Table of Contents
  • Agent

    A piece of software that runs independently and automatically to carry out a task (think software robot). Inn CFEngine, the agent is called cf-agent and is responsible for making changes to computers.

  • Amber host

    A host that has repaired more than 20% of its scheduled promises in the past 5 minutes. (See yellow host.)

  • Body

    A promise body is the description of exactly what is promised (as opposed to what/who is making the promise). The term `body' is used in the CFEngine syntax to mean a small template that can be used to contribute as part of a larger promise body.

  • Bundle

    In CFEngine, a bundle refers to a collection of promises that has a name.

  • CDP

    Content Driven Policy. A way of simplifying the way users provide information to CFEngine about policy by hiding the overhead of policy coding. A CDP is a set of promises that is designed to solve a particular task in a standard way. Users provide only a little data in the form of a simple spreadsheet of data in a table.

  • CFEngine

    The name of the CFEngine Company, as well as the name of the Software. CFEngine comes from a contraction of `ConFiguration Engine'.

  • CFEngine 3.x

    Major version 3 of the CFEngine software, started in 2008 and going up to the present day. This comes in several editions, both Open Source and Commercial.

  • CFEngine Community Edition

    Free and Open Source edition of the CFEngine software, published under the GPL3 license, and optionally under the COSL license.

  • CFEngine Community Open Promise-Body Library

    A collection of standard definitions that is open to the user community for comment and standardization.

  • CFEngine Constellation

    An enterprise edition of CFEngine, that is designed to scale to huge systems by using a federated design. Constellation allows better handling of groups (i.e. constellations of objects) in a network.

  • CFEngine Enterprise Editions

    Refers to commercial (paid) editions of the CFEngine software, published under the COSL license.

  • CFEngine Nova

    The lowest level enterprise edition of CFEngine, that automatically creates a simple `star network' mangement model for hosts in an environment.

  • ChangeLog

    A file used to describe the changes made since the last version of the software.

  • CMDB

    A Configuration Management Database. A term coined as part of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) as an outgrowth of an inventory database.

  • CMS

    Content Management System. A kind of editor for maintaining something (often web pages).

  • Code branch

    The development of software is a branching process. At certain times, the software code splits into different versions following different paths. Each path needs to be maintained separately for a while. This often happens when a release is made, because one wants to freeze the development of a public release (allowing nevertheless for some minor bugfixes), while continuing to add features to a branch leading to future versions.


    CFEngine Community Open Promise-Body Library (abbrev: CFEngine standard library). A collection of standard definitions.

  • COSL license

    The Commercial Open Source License used for the CFEngine

  • CSS

    Cascading Style Sheets. Part of Web technology used to describe page design.

  • Diff

    A `diff' is a report (originally that generated by the UNIX diff command) that details the differences between two files. The term is often used as slang meaning a file comparison.

  • GPL3

    The GNU Public License, version 3.

  • Green Host

    A host for which more than 80% of all promises are kept.

  • GUI

    Graphical User Interface.

  • Host

    UNIX terminology for a computer the runs guest programs'. In practice,host' is a synonym for `computer'.

  • Hub

    A software component in CFE Nova and CFE Constellation that works as a single point of management in a local `star-network'. The term hub is sometimes used to mean policy distribution server, but more commonly a running cf-hub process that does report collection from all CFEngine managed hosts. The term hub means the centre of a wheel, from which multiple spokes emerge.

  • Knowledge Map

    A master index of all the information known about a CFEngine managed environment, represented as a set of web pages with an interactive interface based on a `semantic web'. The CFEngine Mission Portal provides a web-based interface for browsing this knowledge map index.

  • Mission

    The mission refers to the raison d'\hat etre of an organization. CFEngine's task is to support this mission by keeping a set of promises for its IT infrastructure.

  • Mission Portal

    The name given to the user interface used in commercial CFEngine editions, where all reports and progress summaries are kept.

  • Modular license

    A license granting partial functionality to an Enterprise Edition of CFEngine.

  • LDAP

    The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. A kind of `phone book' service providing information about persons and computers in an organization.

  • Libraries

    A library generally refers to collection of standardized CFEngine code that can be reused in different scenarios and environments. This might be bundles of promises, or reusable body-parts.

  • Packages

    Software binaries or executable files. The CFEngine company compiles and tests software into packages suitable for different platforms.

  • Platforms

    This usually refers to an operating system type, e.g. Linux (in its many flavours), or Windows, etc. Platforms are described using short identifiers, e.g. RH5, REL5, SuSE 11, SLES, etc.

  • Knowledge Map

    Content portal containing datacentre information, privately managed knowledge resources and CFEngine documentation.

  • PCI compliance

    Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

  • Promise

    The CFEngine software manages every intended system outcome as `promises' to be kept. A CFEngine Promise corresponds roughly to a rule in other software products, but importantly promises are always things that can be kept and repaired continuously, on a real time basis, not just once at install-time.

  • Policy

    A policy is a set of intentions about the system, coded as a list of promises. A policy is not a standard, but the result of specific organizational management decisions.

  • Semantic web

    A form of web content in which hyperlinks always explain the meaning of the information they point to, in relation to the subject of interest. Semantic web technologies include RDF, Topic Maps etc.

  • Server

    A term used in many different ways, riddled with confusion. A server is strictly a piece of software that runs on some computer in order to perform a service, e.g. a web server is a program that makes a computer part of the World Wide Web. For historical reasons, certain computers are referred to as servers, especially when kept in datacentres because such computers often run services. In CFEngine, cf-serverd is a software component that serves files from one computer to another. All computers are recommended to run cf-serverd, making all computers CFEngine servers, whether they are laptops, phones or datacentre computers.

  • Service Catalogue

    A kind of directory of `services' provided in an environment. The concept of a service could be anything from a human help desk to a machine controlled email subsystem. In the CFEngine Mission Portal, the service catalogue (for maintenance) treats promise-bundles of promises as low-level maintenance services, and relates these to high level business goals.

  • SOX Compliance

    Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance. An audited accolade for financial data security required by all companies on the New York stock exchange.

  • Standard library

    The CFEngine Standard library is a collection of standardized definitions (see COPBL).

  • Template

    A template is an incomplete piece of CFEngine code, with blanks to fill in. It is often a policy fragment that can be re-used in different scenarios. This is often used interchangeably with the term `library'.

  • UI

    User interface.

  • Yellow host.

    See amber host.

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