Chef, Knife, AWS, and Windows: Part 2

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Update: Part 3 removes the need for explicit password setting!

In Part 1 of this series of blog posts, I started working on getting knife-ec2 to bootstrap Windows machines for me and connect them to a Hosted Chef server. My steps mostly worked, but I realized after running them that I had made one critical mistake: I assumed that associating a public IP after the fact and running bootstrap would have the same effect as simply associating the public IP from the beginning. This was wrong.

In my initial run, I didn’t pass --associate-public-ip to knife-ec2 – as it turns out, you do need a public IP to do, well, most things (including things like downloading the Chef client, which is pretty important ;-). I had simply associated an IP afterwards and bootstrapped the machine, thinking it would work the same. However, knife-ec2 seems to look in the wrong variables when it tries to retrieve the address for the newly created VPC instance, causing bootstrapping to fail when a public IP is associated.

You can resolve this in one of two ways:

  1. Install the pre-release 0.11.0.rc.0 version of knife-ec2. commits a fix for the ssh_connect_host function, and the corresponding PR was merged after 0.10.0 released. You can do this by running gem install knife-ec2 --pre.
  2. Apply the patch from in the knife-ec2 gem’s lib/chef/knife directory. It does some additional patching to have knife print the public IP that was assigned after the provisioning is done.

After you do that, the following knife ec2 invocation should work:

knife ec2 server create \
    --node-name <YOUR NODE NAME> \ # e.g. Foo
    --ebs-size <EBS VOLUME SIZE IN GB> \ # e.g. 40
    --flavor <INSTANCE TYPE> \ # e.g. t2.medium
    --region <REGION> \ # e.g. us-east-1
    --subnet <VPC SUBNET> \ # e.g subnet-deadbeef
    --image <AMI ID> \ # e.g. ami-5b9e6b30, corresponding to the latest Server 2012 R2 RTM image in us-east-1
    --security-group-ids <SG LIST> \ # e.g. sg-deadbeef,sg-beefbeef -- the list must be comma-separated
    --ssh-key <KEY NAME> \ # must correspond to a .pem file in ~/.ssh/
    --user-data <PATH TO USERDATA FILE FROM STEP 3> \
    --winrm-user Administrator \
    --winrm-password <PASSWORD FROM USERDATA FILE> \
    --winrm-transport plaintext \
    --associate-public-ip \ # Without a public IP, bootstrap can't download the Chef client

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