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I am trying to set up some virtual users in puppet. The basic users work fine, but for some reason when I try to add "groups" to the user definition the run fails.

Here is the basic virtual user config...

class users::virtual {
    define localuser ($uid,$gid) {

            user { $title:
                    ensure  =>      "present",
                    uid     =>      $uid,
                    gid     =>      $gid,
                    shell   =>      "/bin/bash",
                    home    =>      "/home/$title",
                    comment =>      $realname,
                    managehome =>   true,

and here is a user called out...

class my::users {
include users::virtual
    @users::virtual::localuser { "jdehnert": 
    uid =>  "504",
    gid =>  "users",
    groups  =>  ["wheel", "rvm"],
    require =>  Group["rvm"],

the init.pp is...

class people {
include my::users
realize (

When I run a test --noop on a client, I get this message on the client...

# puppetd --test --noop
err: Could not retrieve catalog from remote server: Error 400 on SERVER: Invalid parameter groups at /etc/puppet/manifests/users/users.pp:7 on node dev-web-1.

and this one on the server...

Aug 23 04:29:38 centos63 puppet-master[21713]: Invalid parameter groups at /etc/puppet/manifests/users/users.pp:7 on node dev-web-1

If I pull the "groups" line out, this config works just fine.

I also discovered that if I just make a plain user resource I can pass the "groups" parameter just fine. So, why does it not work with a virtual user?


James "Zeke" Dehnert

share|improve this question

You are misunderstanding something here:

@users::virtual::localuser { "jdehnert": 
uid =>  "504",
gid =>  "users",
groups  =>  ["wheel", "rvm"],
require =>  Group["rvm"],

Above you are declaring a localuser, which is thus defined:

define localuser ($uid,$gid) {

That means the only parameters it receives are uid, gid and the metaparameters (such as require). Since groups is not a metaparameter nor, obviously, is it uid or gid, then it is invalid.

share|improve this answer
Thanks Daniel! There is still a lot about puppet that confuses me. If I was to use define... localuser ($uid,$gid, $groups) then I should be able to declare them I suspect. – jdehnert Aug 23 '12 at 22:21
@jdehnert Correct. You can declare undef as default for $groups, and then you don't need to specify it always. Unfortunately, you'll need an if below to select between a user declaration with groups, and one without. Note too that if you do not pass groups to the user, it will not have one. – Daniel C. Sobral Aug 23 '12 at 22:49

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