Tim,I believe the following part is what is overwriting your validating key with something else.
I followed all the steps of the tutorial including cloning the git repo and especially these particular steps:
cp ~/chef-repo/.chef/knife.rb ~/nagios-quick-start/.chef
cp ~/chef-repo/.chef/USERNAME.pem ~/nagios-quick-start/.chef
cp ~/chef-repo/.chef/validation.pem ~/nagios-quick-start/.chefAs per the link that you are following (http://wiki.opscode.com/display/chef/Nagios+Quick+Start) this part is valid only if you are using opscode chef server and not the community chef server. If you have your own chef server, it may not be required to do this step.When you run knife ec2 server create, it will1. launch a new ec2 instance2. install chef on this instance3. bootstrap it. it will automatically copy the correct validation.pem key while this happens.Can you remove the validation.pem from ~/nagios-quick-start/.chef and try. Alternately, you could copy /etc/chef/validation.pem there.
Also, can you make sure that if you are using a AMI to launch instnace, it does not have stale /etc/chef/validation.pem on it.
ThanksGourav ShahFounder and Principal ConsultantInitcron | www.initcron.com
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