Event-Driven Infrastructure

Get Started Tutorial


You'll learn how to:

  • Understand Salt beacons
  • Use a Salt beacon to monitor a file or system process

Estimated time: 10 minutes 


So far we’ve learned how to monitor the event bus for Salt-related events, and how to enable a few additional events. At this point you might be thinking “Since I’ve already set up a dynamic communication infrastructure that can monitor and react to Salt events in real-time, it would sure be swell if I could use that system to also monitor other things such as system logins, disk usage, and my database service.” (OK, maybe not quite in those words).

Those words or not, you are in luck, since that is exactly what beacons do!

Beacons let you monitor and raise events for things that are not Salt-related. The beacon system allows the minion to hook into a variety of system processes and continually monitor these processes. When monitored activity occurs in a system process, an event is sent on the Salt event bus.

Salt beacons can currently monitor and send Salt events for many system activities, including:

  • file system changes
  • system load
  • service status
  • shell activity, such as user login
  • network and disk usage

Enable a Beacon

Salt beacons do not require any changes to the system process that is being monitored, everything is configured using Salt.

Beacons are typically enabled by placing a top-level beacons section in the minion configuration file:

        - modify

Beacon Monitoring Interval

Beacons monitor on a 1-second interval by default. To set a different interval, provide an interval argument to a beacon. The following beacons run on 5- and 10-second intervals:

    /etc/httpd/conf.d: {}
    /opt: {}
    interval: 5
    - 1m:
      - 0.0
      - 2.0
    - 5m:
      - 0.0
      - 1.5
    - 15m:
      - 0.1
      - 1.0
    - interval: 10

After a beacon is configured, it triggers events just like any other Salt process.

Adding a Beacon

We are going to add a beacon that watches for changes to a file. To do this, we’ll use the inotify beacon and the python-pyinotify package. Since this package isn’t on our Salt minions, first we’ll use Salt to install it.

Install pyinotify and start the event runner

Open a command prompt to the salt-vagrant-demo directory, and ssh into master:

vagrant ssh master

Install the python-pyinotify package on minion1:

sudo salt 'minion1' pkg.install python-pyinotify

You should see output similar to the following:

vagrant@saltmaster:~$ sudo salt 'minion1' pkg.install python-pyinotify

Since we’ll be generating an event shortly, remain logged in to your Salt master and start the event runner:

salt-run state.event pretty=True

Leave that running in the terminal and continue.

Set up a beacon

Open another command prompt to the salt-vagrant-demo directory, and ssh into minion1:

vagrant ssh minion1

On minion1, edit the /etc/salt/minion file and add the following content at the bottom:

        - modify

Save the file, and then restart the Salt minion service:

sudo service salt-minion restart

The beacon is now saved and enabled. Next, we can create the file that we are going to monitor for changes. In the /home/vagrant/ directory, create importantfile:

touch importantfile
echo "some content" > importantfile

Back on your Salt master, you should have picked up an event similar to the following:

salt/beacon/minion1/inotify//home/vagrant/importantfile {
    "_stamp": "2016-02-03T22:32:09.592113",
    "data": {
        "change": "IN_MODIFY",
        "id": "minion1",
        "path": "/home/vagrant/importantfile"
    "tag": "salt/beacon/minion1/inotify//home/vagrant/importantfile"

Remember that the event runner must be started before the file is modified or you won’t see the event (the event will still be triggered, you just won’t see it).

Now that we’ve got a beacon working and are generating other Salt events, it’s time to do something with these events using the Salt reactor.