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I'm running chef-solo with chef-solo -c solo.rb -j node.json -ldebug and it's failing because nginx cookbook/recipe refers to user "www-data" which I don't have. Can I change the value in node.json file? My node.json looks like this:

  "nginx": {
    "user": "my_username"
  "run_list": [

My problem is the Opscode nginx recipe appears to ignore this setting.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes :-)

www-data is just a default user that is found on debian (and debian-like systems) for running web servers. Change it to something other than root and you should be fine. For most distros where there is no www-data there is a httpd user, otherwise you can nobody.

If you are on windows then use an appropriate user.

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If that doesn't work, let me know which nginx recipe you are using -- it may be hardcoded to www-data in which case you may need another recipe. The opscode nginx recipe allows the 'user' to be specified as in your question. – syserr0r Nov 29 '11 at 12:03
I was using the opscode nginx recipe, but it always threw the error about www-data user being used so I don't think this worked. I actually had "root" as the user. Eventually I wrote my own recipe which installs nginx package and uses a template to overwrite nginx.conf. – Zilupe Nov 29 '11 at 21:39
The (opscode nginx recipe)[] shows nginx/user defined and www-data set as the default so I would assume it should be overridden with the code you posted. Strange that it isn't. Either incorrect method of defining the user or it is a bug. – syserr0r Dec 1 '11 at 12:49

The "json_attribs" file passed with the -j option to chef-{client,solo} is intended to be representative of the "default" node object similar to what would happen if you performed a knife node create FOO to create a new, blank node on a Chef Server. To override the attributes in cookbooks, you should apply them with roles.

Chef Solo can use roles. You have to specify the role_path in the configuration file.

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I think your link is now Is there any documentation elaborating on what can and cannot be done in a node json file because doesn't seem to cover attributes... – KCD Jul 31 '14 at 9:50

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