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smf (29) Versions 0.6.5

A light weight resource provider (LWRP) for SMF (Service Management Facility)

cookbook 'smf', '= 0.6.5', :supermarket
cookbook 'smf', '= 0.6.5'
knife supermarket install smf
knife supermarket download smf
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Service Management Facility (SMF) is a tool in many Illumos and Solaris-derived operating systems
that treats services as first class objects of the system. It provides an XML syntax for
declaring how the system can interact with an control a service.

The SMF cookbook contains providers for creating or modifying a service within the SMF framework.


Any operating system that uses SMF, ie Solaris, SmartOS, OpenIndiana etc.

Requires the RBAC cookbook, which can be found at


  • credentials_user - User to run service commands as
  • start_command
  • start_timeout
  • stop_command - defaults to :kill, which basically means it will destroy every PID generated from the start command
  • stop_timeout
  • restart_command - defaults to stop_command, then start_command
  • restart_timeout
  • working_directory - PWD that SMF should cd to in order to run commands
  • duration - Can be either contract, wait, transient or child, but defaults to contract. See the Duration section below.
  • locale - Character encoding to use (default "C")
  • environment - Hash - Environment variables to set while running commands
  • service_path - defaults to /var/svc/manifest
  • manifest_type - defaults to application
  • property_groups - Hash - This should be in the form {"group name" => {"type" => "application", "key" => "value", ...}}
  • ignore - Array - Faults to ignore in subprocesses. For example, if core dumps in children are handled by a master process and you don't want SMF thinking the service is exploding, you can ignore ["core", "signal"].


smf "my-service" do
  credentials_user "non-root-user"
  start_command "my-service start"
  start_timeout 10
  stop_command "pkill my-service"
  stop_command  5
  restart_command "my-service restart"
  restart_timeout 60
  environment "PATH" => "/home/non-root-user/bin",
              "RAILS_ENV" => "staging"
  locale "C"
  manifest_type "application"
  service_path  "/var/svc/manifest"

service "my-service" do
  action :enable

service "my-service" do
  action :restart

Provider Actions

:install (default)

This will drop a manifest XML file into #{service_path}/#{manifest_type}/#{name}.xml. If there is already a service
with a name that is matched by then the FMRI of our manifest will be set to the FMRI of the
pre-existing service. In this case, our properties will be merged into the properties of the pre-existing service.

In this way, updates to recipes that use the SMF provider will not delete existing service properties, but will add
or overwrite them.

Because of this, the SMF provider can be used to update properties for
services that are installed via a package manager.


Remove an SMF definition. This stops the service if it is running.

Resource Notes

credentials_user, working_directory and environment

SMF does a remarkably good job running services as delegated users, and removes a lot of pain if you configure a
service correctly. There are many examples online (blogs, etc) of users wrapping their services in shell scripts with
start, stop, restart arguments. In general it seems as if the intention of these scripts is to take care of the
problem of setting environment variables and shelling out as another user.

The use of shell scripts to wrap executables is unnecessary with SMF, as it provides hooks for all of these use cases.
When using credentials_user, SMF will assume that the working_directory is the user's home directory. This can be
easily overwritten (to /home/user/app/current for a Rails application, for example). One thing to be careful of is
that shell profile files will not be loaded. For this reason, if environment variables (such as PATH) are different
on your system or require additional entries arbitrary key/values may be set using the environment attribute.


There are several different ways that SMF can track your service. By default it uses contract.
Basically, this means that it will keep track of the PIDs of all daemonized processes generated from start_command.
If SMF sees that processes are cycling, it may try to restart the service. If things get too hectic, it
may think that your service is flailing and put it into maintenance mode. If this is normal for your service,
for instance if you have a master that occasionally reaps processes, you may want to specify additional
configuration options.

If you have a job that you want managed by SMF, but which is not daemonized, another duration option is
transient. In this mode, SMF will not watch any processes, but will expect that the main process exits cleanly.
This can be used, for instance, for a script that must be run at boot time, or for a script that you want to delegate
to particular users with Role Based Access Control. In this case, the script can be registered with SMF to run as root,
but with the start_command delegated to your user.

A third option is wait.

A fourth option is child.


Sometimes you have a case where your service behaves poorly. The Ruby server Unicorn, for example, has a master
process that likes to kill its children. This causes core dumps that SMF will interpret to be a failing service.
Instead you can ignore ["core", "signal"] and SMF will stop caring about core dumps.

Property Groups

Property Groups are where you can store extra information for SMF to use later. They should be used in the
following format:

smf "my-service" do
  start_command "do-something"
    "config" => {
      "type" => "application",
      "my-property" => "property value"

type will default to application, and is used in the manifest XML to declare how the property group will be
used. For this reason, type can not be used as a property name (ie variable).

One way to use property groups is to pass variables on to commands, as follows:

rails_env = node["from-chef-environment"]["rails-env"]

smf "unicorn" do
  start_command "bundle exec unicorn_rails -c /home/app_user/app/current/config/%{config/rails_env} -E %{config/rails_env} -D"
  start_timeout 300
  restart_command ":kill -SIGUSR2"
  restart_timeout 300
  working_directory "/home/app_user/app/current"
    "config" => {
      "rails_env" => rails_env

This is especially handy if you have a case where your commands may come from role attributes, but can
only work if they have access to variables set in an environment or computed in a recipe.

Working Examples

Below are some of the working examples using the SMF cookbook.

Shared Helpers

These live in a library provider somewhere, and help start/stop pid-based processes. This strategy may
be required when using the wait duration.

module ProcessHelpers
  def start_helper(cmd)
    "#{node[:bash]} -c 'export HOME=/home/#{node[:app][:user]} && export JAVA_HOME=/opt/local/java/sun6/ && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:$PATH && source $HOME/.bashrc && cd $HOME/#{node[:app][:dir]} && #{cmd}'"
  def stop_helper(pid, sig = :term)
    "#{node[:bash]} -c 'if [ -f #{pid} ]; then kill -#{sig.to_s.upcase} `cat #{pid}` 2>/dev/null; fi; exit 0'"


Here is an example that uses duration wait. Because of this, SMF does
not watch pids in a contract, and the stop_command needs to figure out
what processes are running.

class Chef::Resource::Smf
  include ::ProcessHelpers

rails_env     = node[:rails_env]
user          = node[:app][:user]

current_path  = "/home/#{user}/#{node[:app][:dir]}"
unicorn_conf  = "#{current_path}/config/unicorn/#{rails_env}.rb"
unicorn_pid   = "#{current_path}/tmp/pids/"

smf "unicorn" do
  credentials_user user
  start_command start_helper("(bundle exec unicorn_rails -c #{unicorn_conf} -E #{rails_env} -D)")
  start_timeout 90
  stop_command stop_helper(unicorn_pid, :term)
  stop_timeout 30
  duration "wait"
  working_directory "#{current_path}"

This example, while more verbose, uses the default duration of
contract, and so SMF can take care of pid management. We are able to
use :kill in the stop and restart commands.

current_path = "/home/#{user}/#{}"
rails_env =
unicorn_path = "/home/#{user}/.rbenv/shims:/home/#{user}/.rbenv/bin"
garbage_collection_settings = {
  "RUBY_GC_MALLOC_LIMIT": 50000000,
  "RUBY_HEAP_MIN_SLOTS": 500000,

smf "unicorn" do
  credentials_user user

  start_command "bundle_exec unicorn_rails -c %{config/current_path}/config/unicorn/%{config/rails_env}.rb -E %{config/rails_env} -D"
  start_timeout 90
  stop_command ":kill"           ## this is redundant, as it is the default
  stop_timeout 30
  restart_command ":kill -SIGUSR2"
  restart_timout 120

    {"PATH" => unicorn_path}.merge(garbage_collection_settings)

  ## If you get into a case where the unicorn master is frequently reaping workers, SMF may notice 
  ## and put the service into maintenance mode. Instead, we tell SMF to ignore core dumps and 
  ## signals to children.
  ignore ["core","signal"]
    "config" => {
      "rails_env" => rails_env,
      "current_path" => current_path
  working_directory current_path


class Chef::Resource::Smf
  include ::ProcessHelpers

rails_env     = node[:rails_env]
user          = node[:app][:user]
dir           = "/home/#{user}/#{node[:app][:dir]}"

sidekiq_yml   = "#{dir}/config/sidekiq.yml"
sidekiq_pid   = "#{dir}/tmp/pids/"
sidekiq_log   = "#{dir}/log/sidekiq.log"

smf "sidekiq" do
  credentials_user user
  start_command start_helper("(bundle exec sidekiq -e #{rails_env} -C #{sidekiq_yml} -P #{sidekiq_pid} >> #{sidekiq_log} 2>&1 &)")
  start_timeout 30
  stop_command stop_helper(sidekiq_pid, :term)
  stop_timeout 15
  working_directory "#{dir}"

sidekiq_monitor_pid         = "#{dir}/tmp/pids/"
sidekiq_monitor_run_path    = "#{dir}/"
sidekiq_monitor_config_path = "#{dir}/config/unicorn/sidekiq_monitor.rb"

smf "sidekiq-monitor" do
  credentials_user user
  start_command start_helper("(BUNDLE_GEMFILE=#{dir}/Gemfile bundle exec unicorn -c #{sidekiq_monitor_config_path} -E #{rails_env} -D #{sidekiq_monitor_run_path} 2>&1)")
  start_timeout 30
  stop_command stop_helper(sidekiq_monitor_pid, :term)
  stop_timeout 15
  working_directory "#{dir}"

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