Using reclass with Salt


You need Salt 0.17 to use reclass, as older versions do not include the reclass adapter. You could use the cmd_yaml adapters, but at least for ext_pillar, they are currently not useable, as they do not export the minion ID to the command they run.

Quick start

The following steps should get you up and running quickly with reclass and Salt. You will need to decide for yourself where to put your reclass inventory. This can be your first base file_root (the default), or it could be /etc/reclass, or /srv/salt. The following shall assume the latter.

Or you can also just look into ./examples/salt of your reclass checkout (/usr/share/doc/examples/salt on Debian-systems), where the following steps have already been prepared.

/…/reclass refers to the location of your reclass checkout.

  1. Complete the installation steps described in the installation section.

    Alternatively, you can also tell Salt via the master config file where to look for reclass, but then you won’t be able to interact with reclass through the command line.

  2. Copy the two directories nodes and classes from the example subdirectory in the reclass checkout to e.g. /srv/salt.

    It’s handy to symlink reclass‘ Salt adapter itself to that directory:

    $ ln -s /usr/share/reclass/reclass-salt /srv/salt/states/reclass

    As you can now just inspect the data right there from the command line:

    $ ./reclass --top

    If you don’t want to do this, you can also let reclass know where to look for the inventory with the following contents in $HOME/reclass-config.yml:

    storage_type: yaml_fs
    base_inventory_uri: /srv/reclass

    Or you can reuse the first entry of file_roots under base in the Salt master config.

    Note that yaml_fs is currently the only supported storage_type, and it’s the default if you don’t set it.

  3. Check out your inventory by invoking

    $ reclass-salt --top

    which should return all the information about all defined nodes, which is only localhost in the example. This is essentially the same information that you would keep in your top.sls file.

    If you symlinked the script to your inventory base directory, use

    $ ./reclass --top
  4. See the pillar information for localhost:

    $ reclass-salt --pillar localhost
  5. Now add reclass to /etc/salt/master, like so:

    reclass: &reclass
        inventory_base_uri: /srv/salt
        reclass_source_path: ~/code/reclass
        reclass: *reclass
        - reclass: *reclass


    When using ext_pillar and/or master_tops, you should make sure that your file_roots paths do not contain a top.sls file. Even though they ought to be able to coexist, there are a few sharp edges around at the moment, so beware!

    If you did not install reclass (but you are running it from source), you can either specify the source path like above, or you can add it to PYTHONPATH before invoking the Salt master, to ensure that Python can find it:

    PYTHONPATH=/…/reclass /etc/init.d/salt-master restart
  6. Provided that you have set up localhost as a Salt minion, the following commands should now return the same data as above, but processed through salt:

    $ salt localhost pillar.items     # shows just the parameters
    $ salt localhost state.show_top   # shows only the states (applications)

    Alternatively, if you don’t have the Salt minion running yet:

    $ salt-call pillar.items     # shows just the parameters
    $ salt-call state.show_top   # shows only the states (applications)
  7. You can also invoke reclass directly, which gives a slightly different view onto the same data, i.e. before it has been adapted for Salt:

    $ reclass --inventory
    $ reclass --nodeinfo localhost

Configuration file and master configuration

Even though the Salt adapter of reclass looks for and reads the configuration file, a better means to pass information to the adapter is via Salt’s master configuration file, as shown above. Not all configuration options can be passed this way (e.g. output is hardcoded to YAML, which Salt uses), but it is possible to specify class mappings next to all the storage-specific options.


The Salt CLI adapter does not read Salt’s master configuration, so if you are calling reclass-salt from the command-line (the CLI exists for debugging purposes, mainly), be aware that it will be run in a different environment than when Salt queries reclass directly.

Integration with Salt

reclass hooks into Salt at two different points: master_tops and ext_pillar. For both, Salt provides plugins. These plugins need to know where to find reclass, so if reclass is not properly installed (but you are running it from source), make sure to export PYTHONPATH accordingly before you start your Salt master, or specify the path in the master configuration file, as show above.

Salt has no concept of “nodes”, “applications”, “parameters”, and “classes”. Therefore it is necessary to explain how those correspond to Salt. Crudely, the following mapping exists:

reclass concept Salt terminology
nodes hosts
classes (none) [1]
applications states
parameters pillar
environment environment
[1]See Salt issue #5787 for steps into the direction of letting reclass provide nodegroup information.

Whatever applications you define for a node will become states applicable to a host. If those applications are added via ancestor classes, then that’s fine, but currently, Salt does not do anything with the classes ancestry.

Similarly, all parameters that are collected and merged eventually end up in the pillar data of a specific node.

The pillar data of a node include all the information about classes and applications, so you could theoretically use them to target your Salt calls at groups of nodes defined in the reclass inventory, e.g.

salt -I __reclass__:classes:salt_minion

Unfortunately, this does not work yet, please stay tuned, and let me know if you figure out a way. Salt issue #5787 is also of relevance.

Optionally, data from pillars that run before the reclass ext_pillar (i.e. Salt’s builtin pillar_roots, as well as other ext_pillar modules listed before the reclass_adapter) can be made available to reclass. Please use this with caution as referencing data from Salt in the inventory will make it harder or impossible to run reclass in other environments. This feature is therefore turned off by default and must be explicitly enabled in the Salt master configuration file, like this:

  - reclass:
      propagate_pillar_data_to_reclass: True

Unfortunately, to use this, currently you cannot use YAML references (i.e. *reclass) as shown above, as the master_tops subsystem does not accept this configuration parameter, and there seems to be no way to extend an alias. Specifically, the following is not possible — let me know if it is!:

  - reclass: *reclass    # WARNING: this does not work!
      propagate_pillar_data_to_reclass: True

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