SaltStack State Files Written In Python

Generally in SaltStack, state file are written in the YAML + Jinja2 format. However, other options are available. One of these options is Python.

In this post, we will display how a simple state written in YAML + Jinja2 can be written in Python instead. In the example, the function of the state is to take data in a pillar, and serialize it as YAML into a file.

The pillar data used in this example is:

The Salt State as written in YAML + Jinja2:

The Salt State as written in Python:

A few notes on the python version.

  • The function name run is required.
  • The run function must return a dictionary.
  • The shebang, must be !py


In SaltStack, the shebang really just specifies the order of renderers to use for the particular file. By default, the shebang is #!jinja|yaml

So… does that mean it’s possible to do #!jinja|py? Well, it seems like it should be, but I had no luck actually getting this to work. The jinja renderer would output what looked like a clean python file but then the py renderer would choke and spit out a syntax error due to a jinja line. For reference, I'll leave the code that was used. Maybe this is a bug that will get patched at some point.


I reached out to the salt community and was informed that any render pipelines that includes #!py only get evaluated with the py renderer. So that answers that.

Bonus Bonus

So… what about json?

Well if you’re a psychopath hell bent on squeezing out all the speed possible…yes

All render times are taken from the Salt Minion which is running as a single core vagrant instance on my laptop. YMMV.

jinja|yaml render time: 0.00130581855774

py render time: 0.000488996505737

jinja|json render time: 5.69820404053e-05 or 0.0000569

Generally, render time doesn’t really matter, but if you have a use case where it might, json is clearly what you're going to want to use.

Originally published at on September 15, 2020.



Climber, surfer, yogi, dad who does some IT on the side to get by.

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Aleksandr Rain

Climber, surfer, yogi, dad who does some IT on the side to get by.