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chef-shell - The man page for the chef-shell command line tool.

chef-shell is a recipe debugging tool that allows the use of breakpoints within recipes.
chef-shell runs as an Interactive Ruby (IRb) session. chef-shell supports both recipe and
attribute file syntax, as well as interactive debugging features.

chef-shell is the new name for Shef as of Chef 11.x. chef-shell is backwards compatible
and aside from the name change, has the same set of functionality as with previous

The chef-shell executable is run as a command-line tool.


chef-shell is tool that allows knife to be run using an Interactive Ruby (IRb) session.
chef-shell currently supports recipe and attribute file syntax, as well as interactive
debugging features. chef-shell has three run modes:

│Mode │ Description │
│Standalone │ No cookbooks are loaded, and the │
│ │ run list is empty. This mode is │
│ │ the default. │
│Solo │ chef-shell acts as a chef-solo │
│ │ client. It attempts to load the │
│ │ chef-solo configuration file and │
│ │ JSON attributes. If the JSON │
│ │ attributes set a run list, it │
│ │ will be honored. Cookbooks will │
│ │ be loaded in the same way that │
│ │ chef-solo loads them. chef-solo │
│ │ mode is activated with the -s or │
│ │ --solo command line option, and │
│ │ JSON attributes are specified in │
│ │ the same way as for chef-solo, │
│ │ with -j /path/to/chef-solo.json. │
│Client │ chef-shell acts as a │
│ │ chef-client. During startup, it │
│ │ reads the chef-client │
│ │ configuration file and contacts │
│ │ the Chef server to get │
│ │ attributes and cookbooks. The │
│ │ run list will be set in the same │
│ │ way as normal chef-client runs. │
│ │ chef-client mode is activated │
│ │ with the -z or --client options. │
│ │ You can also specify the │
│ │ configuration file with -c
│ │ CONFIG and the server URL with │
│ │ -S SERVER_URL. │


This command has the following syntax:


This command has the following options:

-a, --standalone
Use to run chef-shell in standalone mode.

-c CONFIG, --config CONFIG
The configuration file to use.

-h, --help
Shows help for the command.

-j PATH, --json-attributes PATH
The path to a file that contains JSON data.

Use this option to define a run_list object. For example, a JSON file similar to:

"run_list": [

may be used by running chef-client -j path/to/file.json.

In certain situations this option may be used to update normal attributes.

Any other attribute type that is contained in this JSON file will be treated as
a normal attribute. For example, attempting to update override attributes using
the -j option:

"name": "dev-99",
"description": "Install some stuff",
"override_attributes": {
"apptastic": {
"enable_apptastic": "false",
"apptastic_tier_name": "dev-99.bomb.com"

will result in a node object similar to:

"name": "maybe-dev-99",
"normal": {
"name": "dev-99",
"description": "Install some stuff",
"override_attributes": {
"apptastic": {
"enable_apptastic": "false",
"apptastic_tier_name": "dev-99.bomb.com"

-l LEVEL, --log-level LEVEL
The level of logging that will be stored in a log file.

-s, --solo
Use to run chef-shell in chef-solo mode.

The URL for the Chef server.

-v, --version
The version of the chef-client.

-z, --client
Use to run chef-shell in chef-client mode.

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