How to monitor metrics#

Incus collects metrics for all running instances as well as some internal metrics. These metrics cover the CPU, memory, network, disk and process usage. They are meant to be consumed by Prometheus, and you can use Grafana to display the metrics as graphs. See Provided metrics for lists of available metrics.

In a cluster environment, Incus returns only the values for instances running on the server that is being accessed. Therefore, you must scrape each cluster member separately.

The instance metrics are updated when calling the /1.0/metrics endpoint. To handle multiple scrapers, they are cached for 8 seconds. Fetching metrics is a relatively expensive operation for Incus to perform, so if the impact is too high, consider scraping at a higher than default interval.

Query the raw data#

To view the raw data that Incus collects, use the incus query command to query the /1.0/metrics endpoint:

user@host:~$ incus query /1.0/metrics
# HELP incus_cpu_seconds_total The total number of CPU time used in seconds.# TYPE incus_cpu_seconds_total counterincus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="system",name="u1",project="default",type="container"} 60.304517incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="user",name="u1",project="default",type="container"} 145.647502incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="iowait",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 4614.78incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="irq",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 0incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="idle",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 412762incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="nice",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 35.06incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="softirq",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 2.41incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="steal",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 9.84incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="system",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 340.84incus_cpu_seconds_total{cpu="0",mode="user",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 261.25# HELP incus_cpu_effective_total The total number of effective CPUs.# TYPE incus_cpu_effective_total gaugeincus_cpu_effective_total{name="u1",project="default",type="container"} 4incus_cpu_effective_total{name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 0# HELP incus_disk_read_bytes_total The total number of bytes read.# TYPE incus_disk_read_bytes_total counterincus_disk_read_bytes_total{device="loop5",name="u1",project="default",type="container"} 2048incus_disk_read_bytes_total{device="loop3",name="vm",project="default",type="virtual-machine"} 353280...

Set up Prometheus#

To gather and store the raw metrics, you should set up Prometheus. You can then configure it to scrape the metrics through the metrics API endpoint.

Expose the metrics endpoint#

To expose the /1.0/metrics API endpoint, you must set the address on which it should be available.

To do so, you can set either the core.metrics_address server configuration option or the core.https_address server configuration option. The core.metrics_address option is intended for metrics only, while the core.https_address option exposes the full API. So if you want to use a different address for the metrics API than for the full API, or if you want to expose only the metrics endpoint but not the full API, you should set the core.metrics_address option.

For example, to expose the full API on the 8443 port, enter the following command:

incus config set core.https_address ":8443"

To expose only the metrics API endpoint on the 8444 port, enter the following command:

incus config set core.metrics_address ":8444"

To expose only the metrics API endpoint on a specific IP address and port, enter a command similar to the following:

incus config set core.metrics_address ""

Add a metrics certificate to Incus#

Authentication for the /1.0/metrics API endpoint is done through a metrics certificate. A metrics certificate (type metrics) is different from a client certificate (type client) in that it is meant for metrics only and doesn’t work for interaction with instances or any other Incus entities.

To create a certificate, enter the following command:

openssl req -x509 -newkey ec -pkeyopt ec_paramgen_curve:secp384r1 -sha384 -keyout metrics.key -nodes -out metrics.crt -days 3650 -subj "/CN=metrics.local"


The command requires OpenSSL version 1.1.0 or later.

Then add this certificate to the list of trusted clients, specifying the type as metrics:

incus config trust add-certificate metrics.crt --type=metrics

If requiring TLS client authentication isn’t possible in your environment, the /1.0/metrics API endpoint can be made available to unauthenticated clients. While not recommended, this might be acceptable if you have other controls in place to restrict who can reach that API endpoint. To disable the authentication on the metrics API:

# Disable authentication (NOT RECOMMENDED)
incus config set core.metrics_authentication false

Make the metrics certificate available for Prometheus#

If you run Prometheus on a different machine than your Incus server, you must copy the required certificates to the Prometheus machine:

  • The metrics certificate (metrics.crt) and key (metrics.key) that you created

  • The Incus server certificate (server.crt) located in /var/lib/incus/

Copy these files into a tls directory that is accessible to Prometheus, for example, /etc/prometheus/tls. See the following example commands:

# Create tls directory
mkdir /etc/prometheus/tls/

# Copy newly created certificate and key to tls directory
cp metrics.crt metrics.key /etc/prometheus/tls/

# Copy Incus server certificate to tls directory
cp /var/lib/incus/server.crt /etc/prometheus/tls/

# Make the files accessible by prometheus
chown -R prometheus:prometheus /etc/prometheus/tls

Configure Prometheus to scrape from Incus#

Finally, you must add Incus as a target to the Prometheus configuration.

To do so, edit /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yaml and add a job for Incus.

Here’s what the configuration needs to look like:

  - job_name: incus
    metrics_path: '/1.0/metrics'
    scheme: 'https'
      - targets: ['']
      ca_file: 'tls/server.crt'
      cert_file: 'tls/metrics.crt'
      key_file: 'tls/metrics.key'
      # XXX: server_name is required if the target name
      #      is not covered by the certificate (not in the SAN list)
      server_name: 'foo'


The server_name must be specified if the Incus server certificate does not contain the same host name as used in the targets list. To verify this, open server.crt and check the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) section.

For example, assume that server.crt has the following content:

user@host:~$ openssl x509 -noout -text -in /etc/prometheus/tls/server.crt
...            X509v3 Subject Alternative Name:                DNS:foo, IP Address:, IP Address:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1...

Since the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) list doesn’t include the host name provided in the targets list (, you must override the name used for comparison using the server_name directive.

Here is an example of a prometheus.yml configuration where multiple jobs are used to scrape the metrics of multiple Incus servers:

  # abydos, langara and orilla are part of a single cluster (called `hdc` here)
  # initially bootstrapped by abydos which is why all 3 targets
  # share the same `ca_file` and `server_name`. That `ca_file` corresponds
  # to the `/var/lib/incus/cluster.crt` file found on every member of
  # the Incus cluster.
  # Note: the `project` param is are provided when not using the `default` project
  #       or when multiple projects are used.
  # Note: each member of the cluster only provide metrics for instances it runs locally
  #       this is why the `incus-hdc` cluster lists 3 targets
  - job_name: "incus-hdc"
    metrics_path: '/1.0/metrics'
      project: ['jdoe']
    scheme: 'https'
      - targets:
        - ''
        - ''
        - ''
      ca_file: 'tls/abydos.crt'
      cert_file: 'tls/metrics.crt'
      key_file: 'tls/metrics.key'
      server_name: 'abydos'

  # jupiter, mars and saturn are 3 standalone Incus servers.
  # Note: only the `default` project is used on them, so it is not specified.
  - job_name: "incus-jupiter"
    metrics_path: '/1.0/metrics'
    scheme: 'https'
      - targets: ['']
      ca_file: 'tls/jupiter.crt'
      cert_file: 'tls/metrics.crt'
      key_file: 'tls/metrics.key'
      server_name: 'jupiter'

  - job_name: "incus-mars"
    metrics_path: '/1.0/metrics'
    scheme: 'https'
      - targets: ['']
      ca_file: 'tls/mars.crt'
      cert_file: 'tls/metrics.crt'
      key_file: 'tls/metrics.key'
      server_name: 'mars'

  - job_name: "incus-saturn"
    metrics_path: '/1.0/metrics'
    scheme: 'https'
      - targets: ['']
      ca_file: 'tls/saturn.crt'
      cert_file: 'tls/metrics.crt'
      key_file: 'tls/metrics.key'
      server_name: 'saturn'

After editing the configuration, restart Prometheus (for example, systemctl restart prometheus) to start scraping.

Set up a Grafana dashboard#

To visualize the metrics data, set up Grafana. Incus provides a Grafana dashboard that is configured to display the Incus metrics scraped by Prometheus.


The dashboard requires Grafana 8.4 or later.

See the Grafana documentation for instructions on installing and signing in:

Complete the following steps to import the Incus dashboard:

  1. Configure Prometheus as the data source:

    1. Go to Configuration > Data sources.

    2. Click Add data source.

      Add data source in Grafana

    3. Select Prometheus.

      Select Prometheus as the data source

    4. In the URL field, enter http://localhost:9090/.

      Enter Prometheus URL

    5. Keep the default configuration for the other fields and click Save & test.

  2. Import the Incus dashboard:

    1. Go to Dashboards > Browse.

    2. Click New and select Import.

      Import a dashboard in Grafana

    3. In the Import via field, enter the dashboard ID 19727.

      Enter the Incus dashboard ID

    4. Click Load.

    5. In the Incus drop-down menu, select the Prometheus data source that you configured.

      Select the Prometheus data source

    6. Click Import.

You should now see the Incus dashboard. You can select the project and filter by instances.

Resource overview in the Incus Grafana dashboard

At the bottom of the page, you can see data for each instance.

Instance data in the Incus Grafana dashboard