Debugging cloud-init#


This topic will discuss general approaches for testing and debugging 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 which operations took the longest during boot and setup.

The script /usr/bin/cloud-init has an analysis 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, and 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 organise 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

Example output:

-- 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-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

Example output:

  "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 the highest time cost for a quick assessment of areas of cloud-init that may need improvement.

$ cloud-init analyze blame -i my-cloud-init.log

Example output:

-- 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

Example output:

-- 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:focal 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 cloud-init log:

  1. Download the current cloud image

$ wget
  1. Create a snapshot image to preserve the original cloud image

$ qemu-img create -b focal-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 user data 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 via the command line:

$ sudo cloud-init single --name cc_ssh --frequency always

Example output:

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” (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

    that the new version works properly on the specific platform and Ubuntu series.

  • Check for tracebacks or errors in behaviour.

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. Be sure to make a note of the datasource cloud-init detected in --long output. You will need this during step 5, where you will use it to confirm the same datasource is detected after the 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. To do this, create the following bash script, which will add the -proposed pocket to APT’s sources and install cloud-init from that pocket:

cat > <<EOF
echo deb \$mirror \$(lsb_release -sc)-proposed main | tee \
apt-get update -q
apt-get install -qy cloud-init
$ scp ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP:.
$ ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- sudo bash
  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. First, we block until cloud-init completes, then verify from --long that the datasource is the same as the one picked up from step 1. Errors will show up in --long:

$ ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- cloud-init status --wait --long

Make sure the hostname was set properly to SRU-worked-<cloud name>:

$ ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- hostname

Then, check for any errors or warnings in cloud-init logs. If successful, this will produce no output:

$ ssh ubuntu@$CI_VM_IP -- grep Trace "/var/log/cloud-init*"
  1. If you encounter an error during SRU testing: