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Viewing Chef Node Attributes with Knife

Mark Mzyk | February 5, 2013

This is a simple post to list all the ways you can view Chef node attributes with knife, even nested attributes, which is harder than it feels like it should be.

A lot of this information can be found at docs.opscode.com, but as of this writing the examples for knife node show don’t always go into enough detail.

knife raw was a part of the knife-essentials gem but as of Chef 11 has been integrated into standard knife. If you aren’t running Chef 11, you can install the knife-essentials gem.


Show basic info about the node, truncated and nicely formated:

knife node show <node_name>

Show all the information about a node, nicely formated:

knife node show -l <node_name>


Three ways to list node information, in the raw json form (note the -l or –long option is needed to return all node data for knife node show so that all node attribute data is included)

knife node show -l -F json <node_name>

knife node show -l --format=json <node_name>

knife raw /nodes/<node_name>


How to list a single node attribute:

knife node show <node_name> -a <attribute_name>

attribute_name will be something like kernel or platform.


However, this doesn’t work for nested attributes, such as node[kernel][machine], as knife node show doesn’t understand nested attributes.


If you don’t want to use the raw json and grep, you can find a nested attribute by doing a search:

knife search node <query_to_run> -a <main_attribute>.<nested_attribute>

An example:

knife search node name:<node_name> -a kernel.machine


Hopefully this is useful information to others. Information on using search to find nested attributes was originally found on this log of the #chef irc channel.