Salt Cloud Quickstart

Salt Cloud is built-in to Salt, and the easiest way to run Salt Cloud is directly from your Salt Master.

Note that if you installed Salt via Salt Bootstrap, it may not have automatically installed salt-cloud for you. Use your distribution's package manager to install the salt-cloud package from the same repo that you used to install Salt. These repos will automatically be setup by Salt Bootstrap.

Alternatively, the -L option can be passed to the Salt Bootstrap script when installing Salt. The -L option will install salt-cloud and the required libcloud package.

This quickstart walks you through the basic steps of setting up a cloud host and defining some virtual machines to create.


Salt Cloud has its own process and does not rely on the Salt Master, so it can be installed on a standalone minion instead of your Salt Master.

Define a Provider

The first step is to add the credentials for your cloud host. Credentials and other settings provided by the cloud host are stored in provider configuration files. Provider configurations contain the details needed to connect to a cloud host such as EC2, GCE, Rackspace, etc., and any global options that you want set on your cloud minions (such as the location of your Salt Master).

On your Salt Master, browse to /etc/salt/cloud.providers.d/ and create a file called <provider>.conf, replacing <provider> with ec2, softlayer, and so on. The name helps you identify the contents, and is not important as long as the file ends in .conf.

Next, browse to the Provider specifics and add any required settings for your cloud host to this file. Here is an example for Amazon EC2:

  driver: ec2
  # Set the EC2 access credentials (see below)
  key: 'kdjgfsgm;woormgl/aserigjksjdhasdfgn'
  # Make sure this key is owned by root with permissions 0400.
  private_key: /etc/salt/my_test_key.pem
  keyname: my_test_key
  securitygroup: default
  # Optional: Set up the location of the Salt Master

The required configuration varies between cloud hosts so make sure you read the provider specifics.

List Cloud Provider Options

You can now query the cloud provider you configured for available locations, images, and sizes. This information is used when you set up VM profiles.

salt-cloud --list-locations <provider_name>  # my-ec2 in the previous example
salt-cloud --list-images <provider_name>
salt-cloud --list-sizes <provider_name>

Replace <provider_name> with the name of the provider configuration you defined.

Create VM Profiles

On your Salt Master, browse to /etc/salt/cloud.profiles.d/ and create a file called <profile>.conf, replacing <profile> with ec2, softlayer, and so on. The file must end in .conf.

You can now add any custom profiles you'd like to define to this file. Here are a few examples:

  provider: my-ec2
  image: ami-d514f291
  size: t1.micro

  provider: my-ec2
  image: ami-d514f291
  size: m3.medium

  provider: my-ec2
  image: ami-d514f291
  size: m3.large

Notice that the provider in our profile matches the provider name that we defined? That is how Salt Cloud knows how to connect to a cloud host to create a VM with these attributes.

Create VMs

VMs are created by calling salt-cloud with the following options:

salt-cloud -p <profile> <name1> <name2> ...

For example:

salt-cloud -p micro_ec2 minion1 minion2

Destroy VMs

Add a -d and the minion name you provided to destroy:

salt-cloud -d minion1 minion2

Query VMs

You can view details about the VMs you've created using --query:

salt-cloud --query

Cloud Map

Now that you know how to create and destoy individual VMs, next you should learn how to use a cloud map to create a number of VMs at once.

Cloud maps let you define a map of your infrastructure and quickly provision any number of VMs. On subsequent runs, any VMs that do not exist are created, and VMs that are already configured are left unmodified.

See Cloud Map File.