Roles and profiles example

This example demonstrates a complete roles and profiles workflow. Use it to understand the roles and profiles method as a whole. Additional examples show how to design advanced configurations by refactoring this example code to a higher level of complexity.

Configure Jenkins controller servers with roles and profiles

Jenkins is a continuous integration (CI) application that runs on the JVM. The Jenkins controller server provides a web front-end, and also runs CI tasks at scheduled times or in reaction to events.

In this example, we manage the configuration of Jenkins controller servers.

Set up your prerequisites

If you're new to using roles and profiles, do some additional setup before writing any new code.

  1. Create two modules: one named role, and one named profile.
    If you deploy your code with Code Manager or r10k, put these two modules in your control repository instead of declaring them in your Puppetfile, because Code Manager and r10k reserve the modules directory for their own use.
    1. Make a new directory in the repo named site.
    2. Edit the environment.conf file to add site to the modulepath. (For example: modulepath = site:modules:$basemodulepath).
    3. Put the role and profile modules in the site directory.
  2. Make sure Hiera or Puppet lookup is set up and working, with a hierarchy that works well for you.

Choose component modules

For our example, we want to manage Jenkins itself using the puppet/jenkins module.

Jenkins requires Java, and the puppet/jenkins module can manage it automatically. But we want finer control over Java, so we're going to disable that. So, we need a Java module, and puppetlabs/java is a good choice.

That's enough to start with. We can refactor and expand when we have those working.


To learn more about these modules, see puppet/jenkins and puppetlabs/java.

Write a profile

From a Puppet perspective, a profile is just a normal class stored in the profile module.

Make a new class called profile::jenkins::controller, located at .../profile/manifests/jenkins/controller.pp, and fill it with Puppet code.
# /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/site/profile/manifests/jenkins/controller.pp
class profile::jenkins::controller (
  String $jenkins_port = '9091',
  String $java_dist    = 'jdk',
  String $java_version = 'latest',
) {

  class { 'jenkins':
    configure_firewall => true,
    install_java       => false,
    port               => $jenkins_port,
    config_hash        => {
      'HTTP_PORT'    => { 'value' => $jenkins_port },
      'JENKINS_PORT' => { 'value' => $jenkins_port },

  class { 'java':
    distribution => $java_dist,
    version      => $java_version,
    before       => Class['jenkins'],
This is pretty simple, but is already benefiting us: our interface for configuring Jenkins has gone from 30 or so parameters on the Jenkins class (and many more on the Java class) down to three. Notice that we’ve hardcoded the configure_firewall and install_java parameters, and have reused the value of $jenkins_port in three places.

Set data for the profile

Let’s assume the following:

  • We use some custom facts:
    • group: The group this node belongs to. (This is usually either a department of our business, or a large-scale function shared by many nodes.)
    • stage: The deployment stage of this node (dev, test, or prod).
  • We have a five-layer hierarchy:
    • console_data for data defined in the console.
    • nodes/%{trusted.certname} for per-node overrides.
    • groups/%{}/%{facts.stage} for setting stage-specific data within a group.
    • groups/%{} for setting group-specific data.
    • common for global fallback data.
  • We have a few one-off Jenkins controllers, but most of them belong to the ci group.
  • Our quality engineering department wants controllers in the ci group to use the Oracle JDK, but one-off machines can just use the platform’s default Java.
  • QE also wants their prod controllers to listen on port 80.
Set appropriate values in the data, using either Hiera or configuration data in the console.
# /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/data/nodes/
 # --Nothing. We don't need any per-node values right now.

 # /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/data/groups/ci/prod.yaml
 profile::jenkins::controller::jenkins_port: '80'

 # /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/data/groups/ci.yaml
 profile::jenkins::controller::java_dist: 'oracle-jdk8'
 profile::jenkins::controller::java_version: '8u92'

 # /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/data/common.yaml
 # --Nothing. Just use the default parameter values.

Write a role

To write roles, we consider the machines we’ll be managing and decide what else they need in addition to that Jenkins profile.

Our Jenkins controllers don’t serve any other purpose. But we have some profiles (code not shown) that we expect every machine in our fleet to have:
  • profile::base must be assigned to every machine, including workstations. It manages basic policies, and uses some conditional logic to include OS-specific profiles as needed.

  • profile::server must be assigned to every machine that provides a service over the network. It makes sure ops can log into the machine, and configures things like timekeeping, firewalls, logging, and monitoring.

So a role to manage one of our Jenkins controllers should include those classes as well.

class role::jenkins::controller {
  include profile::base
  include profile::server
  include profile::jenkins::controller

Assign the role to nodes

Finally, we assign role::jenkins::controller to every node that acts as a Jenkins controller.

Puppet has several ways to assign classes to nodes, so use whichever tool you feel best fits your team. Your main choices are:

  • The console node classifier, which lets you group nodes based on their facts and assign classes to those groups.
  • The main manifest which can use node statements or conditional logic to assign classes.
  • Hiera or Puppet lookup — Use the lookup function to do a unique array merge on a special classes key, and pass the resulting array to the include function.
    # /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/manifests/site.pp
    lookup('classes', {merge => unique}).include

To learn more about how to assign custom facts to individual nodes, visit