Using file on Windows

Use Puppet's built-in file resource type to manage files and directories on Windows, including ownership, group, permissions, and content, with the following Windows-specific notes and tips.

file { 'c:/mysql/my.ini':
  ensure => 'file',
  mode   => '0660',
  owner  => 'mysql',
  group  => 'Administrators',
  source => 'N:/software/mysql/my.ini',

Take care with backslashes in file paths

The issue of backslashes and forward-slashes in file paths can get complicated. See Handling file paths on Windows for more information.

Be consistent with capitalization in file names

If you refer to a file resource in multiple places in a manifest (such as when creating relationships between resources), be consistent with the capitalization of the file name. If you use my.ini in one place, don’t use MY.INI in another place.

Windows NTFS filesystems are case-insensitive (albeit case-preserving); Puppet is case-sensitive. Windows itself won’t be confused by inconsistent case, but Puppet will think you’re referring to different files.

Make sure the Puppet user account has appropriate permissions

To manage files properly, Puppet needs the following Windows privileges:
  • Create symbolic links

  • Back up files and directories

  • Restore files and directories

When Puppet runs as a service, make sure its user account is a member of the local Administrators group. When you use thePUPPET_AGENT_ACCOUNT_USER parameter with the MSI installer, the user will automatically be added to the Administrators group.

Before running Puppet interactively (on Windows Vista or 2008 and later versions), start the command prompt window with elevated privileges by right-clicking on the start menu and choosing “Run as Administrator.”

Managing file permissions: the mode attribute and the acl module

The permissions models used by *nix and Windows are quite different. When you use the mode attribute, the file type manages them both like *nix permissions, and translates the mode to roughly equivalent access controls on Windows. This makes basic controls fairly simple, but doesn’t work for managing complex access rules.

If you need fine-grained Windows access controls, use the puppetlabs/acl module, which provides an optional acl resource type that manages permissions in a Windows-centric way. Leave mode unspecified and add an acl resource. See the acl module’s documentation for details.

How *nix modes map to Windows permissions

*nix permissions are expressed as either a quoted octal number (such as "755"), or a string of symbolic modes, (such as "u=rwx,g=rx,o=rx"). See the reference for the file type’s mode attribute for more details about the syntax.

These mode expressions generally manage three kinds of permission — read, write, execute — for three kinds of user — owner, group, other. They translate to Windows permissions as follows:
  • The read, write, and execute permissions are interpreted as the FILE_GENERIC_READ, FILE_GENERIC_WRITE, and FILE_GENERIC_EXECUTE access rights, respectively.
  • The Everyone SID is used to represent users other than the owner and group.
  • Directories on Windows can have the sticky bit, which makes it so users can delete files only if they own the containing directory.
  • The owner of a file can be a group (for example, owner => 'Administrators') and the group of a file can be a user (for example, group => 'Administrator').
  • While it's possible for the owner and group to be the same, this is strongly discouraged. Doing so can cause problems when the mode gives different permissions to the owner and group (such as 0750).

  • The group can’t have higher permissions than the owner. Other users can’t have higher permissions than the owner or group. In other words, 0640 and 0755 are supported, but 0460 is not.

Extra behavior when managing permissions with mode

When you manage permissions with the mode attribute, it has the following side effects:
  • The owner of a file or directory always has the FULL_CONTROL access right.

  • The security descriptor is always set to protected. This prevents the file from inheriting more permissive access controls from the directory that contains it.

File sources

The source attribute of a file can be a Puppet URL, a local path, a UNC path, or a path to a file on a mapped drive.

Handling line endings

Windows usually uses CRLF line endings, rather than the LF line endings used by *nix. In most cases, Puppet does not automatically convert line endings when managing files on Windows.

If a file resource uses the content or source attributes, Puppet writes the file in binary mode, using the line endings that are present in the content. If the manifest, template, or source file is saved with CRLF line endings, Puppet uses those endings in the destination file.

Non-file resource types that make partial edits to a system file (most notably the host resource type, which manages the %windir%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file) manage their files in text mode, and automatically translate between Windows and *nix line endings.
Note: When writing your own resource types, you can get this same behavior by using the flat file type.