ovsdb-client man page

ovsdb-client — command-line interface to ovsdb-server(1)


ovsdb-client [options] list-dbs [server]
ovsdb-client [options] get-schema [server] [database]
ovsdb-client [options] get-schema-version [server] [database]
ovsdb-client [options] list-tables [server] [database]
ovsdb-client [options] list-columns [server] [database] [table]
ovsdb-client [options] transact [server] transaction
ovsdb-client [options] dump [server] [database] [table [column...]]
ovsdb-client [options] monitor [server] [database] table [column[,column]...]...
ovsdb-client [options] monitor [server] [database] ALL
ovsdb-client [options] monitor-cond [server] [database] conditions table [column[,column]...]...
ovsdb-client [options] lock [server] lock
ovsdb-client [options] steal [server] lock
ovsdb-client [options] unlock [server] lock
ovsdb-client help

Output formatting options:

[--format=format] [--data=format] [--no-headings] [--pretty] [--bare] [--timestamp]

Daemon options:

[--pidfile[=pidfile]] [--overwrite-pidfile] [--detach] [--no-chdir] [--no-self-confinement]

Logging options:


Public key infrastructure options:


SSL connection options:


Common options:

[-h | --help] [-V | --version]


The ovsdb-client program is a command-line client for interacting with a running ovsdb-server process. Each command connects to an OVSDB server, which is unix:/var/run/openvswitch/db.sock by default, or may be specified as server in one of the following forms:


The given SSL or plain TCP port on the host at the given ip, which must be expressed as an IP address (not a DNS name) in IPv4 or IPv6 address format.  If ip is an IPv6 address, then wrap ip with square brackets, e.g.: ssl:[::1]:6640.  On Linux, use %device to designate a scope for IPv6 link-level addresses, e.g. ssl:[fe80::1234%eth0]:6653.  For ssl, the --private-key, --certificate, and --ca-cert options are mandatory.


On POSIX, connect to the Unix domain server socket named file.

On Windows, connect to a local named pipe that is represented by a file created in the path file to mimic the behavior of a Unix domain socket.


Listen on the given SSL or TCP port for a connection.  By default, connections are not bound to a particular local IP address and it listens only on IPv4 (but not IPv6) addresses, but specifying ip limits connections to those from the given ip, either IPv4 or IPv6 address.  If ip is an IPv6 address, then wrap ip with square brackets, e.g.: pssl:6640:[::1].  On Linux, use %device to designate a scope for IPv6 link-level addresses, e.g. pssl:6653:[fe80::1234%eth0].  For pssl, the --private-key, --certificate, and --ca-cert options are mandatory.


On POSIX, listen on the Unix domain server socket named file for a connection.

On Windows, listen on a local named pipe.  A file is created in the path file to mimic the behavior of a Unix domain socket.

The default database is Open_vSwitch.


The following commands are implemented:

list-dbs [server]

Connects to server, retrieves the list of known databases, and prints them one per line.  These database names are the ones that may be used for database in the following commands.

get-schema [server] [database]

Connects to server, retrieves the schema for database, and prints it in JSON format.

get-schema-version [server] [database]

Connects to server, retrieves the schema for database, and prints its version number on stdout.  A schema version number has the form x.y.z.  See ovs-vswitchd.conf.db(5) for details.

Schema version numbers and Open vSwitch version numbers are independent.

If database was created before schema versioning was introduced, then it will not have a version number and this command will print a blank line.

list-tables [server] [database]

Connects to server, retrieves the schema for database, and prints a table listing the name of each table within the database.

list-columns [server] [database] table

Connects to server, retrieves the schema for database, and prints a table listing the name and type of each column.  If table is specified, only columns in that table are listed; otherwise, the tables include columns in all tables.

transact [server] transaction

Connects to server, sends it the specified transaction, which must be a JSON array containing one or more valid OVSDB operations, and prints the received reply on stdout.

dump [server] [database] [table [column...]]

Connects to server, retrieves all of the data in database, and prints it on stdout as a series of tables. If table is specified, only that table is retrieved.  If at least one column is specified, only those columns are retrieved.

monitor [server] [database] table [column[,column]...]...
monitor-cond [server] [database] conditions table [column[,column]...]...

Connects to server and monitors the contents of rows that match conditions in table in database. By default, the initial contents of table are printed, followed by each change as it occurs.  If conditions empty, all rows will be monitored. If at least one column is specified, only those columns are monitored.  The following column names have special meanings:


Do not print the initial contents of the specified columns.


Do not print newly inserted rows.


Do not print deleted rows.


Do not print modifications to existing rows.

Multiple [column[,column]...] groups may be specified as separate arguments, e.g. to apply different reporting parameters to each group.  Whether multiple groups or only a single group is specified, any given column may only be mentioned once on the command line.

conditions is a JSON array of <condition> as defined in RFC 7047 5.1 with the following change: A condition can be either a 3-element JSON array as deescribed in the RFC or a boolean value..

If --detach is used with monitor or monitor-cond, then ovsdb-client detaches after it has successfully received and printed the initial contents of table.

The monitor command uses RFC 7047 "monitor" method to open a monitor session with the server. The monitor-cond command uses RFC 7047 extension "monitor_cond" method. See ovsdb-server(1) for details.

monitor [server] [database] ALL

Connects to server and monitors the contents of all tables in database.  Prints initial values and all kinds of changes to all columns in the database.  The --detach option causes ovsdb-client to detach after it successfully receives and prints the initial database contents.

The monitor command uses RFC 7047 "monitor" method to open a monitor session with the server.

Testing Commands

The following commands are mostly of interest for testing the correctness of the OVSDB server.

ovsdb-client [options] lock [server] lock
ovsdb-client [options] steal [server] lock
ovsdb-client [options] unlock [server] lock

Connects to server and issues corresponding RFC 7047 lock operations on lock. Prints json reply or subsequent update messages. The --detach option causes ovsdb-client to detach after it successfully receives and prints the initial reply.

When running with the --detach option, lock, steal, unlock and exit commands can be issued by using ovs-appctl. exit command causes the ovsdb-client to close its ovsdb-server connection before exit. The lock, steal and unlock commands can be used to issue additional lock operations over the same ovsdb-server connection. All above commands take a single lock argument, which does not have to be the same as the lock that ovsdb-client started with.


Output Formatting Options

Much of the output from ovsdb-client is in the form of tables. The following options controlling output formatting:

-f format

Sets the type of table formatting.  The following types of format are available:

table (default)

2-D text tables with aligned columns.


A list with one column per line and rows separated by a blank line.


HTML tables.


Comma-separated values as defined in RFC 4180.


JSON format as defined in RFC 4627.  The output is a sequence of JSON objects, each of which corresponds to one table.  Each JSON object has the following members with the noted values:


The table's caption.  This member is omitted if the table has no caption.


An array with one element per table column.  Each array element is a string giving the corresponding column's heading.


An array with one element per table row.  Each element is also an array with one element per table column.  The elements of this second-level array are the cells that constitute the table.  Cells that represent OVSDB data or data types are expressed in the format described in the OVSDB specification; other cells are simply expressed as text strings.

-d format

Sets the formatting for cells within output tables unless the table format is set to json, in which case json formatting is always used when formatting cells.  The following types of format are available:

string (default)

The simple format described in the Database Values section of ovs-vsctl(8).


The simple format with punctuation stripped off: [] and {} are omitted around sets, maps, and empty columns, items within sets and maps are space-separated, and strings are never quoted.  This format may be easier for scripts to parse.


The RFC 4627 JSON format as described above.


This option suppresses the heading row that otherwise appears in the first row of table output.


By default, JSON in output is printed as compactly as possible.  This option causes JSON in output to be printed in a more readable fashion.  Members of objects and elements of arrays are printed one per line, with indentation.

This option does not affect JSON in tables, which is always printed compactly.


Equivalent to --format=list --data=bare --no-headings.


For the monitor and monitor-cond commands, add a timestamp to each table update.  Most output formats add the timestamp on a line of its own just above the table.  The JSON output format puts the timestamp in a member of the top-level JSON object named time.

Daemon Options

The daemon options apply only to the monitor and monitor-cond commands. With any other command, they have no effect.

The following options are valid on POSIX based platforms.


Causes a file (by default, ovsdb-client.pid) to be created indicating the PID of the running process.  If the pidfile argument is not specified, or if it does not begin with /, then it is created in /var/run/openvswitch.

If --pidfile is not specified, no pidfile is created.


By default, when --pidfile is specified and the specified pidfile  already exists and is locked by a running process, ovsdb-client refuses  to start.  Specify --overwrite-pidfile to cause it to instead  overwrite the pidfile.

When --pidfile is not specified, this option has no effect.


Runs ovsdb-client as a background process.  The process forks, and in the child it starts a new session, closes the standard file descriptors (which has the side effect of disabling logging to the console), and changes its current directory to the root (unless --no-chdir is specified).  After the child completes its initialization, the parent exits.  


Creates an additional process to monitor the ovsdb-client daemon.  If the daemon dies due to a signal that indicates a programming error (SIGABRT, SIGALRM, SIGBUS, SIGFPE, SIGILL, SIGPIPE, SIGSEGV, SIGXCPU, or SIGXFSZ) then the monitor process starts a new copy of it.  If the daemon dies or exits for another reason, the monitor process exits.

This option is normally used with --detach, but it also functions without it.


By default, when --detach is specified, ovsdb-client  changes its current working directory to the root directory after it  detaches.  Otherwise, invoking ovsdb-client from a carelessly chosen  directory would prevent the administrator from unmounting the file  system that holds that directory.

Specifying --no-chdir suppresses this behavior, preventing ovsdb-client from changing its current working directory.  This may be  useful for collecting core files, since it is common behavior to write  core dumps into the current working directory and the root directory  is not a good directory to use.

This option has no effect when --detach is not specified.


By default daemon will try to self-confine itself to work with files under well-know, at build-time whitelisted directories.  It is better to stick with this default behavior and not to use this flag unless some other Access Control is used to confine daemon. Note that in contrast to other access control implementations that are typically enforced from kernel-space (e.g. DAC or MAC), self-confinement is imposed from the user-space daemon itself and hence should not be considered as a full confinement strategy, but instead should be viewed as an additional layer of security.


Causes ovsdb-client to run as a different user specified in "user:group", thus dropping most of the root privileges. Short forms "user" and ":group" are also allowed, with current user or group are assumed respectively. Only daemons started by the root user accepts this argument.

On Linux, daemons will be granted CAP_IPC_LOCK and CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICES before dropping root privileges. Daemons that interact with a datapath, such as ovs-vswitchd, will be granted two additional capabilities, namely CAP_NET_ADMIN and CAP_NET_RAW. The capability change will apply even if new user is "root".

On Windows, this option is not currently supported. For security reasons, specifying this option will cause the daemon process not to start.

Logging Options


Sets logging levels.  Without any spec, sets the log level for every module and destination to dbg.  Otherwise, spec is a list of words separated by spaces or commas or colons, up to one from each category below:

  • A valid module name, as displayed by the vlog/list command on ovs-appctl(8), limits the log level change to the specified module.
  • syslog, console, or file, to limit the log level change to only to the system log, to the console, or to a file, respectively.  (If --detach is specified, ovsdb-client closes its standard file descriptors, so logging to the console will have no effect.)

    On Windows platform, syslog is accepted as a word and is only useful along with the --syslog-target option (the word has no effect otherwise).

  • off, emer, err, warn, info, or dbg, to control the log level.  Messages of the given severity or higher will be logged, and messages of lower severity will be filtered out.  off filters out all messages.  See ovs-appctl(8) for a definition of each log level.

Case is not significant within spec.

Regardless of the log levels set for file, logging to a file will not take place unless --log-file is also specified (see below).

For compatibility with older versions of OVS, any is accepted as a word but has no effect.


Sets the maximum logging verbosity level, equivalent to --verbose=dbg.


Sets the log pattern for destination to pattern.  Refer to ovs-appctl(8) for a description of the valid syntax for pattern.


Sets the RFC5424 facility of the log message. facility can be one of kern, user, mail, daemon, auth, syslog, lpr, news, uucp, clock, ftp, ntp, audit, alert, clock2, local0, local1, local2, local3, local4, local5, local6 or local7. If this option is not specified, daemon is used as the default for the local system syslog and local0 is used while sending a message to the target provided via the --syslog-target option.


Enables logging to a file.  If file is specified, then it is used as the exact name for the log file.  The default log file name used if file is omitted is /var/log/openvswitch/ovsdb-client.log.


Send syslog messages to UDP port on host, in addition to the system syslog.  The host must be a numerical IP address, not a hostname.


Specify method how syslog messages should be sent to syslog daemon. Following forms are supported:

  • libc, use libc syslog() function.  This is the default behavior. Downside of using this options is that libc adds fixed prefix to every message before it is actually sent to the syslog daemon over /dev/log UNIX domain socket.
  • unix:file, use UNIX domain socket directly.  It is possible to specify arbitrary message format with this option.  However, rsyslogd 8.9 and older versions use hard coded parser function anyway that limits UNIX domain socket use.  If you want to use arbitrary message format with older rsyslogd versions, then use UDP socket to localhost IP address instead.
  • udp:ip:port, use UDP socket.  With this method it is possible to use arbitrary message format also with older rsyslogd. When sending syslog messages over UDP socket extra precaution needs to be taken into account, for example, syslog daemon needs to be configured to listen on the specified UDP port, accidental iptables rules could be interfering with local syslog traffic and there are some security considerations that apply to UDP sockets, but do not apply to UNIX domain sockets.

Public Key Infrastructure Options

-p privkey.pem

Specifies a PEM file containing the private key used as ovsdb-client's identity for outgoing SSL connections.

-c cert.pem

Specifies a PEM file containing a certificate that certifies the private key specified on -p or --private-key to be trustworthy.  The certificate must be signed by the certificate authority (CA) that the peer in SSL connections will use to verify it.

-C cacert.pem

Specifies a PEM file containing the CA certificate that ovsdb-client should use to verify certificates presented to it by SSL peers.  (This may be the same certificate that SSL peers use to verify the certificate specified on -c or --certificate, or it may be a different one, depending on the PKI design in use.)

-C none

Disables verification of certificates presented by SSL peers.  This introduces a security risk, because it means that certificates cannot be verified to be those of known trusted hosts.


When cacert.pem exists, this option has the same effect as -C or --ca-cert.  If it does not exist, then ovsdb-client will attempt to obtain the CA certificate from the SSL peer on its first SSL connection and save it to the named PEM file.  If it is successful, it will immediately drop the connection and reconnect, and from then on all SSL connections must be authenticated by a certificate signed by the CA certificate thus obtained.

This option exposes the SSL connection to a man-in-the-middle attack obtaining the initial CA certificate, but it may be useful for bootstrapping.

This option is only useful if the SSL peer sends its CA certificate as part of the SSL certificate chain.  The SSL protocol does not require the server to send the CA certificate.

This option is mutually exclusive with -C and --ca-cert.

SSL Connection Options


Specifies, in a comma- or space-delimited list, the SSL protocols ovsdb-client will enable for SSL connections.  Supported protocols include TLSv1, TLSv1.1, and TLSv1.2. Regardless of order, the highest protocol supported by both sides will be chosen when making the connection.  The default when this option is omitted is TLSv1,TLSv1.1,TLSv1.2.


Specifies, in OpenSSL cipher string format, the ciphers ovsdb-client will  support for SSL connections.  The default when this option is omitted is HIGH:!aNULL:!MD5.

Other Options


Prints a brief help message to the console.


Prints version information to the console.

See Also

ovsdb-server(1), ovsdb-client(1), and the OVSDB specification.

Referenced By

ovsdb-server(1), ovsdb-tool(1).

2.8.0 Open vSwitch Manual