Why Puppet should ship with official modules

Much has certainly already been said about Puppetforge. A year ago, we were promised at Puppetcamp Nuremburg that Puppetforge was likely to improve to a more usable level. But as of now, Puppetforge is much like Github: unless you already know where to look, what to take, you’re pretty much left to your own, to trial and error. Puppetforge does not really help in making decisions on which modules to try. Yes, it is a central location to shop for Puppet modules. But it’s more like a big DropBox.

Of course, other software artefacts have the same or worse problems. For example, there is no central location for C/C++ libraries, so you wouldn’t even know where to begin looking safe for hoping to use the right Google keywords. Still, certain projects such as boost enjoy a certain popularity due to adoption by
known software projects or word of mouth. But the difference is: such libraries, enjoy a much different level of attention than any particular Puppet module. I’ll have a hard time promoting my particular implementation of, say, a ntp module, when there are twenty others.

In “appstores”, such as Google’s Play store, there are facilities that can give at least some advice as to which apps are worth trying. There is a download count, but considered alone it does not indicate quality. After all nothing keeps larger groups of people from making poor decisions lemming-style. That’s why customer reviews (hopefully) provide additional insights, although these could be subject of manipulations more or less easily.

Puppetforge has download counters, but it doesn’t have a comment system. The only way to assess whether this or that module could be a better candidate is the download count and, as a special case possibly the author: Puppet modules published by Puppetlabs themselves might be considered official, popular, well-tested.

That, however, upon further proof stands as a mere assumption. And it leads me to a question that may sound stupid but inevitably comes to my mind:

Why is there no official Puppet modules distribution?

Basically, the Puppet download alone is pretty much useless until you augment it with Puppet modules. To do that, I can go to Puppetforge and make the experience described above. I fail to see the sense behind that.

Yes, I can see that, just because Puppet Labs puts their label on a module, it does not make it automatically better. But that’s not the point, the same argument would hold true for modules published on Puppetforge, as well.

Shipping Puppet with a set of included, “default” Puppet modules would instead have a signaling effect. It would make clear on what code developers should focus, where patches for improvement should be made against. It is not so much about having the best solution. It is about stepping forward and filling a void that can seriously hinder Puppet adoption.