Prerequisite data


An item of prerequisite data is identified by two strings, called IDEN1 and IDEN2; together these are the prerequisite data identifiers for an item of prerequisite data. Typically IDEN1 specifies the context in which the data is relevant, and IDEN2 identifies the data within its context. IDEN2 is very often the filename in which the prerequisite data will eventually be stored. It might also be a human-readable string describing the purpose of the data. The following are the valid forms of IDEN1, and their meanings.

  • (HOSTNAME . PATH) means the data that should be uploaded to PATH on HOSTNAME (and usually nowhere else, except in the case of, e.g., a public key). PATH must be absolute, not relative.

  • ("--lisp-system" . SYSTEM) means the data is Lisp code which, when loaded, defines the packages and symbols contained in the ASDF system SYSTEM

  • ("--user-passwd--HOSTNAME" . USER) means the data is the password for user USER on HOSTNAME

  • ("--git-snapshot" . NAME) means the data is a snapshot of a git repo identified by NAME; see DATA.GIT-SNAPSHOT

  • ("--pgp-pubkey" . FINGERPRINT) means the/a OpenPGP public key with fingerprint FINGERPRINT, ASCII-armoured

  • ("--pgp-seckey" . FINGERPRINT) means the/a OpenPGP secret key with fingerprint FINGERPRINT, ASCII-armoured

  • ("--luks-passphrase" . VOLUME-LABEL) means a LUKS passphrase for volume with label VOLUME-LABEL.

  • Any other IDEN1 beginning with exactly two hyphens is reserved for future use.

  • (_CONTEXT . ITEM) is an arbitrary prerequisite data context named CONTEXT; typically CONTEXT will be a network or grouping name, rather than referring to a single host. ITEM might be a path or some other identifier. Reserved for consfigs; will not be used by property definitions included with Consfigurator, and should not be used by third party extensions.

  • (---CONTEXT . ITEM) is, similarly, an arbitrary prerequisite data context named CONTEXT. This form is intended for contexts similar to the reserved names beginning with two hyphens: types of information rather than site-local network or grouping names. This form will not be used by property definitions included with Consfigurator, but may be used by both consfigs and third party extensions.

Any other forms are invalid. In particular, an IDEN1 that is not a valid hostname and does not begin with a hyphen or an underscore must not be used.


Properties declare that they need certain pieces of prerequisite data by adding static informational attributes, and a deployment of those properties will make an attempt to provide the data. Properties then either call the GET-DATA-STREAM function or the GET-DATA-STRING function, or depend on the DATA-UPLOADED property, to get access to the requested data.

A Lisp connection gathers all needed prerequisite data once at the beginning, and copies it to an on-disk cache inside the home directory of the remote UID which will run the Lisp image. A POSIX connection only attempts to obtain prerequisite data when a property’s check function indicates the property is not already applied.

Sources of prerequisite data

Sources of prerequisite data register two functions. The second returns either a string of the prerequisite data itself, or a path to a file containing the data. The first returns the latest version number of the data that source is able to provide – i.e., the version number of the data that the second function would return if called.

Consfigurator will call the first function to find out if it needs to call the first rather than just using its caches. The first function should return nil if it can’t obtain the prerequisite data on this host, perhaps because it can’t decrypt the store. If a prerequisite data source wants to effectively bypass caching and provide fresh data every time Consfigurator deploys the host, it can use GET-UNIVERSAL-TIME as its first function.

Versions are compared using UIOP:VERSION< and UIOP:VERSION<=.

Security issues

Nothing is done to prevent prerequisite data being swapped out, so ensure your swap is encrypted.

Certain connection types require storing unencrypted copies of prerequisite data under ~/.cache/consfigurator/data. Consfigurator only stores data there when it has to, only the subset of the data that has to be uploaded for the requested deployment to be successful, and never in the root Lisp.