Language: Variables

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Facts and Built-In Variables

Puppet has many built-in variables that you can use in your manifests. For a list of these, see the page on facts and built-in variables.



    $content = "some content\n"

Variable names are prefixed with a $ (dollar sign). Values are assigned to them with the = (equal sign) assignment operator.

Any value of any of the normal (i.e. non-regex) data types can be assigned to a variable. Any statement that resolves to a normal value (including expressions, functions, and other variables) can be used in place of a literal value. The variable will contain the value that the statement resolves to, rather than a reference to the statement.

Variables can only be assigned using their short name. That is, a given scope cannot assign values to variables in a foreign scope.


    file {'/tmp/testing':
      ensure  => file,
      content => $content,

    $address_array = [$address1, $address2, $address3]

The name of a variable can be used in any place where a value of its data type would be accepted, including expressions, functions, and resource attributes. Puppet will replace the name of the variable with its value.


    $rule = "Allow * from $ipaddress"
    file { "${homedir}/.vim":
      ensure => directory,

Puppet can resolve variables in double-quoted strings; this is called “interpolation.”

Inside a double-quoted string, you can optionally surround the name of the variable (the portion after the $) with curly braces (${var_name}). This syntax helps to avoid ambiguity and allows variables to be placed directly next to non-whitespace characters. These optional curly braces are only allowed inside strings.

Appending Assignment

When creating a local variable with the same name as a variable in top scope, node scope, or a parent scope, you can optionally append to the received value with the += (plus-equals) appending assignment operator.

    $ssh_users = ['myself', 'someone']

    class test {
      $ssh_users += ['someone_else']

In the example above, the value of $ssh_users inside class test would be ['myself', 'someone', 'someone_else'].

The value appended with the += operator must be the same data type as the received value. This operator can only be used with strings, arrays, and hashes:

  • Strings: Will concatenate the two strings.
  • Arrays: Will add the elements of the appended array to the end of the received array.
  • Hashes: Will merge the two hashes.



The area of code where a given variable is visible is dictated by its scope. Variables in a given scope are only available within that scope and its child scopes, and any local scope can locally override the variables it receives from its parents.

See the section on scope for complete details.

Accessing Out-of-Scope Variables

You can access out-of-scope variables from named scopes by using their qualified names:

    $vhostdir = $apache::params::vhostdir

Note that the top scope’s name is the empty string — thus, the qualified name of a top scope variable would be, e.g., $::osfamily. See scope for details.

No Reassignment

Unlike most other languages, Puppet only allows a given variable to be assigned once within a given scope. You may not change the value of a variable, although you may assign a different value to the same variable name in a new scope:

    # scope-example.pp
    # Run with puppet apply --certname scope-example.pp
    $myvar = "Top scope value"
    node '' {
      $myvar = "Node scope value"
      notice( "from www1: $myvar" )
      include myclass
    node '' {
      notice( "from db1: $myvar" )
      include myclass
    class myclass {
      $myvar = "Local scope value"
      notice( "from myclass: $myvar" )

In the example above, $myvar has several different values, but only one value will apply to any given scope.

Note: Due to insufficient protection of the scope object that gets passed into templates, it is possible to reassign a variable inside a template and have the new value persist in the Puppet scope after the template is evaluated. Do not do this. This behavior is considered a bug rather than designed behavior and may be removed at any point without a deprecation period.

Parse-Order Dependence

Unlike resource declarations, variable assignments are parse-order dependent. This means you cannot resolve a variable before it has been assigned.

This is the main way in which the Puppet language fails to be fully declarative.


Variable names are case-sensitive and can include alphanumeric characters and underscores. Puppet 3.8 deprecates the use of variable names starting with uppercase letters.

Qualified variable names are prefixed with the name of their scope and the :: (double colon) namespace separator. (For example, the $vhostdir variable from the apache::params class would be $apache::params::vhostdir.)

See the section on acceptable characters in variable names for more details. Additionally, several variable names are reserved.

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