef attribute, always prefer the Cluster Template method since it is the more general solution.

Please consider consulting Cycle Support ( when using Chef attributes to customize your cluster.

For more information on the Opscode Chef framework itself, see the the Opscode website.

Using Chef Attributes

Chef attributes configure the operation of the run_list for an individual node or node array. They should be set in the node’s [[[configuration]]] sub-section. For example, to set the CycleServer Admin Password for a node configured to run CycleServer:

[[node cycle_server]]


    run_list = role[monitor], recipe[cyclecloud::searchable], recipe[cfirst], 
               recipe[cuser::admins], recipe[cshared::client], recipe[cycle_server::4-2-x], 
               recipe[cluster_init], recipe[ccallback::start], recipe[ccallback::stop]



Cycle Computing provides a Chef resource called thunderball to simplify downloading of objects from cloud services to nodes. thunderball automatically handles retrying failed download and supports multiple configurations. By default, thunderball will download a file from the CycleCloud package repository and writes it to $JETPACK_HOME/system/chef/cache/thunderballs. An example using the default configuration:

thunderball "condor" do
    url "cycle/condor-8.2.9.tgz"

The table below lists all of the attributes of the thunderball resource.

thunderball resource attributes
Attribute Default Description
checksum SHA256 checksum for the artifact to be downloaded
client :pogo Command-line client to use (choices are :pogo and :s3cmd)
config Custom thunderball configuration to use
dest_file The file path to download to (storedir is ignored when this is used)
storedir thunderball.storedir The directory files are downloaded to
url The location of the file to be downloaded (full or partial)

Custom configuration sections can be used in order to download objects from another repository.

thunderball_config resource attributes
Attribute Description
base Base URL
client Command-line tool to interact with provider
endpoint URL endpoint to use
filename Config file to use,e.g. /root/.acme_s3cfg
password Secret_key/password for the cloud storage provider
proxy_host Host to use as a proxy
proxy_port Port to use for a proxy
user Local system user that will use this configuration. Configuration file is placed in this user’s home directory (filename is ignored when this is used)
username Access_key/username for cloud storage provider


AWS only: The [:region:] special symbol can be used to configure thunderball on a per-region basis (e.g. by using a base of s3://com.example.cyclecloud-packages.[:region:])

An example of using a custom configuration to download an application tarball:

thunderball_config "our_repo" do
    base 's3://com.example.packages/cyclecloud'
    endpoint ''
    filename '/root/our_repo.cfg'

thunderball "Download application" do
    config 'our_repo'
    url 'application-1.2.3.tgz'

Attribute Reference

CycleServer Cookbook

May be applied to any node configured to run a CycleServer instance.
Set the user name for the CycleServer administrator account. Valid values: any username, default: admin
Set the password for the CycleServer administrator account. Valid values: any password, for example: P@ssw0rd
Set the HTTP port for CycleServer. Default: 8080
Set the HTTPS port for CycleServer. Default: 8443

Cluster User

The cluster user is a non-root, non-sudo user that can log into nodes in the cluster and do basic tasks such as creating and submitting jobs.


These attributes should be set to the same values for all nodes in a cluster; using node defaults is a good way to accomplish this.
Set the user name for the shared cluster user. Prior to CycleCloud 1.10 this was the ‘Username’ attribute on the cluster.
Set the password for the shared cluster user. Prior to CycleCloud 1.10 this was the ‘Password’ attribute on the cluster.