Developer Quick-Start

This is a quick walkthrough to get you started developing code for Ironic. This assumes you are already familiar with submitting code reviews to an OpenStack project.

The gate currently runs the unit tests under Python 2.7 and Python 3.5. It is strongly encouraged to run the unit tests locally prior to submitting a patch.


Do not run unit tests on the same environment as devstack due to conflicting configuration with system dependencies.


This document is compatible with Python (3.5), Ubuntu (16.04) and Fedora (24). When referring to different versions of Python and OS distributions, this is explicitly stated.

Prepare Development System

System Prerequisites

The following packages cover the prerequisites for a local development environment on most current distributions. Instructions for getting set up with non-default versions of Python and on older distributions are included below as well.

  • Ubuntu/Debian:

    sudo apt-get install build-essential python-dev libssl-dev python-pip libmysqlclient-dev libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libpq-dev git git-review libffi-dev gettext ipmitool psmisc graphviz libjpeg-dev
  • Fedora 21/RHEL7/CentOS7:

    sudo yum install python-devel openssl-devel python-pip mysql-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel postgresql-devel git git-review libffi-devel gettext ipmitool psmisc graphviz gcc libjpeg-turbo-devel

    If using RHEL and yum reports “No package python-pip available” and “No package git-review available”, use the EPEL software repository. Instructions can be found at

  • Fedora 22 or higher:

    sudo dnf install python-devel openssl-devel python-pip mysql-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel postgresql-devel git git-review libffi-devel gettext ipmitool psmisc graphviz gcc libjpeg-turbo-devel

    Additionally, if using Fedora 23, redhat-rpm-config package should be installed so that development virtualenv can be built successfully.

  • openSUSE/SLE 12:

    sudo zypper install git git-review libffi-devel libmysqlclient-devel libopenssl-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel postgresql-devel python-devel python-nose python-pip gettext-runtime psmisc

    Graphviz is only needed for generating the state machine diagram. To install it on openSUSE or SLE 12, see

Python Prerequisites

If your distro has at least tox 1.8, use similar command to install python-tox package. Otherwise install this on all distros:

sudo pip install -U tox

You may need to explicitly upgrade virtualenv if you’ve installed the one from your OS distribution and it is too old (tox will complain). You can upgrade it individually, if you need to:

sudo pip install -U virtualenv

Running Unit Tests Locally

If you haven’t already, Ironic source code should be pulled directly from git:

# from your home or source directory
cd ~
git clone
cd ironic

Running Unit and Style Tests

All unit tests should be run using tox. To run Ironic’s entire test suite:

# to run the py27, py35 unit tests, and the style tests

To run a specific test or tests, use the “-e” option followed by the tox target name. For example:

# run the unit tests under py27 and also run the pep8 tests
tox -epy27 -epep8


If tests are run under py27 and then run under py35 the following error may occur:

db type could not be determined
ERROR: InvocationError: '/home/ubuntu/ironic/.tox/py35/bin/ostestr'

To overcome this error remove the file .testrepository/times.dbm and then run the py35 test.

You may pass options to the test programs using positional arguments. To run a specific unit test, this passes the -r option and desired test (regex string) to os-testr:

# run a specific test for Python 2.7
tox -epy27 -- -r test_conductor

Debugging unit tests

In order to break into the debugger from a unit test we need to insert a breaking point to the code:

import pdb; pdb.set_trace()

Then run tox with the debug environment as one of the following:

tox -e debug
tox -e debug test_file_name
tox -e debug test_file_name.TestClass
tox -e debug test_file_name.TestClass.test_name

For more information see the oslotest documentation.

Database Setup

The unit tests need a local database setup, you can use tools/ to set up the database the same way as setup in the OpenStack test systems.

Additional Tox Targets

There are several additional tox targets not included in the default list, such as the target which builds the documentation site. See the tox.ini file for a complete listing of tox targets. These can be run directly by specifying the target name:

# generate the documentation pages locally
tox -edocs

# generate the sample configuration file
tox -egenconfig

Exercising the Services Locally

In addition to running automated tests, sometimes it can be helpful to actually run the services locally, without needing a server in a remote datacenter.

If you would like to exercise the Ironic services in isolation within your local environment, you can do this without starting any other OpenStack services. For example, this is useful for rapidly prototyping and debugging interactions over the RPC channel, testing database migrations, and so forth.

Here we describe two ways to install and configure the dependencies, either run directly on your local machine or encapsulated in a virtual machine or container.

Step 1: Create a Python virtualenv

  1. If you haven’t already downloaded the source code, do that first:

    cd ~
    git clone
    cd ironic
  2. Create the Python virtualenv:

    tox -evenv --notest --develop -r
  3. Activate the virtual environment:

    source .tox/venv/bin/activate
  4. Install the ironic client:

    pip install python-ironicclient


    You can install python-ironicclient from source by cloning the git repository and running pip install . while in the root of the cloned repository.

  5. Export some ENV vars so the client will connect to the local services that you’ll start in the next section:

    export OS_AUTH_TOKEN=fake-token
    export IRONIC_URL=http://localhost:6385/

Next, install and configure system dependencies. Two different approaches are described below; you should only do one of these.

Step 2a: System Dependencies In A Virtual Machine

This option requires virtualbox, vagrant, and ansible. You may install these using your favorite package manager, or by downloading from the provided links.

  1. Let vagrant do the work:

    vagrant up

This will create a VM available to your local system at, will install all the necessary service dependencies, and configure some default users. It will also generate ./etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local preconfigured for local dev work. We recommend you compare and familiarize yourself with the settings in ./etc/ironic/ironic.conf.sample so you can adjust it to meet your own needs.

Step 2b: Install System Dependencies Locally

This option will install RabbitMQ and MySQL on your local system. This may not be desirable in some situations (eg, you’re developing from a laptop and do not want to run a MySQL server on it all the time).

  1. Install rabbitmq-server:

    # install rabbit message broker
    # Ubuntu/Debian:
    sudo apt-get install rabbitmq-server
    # Fedora 21/RHEL7/CentOS7:
    sudo yum install rabbitmq-server
    sudo systemctl start rabbitmq-server.service
    # Fedora 22 or higher:
    sudo dnf install rabbitmq-server
    sudo systemctl start rabbitmq-server.service
    # openSUSE/SLE 12:
    sudo zypper install rabbitmq-server
    sudo systemctl start rabbitmq-server.service
  2. Install mysql-server:

    # Ubuntu/Debian:
    # sudo apt-get install mysql-server
    # Fedora 21/RHEL7/CentOS7:
    # sudo yum install mariadb mariadb-server
    # sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
    # Fedora 22 or higher:
    # sudo dnf install mariadb mariadb-server
    # sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
    # openSUSE/SLE 12:
    # sudo zypper install mariadb
    # sudo systemctl start mysql.service
    # If using MySQL, you need to create the initial database
    mysql -u root -pMYSQL_ROOT_PWD -e "create schema ironic"


    if you choose not to install mysql-server, ironic will default to using a local sqlite database.

  3. Create a configuration file within the ironic source directory:

    # copy sample config and modify it as necessary
    cp etc/ironic/ironic.conf.sample etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
    # disable auth since we are not running keystone here
    sed -i "s/#auth_strategy = keystone/auth_strategy = noauth/" etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
    # Use the 'fake_ipmitool' test driver
    sed -i "s/#enabled_drivers = pxe_ipmitool/enabled_drivers = fake_ipmitool/" etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
    # set a fake host name [useful if you want to test multiple services on the same host]
    sed -i "s/#host = .*/host = test-host/" etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
    # change the periodic sync_power_state_interval to a week, to avoid getting NodeLocked exceptions
    sed -i "s/#sync_power_state_interval = 60/sync_power_state_interval = 604800/" etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
    # if you opted to install mysql-server, switch the DB connection from sqlite to mysql
    sed -i "s/#connection = .*/connection = mysql\+pymysql:\/\/root:MYSQL_ROOT_PWD@localhost\/ironic/" etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local

Step 3: Start the Services

From within the python virtualenv, run the following command to prepare the database before you start the ironic services:

# initialize the database for ironic
ironic-dbsync --config-file etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local create_schema

Next, open two new terminals for this section, and run each of the examples here in a separate terminal. In this way, the services will not be run as daemons; you can observe their output and stop them with Ctrl-C at any time.

  1. Start the API service in debug mode and watch its output:

    cd ~/ironic
    source .tox/venv/bin/activate
    ironic-api -v -d --config-file etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local
  2. Start the Conductor service in debug mode and watch its output:

    cd ~/ironic
    source .tox/venv/bin/activate
    ironic-conductor -v -d --config-file etc/ironic/ironic.conf.local

Step 4: Interact with the running services

You should now be able to interact with ironic via the python client, which is present in the python virtualenv, and observe both services’ debug outputs in the other two windows. This is a good way to test new features or play with the functionality without necessarily starting DevStack.

To get started, list the available commands and resources:

# get a list of available commands
ironic help

# get the list of drivers currently supported by the available conductor(s)
ironic driver-list

# get a list of nodes (should be empty at this point)
ironic node-list

Here is an example walkthrough of creating a node:

MAC="aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff"   # replace with the MAC of a data port on your node
IPMI_ADDR=""       # replace with a real IP of the node BMC
IPMI_USER="admin"         # replace with the BMC's user name
IPMI_PASS="pass"          # replace with the BMC's password

# enroll the node with the "fake" deploy driver and the "ipmitool" power driver
# Note that driver info may be added at node creation time with "-i"
NODE=$(ironic node-create -d fake_ipmitool -i ipmi_address=$IPMI_ADDR -i ipmi_username=$IPMI_USER | grep ' uuid ' | awk '{print $4}')

# driver info may also be added or updated later on
ironic node-update $NODE add driver_info/ipmi_password=$IPMI_PASS

# add a network port
ironic port-create -n $NODE -a $MAC

# view the information for the node
ironic node-show $NODE

# request that the node's driver validate the supplied information
ironic node-validate $NODE

# you have now enrolled a node sufficiently to be able to control
# its power state from ironic!
ironic node-set-power-state $NODE on

If you make some code changes and want to test their effects, simply stop the services with Ctrl-C and restart them.

Step 5: Fixing your test environment

If you are testing changes that add or remove python entrypoints, or making significant changes to ironic’s python modules, or simply keep the virtualenv around for a long time, your development environment may reach an inconsistent state. It may help to delete cached ”.pyc” files, update dependencies, reinstall ironic, or even recreate the virtualenv. The following commands may help with that, but are not an exhaustive troubleshooting guide:

# clear cached pyc files
cd ~/ironic/ironic
find ./ -name '*.pyc' | xargs rm

# reinstall ironic modules
cd ~/ironic
source .tox/venv/bin/activate
pip uninstall ironic
pip install -e .

# install and upgrade ironic and all python dependencies
cd ~/ironic
source .tox/venv/bin/activate
pip install -U -e .

Deploying Ironic with DevStack

DevStack may be configured to deploy Ironic, setup Nova to use the Ironic driver and provide hardware resources (network, baremetal compute nodes) using a combination of OpenVSwitch and libvirt. It is highly recommended to deploy on an expendable virtual machine and not on your personal work station. Deploying Ironic with DevStack requires a machine running Ubuntu 16.04 (or later) or Fedora 24 (or later). Make sure your machine is fully up to date and has the latest packages installed before beginning this process.


The devstack “demo” tenant is now granted the “baremetal_observer” role and thereby has read-only access to ironic’s API. This is sufficient for all the examples below. Should you want to create or modify bare metal resources directly (ie. through ironic rather than through nova) you will need to use the devstack “admin” tenant.

Devstack will no longer create the user ‘stack’ with the desired permissions, but does provide a script to perform the task:

git clone devstack
sudo ./devstack/tools/

Switch to the stack user and clone DevStack:

sudo su - stack
git clone devstack

Create devstack/local.conf with minimal settings required to enable Ironic. You can use either of two drivers for deploy: agent_* or pxe_*, see Ironic Python Agent for explanation. An example local.conf that enables both types of drivers and uses the agent_ipmitool driver by default:

cd devstack
cat >local.conf <<END
# Credentials

# Enable Ironic plugin
enable_plugin ironic git://

# Enable Neutron which is required by Ironic and disable nova-network.
disable_service n-net
disable_service n-novnc
enable_service q-svc
enable_service q-agt
enable_service q-dhcp
enable_service q-l3
enable_service q-meta
enable_service neutron

# Enable Swift for agent_* drivers
enable_service s-proxy
enable_service s-object
enable_service s-container
enable_service s-account

# Disable Horizon
disable_service horizon

# Disable Heat
disable_service heat h-api h-api-cfn h-api-cw h-eng

# Disable Cinder
disable_service cinder c-sch c-api c-vol

# Swift temp URL's are required for agent_* drivers.

# Create 3 virtual machines to pose as Ironic's baremetal nodes.

# Enable Ironic drivers.

# Change this to alter the default driver for nodes created by devstack.
# This driver should be in the enabled list above.

# The parameters below represent the minimum possible values to create
# functional nodes.

# Size of the ephemeral partition in GB. Use 0 for no ephemeral partition.

# To build your own IPA ramdisk from source, set this to True


# By default, DevStack creates a network for instances.
# If this overlaps with the hosts network, you may adjust with the
# following.

# Log all output to files



Git protocol requires access to port 9418, which is not a standard port that corporate firewalls always allow. If you are behind a firewall or on a proxy that blocks Git protocol, modify the enable_plugin line to use https:// instead of git:// and add GIT_BASE= to the credentials:


# Enable Ironic plugin
enable_plugin ironic


The agent_ssh and pxe_ssh drivers are being deprecated in favor of the more production-like agent_ipmitool and pxe_ipmitool drivers. When a *_ipmitool driver is set and IRONIC_IS_HARDWARE variable is false devstack will automatically set up VirtualBMC to control the power state of the virtual baremetal nodes.


When running QEMU as non-root user (e.g. qemu on Fedora or libvirt-qemu on Ubuntu), make sure IRONIC_VM_LOG_DIR points to a directory where QEMU will be able to write. You can verify this with, for example:

# on Fedora
sudo -u qemu touch $HOME/ironic-bm-logs/test.log
# on Ubuntu
sudo -u libvirt-qemu touch $HOME/ironic-bm-logs/test.log


To check out an in-progress patch for testing, you can add a Git ref to the enable_plugin line. For instance:

enable_plugin ironic git:// refs/changes/46/295946/15

For a patch in review, you can find the ref to use by clicking the “Download” button in Gerrit. You can also specify a different git repo, or a branch or tag:

enable_plugin ironic stable/kilo

For more details, see the devstack plugin interface documentation.



Source credentials, create a key, and spawn an instance as the demo user:

source ~/devstack/openrc

# query the image id of the default cirros image
image=$(openstack image show $DEFAULT_IMAGE_NAME -f value -c id)

# create keypair
openstack keypair create --public-key ~/.ssh/ default

# spawn instance
openstack server create --flavor baremetal --image $image --key-name default testing


Because devstack create multiple networks, we need to pass an additional parameter --nic net-id to the nova boot command when using the admin account, for example:

net_id=$(openstack network list | egrep "$PRIVATE_NETWORK_NAME"'[^-]' | awk '{ print $2 }')

openstack server create --flavor baremetal --nic net-id=$net_id --image $image --key-name default testing

You should now see a Nova instance building:

openstack server list --long
| ID       | Name    | Status | Task State | Power State | Networks | Image Name | Image ID | Availability Zone | Host | Properties |
| a2c7f812 | testing | BUILD  | spawning   | NOSTATE     |          | cirros-0.3 | 44d4092a | nova              |      |            |
| -e386-4a |         |        |            |             |          | .5-x86_64- | -51ac-47 |                   |      |            |
| 22-b393- |         |        |            |             |          | disk       | 51-9c50- |                   |      |            |
| fe1802ab |         |        |            |             |          |            | fd6e2050 |                   |      |            |
| d56e     |         |        |            |             |          |            | faa1     |                   |      |            |

Nova will be interfacing with Ironic conductor to spawn the node. On the Ironic side, you should see an Ironic node associated with this Nova instance. It should be powered on and in a ‘wait call-back’ provisioning state:

openstack baremetal node list
| UUID                                 | Name   | Instance UUID                        | Power State | Provisioning State | Maintenance |
| 9e592cbe-e492-4e4f-bf8f-4c9e0ad1868f | node-0 | None                                 | power off   | None               | False       |
| ec0c6384-cc3a-4edf-b7db-abde1998be96 | node-1 | None                                 | power off   | None               | False       |
| 4099e31c-576c-48f8-b460-75e1b14e497f | node-2 | a2c7f812-e386-4a22-b393-fe1802abd56e | power on    | wait call-back     | False       |

At this point, Ironic conductor has called to libvirt via SSH to power on a virtual machine, which will PXE + TFTP boot from the conductor node and progress through the Ironic provisioning workflow. One libvirt domain should be active now:

sudo virsh list --all
 Id    Name                           State
 2     node-2                         running
 -     node-0                         shut off
 -     node-1                         shut off

This provisioning process may take some time depending on the performance of the host system, but Ironic should eventually show the node as having an ‘active’ provisioning state:

openstack baremetal node list
| UUID                                 | Name   | Instance UUID                        | Power State | Provisioning State | Maintenance |
| 9e592cbe-e492-4e4f-bf8f-4c9e0ad1868f | node-0 | None                                 | power off   | None               | False       |
| ec0c6384-cc3a-4edf-b7db-abde1998be96 | node-1 | None                                 | power off   | None               | False       |
| 4099e31c-576c-48f8-b460-75e1b14e497f | node-2 | a2c7f812-e386-4a22-b393-fe1802abd56e | power on    | active             | False       |

This should also be reflected in the Nova instance state, which at this point should be ACTIVE, Running and an associated private IP:

openstack server list --long
| ID       | Name    | Status | Task State | Power State | Networks      | Image Name | Image ID | Availability Zone | Host | Properties |
| a2c7f812 | testing | ACTIVE | none       | Running     | private=10.1. | cirros-0.3 | 44d4092a | nova              |      |            |
| -e386-4a |         |        |            |             | 0.4, fd7d:1f3 | .5-x86_64- | -51ac-47 |                   |      |            |
| 22-b393- |         |        |            |             | c:4bf1:0:f816 | disk       | 51-9c50- |                   |      |            |
| fe1802ab |         |        |            |             | :3eff:f39d:6d |            | fd6e2050 |                   |      |            |
| d56e     |         |        |            |             | 94            |            | faa1     |                   |      |            |

The server should now be accessible via SSH:

ssh cirros@

Running Tempest tests

After Deploying Ironic with DevStack one might want to run integration tests against the running cloud. The Tempest project is the project that offers an integration test suite for OpenStack.

First, navigate to Tempest directory:

cd /opt/stack/tempest

To run all tests from the Ironic plugin, execute the following command:

tox -e all-plugin -- ironic

To limit the amount of tests that you would like to run, you can use a regex. For instance, to limit the run to a single test file, the following command can be used:

tox -e all-plugin -- ironic_tempest_plugin.tests.scenario.test_baremetal_basic_ops

Debugging Tempest tests

It is sometimes useful to step through the test code, line by line, especially when the error output is vague. This can be done by running the tests in debug mode and using a debugger such as pdb.

For example, after editing the test_baremetal_basic_ops file and setting up the pdb traces you can invoke the script in the Tempest directory with the following parameters:

./ -N -d ironic_tempest_plugin.tests.scenario.test_baremetal_basic_ops
  • The -N parameter tells the script to run the tests in the local environment (without a virtualenv) so it can find the Ironic tempest plugin.
  • The -d parameter enables the debug mode, allowing it to be used with pdb.

For more information about the supported parameters see:

./ --help


Always be careful when running debuggers in time sensitive code, they may cause timeout errors that weren’t there before.

Building developer documentation

If you would like to build the documentation locally, eg. to test your documentation changes before uploading them for review, run these commands to build the documentation set:

  • On your local machine:

    # activate your development virtualenv
    source .tox/venv/bin/activate
    # build the docs
    tox -edocs
    #Now use your browser to open the top-level index.html located at:
  • On a remote machine:

    # Go to the directory that contains the docs
    cd ~/ironic/doc/source/
    # Build the docs
    tox -edocs
    # Change directory to the newly built HTML files
    cd ~/ironic/doc/build/html/
    # Create a server using python on port 8000
    python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000
    #Now use your browser to open the top-level index.html located at: