Using Ruby in InSpec

The InSpec DSL is a Ruby based DSL for writing audit controls, which includes audit resources that you can invoke. Core and custom resources are written as regular Ruby classes which inherit from Inspec.resource.

Assuming we have a JSON file like this on the node to be tested:

    {"username":"john", "key":"/opt/keys/johnd.key"},
    {"username":"jane", "key":"/opt/keys/janed.key"},
    {"username":"sunny ", "key":"/opt/keys/sunnym.key"}

The following example shows how you can use pure Ruby code(variables, loops, conditionals, regular expressions, etc) to run a few tests against the above JSON file:

control 'check-interns' do
  # use the json inspec resource to get the file
  json_obj = json('/opt/keys/interns.json')
  describe json_obj do
    its('keys') { should_not eq nil }
  if json_obj['keys']
    # loop over the keys array
    json_obj['keys'].each do |intern|
      username = intern['username'].strip
      # check for white spaces chars in usernames
      describe username do
        it { should_not match(/\s/) }
      # check key file owners and permissions
      describe file(intern['key']) do
        it { should be_owned_by username }
        its('mode') { should cmp '0600' }


It’s important to understand that Ruby code used in custom resources and controls DSL is executed on the system that runs InSpec. This allows InSpec to work without Ruby and rubygems being required on remote targets(servers or containers).

For example, using `ls` or system('ls') will result in the ls command being run locally and not on the target(remote) system. In order to process the output of ls executed on the target system, use inspec.command('ls') or inspec.powershell('ls')

Similarly, use inspec.file(PATH) to access files or directories from remote systems in your tests or custom resources.

Using rubygems

Ruby gems are self-contained programs and libraries. If you create a custom resource please vendor gems into the library. This ensures that all resources are self-contained and complete and don’t need any resolution at runtime. We vendor resources and requirements through dependency resolution, which is independent of programming languages and their resolver mechanisms.

Interactive Debugging with Pry

Here’s a sample InSpec control that users Ruby variables to instantiate an InSpec resource once and use the content in multipLe tests.

control 'check-perl' do
  impact 0.3
  title 'Check perl compiled options and permissions'
  perl_out = command('perl -V')
  #require 'pry'; binding.pry;
  describe perl_out do
    its('exit_status') { should eq 0 }
    its('stdout') { should match (/USE_64_BIT_ALL/) }
    its('stdout') { should match (/useposix=true/) }
    its('stdout') { should match (/-fstack-protector/) }

  # extract an array of include directories
  perl_inc = perl_out.stdout.partition('@INC:').last.strip.split("\n")
  # ensure include directories are only writable by 'owner'
  perl_inc.each do |path|
    describe directory(path.strip) do
      it { should_not'group') }
      it { should_not'other') }

An advanced but very useful Ruby tip. In the previous example, I commented out the require 'pry'; binding.pry; line. If you remove the # prefix and run the control, the execution will stop at that line and give you a pry shell. Use that to troubleshoot, print variables, see methods available, etc. For the above example:

[1] pry> perl_out.exit_status
=> 0
[2] pry> perl_out.stderr
=> ""
[3] pry> ls perl_out
Inspec::Plugins::Resource#methods: inspect
Inspec::Resources::Cmd#methods: command  exist?  exit_status  result  stderr  stdout  to_s
Inspec::Plugins::ResourceCommon#methods: resource_skipped  skip_resource
Inspec::Resource::Registry::Command#methods: inspec
instance variables: @__backend_runner__  @__resource_name__  @command  @result
[4] pry> perl_out.stdout.partition('@INC:').last.strip.split("\n")
=> ["/Library/Perl/5.18/darwin-thread-multi-2level",
 "    /Library/Perl/5.18",
[5] pry> exit    # or abort

You can use pry inside both the controls DSL and resources. Similarly, for dev and test, you can use inspec shell which is based on pry, for example:

$ inspec shell
Welcome to the interactive InSpec Shell
To find out how to use it, type: help

inspec> command('ls /home/gordon/git/inspec/docs').stdout
=> "ctl_inspec.rst\ndsl_inspec.rst\ndsl_resource.rst\n"
inspec> command('ls').stdout.split("\n")
=> ["ctl_inspec.rst", "dsl_inspec.rst", "dsl_resource.rst"]

inspec> help command
Name: command

Use the command InSpec audit resource to test an arbitrary command that is run on the system.

describe command('ls -al /') do
  it { should exist }
  its('stdout') { should match /bin/ }
  its('stderr') { should eq '' }
  its('exit_status') { should eq 0 }