Desired State Configuration (DSC) Planning Update

Michael Greene

Desired State Configuration (DSC) Planning Update – August 2023

Hey DSC enthusiasts! We’re bursting with excitement to share new information about the plans for Desired State Configuration (DSC). First off, we’d like to extend a massive thank you to our amazing community for your feedback. Your input helps shape the future of DSC, and we’re grateful for your continued support.

A big shout-out to the Dev Home and WinGet teams for announcing new features at the recent Build conference. These new features, documented here, are the first solutions to leverage capabilities of the new DSC platform, and we plan for them to be the first of many.

We want to give you a sneak peek at the foundational tenets planned for the new DSC vision, and we’re looking forward to refining them with your help.

What’s in the Pipeline?

As we move forward, we want to focus on the following tenets as the foundation of our new DSC vision:

  • Compatibility: We plan to ensure that existing community resources work without changes, including those written as PowerShell script and classes. Class-based resources are recommended but not required.
  • Transparency: Our new project repo is now public on GitHub, allowing the community to view and submit issues. We are intentionally making the project open from an early stage of development so the community has opportunity to give early feedback.
  • Cross-platform Support: In the open-source project, we plan to compile builds that work on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • Language Flexibility: Resource authors can write DSC resources in any interpreted or compiled languages accessible by the command line, including PowerShell. MOF as a format for configurations is no longer supported and is being replaced with the industry accepted JSON and/or YAML. JSON schema replaces MOF schema for resources while existing PowerShell script based resources that have MOF schema will be supported as-is.
  • Common Concepts: We aim to support or provide extensibility for concepts like composability, re-use, reboots, secrets, dependencies, and runas.
  • Low Barrier To Entry: We plan to carry forward the concept of simple “one-liner” authoring previously used by Script/nxScript, while making it easier for newcomers to adopt best practices like test automation.
  • Isolated Network Usability: We intend to make the command-driven platform usable in isolated networks. While we do not currently plan to reintroduce LCM, we will continue as an extensible platform that any configuration solution can leverage.
  • Environmental Dependencies: Our plans include allowing users to express environmental dependencies as assertions when authoring configurations. Examples of assertions could be scenarios like detecting when a machine needs to be rebooted before taking action.
  • Resource Input/Output: We’re working towards enabling users to pass output from one resource as input to another when authoring configurations.

It is important to note that this is an early preview of the next generation DSC, so we expect breaking changes to occur based on feedback during development.

Next Steps

We know this blog post raises many questions, and we’re eager to address them! We have requested an agenda item during the next DSC community call on August 9th, 2023, to discuss the vision and answer questions. Details about DSC community calls are published on the DSC community website.

For detailed how-to information, visit our GitHub repository. The project repository is where we plan to publish builds for testing as releases. Keep in mind that this is an ‘alpha’, akin to a ‘developer preview’ and not ready for production.

Please submit issues in GitHub to send feedback, even if it’s a request or idea. To get started, we would love to hear your requirements around:

  • Resource authoring experiences and tools
  • Ease of integration with your favorite configuration management solution
  • The new configuration syntax

Together, we’ll shape the future of Desired State Configuration.

Make it so!

1 comment

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  • Daniel N. 1

    This sounds promising. I’ve been looking at DSC for mass configuration – especially in conjunction with Azure Automanage Machine Configuration (or whatever it’s called today) for quite some time now, but the entry barrier was always too high (I’m no Reinhold Messner). My hope is that the current workflow of writing, bundling, compiling, … and so on will be greatly simplified and replaced with a short and concise workflow that mere human beings can understand. Adding JSON as a configuration language besides PowerShell/MOF is a welcome change and I hope the first step for a greatly simplified machine configuration.

    I’ve always had the impression that existing workflows like https://github.com/dsccommunity/DscWorkshop are targeted to people who already have 10+ years of experience with DSC. 🙁

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