David Radcliffe

Using Chef DK alongside rbenv

Chef recently released the Chef Development Kit to help developers get their environment configured for Chef easily. This package includes Chef, Berkshelf, Test Kitchen and more. The idea is that to work on a cookbook or chef environment you wouldn’t need to bundle install or setup any other rubies/gems/dependencies to get started working. This is a great idea and probably the best side effect is that we don’t need to type bundle exec anymore!

However, Chef DK works best when it’s your primary and only ruby environment. This doesn’t play well with rbenv for ruby version management. My job involves both Chef development and non-Chef development. I use multiple ruby versions and that won’t be changing anytime soon. So I needed to find a way to make Chef DK work well with rbenv.

Here is the root of the problem: my $PATH. Chef DK places symlinks to it’s core binaries in /usr/bin for easy access - which is great. But if you have any of the chef & co gems installed in any ruby version, rbenv will create a shim that comes first in your PATH, preventing access to the Chef DK binaries.


$ /usr/bin/knife --version
Chef: 11.14.6

$ which knife

$ echo $PATH

So what if I move the /usr/bin to the front of my PATH? Then the system gems will take precedent over the rbenv gems. That won’t work.

The chef binaries in /usr/bin/ are just symlinks… so where do they link to?

$ ls -l /usr/bin/knife
lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  21 Sep  1 13:42 /usr/bin/knife -> /opt/chefdk/bin/knife

So all the binaries are really in /opt/chefdk/bin/. Let’s add that to my PATH! Here is the relevenat snippet from my ~/.zshenv file:

eval "$(rbenv init -)"
export PATH="/opt/chefdk/bin:$PATH"

The order here is important; we need to make sure rbenv is setup before adding chefdk to the front of my PATH.

Now everything works:

$ echo $PATH

$ which knife

$ which gem