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nixpkgs-tungsten provides tools and workflows that make developing and testing OpenContrail easy, efficient, and convenient.

Table Of Contents


OpenContrail is a widely adopted and powerful Open Source SDN solution. OpenContrail is powerful but also complex and as such not trivial to build and test.

The goal of nixpkgs-tungsten is to improve these workflows and make it much easier to develop features and test them in virtual environments.

The only prerequisite and hard dependency of nixpkgs-tungsten is Nix. Nix provides all relevant features from provisioning dependencies to the instrumentation of the QEMU based tests.

Included with this project is please, a thin convenience layer on top of Nix which makes getting started with nixpkgs-tungsten much easier. Note that all please commands will always output the Nix command that is actually being executed. Experienced Nix users might want to use Nix commands directly for more advanced or specific usages.

Using ./please for easy nixpkgs-tungsten interaction

$ ./please
Usage: please <command> [args]

 build [artifact]     -- build an artifact
 completions          -- output completion script
 doctor               -- perform sanity checks
 init                 -- configure initial setup
 install [artifact]   -- install an artifact
 list                 -- list artifacts and tests
 run-test [test]      -- run a test
 run-vm [test]        -- run an interactive vm of a test
 shell [artifact]     -- enter a dev shell for an artifact
 uninstall [artifact] -- uninstall a previously installed artifact

In order to enable context-sensitive completions (bash only!) run:

  $ source <(./please completions)

You should add this to your init scripts.

The ./please script provides a convenience layer for performing the most typical actions such as building or installing packages provided through nixpkgs-tungsten. Experienced Nix users are more likely to use Nix tooling directly, for everyone else this provides a good way to get started.

please init

Installing and configuring Nix can be performed automatically using ./please init. The init command will:

  1. Install Nix if it isn't installed already
  2. Configure the contrail nix channel
  3. Configure the contrail binary cache

Note that the binary cache will not be configured if there is a ~/.config/nix/nix.conf file already. In this case you will have to make the changes to your configuration by hand as described below.

please doctor

After the completing the initialization you can run ./please doctor to verify that everything was installed and configured successfully.

$ ./please doctor
[please]: Running sanity checks:

- Nix installed :  OK
- contrail channel: OK
- contrail cache: OK

All tests passed.

If there are any errors you may want to refer to the description of the manual steps provided below.

please completions

If you are using bash , you are advised to make use of the shell completions:

$ source <(please completions)

The context sensitive completions make it easier to discover packages provided by nixpkgs-tungsten.

please list

In order to get an overview of the packages provided by nixpkgs-tungsten you can use the list command:

$ ./please list

please build

In order to build any nixpkgs-tungsten package you can use ./please build:

$ ./please build contrail50.apiServer
[please]: Running "nix-build default.nix -A contrail50.apiServer"


[please]: Your build result is symlinked in ./resul

Note: When no changes have been made to your working copy a build command is likely to make use of the binary cache and not actually build anything locally at all.

please install

In order to install any nixpkgs-tungsten package you can use ./please install:

$ ./please install gremlinConsole
[please]: Running "nix-env -f default.nix -iA gremlinConsole"

installing 'gremlin-console-3.3.6'
these paths will be fetched (29.04 MiB download, 210.92 MiB unpacked):


building '/nix/store/vi8i0syckhm55alj2v35p7rz2vs9ha30-user-environment.drv'...
created 6366 symlinks in user environment

please uninstall

In order to uninstall any previously installed nixpkgs-tungsten package you can use ./please uninstall:

$ ./please uninstall gremlinConsole
[please]: Running "nix-env -e gremlin-console-3.3.6"

uninstalling 'gremlin-console-3.3.6

Note: While the completions provided via please completions are generally context-sensitive, the completions provided for uninstall are for all available packages and not only the ones currently installed. Uninstalling a package that is not currently installed will not yield an error.

please run-vm

The tests provided by nixpkgs-tungsten are all executed in virtual machines. Instead of only executing the tests and shutting down the virtual machine again the machines can also be run in an interactive mode using the run-vm command:

$ ./please run-vm contrail50.test.allInOne

Once the VM is up and running you can access the machine via ssh on port 2222 of your localhost:

$ ssh -p 2222 root@localhost
Password: <ENTER>

Furthermore ports 8080 and 8143 are both also forwarded. If you are running a VM where the webui is enabled you can access it via https://localhost:8143

please shell

If you want to work on a single package provided by nixpkgs-tungsten, make changes and try to build it you can do so using the shell command:

$ ./please shell contrail50.control

[please]: Running "nix-shell default.nix -A contrail50.control"
these paths will be fetched (89.48 MiB download, 588.27 MiB unpacked):



This will drop you into a terminal where all build-time dependencies (tools and libraries) required by the package you specified are available. In order to get the sources of the package you are interested in you have to evaluate the unpackPhase:

$ unpackPhase && cd $sourceRoot
unpacking source archive /nix/store/alac0s10.../contrail-workspace
source root is contrail-workspace

Now you can build the respective package. In this case contrail-control which is built using scons:

$ scons contrail-control

Build cache

Building C++ dependencies can be quite time consuming. Instead of running a shell for contrail50.control you can use the attribute which will add the build cache for the current commit in the build environment.

In this case the build will be much faster because .o files from the cache will be reused when possible.

This can be really usefull if you need to quickly rebuild a component with few patches.

please run-test

nixpkgs-contril provides system tests to validate the correct behavior of several of the packaged components:

  • allInOne: Starts OpenContrail services, creates networks and ports and performs a simple traffic test.
  • tcpFlow: Generates TCP traffic and checks if the traffic is behaving according to the configured security groups.
  • udpFlow: Generates UDP traffic and checks if the traffic is behaving according to the configured security groups.

These tests are executed in virtual machines running in QEMU and can be executed using the run-test command.

$ ./please run-test contrail50.test.tcpFlows
[please]: Running "nix-build default.nix -A contrail50.test.tcpFlows"

Apart from generating a lot of output on the terminal, each test execution will also create a result output link containing a log.html file which contains a pretty-printed overview of the test.

Please refer to the NixOS manual for more details.

Manual Configuration

Usually please init will create a fully working setup requiring no further manual configuration. As a fallback and also for more experienced users who want to do the configuration on their own the following steps can be followed.

Note: If please init was successful you don't have to run any of the commands described below.

1. Installing Nix

Nix can be installed with the following on-liner:

$ curl | sh

More detailed information about the installation can be found at

2. Configuring the Nix channel

$ nix-channel --add contrail
$ nix-channel --update

3. Configuring the binary cache

If there already is a ~/.config/nix/nix.conf file the init command will not try to alter it. In that case the following needs to be added accordingly:

substituters =
trusted-substituters =
trusted-public-keys =

Additional Usage Scenarios

Running a VM with an existing configuration database

Instead of just running a generic setup it can be desirable to replicate an existing configuration. This can be achieved by providing a cassandra database dump to the allInOne VM.

The databaseLoader tool provides this functionality. In order to use it, it needs to be built first:

$ nix-build -A contrail32.databaseLoader
$ ./result

Running the program for the first time it will produce some information with details on the files that need to be created, how to create them, and where they need to be placed.

Execute ./result again after following the given instructions.

Installing OpenContrail related tools

nixpgs-contrail also provides various utilities on top of the standard OpenContrail software components:

All tools can be installed using either please or nix-env directly:

$ ./please install contrailIntrospectCli
$ nix-env -iA contrailIntrospectCli -f default.nix

There is also a nix-shell environment which provides all the tools above without the need to install them permanently. The shell can be entered from the root of the project tree using nix-shell:

$ nix-shell



Contributions to nixpkgs-tungsten through PRs are always welcome. All PRs will be automatically tested by the Hydra CI server.


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