Salt in depth

Setting up and using Salt is a simple task but its capabilities run much, much deeper. These documents will lead to a greater understating of how Salt will empower infrastructure management.

Remote execution

Remote execution is the core function of Salt. Running pre-defined or arbitrary commands on remote hosts.


Salt modules are the core of remote execution. They provide functionality such as installing packages, restarting a service, running a remote command, transferring files, and infinitely more.

Full list of modules
The giant list of core modules that ship with Salt
Writing modules
A guide on how to write Salt modules.

Salt returners allow saving minion responses in various datastores or to various locations in addition to display at the CLI.

Full list of returners
Store minion responses in Redis, Mongo, Cassandra, SQL or more.
Writing returners
Extending Salt to communicate with more interfaces is easy, new databases can be supported or custom interfaces can be easily communicated with.


Targeting is specifying which minions should execute commands or manage server configuration.

Globbing and regex
Match minions using globbing and regular expressions.
Match minions using bits of static information about the minion such as OS, software versions, virtualization, CPU, memory, and much more.
Node groups
Statically define groups of minions.
Compound matchers
Combine the above matchers as a single target.
Batching execution
Loop through all matching minions so that only a subset are executing a command at one time.

Configuration management

Building on the remote execution core is a robust and flexible configuration management framework. Execution happens on the minions allowing effortless, simultaneous configuration of tens of thousands of hosts.


Express the state of a host using small, easy to read, easy to understand configuration files. No programming required.

Full list of states
Install packages, create users, transfer files, start services, and much more.
Pillar System
Salt's Pillar system
States Overview
An overview of States and some of the core components.
Highstate data structure
A dry vocabulary and technical representation of the configuration format that states represent.
Writing states
A guide on how to write Salt state modules. Extending Salt to directly manage in more software is easy.

Write state configuration files in the language, templating engine, or file type of choice. Salt's configuration management system is, under the hood, language agnostic.

Full list of renderers
YAML is not the only choice, many systems are available, from alternative templating engines to the PyDSL language for rendering sls formulas.
Salt states are only concerned with the ultimate highstate data structure. How that data structure is created is not important.

Miscellaneous topics

Salt is many splendid things.

File Server
Salt can easily and quickly transfer files (in fact, that's how Salt States work). Even under heavy load, files are chunked and served.
A seamless master of masters. Scale Salt to tens of thousands of hosts or across many different networks.
Peer Communication
Allow minions to communicate amongst themselves. For example, configure one minion by querying live data from all the others. With great power comes great responsibility.
Reactor System
The reactor system allows for Salt to create a self aware environment by hooking infrastructure events into actions.
Firewall Settings and Salt
A tutorial covering how to properly firewall a Salt Master server.
Scheduling Executions (like states)
The schedule system in Salt allows for executions to be run of all sorts from the master or minion at automatic intervals.
Network topology
At it's core, Salt is a highly scalable communication layer built on top of ZeroMQ that enables remote execution and configuration management. The possibilities are endless and Salt's future looks bright.
Testing Salt
A howto for writing unit tests and integration tests.
Python API interface
Use Salt programmatically from scripts and programs easily and simply via import salt.
Automatic Updates and Frozen Binary Deployments
Use a frozen install to make deployments easier (Even on Windows!). Or take advantage of automatic updates to keep minions running the latest builds.
Windows Software Manager / Package Repository
Looking for an easy way to manage software on Windows machines? Search no more! Salt has an integrated software package manager for Windows machines! Install software hosted on the master, somewhere on the network, or any HTTP, HTTPS, or ftp server.


Command-line interface
Read the Salt manpages.
Full list of master settings
Read through the heavily-commented master configuration file.
Full list of minion settings
Read through the heavily-commented minion configuration file.
Full table of contents
Dense but complete.

More information about the project

Release notes
Living history of Salt Stack.
How to can get involved.
Salt Development
Information for Hacking on Salt
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