Getting Chef Solo Working With the Database Cookbook and Vagrant

This is going to be one big jargon laden blob if you're not trying to do exactly what I was trying to do this week, but hopefully it turns up in a search for the next person.

I'm setting up a new development environment using Vagrant and I'm using Chef Solo to provision the Ubuntu (12.4 Precise Penguin) guest. I wanted MySQL server running and wanted to use the database cookbook from Opscode to pre-create a database.

My run list looked like:

recipe[mysql::server], recipe[webapp]

Where the webapp recipe's metadata.rb included:

depends "database"

and the default recipe led off with:

mysql_database 'master' do
  connection my_connection
  action :create

Which would blow up at execution time with the message "missing gem 'mysql'", which was really frustrating because the gem was already installed in the previous mysql::server recipe.

I learned about chef_gem as compared to gem_package from the chef docs, and found another page the showed how to run actions at compile time instead of during chef processing, but only when I did both like this:

%w{mysql-client libmysqlclient-dev make}.each do |pack|
  package pack do
    action :nothing
g = chef_gem "mysql" do
      action :nothing

was I able to get things working. Notice that I had to install the OS packages for mysql, the mysql development headers, and the venerable make because I could early install the mysql ruby gem into chef's gem path -- which with Vagrant's chef solo provisioner is entirely separate from any system gems.