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. One example of a heist manager is salt.minion but this will require a user to install the heist-salt project. By default the test manager is included with Heist. 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.:

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.

The roster files typically all live inside of a roster directory. But to get started we will execute a single roster file with heist using the salt.minion Heist 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 these 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.