Directories: The main manifest(s)

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Puppet always starts compiling with either a single manifest file or a directory of manifests that get treated like a single file. This main starting point is called the main manifest or site manifest.

For more information on how the site manifest is used in catalog compilation, see the reference page on catalog compilation.


With Puppet apply

The puppet apply command requires a manifest as an argument on the command line. (For example: puppet apply /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/manifests/site.pp.) It can be a single file or a directory of files.

The puppet apply command does not automatically use an environment’s manifest. Instead, it always uses the manifest you pass to it.

With Puppet master

Puppet master always uses the main manifest set by the current node’s environment. The main manifest can be a single file or a directory of .pp files.

By default, the main manifest for a given environment is <ENVIRONMENTS DIRECTORY>/<ENVIRONMENT>/manifests. (For example: /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/manifests.) You can configure the manifest per-environment, and you can also configure the default for all environments.

  • An environment can use the manifest setting in environment.conf to choose its main manifest. This can be an absolute path or a path relative to the environment’s main directory. If absent, it defaults to the value of the default_manifest setting from puppet.conf.
  • The default_manifest setting defaults to ./manifests. Like the manifest setting, the value of default_manifest can be an absolute path or a path relative to the environment’s main directory.
  • You can also force all environments to use the default_manifest (ignoring their own manifest settings) by setting disable_per_environment_manifest = true in puppet.conf.

For more details, see:

To check the manifest your Puppet master will use for a given environment, run puppet config print manifest --section master --environment <ENVIRONMENT>.

Directory behavior (vs. single file)

If the main manifest is a directory, Puppet parses every .pp file in the directory in alphabetical order and evaluate the combined manifest. It descends into all subdirectories of the manifest directory and loads files in depth-first order. (For example, if the manifest directory contains a directory named 01 and a file named 02.pp, it will parse all the files in 01 before 02.)

Puppet acts as though the whole directory were just one big manifest; for example, a variable assigned in the file 01_all_nodes.pp would be accessible in node_web01.pp.

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