Automatic hiera lookups in puppet 3.x

Dear readers,

I’ve started the slow migration of code from puppet 2.6 all the way to 3.x+. There were a few things I wasn’t clear on, so hopefully this will help to discuss these and make your migration easier!

I used hiera in 2.6, and I actually like it a lot so far. I was concerned that automatic lookups would pull in values that I wasn’t expecting. This is not the case or a worry. Let’s dive in and let the code speak:

# create a class in a module or site.pp for testing...
class foo(
        $a = 'apple',
        $b = 'banana'
) {
        notify { 'foo':
                message => "a is: ${a}, b is: ${b}",


# define it using :: as a prefix because we want to search in the
# top level, module namespace. optional if we only have one foo.
class { '::foo':


# /etc/puppet/hiera.yaml
        - yaml

        - globals
        - whatever
        - youlike

        :datadir: /etc/puppet/hieradata/


# /etc/puppet/hieradata/whatever.yaml (because of - whatever above)
foo::a: 'somevalue' # this many colons is actually valid syntax
dude: 'sweet'

will produce:

Notice: a is somevalue, b is: banana
Notice: Finished catalog run in 3.14159265359 seconds

This is the automatic lookup. You probably have zero risk of collision with earlier data in your hiera yaml files, because these lookups use keys that match the classname::paramname pattern. If you had used :: (double colons) in your keys before, then you’re insane, and you should check for any collisions! The downside to this is that my whatever.yaml looks awkward with all those colons, but I got over that very quickly.

The full lookup order is first:

# directly specified values first (of course)
class { '::foo':
        a => 'this value is used first if set.',

and then:

# values matching an appropriate yaml key:
foo::a: 'this value is used next if found.'

and finally:

class foo(
        $a = 'this parameter default value is used last.'
        $b = 'b is still for banana...'
) {
        # do stuff...

all as detailed in: Finding this link and setting me down the path to knowledge was all thanks to eric0 in #puppet. Thanks Eric!

Make sure to reload your puppetmaster after you make any changes to /etc/puppet/hiera.yaml, and as always:

Happy hacking,


Picking up the pieces after a Fedora 18 install

I love GNOME and Fedora, but “upgrading” from Fedora 17 to 18 did not go well for me. I recommend you wait until either these are all fixed, or Fedora 19+ suits your needs. Here are a list of problems I had, and some workarounds. Hopefully proper patches to these bugs will get merged quickly, so that you don’t need to use these fixes.

Problem: Boot fails after upgrade from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18. I used the new “fedup” method.

Workaround: I did a fresh install. Make sure you have backups first, of course. I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time debugging why it broke.

Problem: The <Backspace> key no longer goes “up” in nautilus. I hope this wasn’t a “feature removal”.

Workaround: Add:

(gtk_accel_path "<Actions>/ShellActions/Up" "BackSpace")

to your: ~/.config/nautilus/accels and restart nautilus of course.

Problem: Split view (extra pane) functionality is missing in nautilus 3.6

Workaround: The GNOME developers plan to eventually replace this in a similar form. Until then, you can install the nemo file manager, which is a fork of nautilus 3.4 and is packaged in Fedora 18. (yum install nemo nemo-open-terminal)

Problem: GNOME Shell background is entirely black in overview mode.

Workaround: Using gnome-tweak-tool, under the “Desktop” section, set “Have file manager handle the desktop“, to “OFF“. Unfortunately, this disables viewing of files on your desktop. This wasn’t a problem in Fedora 17.

Problem: Restarting the X server with the familiar Control-Alt-Backspace, can’t be enabled in the keyboard shortcuts menu as it used to.

Workaround: This option is now hidden in the gnome-tweak-tool under typing: terminate.

I hope this scratches your itches!

Happy hacking,


How to send and receive files like a professional

Everyone needs to send and receive files sometimes. Traditionally people send files as email attachments. This still works great, and supports encryption, but many mail servers are slow and cap the upper file size limit.

ICQ was a great solution back in the 1990’s, but those days are now over. (I still remember my number.)

A lot of folks use dropbox, which requires a dropbox account, and for you to trust them with your files.

If you want a simple solution that doesn’t need internet access (if you’re on a LAN, for example) you can use droopy and woof. These are two shell scripts that I keep in my ~/bin/. Droopy lets you receive a file from a sender, and woof lets you send one their way. Unfortunately, they don’t support ssl. This could be a project for someone. (Hint)

I recently patched droopy to add inline image support. I’ve emailed my patch to the author, but until it gets merged, you can get my patched version here. (AGPLv.3+)

Hopefully these are helpful to you.

Happy hacking,