Chef announced today that they plan on open sourcing all of their software using a model similar to Red Hat’s. There is still a paid Enterprise version for commercial use.
If you’re not familiar with Chef, it’s a good tool for provisioning servers consistently and predictably. Having used it for Assign It To Me, I would say that it’s better for complex, constantly changing environments than it is for simple ones. If you’ve got smaller unchanging environments, you can still get by with a bunch of shell scripts or Capistrano.
It looks like they’ve cleaned up their product line too. Instead of figuring out which of the different chef tool versions, it looks like there’s now a simpler product called Chef Workstation.
If you want to the Chef apps without having to give up contact information, you can go to downloads.chef.io.
Update: Looking at some of the comments (including clarifications by the Chef team) on the related Hacker News thread, it appears that the downloadable versions Chef provides will not be free for commercial release.
If you plan on using a version of Chef for production servers, you will need to wait for another group to build downloadable binaries for you to use for free. As I mentioned earlier, this is just like Red Hat. If you don’t want to pay for Red Hat Enterprise, you use CentOS.
I don’t imagine it will be long before an organization like CentOS will be providing free downloadable versions of Chef under a slightly different name.
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