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locksmith is a reboot manager for the CoreOS update engine which is able to use etcd to ensure that only a subset of a cluster of machines are rebooting at any given time. locksmithd runs as a daemon on CoreOS machines and is responsible for controlling the reboot behaviour after updates.


There are three different strategies that locksmithd can use after the update engine has successfully applied an update:

  • etcd-lock - reboot after first taking a lock in etcd.
  • reboot - reboot without taking a lock.
  • off - causes locksmithd to exit and do nothing.

These strategies will either be followed immediately after an update, or during the next available reboot window if one has been configured.

These strategies can be configured via /etc/coreos/update.conf with a line that looks like:


The reboot strategy can also be configured through a Container Linux Config.

The default strategy is to follow the etcd-lock strategy if etcd is running, and to otherwise follow the reboot strategy.


locksmithctl is a simple client that can be use to introspect and control the lock used by locksmith. It is installed by default on CoreOS.

Run locksmithctl -help for a list of command-line options.

All command-line options can also be specified using environment variables with a LOCKSMITHCTL_ prefix. For example, the -endpoint argument can be set using LOCKSMITHCTL_ENDPOINT.

Connecting to multiple endpoints

Multiple endpoints can be specified by passing the -endpoint=<url> option for each endpoint, or by passing a comma-separated list of endpoints, e.g.:


Specifying multiple endpoints using an environment variable is supported by passing a comma-delimited list, e.g.:


Listing the Holders

$ locksmithctl status
Available: 0
Max: 1


Unlock Holders

In some cases a machine may go away permanently or semi-permanently while holding a reboot lock. A system administrator can clear the lock of a specific machine using the unlock command:

$ locksmithctl unlock 69d27b356a94476da859461d3a3bc6fd

Maximum Semaphore

By default the reboot lock only allows a single holder. However, a user may want more than a single machine to be upgrading at a time. This can be done by increasing the semaphore count.

$ locksmithctl set-max 4
Old: 1
New: 4


locksmithd coordinates the reboot lock in groups of machines. The default group is "", or the empty string. locksmithd will only coordinate the reboot lock with other machines in the same group.

The purpose of groups is to allow faster updating of certain sets of machines while maintaining availability of certain services. For example, in a cluster of 5 CoreOS machines with all machines in the default group, if you have 2 load balancers and run locksmithctl set-max 2, then it is possible that both load balancers would be rebooted at the same time, interrupting the service they provide. However, if the load balancers are put into their own group named "lb", and both the default group and the "lb" group have a max holder of 1, two reboots can occur at once, but both load balancers will never reboot at the same time.

Configuring groups

To place machines in a group other than the default, locksmithd must be started with the -group=groupname flag or set the LOCKSMITHD_GROUP=groupname environment variable.

To control the semaphore of a group other than the default, you must invoke locksmithctl with the -group=groupname flag or set the LOCKSMITHCTL_GROUP=groupname environment variable.

Reboot windows

locksmithd can be configured to only reboot during certain timeframes. These reboot windows work with any reboot strategy.

The reboot window is configured through two environment variables, LOCKSMITHD_REBOOT_WINDOW_START and LOCKSMITHD_REBOOT_WINDOW_LENGTH. Note that REBOOT_WINDOW_START and REBOOT_WINDOW_LENGTH are also acceptable. Here is an example configuration:


This would configure locksmithd to only reboot between 2pm and 3pm. Optionally, a day of week may be specified for the start of the window:


This would configure locksmithd to only reboot the system on Thursday after 11pm, or on Friday before 12:30am.

Currently, the only supported values for the day of week are short day names, e.g. Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, and Sat, but the day of week can be upper or lower case. The time of day must be specified in 24-hour time format. The window length is expressed as input to go's time.ParseDuration function.

Implementation details

The following section describes how locksmith works under the hood.


locksmith uses a semaphore in etcd, located at the key, to coordinate the reboot lock. If a non-default group name is used, the etcd key will be$groupname/semaphore.

The semaphore is a JSON document, describing a simple semaphore, that clients swap to take the lock.

When it is first created it will be initialized like so:

	"semaphore": 1,
	"max": 1,
	"holders": []

For a client to take the lock, the document is swapped with this:

	"semaphore": 0,
	"max": 1,
	"holders": [


Please use the CoreOS issue tracker to report all bugs, issues, and feature requests.