»Template Communicators

Communicators are the mechanism Packer uses to upload files, execute scripts, etc. with the machine being created.

Communicators are configured within the builder section.

All communicators have the following options:

  • communicator (string) - Packer currently supports three kinds of communicators:

    • none - No communicator will be used. If this is set, most provisioners also can't be used.

    • ssh - An SSH connection will be established to the machine. This is usually the default.

    • winrm - A WinRM connection will be established.

    In addition to the above, some builders have custom communicators they can use. For example, the Docker builder has a "docker" communicator that uses docker exec and docker cp to execute scripts and copy files.

  • pause_before_connecting (duration string | ex: "1h5m2s") - We recommend that you enable SSH or WinRM as the very last step in your guest's bootstrap script, but sometimes you may have a race condition where you need Packer to wait before attempting to connect to your guest.

    If you end up in this situation, you can use the template option pause_before_connecting. By default, there is no pause. For example if you set pause_before_connecting to 10m Packer will check whether it can connect, as normal. But once a connection attempt is successful, it will disconnect and then wait 10 minutes before connecting to the guest and beginning provisioning.

»Getting Ready to Use the Communicator

Depending on your builder, your communicator may not have all it needs in order to work "out of the box".

If you are building from a cloud image (for example, building on Amazon), there is a good chance that your cloud provider has already preconfigured SSH on the image for you, meaning that all you have to do is configure the communicator in the Packer template.

However, if you are building from a brand-new and unconfigured operating system image, you will almost always have to perform some extra work to configure SSH on the guest machine. For most operating system distributions, this work will be performed by a boot_command that references a file which provides answers to the normally-interactive questions you get asked when installing an operating system. The name of this file varies by operating system; some common examples are the "preseed" file required by Debian, the "kickstart" file required by CentOS or the "answer file", also known as the Autounattend.xml file, required by Windows. For simplicity's sake, we'll refer to this file as the "preseed" file in the rest of the documentation.

If you are unfamiliar with how to use a preseed file for automatic bootstrapping of an image, please either take a look at our quick guides to image bootstrapping, or research automatic configuration for your specific guest operating system. Knowing how to automatically initalize your operating system is critical for being able to successfully use Packer.

»Communicator-Specific Options

For more details on how to use each communicator, visit the communicators page.