These instructions describe how to install the latest version of CFEngine Enterprise in a production environment using pre-compiled rpm and deb packages for Ubuntu, Debian, Redhat, CentOS, and SUSE.

General requirements

CFEngine recommends the following:

Host Memory

During normal operation the CFEngine processes consume about 30 MB of resident memory (RSS) on hosts with the agent only (not acting as Policy Server).

However there might be spikes due to e.g. commands executed from the CFEngine policy so it is generally recommended to have at least 256 MB available memory in order to run the CFEngine agent software.

Host disk

So that the agent is not affected by full disks it is recommended that /var/cfengine be on its own partition.

On Unix-like systems, a 500 MB partition for /var/cfengine should give you some breathing room, typical user reported sizes are in the 100-250 MB range. On Windows systems, CFEngine consumes more space because Windows lacks support for sparse files (which are used opportunistically by lmdb). 5 G of space should provide some breathing room, typical user reported sizes for C:\Program Files\Cfengine are around 1 GB. As always things vary in different environments it's a good idea to measure consumption in your infrastructure and customize accordingly.

The agent builds local differential reports for promise outcomes. The longer the period between collections from the enterprise hub the more resources are required to calculate these differentials. You can control the maximum disk space used by diff reports (contexts, variables, software installed, software patches, lastseen hosts and promise executions) by adjusting def.max_client_history_size.


  • Verify that the machine's network connection is working and that port 5308 (used by CFEngine) is open for both incoming and outgoing connections.

  • If a firewall is active on your operating system, adapt it to it to allow for communication on port 5308 or disable it.

CFEngine bundles all critical dependencies into the package; therefore, additional software is not required.

Requirements for VIOS

CFEngine Enterprise has Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) Recognized status from IBM. This means that CFEngine Enterprise has been technically verified by IBM to be installed in and manage VIOS environments.

During testing, CFEngine Enterprise was seen to use up to 2% of the VIOS CPU during cf-agent runs with the default CFEngine policy. The resource utilization may vary depending on the policy CFEngine is running. The VIOS should be configured with Shared Processors in Uncapped mode.

Policy server requirements

Please note that the resource requirements below are meant as minimum guidelines and have been obtained with synthetic testing, and it is always better to leave some headroom if intermittent bottlenecks should occur. The key drivers for the vertical scalability of the Policy Servers are 1) the number of agents bootstrapped and 2) the size and complexity of the CFEngine policy.

cfapache and cfpostgres users

The CFEngine Server requires two users: cfapache and cfpostgres. If these users do not exist during installation of the server package, they will be created, so if there are constraints on user creation, please ensure that these users exists prior to installation.

These users are not required nor created by the agent package.

Dedicated OS

The CFEngine Server is only supported when installed on a dedicated, vanilla OS (i.e. it only has repositories and packages officially supported by the OS vendor). This is because the CFEngine Server uses services, e.g. apache, that are configured for CFEngine and may conflict with other custom application configurations.

One option, especially for smaller installations, is to run the CFEngine Server in a VM. But please consider the performance requirements when doing this.


A modern 64-bit processor with 12 or more cores for handling up to 5000 bootstrapped agents. This number is also linear with respect to the number of bootstrapped agents (so 6 cores would suffice for 2500 agents).


Minimum 3GB memory (can run with less for small testing/lab environments), but not lower than 8MB per bootstrapped agent. This means that, for a server with 5000 hosts, you should have at least 40GB of memory.

Disk sizing and partitioning

So that the agent is not affected by full disks it is recommended that /var/cfengine be on it's own partition.

It is recommended that $(sys.workdir)/state/pg is mounted on a separate disk. This will give PostgreSQL, which can be very disk I/O intensive, dedicated resources.

Plan for approximately 100MB of disk space per bootstrapped agent. This means that, for a server with 5000 hosts, you should have at least 500 GB available on the database partition.

xfs is strongly recommended as the file system type for the file system mounted on $(sys.workdir)/state/pg. ext4 can be used as an alternative, but ext3 should be avoided.

Disk speed

For 5000 bootstrapped agents, the disk that serves PostgreSQL ($(sys.workdir)/state/pg) should be able to perform at least 1000 IOPS (in 16KiB block size) and 10 MB/s. The disk mounted on $(sys.workdir) should be able to perform at least 500 IOPS and 0.5 MB/s. SSD is recommended for the disk that serves PostgreSQL ($(sys.workdir)/state/pg).

If you do not have separate partitions for $(sys.workdir) and $(sys.workdir)/state/pg, the speed required by the disk serving $(sys.workdir) adds up (for 5000 bootstrapped agents it would be 1500 IOPS and 10.5 MB/s).

Note Your storage IOPS specification may be given in 4KiB block size, in which case you would need to divide it by 4 to get the corresponding 16KiB theoretical maximum.


For serving policy and collecting reports for up to 5000 bootstrapped agents, plan for at least 30 MB/s (240 MBit) speed on the interface that connects the Policy Server with the agents.

cf-serverd maxconnections

The maximum number of connections is the maximum number of sessions that cf-serverd will support. The general rule of thumb is that it should be set to two times the number of clients bootstrapped to the hub. So if you have 100 remote agents bootstrapped to your policy server, 200 would be a good value body server control maxconnections.

Open file descriptors

Open file descriptors should be set at least two times body server control maxconnections. Adjust soft and hard nofile in /etc/limits.conf or appropriate file in /etc/limits.d/ accordingly for your platform.

For example, if you have 1000 remote agents, body server control maxconnections should be set to 2000, and open file descriptors should be set to at least 4000.


soft nofile 4000
hard nofile 4000

Not sure what your open file limits for cf-serverd are? Inspect the current limits with this command:

cat /proc/$(pgrep cf-serverd)/limits

Download packages

Download CFEngine

Install packages

CFEngine Enterprise is provided in two packages; one is for the Policy Server (hub) and the other is for each Host (client).

Log in as root and then follow these steps to install CFEngine Enterprise:

  1. On the designated Policy Server, install the cfengine-nova-hub package:

    [RedHat/CentOS/SUSE] # yum -y install /path/to/<hub package>.rpm
    [Debian/Ubuntu]      # apt -y install /path/to/<hub package>.deb
  2. On each Host, install the cfengine-nova package:

    [RedHat/CentOS/SUSE] # yum -y install /path/to/<agent package>.rpm
    [Debian/Ubuntu]      # apt -y install /path/to/<agent package>.deb
    [Solaris]            # pkgadd -d <agent package>.pkg all
    [AIX]                # installp -a -d <agent package>.bff cfengine.cfengine-nova
    [HP-UX]              # swinstall -s <full path to agent package>.depot cfengine-nova

Note: Install actions logged to /var/logs/cfengine-install.log.


Run the bootstrap command, first on the policy server and then on each host:

/var/cfengine/bin/cf-agent --bootstrap <IP address of the Policy Server>

After bootstrapping the hub run the policy to complete the hub configuration.

/var/cfengine/bin/cf-agent -Kf; /var/cfengine/bin/cf-agent -K

Licensed installations

If you are evaluating CFEngine Enterprise or otherwise using it in an environment with less than 25 agents connecting to a Policy Server, you do not need a license and there is no expiry.

If you are a customer, please send the Policy Server's public key to CFEngine support to obtain a license.

It's best to pack the public key into an archive so that it does not get corrupt in transit.

tar --create --gzip --directory /var/cfengine --file $(hostname)-ppkeys.tar.gz ppkeys/

CFEngine will send you a license.dat file. Install the obtained license with cf-key.

cf-key --install-license ./license.dat

Next steps

When bootstrapping is complete, CFEngine is up and running on your system.

The Mission Portal is immediately accessible. Connect to the Policy Server through your web browser at http://<IP address of your Policy Server>.

Learn more about CFEngine by using the following resources: