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This is a NBD server for OpenStack Object Storage (Swift).

Project description

This is a Network Block Device (NBD) server for OpenStack Object Storage (Swift).

Very often users want to run tools like rsync on top of Swift, but this is not possible because the object storage HTTP API can’t provide a file system alike functionality. This project aims to support a block interface for the object storage via NBD.

How it Works

swiftnbd translates the NBD requests (read/write with offset and length) to Swift object operations, as displayed in the following picture:

Although this strategy may work with any block interface, NBD was chosen because of its simplicity. The NBD server can serve the blocks over the network, but is recommended that it is used locally. Because the communication with Swift will be the bottleneck, the possible overhead of NBD on localhost is expected to not be significant.

The block device can be used only by one location at once. When a client is connected to the server, the container used as storage is marked as locked by adding metadata information to the container until the client disconnects and the container can be unlocked.




  • Linux (or any platform with NBD client)
  • Python 2.7 (or later; Python 3 not supported yet)
  • python-swiftclient
  • gevent

To install the software, run the following command:

python install

Alternatively you can install it with pip:

pip install swiftnbd


A container needs to be setup with swiftnbd-setup to be used by the server. First create a secrets.conf file:

username = user
password = pass

Optionally an authurl token can be used to specify an authentication URL per container.

The default location for the secrets is /etc/swiftnbd/secrets.conf, and an alternative location can be provided using –secrets flag.

Then run the setup tool using the container name as first parameter:

swiftnbd-setup container-name number-of-objects

For example, setup a 1GB storage in myndb0 container:

swiftnbd-setup mynbd0 16384

By default the objects stored in swift are 64KB, so 16384 * 65536 is 1GB.

After the container is setup, it can be served with swiftnbd-server:

swiftnbd-server container-name

For debugging purposes the -vf flag is recommended (verbose and foreground).

The server implements a local cache that by default is limited to 64 MB. That value can be configured using the -c flag indicating the max amount of memory to be used (in MB).

Once the server is running, nbd-client can be used to create the block device (as root):

modprobe nbd
nbd-client 10811 /dev/nbd0

Then /dev/nbd0 can be used as a regular block device, ie:

mkfs.ext3 /dev/nbd0
mount /dev/nbd0 /mnt

Before stopping the server, be sure you unmount the device and stop the NBD client:

umount /mnt
nbd-client -d /dev/nbd0

Please check –help for further details.

Control tool

siwftnbd-ctl can be used to list information about containers in a secrets file, unlock a locked container and download an image of the disk stored in the container.

To list the containers:

swiftnbd-ctl list -s

To unlock a locked container:

swiftnbd-ctl unlock conatiner-name

To download a container into a local disk image (the resulting disk image can be mounted using a loop device):

swiftnbd-ctl download container-name image-file.raw

To delete a container (all the objects in the container will deleted before deleting the container):

swiftnbd-ctl delete container-name

Known issues and limitations

  • The default 64KB object size is a wild/random guess, other values could be better.
  • It can be used over the Internet but the performance is dependant on the bandwidth, so it’s recommended that the storage is accessible via LAN (or same data center with 100mbps or better).


This is free software under the terms of MIT license (check COPYING file included in this package).

Contact and support

The project website is at:

There you can file bug reports, ask for help or contribute patches.


Project details

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