Testing and debugging cloud-init


This topic will discuss general approaches for test and debug of cloud-init on deployed instances.

Boot Time Analysis - cloud-init analyze

Occasionally instances don’t appear as performant as we would like and cloud-init packages a simple facility to inspect what operations took cloud-init the longest during boot and setup.

The script /usr/bin/cloud-init has an analyze sub-command analyze which parses any cloud-init.log file into formatted and sorted events. It allows for detailed analysis of the most costly cloud-init operations are to determine the long-pole in cloud-init configuration and setup. These subcommands default to reading /var/log/cloud-init.log.

  • analyze show Parse and organize cloud-init.log events by stage and include each sub-stage granularity with time delta reports.
$ cloud-init analyze show -i my-cloud-init.log
-- Boot Record 01 --
The total time elapsed since completing an event is printed after the "@"
The time the event takes is printed after the "+" character.

Starting stage: modules-config
|`->config-emit_upstart ran successfully @05.47600s +00.00100s
|`->config-snap_config ran successfully @05.47700s +00.00100s
|`->config-ssh-import-id ran successfully @05.47800s +00.00200s
|`->config-locale ran successfully @05.48000s +00.00100s
  • analyze dump Parse cloud-init.log into event records and return a list of dictionaries that can be consumed for other reporting needs.
$ cloud-init analyze dump -i my-cloud-init.log
  "description": "running config modules",
  "event_type": "start",
  "name": "modules-config",
  "origin": "cloudinit",
  "timestamp": 1510807493.0
  • analyze blame Parse cloud-init.log into event records and sort them based on highest time cost for quick assessment of areas of cloud-init that may need improvement.
$ cloud-init analyze blame -i my-cloud-init.log
-- Boot Record 11 --
     00.01300s (modules-final/config-scripts-per-boot)
     00.00400s (modules-final/config-final-message)
     00.00100s (modules-final/config-rightscale_userdata)
  • analyze boot Make subprocess calls to the kernel in order to get relevant pre-cloud-init timestamps, such as the kernel start, kernel finish boot, and cloud-init start.
$ cloud-init analyze boot
-- Most Recent Boot Record --
    Kernel Started at: 2019-06-13 15:59:55.809385
    Kernel ended boot at: 2019-06-13 16:00:00.944740
    Kernel time to boot (seconds): 5.135355
    Cloud-init start: 2019-06-13 16:00:05.738396
    Time between Kernel boot and Cloud-init start (seconds): 4.793656

Analyze quickstart - LXC

To quickly obtain a cloud-init log try using lxc on any ubuntu system:

$ lxc init ubuntu-daily:xenial x1
$ lxc start x1
$ # Take lxc's cloud-init.log and pipe it to the analyzer
$ lxc file pull x1/var/log/cloud-init.log - | cloud-init analyze dump -i -
$ lxc file pull x1/var/log/cloud-init.log - | \
  python3 -m cloudinit.analyze dump -i -

Analyze quickstart - KVM

To quickly analyze a KVM a cloud-init log:

  1. Download the current cloud image
$ wget https://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/daily/server/xenial/current/xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64.img
  1. Create a snapshot image to preserve the original cloud-image
$ qemu-img create -b xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64.img -f qcow2 \
  1. Create a seed image with metadata using cloud-localds
$ cat > user-data <<EOF
  password: passw0rd
  chpasswd: { expire: False }
$  cloud-localds my-seed.img user-data
  1. Launch your modified VM
$  kvm -m 512 -net nic -net user -redir tcp:2222::22 \
    -drive file=test-cloudinit.qcow2,if=virtio,format=qcow2 \
    -drive file=my-seed.img,if=virtio,format=raw
  1. Analyze the boot (blame, dump, show)
$ ssh -p 2222 ubuntu@localhost 'cat /var/log/cloud-init.log' | \
   cloud-init analyze blame -i -

Running single cloud config modules

This subcommand is not called by the init system. It can be called manually to load the configured datasource and run a single cloud-config module once using the cached userdata and metadata after the instance has booted. Each cloud-config module has a module FREQUENCY configured: PER_INSTANCE, PER_BOOT, PER_ONCE or PER_ALWAYS. When a module is run by cloud-init, it stores a semaphore file in /var/lib/cloud/instance/sem/config_<module_name>.<frequency> which marks when the module last successfully ran. Presence of this semaphore file prevents a module from running again if it has already been run. To ensure that a module is run again, the desired frequency can be overridden on the commandline:

$ sudo cloud-init single --name cc_ssh --frequency always
Generating public/private ed25519 key pair

Inspect cloud-init.log for output of what operations were performed as a result.

Stable Release Updates (SRU) testing for cloud-init

Once an Ubuntu release is stable (i.e. after it is released), updates for it must follow a special procedure called a “stable release update” (or SRU).

The cloud-init project has a specific process it follows when validating a cloud-init SRU, documented in the CloudinitUpdates wiki page.

Generally an SRU test of cloud-init performs the following:

  • Install a pre-release version of cloud-init from the -proposed APT pocket (e.g. bionic-proposed)
  • Upgrade cloud-init and attempt a clean run of cloud-init to assert the new version of cloud-init works properly the specific platform and Ubuntu series
  • Check for tracebacks or errors in behavior

Manual SRU verification procedure

Below are steps to manually test a pre-release version of cloud-init from -proposed


For each Ubuntu SRU, the Ubuntu Server team manually validates the new version of cloud-init on these platforms: Amazon EC2, Azure, GCE, OpenStack, Oracle, Softlayer (IBM), LXD, KVM

  1. Launch a VM on your favorite platform, providing this cloud-config user-data and replacing <YOUR_LAUNCHPAD_USERNAME> with your username:
## template: jinja
ssh_import_id: [<YOUR_LAUNCHPAD_USERNAME>]
hostname: SRU-worked-{{v1.cloud_name}}
  1. Wait for current cloud-init to complete, replace <YOUR_VM_IP> with the IP address of the VM that you launched in step 1:
# Make note of the datasource cloud-init detected in --long output.
# In step 5, you will use this to confirm the same datasource is detected after upgrade.
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- cloud-init status --wait --long
  1. Set up the -proposed pocket on your VM and upgrade to the -proposed cloud-init:
# Create a script that will add the -proposed pocket to APT's sources
# and install cloud-init from that pocket
cat > setup_proposed.sh <<EOF
echo deb \$mirror \$(lsb_release -sc)-proposed main | tee \
apt-get update -q
apt-get install -qy cloud-init

scp setup_proposed.sh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP:.
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- sudo bash setup_proposed.sh
  1. Change hostname, clean cloud-init’s state, and reboot to run cloud-init from scratch:
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- sudo hostname something-else
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- sudo cloud-init clean --logs --reboot
  1. Validate -proposed cloud-init came up without error
# Block until cloud-init completes and verify from --long the datasource
# from step 1. Errors would show up in --long

ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- cloud-init status --wait --long
# Make sure hostname was set properly to SRU-worked-<cloud name>
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- hostname
# Check for any errors or warnings in cloud-init logs.
# (This should produce no output if successful.)
ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- grep Trace "/var/log/cloud-init*"
  1. If you encounter an error during SRU testing: