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The generic-users cookbook has been deprecated

The generic-users cookbook has been deprecated and is no longer being maintained by its authors. Use of the generic-users cookbook is no longer recommended. You may find that the users cookbook is a suitable alternative.


generic-users (10) Versions 0.1.6

Sets up user accounts

cookbook 'generic-users', '= 0.1.6'
cookbook 'generic-users', '= 0.1.6', :supermarket
knife supermarket install generic-users
knife supermarket download generic-users
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This cookbook manages user accounts, attributes, and permissions in a generic, data-driven way. It is a drop-in replacement for Opscode's or 37signals' users cookbook, but it is more flexible.

This cookbook is partially based on Opscode's users cookbook and users::sysadmins recipe.

This cookbook also provides a library part that can be used to centrally configure users of your system in a consistent, data-driven way. You can use the library part even when still using old opscode's or 37signals' cookbook to actually create shell accounts. See "usage" section for details.


No other cookbook is required.


  • users.supergroup -- group that is active on all machines, and has superuser rights. Default: sysadmin. Don't change the default to be compatible with Opscode's cookbooks
  • users.active_groups -- names of groups to create shell accounts for on the machine.

users.supergroup, if defined, will be added to this list.

If this attribute is not defined, active_groups attribute will be tried for compatibility with 37signals' cookbook.

Groups in this list will be created as shell groups and users will be added to them, unless groups data bag item for the group exists and has shell parameter set to false. * users.force_default_group -- name of group that will be primary group for all users. Default is that a group is created for each user.


Two data bags need to be created: users and groups. Second one can be empty.

The users data bag

Keys recognized:

  • id -- ID of data bag item, default username
  • username -- username if different from id; it should be used for username policies requiring characters illegal in IDs (e.g. dots)
  • groups -- list of groups user belongs to
  • comment (optional) -- usually user's real name
  • shell -- whether this is a shell account. Can be true (default), false, or a string value. If true or unset, use default shell
  • ssh_keys or ssh_key (optional) -- a string or list of strings containing public SSH keys of the user
  • openid (optional) -- OpenID URL of the user, added for supergroup members to Apache's mod_auth_openid config
  • gid (optional) -- force user's primary group (name or numeric)
  • uid (optional) -- force user's numeric id
  • removed -- if set to true value, user's account is removed if it exists. Set this key to revoke access instead of just deleting the data bag item -- the recipe won't touch unknown accounts.

Arbitrary other keys may be used by other cookbooks.

The groups data bag

Keys recognized:

  • id -- group name
  • gid (optional) -- force numeric group id
  • shell -- whether to create a shell group (boolean, defaults to true).
  • user_attributes -- dictionary of attributes that will be applied to group members. Adding other groups by group["user_attributes"]["groups"] won't work; if group inheritance is needed, some other way will be provided.

Arbitrary other keys may be used by other cookbooks.

The GenericUsers::User class

A library class is provided to encapsulate common logic and move it out of cookbooks. This logic concerns mostly user attribute defaults provided in groups' user_attributes dictionary. To get new User instances, following methods are provided:

  • -- takes a data bag item from :users data bag for initialization
  • GenericUsers::User.get(id) -- fetches a :users data bag item, returns User instance
  • GenericUsers::User.find(query) -- searches for :user data bag items by Chef search query, returns array of User instances

Attributes of original data bag items are processed for convenience:

  • :groups attribute is a list even if data bag item's attribute is a bare string
  • :username attribute, if not provided, is initialized to be equal to :id

Dictionary access on User instance return user's direct attribute if it exists. Otherwise, user's groups are iterated to find one, whose :user_attributes dictionary defines such attribute. First found value is used.

To use all defined values (directly from user item and from all groups that define the value), get_all method is used. When called only with parameter name, it return an array of arrays: each array in the list is a list of attribute values. If provided with a block that takes two parameters, this block is used together with inject method to flatten the list; use &:+ to concatenate the list and &:| to get a list of unique values. An example to clarify:

user.get_all(:foo) => [[1], [2, 3], [1, 2, 4]]
user.get_all(:foo, &:+) => [1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4]
user.get_all(:foo, &:|) => [1, 2, 3, 4]

Convenience methods

  • GenericUsers::get_group(group_id) -- returns data bag item or "imaginary group" Mash (containing two attributes: :id, and :imaginary => true) if group is not found.

Tests and docs

Libraary part has an RSpec test suite provided in the spec.rb file, and yardoc generated documentation in doc subdirectory. Run bundle to get all needed software, rake test to test the library part, and rake doc to regenerate documentation.

Dependent cookbooks

This cookbook has no specified dependencies.

Contingent cookbooks

There are no cookbooks that are contingent upon this one.

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