Crowbar & OpenCrowbar

NOTICE: Digital Rebar (v3) replaces OpenCrowbar

What is Crowbar (v1) / OpenCrowbar (v2)?

A specialized orchestration framework for configuring physical infrastructure with heterogeneous hardware, operating systems and configuration management targeted at scale-out operations and software platforms.  It was designed with a service oriented model based on iterative directed convergence with system-wide cross-node dependencies.


OpenCrowbar (now on v3 is Digital Rebar) is an open source DevOps-based physical provisioning framework.  It is vendor agnostic about hardware, operating system and config. managers.  The DR design uses an annealing orchestration approach that can coordinate both in-band (using SSH or agent calls), side-band (calls to a short-term utility boot image) and out-of-band (using external APIs or BMC control) actions.

In October 2014, several Crowbar founders and I launched RackN to offer commercial support and extensions around the Digital Rebar project.  We are committed to growing the community an the open core project.

More Background? See my Crowbar posts.

36 thoughts on “Crowbar & OpenCrowbar

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      • Something like a virtual server farm where people could see Crowbar in action, testdrive the setup process (see how easy it is), several different configurations and use cases and (Dell needs to make money, too) packages of servers and software to create private clouds for i.e. small, medium and large customers. Just brainstorming, happy to continue discussion in more detail via email…


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  6. I tried the lasted ubuntu ISO to install crowbar on a physical server. The install did not work, and crowbar does not run.

    Is there a process to uninstall and reinstall?

    Is there a way to install crowbar without FQDN. I am installing this on a rack of servers that are on private IP’s with one one node providing NAT and DNS via dnsmasq, so FQDN is not needed.


    • The best place for questions like this is the Crowbar listserv. If you boot from the ISO again then it will reinstall over the old install. Crowbar requires an FQDN because it has DNS. It will take some configuration to setup your own NAT – this is an active topic on the list right now.


  7. Hi Rob,

    I’m in the middle of installing Crowbar on two servers, ultimately to get OpenStack up and running. The plan is for HostA to be our Admin node and the HostB a non-Admin node. Both have two NIC’s with one NIC (eth0) on each connected to the internet, and the other NIC (eth1) connected locally.

    I am confused as to if/how I should configure bc-template-network.json for this setup, prior to configuring Crowbar. We want the admin node to be accessible via the internet and then, once OpenStack is running, to be able to access the VM’s deployed by it over the internet. For internet access I have been allocated an IP range of 6 addresses to use.

    To complicate things the physical servers are hosted remotely, so it’s not a simple matter to re-install from ISO if I get it wrong. So, ideally, I’d like to get it right the first time.

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    — Bobby


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  11. I have Cloudera-Elefante download and installed. Now CentOS starts. But I can’t find its login and password to preceed. Please help.

    Where can I find relevant documentation to play around with it?


    Stephen L


  12. Hi Rob,

    I downloaded openstack-fred3.iso on July 20th 2012 as listed under stable release. However, this does not show up now. Can you please point me to the latest stable released ISO that is bundled with OpenStack Essex


  13. Is there anyway to locate release notes for the 1.5 release. I found release notes labelled 1.2 but no updates after that. I just need to know what has changed between 1.4 and 1.5


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  16. The Openstack Betty ISO has been failing my last couple attempts to install in VMWARE 9.0.0. About half way through I get “Installation step failed, An installation step failed. you can try to run the failing item again from the menu or skip it and choose something else” Is the ISO pointing to something that isn’t available anymore? How might I figure out what its looking for? help 🙂


  17. Hello Rob,
    i was wondering about alternatives to Crowbar. I know Rackspace has an internal tool called AutoHost. What other options are out there? How do they compare to Crowbar?


    • Mike – can you give me some more information about your objectives? There are other tools in market that people use to deploy OpenStack (Alamo, Fuel, etc) or Hadoop (Cloudera, Hortonworks). They are many ways to bootstrap bare metal into Chef or Puppet (Razor, Cobbler, Foreman). I believe Crowbar is unique in our approach (late-binding) and scope (raid, bios, networking, multiple workloads, multiple operating systems). But fundamentally, the fit for those tools depends on your skill set and use-cases.


  18. Rob,

    First of all, I appreciate the time you take to post your thoughts on this blog. It’s nice to have some inside perspective at times.

    We recently purchased a few servers from Dell and are interested in setting up Crowbar to deploy/manage/monitor/etc an OpenStack infrastructure.

    I feel like maybe I’m ‘just not getting it’ as far as Crowbar goes, but I’ve tried a number of methods and haven’t found one that works as of yet– what is the intended method, aside from burning the .iso to a DVD, of installing Crowbar onto the first admin node? We’ve tried setting up the .iso for PXE, but that doesn’t yield the desired result, and can’t seem to throw this .iso onto a USB stick either. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!


    • Chris, thanks for your comment. This is a common thread on the Crowbar list ( and you’ll get better help there. For internal use, we have a VM that acts as a PXE server. Commonly, people will use the iDRAC mount ISO image feature, burn a DVD or create a USB boot image. It sounds like you’ve taking the right approach. Repost to the list and we should be able to help you out.


  19. Hello Rob,

    I am using the most recent ISO for installation, “”. I have followed the video on YouTube for the install and it seems to get stuck at the Installing Barclamps step. I am running Virtual Box and the hdd indicator has stopped flashing in the window. I have tried re-installing several times and it gets stuck at the same location. I was searching for the ISO that was used in your video and can’t seem to find it anywhere. Thank you for your help.



    • After letting the installer sit for a long period of time it failed at installing the barclamps. I tried to resolve the website but no success the Chef website resolves.


      • I cant provide support from my blog, please post questions to the Crowbar list ( to subscribe). It would help if you include the output from the install in your request.


    • Marcus,

      I cant provide support from my blog, please post questions to the Crowbar list ( to subscribe). It would help if you include the output from the install in your request.

      You may want to make sure that you have at least 2 NICs defined.



  20. Hi Rob! This link seems broken Any timeline on when Open Crowbar will be compatible with rolling out OpenStack Havana?


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