Heist creates network tunnels for distributing and managing agents. While it has been originally built to deploy and manage Salt minions, it can be used to distribute and manage other agents or plugins if extended to do so.

Using Heist is very easy. Start by downloading Heist. Just install via pip:

pip install heist

Heist Manager#

In order to run Heist you will need to specify a Heist manager. The default Heist manager included with Heist is called test. When you run Heist with the test manager it will just log a statement stating Heist is installed correctly and to use a fully functioning Heist manager. This is used just for testing your setup in Heist.

Another example of a Heist manager is salt.minion which is used to managed a Salt minion. It is made available by installing heist-salt using pip:

pip install heist-salt

Making Your Roster#

A Roster is a file used by Heist to map login information to the systems in your environment. This file can be very simple and just needs to tell Heist where your systems are and how to log into them via SSH. Open a file called roster.cfg and add the data needed to connect to a remote system via SSH:

  username: fred
  password: freds_password


This example is very simple, Heist supports virtually all available authentication options for SSH.

All roster files typically live inside of a roster directory. But to get started we will execute a single roster file with Heist using the heist-salt manager:

heist salt.minion -R roster.cfg

Assuming your roster is correct, Heist will now connect to the remote system, and deploy the salt minion binary.

Tear Down#

Heist is able to automatically clean up as well! Just soft kill your Heist application and it will reach out to all connections, tell them to remove the deployed artifacts from the target systems and stop the service! Like a proper Heist there should be no evidence left behind!

Using Heist to Deploy Salt Minions#

If you want to use Heist to deploy and manage Salt, you will need to install heist-salt.

Using the Test manager in Heist#

You can use the test manager in Heist to ensure your Heist install is setup correctly. You just need to run:

heist test -R roster.cfg

If successful, the test manager will log that you successfully used the test manager and inform you that you need to use a different manager for full functionality. This test manager will ensure functionality of Heist up until it calls a manager. It will detect roster rendering failures and dependency install issues.