HashiCorp set to archive unmaintained Packer provisioner plugins

puppet automation

Developers using HashiCorp’s Packer tool are being advised that the firm plans to start archiving provisioner plugins that are not being actively maintained.

Packer is an open source tool used for creating machine images for multiple platforms from a single source configuration. Provisioners can be used to configure the machine image after booting, performing tasks such as patching the kernel or installing packages.

HashiCorp has maintained plugins for common provisioning tools for at least four years, but development of some of the community-maintained plugins has slowed in recent years, the firm says. This is because the best practice for HashiCorp Packer users has for some time been to use shell and shell-local provisioners to execute tools such as Chef or Puppet.

If a plugin is not being actively maintained, HashiCorp says it will use GitHub’s option to archive the plugin’s repository, to signal the plugin’s status to users. However, the firm says it understands that some plugins may be critical to existing user workflows, so it is giving users a heads-up on its plans to “assist users in navigating the change”.

In a post on the HashiCorp blog, the firm stated that it will begin archiving some Packer plugin repositories following the release of Packer v1.7.9, which is slated for late November. In Packer 1.7.9, the plugins HashiCorp has selected will be released one last time before archiving. The final release of each plugin will be bundled into the single Packer release binary as is the norm, to prevent any breaking changes.

The plugin repositories in question comprise the following:

Chef: https://github.com/hashicorp/packer-plugin-chef

Converge: https://github.com/hashicorp/packer-plugin-converge

InSpec: https://github.com/hashicorp/packer-plugin-inspec

Puppet: https://github.com/hashicorp/packer-plugin-puppet

Salt: https://github.com/hashicorp/packer-plugin-salt

Starting with the next minor release of Packer, which is v1.8.0 due in early 2022, the archived plugins and other non-core plugins will no longer be bundled into the Packer binary. Users will still be able to use these, but will have to use the packer init command to install the latest available versions of non-core plugins, including any archived plugins.

One way for developers to avoid a provisioner plugin being archived is to step up and volunteer to maintain it. Archiving is also a reversible process, so archived projects can be restored at any time. HashiCorp invites volunteers to make contact at packer@hashicorp.com if they wish to maintain an archived plugin.