Add a command line utility for generating sample config files to oslo.config which will replace the generator utility in oslo-incubator.

Problem description

The need for such a utility is well understood:

  • A sample config file containing the list of all available config options, the associated help text, type and commented out default value makes it much easier for operators to discover and understand config options.
  • It needs to be possible for operators to run the tool themselves rather than attempting to maintain these auto-generated files in git.

The issues with the current tool include:

  • Loading modules and expecting them to register their options with cfg.CONF is slow, weird, and error prone.
  • This reliance on cfg.CONF perpetuates the use of a global object.
  • The generator doesn’t have information about which groups an option belongs to so it resorts to guessing - this probably has resulted in people avoiding adding a ‘debug’ option in multiple groups, for example.
  • It’s impossible to to handle “split configs” - i.e. some config options only make sense in glance-api.conf and others only make sense in glance-registry.conf - because the generator has no information on to decide which service an option is used by.
  • We already have a pattern of explicitly registering config options under the oslo.config.opts entry point namespace, but it’s not used outside oslo.messaging right now.

Proposed change

We will add a sample config file generator utility called oslo-config-generator to the oslo.config package.

This new utility will take a dramatically different approach to discovery from the current generator in oslo-incubator, whereby we move away from magic towards much more explicit control over the options the generator sees.

To generate a sample config file for oslo.messaging you would run:

$> oslo-config-generator --namespace oslo.messaging > oslo.messaging.conf

This generated sample lists all of the available options, along with their help string, type, deprecated aliases and defaults.

The –namespace option specifies an entry point name registered under the ‘oslo.config.opts’ entry point namespace. For example, in oslo.messaging’s setup.cfg we have:

oslo.config.opts =
    oslo.messaging = oslo.messaging.opts:list_opts

The callable referenced by the entry point should take no arguments and return a list of (group_name, [opt_1, opt_2]) tuples. For example:

opts = [

cfg.CONF.register_opts(opts, group='blaa')

def list_opts():
    return [('blaa', opts)]

You might choose to return a copy of the options so that the return value can’t be modified for nefarious purposes:

def list_opts():
    return [('blaa', copy.deepcopy(opts))]

A single codebase might have multiple programs, each of which use a subset of the total set of options registered by the codebase. In that case, you can register multiple entry points:

oslo.config.opts =
    nova.common = nova.config:list_common_opts
    nova.api = nova.config:list_api_opts
    nova.compute = nova.config:list_compute_opts

and generate a config file specific to each program:

$> oslo-config-generator --namespace oslo.messaging \
                         --namespace nova.common \
                         --namespace nova.api > nova-api.conf
$> oslo-config-generator --namespace oslo.messaging \
                         --namespace nova.common \
                         --namespace nova.compute > nova-compute.conf

To make this more convenient, you can use config files to describe your config files:

$> cat > config-generator/api.conf <<EOF
output_file = etc/nova/nova-api.conf
namespace = oslo.messaging
namespace = nova.common
namespace = nova.api
$> cat > config-generator/compute.conf <<EOF
output_file = etc/nova/nova-compute.conf
namespace = oslo.messaging
namespace = nova.compute
namespace = nova.compute
$> oslo-config-generator --config-file config-generator/api.conf
$> oslo-config-generator --config-file config-generator/compute.conf

The default runtime values of configuration options are not always the most suitable values to include in sample config files - for example, rather than including the IP address or hostname of the machine where the config file was generated, you might want to include something like ‘’. To facilitate this, options can be supplied with a ‘sample_default’ attribute:



The alternative would be to stick with the current generator’s automagic option discovery approach and attempt to work around its deficiencies. This has been the path we’ve been on for quite some time, but has been a constant source of frustration.

Impact on Existing APIs

The generator is primarily intended to be used via the oslo-config-generator command line interface, but it is also available via a public generate(conf) API. There is also a register_cli_opts(conf) API so that callers to generate() can set config options beforehand.

Security impact

There is no security impact.

Performance Impact

The generator completes more quickly because it has to load less modules in order to discover options.

Configuration Impact

No configuration impact.

Developer Impact

The explicit approach of advertising configuration options means that developers will need to manually maintain a list of the config options available in their code so it can be returned by the callable registered as a oslo.config.opts entry point.

This shouldn’t be a huge burden because it typically is a list which references existing lists of options.

However, some sort of automated assistance to help catch cases where the list needs updating would be hugely helpful. How exactly that will work remains to be seen.



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:



Work Items

  • Add oslo-config-generator to oslo.config.
  • Advertise the keystone auth_token options under oslo.config.opts.
  • Demonstrate how services like Nova, Ceilometer, Glance or Heat can adopt this new utility.
  • Remove the old generator from oslo-incubator.
  • Set up infra jobs to publish sample config files somewhere like docs.openstack.org.
  • Consider adding something like ‘python setup.py sample_config’.


The new utility replaces the one in oslo-incubator.


All applications are expected to adopt it.



Note this means that oslo.config gains a dependency on stevedore.

Anticipated API Stabilization

The API is pretty minimal and is expected to be stable from the time it is merged.

Documentation Impact

The operators guide would benefit from instructions on how to use the utility.