chromakode / saltstack-ssh-contents-pillar-hack

A hacky workaround for empty contents_pillar in salt-ssh

I’ve been really enjoying learning to use SaltStack to configure my servers and VMs. The relatively new salt-ssh transport is incredibly convenient for managing a small number of project cloud servers. However, there is one limitation I’ve discovered when handling certificates and private keys: file.managed’s contents_pillar parameter outputs blank files.

It seems that pillar data is not sent to the minion environment when using salt-ssh. The contents_pillar pillar lookup then falls back to an empty default value (site note: a good example of why strict KeyErrors are helpful!). However, since the state datastructure is rendered on the master server, there is a hacky workaround relying on templating directives. For example:

    - contents: |
        {{ pillar['openvpn']['server_key'] | indent(8) }}
    - user: root
    - group: root
    - mode: 600

(It is necessary to use the indent() jinja2 filter so that the inlined contents form valid YAML.)

Hopefully a future version of salt-ssh will support contents_pillar, making this unnecessary. In the mean time, this was the least gross hack I could find.