Policy overrides


OpenStack service policies define access permissions for resources on a per-service basis. The policy defaults for a charmed OpenStack service are either coded in the service itself (“policy-in-code”) and/or provided by the charm via a YAML file.

The preferred approach for modifying a default policy is via charm options as this leads to consistent policy files. In a Juju-managed OpenStack deployment, it is not recommended to manually override a service’s default policy (i.e. editing a policy.json file on a unit).

However, over time the demand has grown for the ability of an operator to tweak a policy in a way that the charm is currently incapable of, and without incurring the penalty of waiting for such changes to be implemented in the charm.

The policy overrides feature provides a mechanism for doing this with the limitation that it can alter only the permissions of the tenant users of the system. It does not modify the permissions of the service users themselves (e.g. keystone, glance, nova). The charms maintains its responsibility for this through the use of policy files within the charms themselves.


Policy overrides are supported on a per-charm basis. This support will be mentioned in a charm’s README along with any charm-specific override information.

Here is the current list of override-aware charms:

Overrides for one service may affect the functionality of another service. Therefore, it may be necessary to provide overrides for multiple services in order to achieve a consistent set of policies across the cloud. Do not proceed unless all affected services are represented in the above list.


Always consult the charm documentation prior to using this feature.


Any policy statement valid for a given OpenStack service is placed, one per line, in a file (an override file). This file (or files) is then compressed into a single file (the resource file) and used as an Application resource named ‘policyd-override’. Finally, the override is enabled via a Boolean charm option.

The enablement phase will cause validation checks to be performed. If successful, the effective contents of each override file is placed into a corresponding file under the /etc/<service-name>/policy.d/ directory on the appropriate unit(s). The service will then use this information to override the currently active policy.


Validation checks do not cover the policy statements themselves. They only ensure that the policy override mechanism is able to consume those statements (e.g. failure will result if the statement is not valid YAML but will succeed if a keyword was misspelled). See Requirements below.

A charm may optionally provide a template system where an override file can include template variables that the charm will substitute with data that the charm has access to via current charm options, the environment, or relation data.

The override implementation is per charm. Thus if several services require overrides a separate resource file will need to be applied to each respective charm.


A problem arising from overrides is not considered a charm breakage. Overrides are orthogonal to the operation of the charm.


Requirements for the resource file are presented below.

  • It must be properly ZIP formatted. A pkunzip program must be able to open and test the enclosed files.

  • Enclosed override files must be properly YAML formatted and have an extension of .yaml, or .yml.

  • Enclosed override files must not contain rule targets/keys that have been blacklisted by the charm. These will be documented in the charm’s README.

  • Enclosed override files must have unique filenames. Any directories in the file are “flattened” such that all override files appear as a simple list. Each of these filenames also get lower-cased.

Applying overrides

Policy overrides for a single OpenStack service are applied in the following way:

  1. Insert the policy statements into an override file (or files).

  2. Compress the override file(s) to get the resource file:

    zip <resource-file.zip> <override-file.yaml> [<override-file.yaml> ...]
  3. Attach the resource file to the charm corresponding to the service. The resource name used is policyd-override:

    juju attach-resource <charm-name> policyd-override=<resource-file.zip>
  4. Enable the override via the use-policyd-override charm option:

    juju config <charm-name> use-policyd-override=true

To update (or fix) the overrides simply attach a new resource file. Changes are applied immediately; there is no need to disable (‘false’) and re-enable (‘true’).


The overrides that get applied are always associated with the most recently attached resource file.

The last revision time of the resource can be viewed with the juju list-resources command. Sample output is:

Resource          Revision
policyd-override  2020-03-12T19:53

Disabling overrides

Overrides are disabled by setting option use-policyd-override back to its default value of ‘false’:

juju config <charm-name> use-policyd-override=false

There is no ability in Juju to remove a resource file.


A charm that supports policy overrides will always have the ‘policyd-override’ resource present.

Override status

The status of enabled overrides for an application is shown in the output for the juju status command. When overrides are successful the text PO: (Policy Overrides) will be prefixed to the application’s status message. When they are unsuccessful PO: (broken) will be used.

An unsuccessful override implies that none of the override policy statements have been applied. In this case, the operator should either attach a fixed resource file or disable the overrides entirely.

Information on broken overrides will appear in the logs for the application in question. For instance, for nova-cloud-controller:

juju debug-log --replay --no-tail --include nova-cloud-controller


This area contains examples of policy override usage.

Showing extended server attributes

This example involves changing the default policy affecting the nova-cloud-controller application.

Ordinarily, when a non-admin user requests details for a cloud instance some fields are not shown. This is because some information is deemed inappropriate or too sensitive for the regular user. For instance, this is the (partial) default output to the openstack server show command:


openstack server show 9167b3e9-c653-43fc-858a-2d6f6da36daa

| Field                       | Value                                                    |
| OS-DCF:diskConfig           | MANUAL                                                   |
| OS-EXT-AZ:availability_zone | nova                                                     |
| OS-EXT-STS:power_state      | Running                                                  |
| OS-EXT-STS:task_state       | None                                                     |
| OS-EXT-STS:vm_state         | active                                                   |
| OS-SRV-USG:launched_at      | 2019-12-11T23:09:47.000000                               |
| OS-SRV-USG:terminated_at    | None                                                     |

Compare that output to what an admin sees:


openstack server show 9167b3e9-c653-43fc-858a-2d6f6da36daa

| Field                               | Value                                            |
| OS-DCF:diskConfig                   | MANUAL                                           |
| OS-EXT-AZ:availability_zone         | nova                                             |
| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:host                | virt-node-01.maas                                |
| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:hypervisor_hostname | virt-node-01.maas                                |
| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:instance_name       | instance-00000001                                |
| OS-EXT-STS:power_state              | Running                                          |
| OS-EXT-STS:task_state               | None                                             |
| OS-EXT-STS:vm_state                 | active                                           |
| OS-SRV-USG:launched_at              | 2019-12-11T23:09:47.000000                       |
| OS-SRV-USG:terminated_at            | None                                             |

The admin user has three extra fields that are categorised as extended server attributes:

| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:host                | virt-node-01.maas                                |
| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:hypervisor_hostname | virt-node-01.maas                                |
| OS-EXT-SRV-ATTR:instance_name       | instance-00000001                                |

For some environments, such as an internal company cloud, the benefits of providing this information to users may outweigh any perceived concerns. For example, users will know immediately whether an announced hypervisor maintenance procedure will affect their running instances, providing that the announcement includes the hypervisor name.

To make this happen the default policy affecting the Nova API will need to be overridden to include the owner of the instance as well as the admin. The policy “target” that controls these particular fields is os_compute_api:os-extended-server-attributes.

The final policy statement is placed in a file, say, nova-server-attributes.yaml:

#"os_compute_api:os-extended-server-attributes": "rule:admin_api"
"os_compute_api:os-extended-server-attributes": "rule:admin_or_owner"

The default statement is left as a comment in order to provide some extra context.

Compress the file, attach it as a resource to the nova-cloud-controller application, and enable the override:

zip nova-server-attributes.zip nova-server-attributes.yaml
juju attach-resource nova-cloud-controller policyd-override=nova-server-attributes.zip
juju config nova-cloud-controller use-policyd-override=true

Any non-admin user should now have access to three extra fields when querying the instances that they own with the openstack server show command.

More extended attributes can be displayed through the use of option --os-compute-api-version. For example:

openstack --os-compute-api-version 2.3 server show 9167b3e9-c653-43fc-858a-2d6f6da36daa

See the upstream documentation on Show Server Details.