Database Management

Updating and Migrating the Database

The default metadata driver for Glance uses SQLAlchemy, which implies there exists a backend database which must be managed. The glance-manage binary provides a set of commands for making this easier.

The commands should be executed as a subcommand of ‘db’:

glance-manage db <cmd> <args>


In the Ocata release (14.0.0), the database migration engine was changed from SQLAlchemy Migrate to Alembic. This necessitated some changes in the glance-manage tool. While the user interface has been kept as similar as possible, the glance-manage tool included with the Ocata and more recent releases is incompatible with the “legacy” tool. If you are consulting these documents for information about the glance-manage tool in the Newton or earlier releases, please see the Legacy Database Management page.

Migration Scripts

The migration scripts are stored in the directory: glance/db/sqlalchemy/alembic_migrations/versions

As mentioned above, these scripts utilize the Alembic migration engine, which was first introduced in the Ocata release. All database migrations up through the Liberty release are consolidated into one Alembic migration script named liberty_initial. Mitaka migrations are retained, but have been rewritten for Alembic and named using the new naming convention.

A fresh Glance installation will apply the following migrations:

  • liberty-initial

  • mitaka01

  • mitaka02

  • ocata01


The “old-style” migration scripts have been retained in their current directory in the Ocata release so that interested operators can correlate them with the new migrations. This directory will be removed in future releases.

In particular, the “old-style” script for the Ocata migration, is retained for operators who are conversant in SQLAlchemy Migrate and are interested in comparing it with a “new-style” Alembic migration script. The Alembic script, which is the one actually used to do the upgrade to Ocata, is

Sync the Database

glance-manage db sync [VERSION]

Place an existing database under migration control and upgrade it to the specified VERSION or to the latest migration level if VERSION is not specified.


Prior to Ocata release the database version was a numeric value. For example: for the Newton release, the latest migration level was 44. Starting with Ocata, database version is a revision name corresponding to the latest migration included in the release. For the Ocata release, there is only one database migration and it is identified by revision ocata01. So, the database version for Ocata release is ocata01.

This naming convention will change slightly with the introduction of zero-downtime upgrades, which is EXPERIMENTAL in Ocata, but is projected to be the official upgrade method beginning with the Pike release. See Zero-Downtime Database Upgrades for more information.

Determining the Database Version

glance-manage db version

This will print the current migration level of a Glance database.

Upgrading an Existing Database

glance-manage db upgrade [VERSION]

This will take an existing database and upgrade it to the specified VERSION.

Downgrading an Existing Database

Downgrading an existing database is NOT SUPPORTED.

Upgrades involve complex operations and can fail. Before attempting any upgrade, you should make a full database backup of your production data. As of the OpenStack Kilo release (April 2013), database downgrades are not supported, and the only method available to get back to a prior database version is to restore from backup.

Database Maintenance

Like most OpenStack systems, Glance performs soft deletions when it deletes records from its database. Depending on usage patterns in your cloud, you may occasionally want to actually remove such soft deleted table rows. This operation is called purging the database, and you can use the glance-manage tool to do this.

High-Level Database Architecture

Roughly, what we’ve got in the glance database is an images table that stores the image id and some other core image properties. All the other information about the image (for example: where the image data is stored in the backend, what projects an image has been shared with, image tags, custom image properties) is stored in other tables in which the image id is a foreign key.

Because the images table keeps track of what image identifiers have been issued, it must be treated differently from the other tables with respect to purging the database.


Before the Rocky release (17.0.0), the images table was not treated differently, which made Glance vulnerable to OSSN-0075, “Deleted Glance image IDs may be reassigned”. Please read through that OpenStack Security Note to understand the nature of the problem.

Additionally, the Glance spec Mitigate OSSN-0075 contains a discussion of the issue and explains the changes made to the glance-manage tool for the Rocky release. The Gerrit review of the spec contains an extensive discussion of several alternative approaches and will give you an idea of why the Glance team provided a “mitigation” instead of a fix.

Purging the Database

You can use the glance-manage tool to purge the soft-deleted rows from all tables except the images table:

glance-manage db purge

This command takes two optional parameters:

--age_in_days NUM

Only purge rows that have been deleted for longer than NUM days. The default is 30 days.

--max_rows NUM

Purge a maximum of NUM rows from each table. The default is 100. All deleted rows are purged if equals -1

Purging the Images Table

Remember that image identifiers are used by other OpenStack services that require access to images. These services expect that when an image is requested by ID, they will receive the same data every time. When the images table is purged of its soft-deleted rows, Glance loses its memory that those image IDs were ever mapped to some particular payload. Thus, care must be taken in purging the images table. We recommend that it be done much less frequently than the “regular” purge operation.

Use the following command to purge the images table:

glance-manage db purge_images_table

Be sure you have read and understood the implications of OSSN-0075 before you use this command, which purges the soft-deleted rows from the images table.

It takes two optional parameters:

--age_in_days NUM

Only purge rows that have been deleted for longer than NUM days. The default is 180 days.

--max_rows NUM

Purge a maximum of NUM rows from the images table. The default is 100. All deleted rows are purged if equals -1

It is possible for this command to fail with an IntegrityError saying something like “Cannot delete or update a parent row: a foreign key constraint fails”. This can happen when you try to purge records from the images table when related records have not yet been purged from other tables. The purge_images_table command should only be issued after all related information has been purged using the “regular” purge command.