It’s been a few months since I’ve published Packertemplates for Sitecore. Their main purpose is to create Virtual Box images with a fully configured Sitecore instance. So far I have both updates for Sitecore 9.0 CMS and Sitecore Commerce 9.0.1 scripted there.

Recently one of my colleagues was tasked with the configuration of a standalone commerce server in a private cloud. ARM templates weren’t really useful there and we are too lazy to install everything manually. So we found an interesting side effect of Packer.


As a part of a build process, it creates …*build\w16s-xc901\virtualbox-core\provisioners\chef\upload *folder and attached it as a floppy drive (A: and B: are reserved for them historically) to a virtual machine. In this folder, you can find an archive with all chef cookbooks used in the repository and two files *prepare.ps1 *and cleanup.ps1.

Packer runs berks command from chef to gather cookbooks you can run it manually as well.

berks package -b d:\packer\*build\w16s-xc901\virtualbox-core\provisioners\chef\*Berksfile d:\tmp\cookbooks.tar.gz

Assuming that you have chocolatey installed on the machine, running *prepare.ps1 *will install chef-solo and unpack your cookbooks. This is where you can run chef manually and it will configure your machine :)

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))

mkdir C:\packer-chef -ErrorAction Continue
mkdir C:\tmp -ErrorAction Continue
mkdir C:\tmp\packer-chef-solo -ErrorAction Continue
mkdir C:\tmp\packer-chef-solo\cache -ErrorAction Continue

Write-Host "Installing Chef Client"
choco install chef-client -y --version 13.4.24

Write-Host "Installing 7zip"
choco install 7zip.portable -y

Write-Host "Extracting cookbooks"
7z x C:\packer-chef\cookbooks.tar.gz -o"C:\packer-chef" -aoa
7z x C:\packer-chef\cookbooks.tar -o"C:\packer-chef" -aoa

Running chef-solo

In order to run chef, you will need to execute the following command:

c:/opscode/chef/bin/chef-solo.bat --no-color -c /tmp/packer-chef-solo/solo.rb -j /tmp/packer-chef-solo/node.json

It required two files, solo.rb with the following content:

file_cache_path 'C:/tmp/packer-chef-solo/cache'
solo true
cookbook_path ['C:/packer-chef/cookbooks']

And node.json with the following content:

  "run_list": [

Once this run is finished (IIS, MS SQL, and SOLR will be installed), replace the content of *node.json *with the following and run once again. Otherwise, SQL extensions won’t be registered and related Powershell tasks will fail. This will install Sitecore.

  "run_list": [

Once all scripts, executed you will have Sitecore CMS and Commerce installed on a machine.


I won’t lie, we spent at least a day extracting chef scripts from Packer, but it was much more fun the following installations checklists. And now we have a standalone provisioning script that doesn’t require more than a creation of a few folders and copying a few files.

Where to find?

You could find the source code of Sitecore-Packer repository on GitHub:

Follow me on Twitter @true_shoorik. Would be glad to discuss the ideas above in the comments.