Galaxy Monitoring with Telegraf and Grafana

Authors: orcid logoHelena Rasche avatar Helena Rasche
Creative Commons License: CC-BY Questions:
  • How to monitor Galaxy with Telegraf

  • How do I set up InfluxDB

  • How can I make graphs in Grafana?

  • How can I best alert on important metrics?

  • Setup InfluxDB

  • Setup Telegraf

  • Setup Grafana

  • Create several charts

Time estimation: 2 hours
Supporting Materials:
Published: Jan 31, 2019
Last modification: Jun 14, 2024
License: Tutorial Content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The GTN Framework is licensed under MIT
purl PURL:
rating Rating: 4.3 (0 recent ratings, 4 all time)
version Revision: 45

Monitoring is an incredibly important part of server monitoring and maintenance. Being able to observe trends and identify hot spots by collecting metrics gives you a significant ability to respond to any issues that arise in production. Monitoring is quite easy to get started with, it can be as simple as writing a quick shell script in order to start collecting metrics.

  1. Data Flow
  2. Infrastructure
    1. InfluxDB
    2. Telegraf
  3. Monitoring with Grafana
    1. Grafana
    2. Importing a dashboard
    3. Setting up a Galaxy dashboard
    4. Styling
    5. Monitoring
  4. Telegraf & gxadmin
    1. Installing gxadmin
    2. Configuring Telegraf for gxadmin
  5. Conclusion
Comment: Galaxy Admin Training Path

The yearly Galaxy Admin Training follows a specific ordering of tutorials. Use this timeline to help keep track of where you are in Galaxy Admin Training.

  1. Step 1
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Step 4
  5. Step 5
  6. Step 6
  7. Step 7
  8. Step 8
  9. Step 9
  10. Step 10
  11. Step 11
  12. Step 12
  13. Step 13
  14. Step 14
  15. Step 15
  16. Step 16
  17. Step 17
  18. Step 18
  19. Step 19
  20. Step 20
  21. Step 21

This tutorial explicitly assumes you are starting with a setup like that created in the Galaxy installation with Ansible tutorial

Data Flow

The monitoring setup we (UseGalaxy.*) use involves compute nodes collecting metrics and forwarding the data to a central collector. On each node we have a data collector running (Telegraf) which collects data from numerous sources before aggregating it and forwarding it onwards. On another, sometimes public, node we accept and collect all of these metrics (InfluxDB) and provide an interface to visualise and query that data (Grafana).

For, we pre-install Telegraf on our compute node images. Whenever we launch new compute nodes, they automatically start sending data to our central collection point. Telegraf additionally provides a nice feature of aggregating metrics it collects, batching them up before sending them off to InfluxDB. Telegraf has built in data collectors, or can run command line scripts and tools which output specifically formatted data.

Telegraf communicates with InfluxDB using a JSON based HTTP API, making it easy to write custom tooling to send data there, if need be. Grafana provides the visualisation component, the most interesting component for most consumers of the metrics and monitoring.


Setting up the infrastructure is quite simple thanks to the automation provided by Ansible. We will first setup a playbook for a “monitoring” machine, which will collect and visualize our data using InfluxDB and Grafana. We will then expand the Galaxy playbook to include Telegraf on the machine to monitor both it and Galaxy itself. In this tutorial we will do everything on the same machine. In practice you can separate these services to different machines, if you wish. The only requirement is that Telegraf run on the machine from which you wish to collect data.


InfluxDB provides the data storage for monitoring. It is a Time Series Database (TSDB), so it has been designed specifically for storing time-series data like monitoring and metrics. There are other TSBD options for storing data but we have had good experiences with this one. TSBDs commonly feature some form of automatic data expiration after a set period of time. In InfluxDB these are known as “retention policies”. Outside of this feature, it is a relatively normal database.

The available Ansible roles for InfluxDB unfortunately do not support configuring databases or users or retention policies. Ansible itself contains several modules you can use to write your own roles, but nothing generic. wrote their own role for setting up their InfluxDB database, but it is not reusable enough for it to be used here yet. If you plan to automate your entire setup, this tutorial can perhaps provide inspiration for writing your own Ansible role. However, in this case it is sufficient to manually create your users and retention policies as a one-off task.

Hands-on: Setting up InfluxDB
  1. Edit your requirements.yml and add the following:

    --- a/requirements.yml
    +++ b/requirements.yml
    @@ -43,3 +43,5 @@
       version: 1.8.0
     - name: usegalaxy_eu.flower
       version: 1.0.2
    +- src: usegalaxy_eu.influxdb
    +  version: v6.0.7

    If you haven’t worked with diffs before, this can be something quite new or different.

    If we have two files, let’s say a grocery list, in two files. We’ll call them ‘a’ and ‘b’.

    Input: Old
    $ cat old
    Output: New
    $ cat new

    We can see that they have some different entries. We’ve removed 🍒 because they’re awful, and replaced them with an 🍍

    Diff lets us compare these files

    $ diff old new
    < 🍒
    > 🍍

    Here we see that 🍒 is only in a, and 🍍 is only in b. But otherwise the files are identical.

    There are a couple different formats to diffs, one is the ‘unified diff’

    $ diff -U2 old new
    --- old 2022-02-16 14:06:19.697132568 +0100
    +++ new 2022-02-16 14:06:36.340962616 +0100
    @@ -3,4 +3,4 @@

    This is basically what you see in the training materials which gives you a lot of context about the changes:

    • --- old is the ‘old’ file in our view
    • +++ new is the ‘new’ file
    • @@ these lines tell us where the change occurs and how many lines are added or removed.
    • Lines starting with a - are removed from our ‘new’ file
    • Lines with a + have been added.

    So when you go to apply these diffs to your files in the training:

    1. Ignore the header
    2. Remove lines starting with - from your file
    3. Add lines starting with + to your file

    The other lines (🍊/🍋 and 🥑) above just provide “context”, they help you know where a change belongs in a file, but should not be edited when you’re making the above change. Given the above diff, you would find a line with a 🍒, and replace it with a 🍍

    Added & Removed Lines

    Removals are very easy to spot, we just have removed lines

    --- old	2022-02-16 14:06:19.697132568 +0100
    +++ new 2022-02-16 14:10:14.370722802 +0100
    @@ -4,3 +4,2 @@

    And additions likewise are very easy, just add a new line, between the other lines in your file.

    --- old	2022-02-16 14:06:19.697132568 +0100
    +++ new 2022-02-16 14:11:11.422135393 +0100
    @@ -1,3 +1,4 @@

    Completely new files

    Completely new files look a bit different, there the “old” file is /dev/null, the empty file in a Linux machine.

    $ diff -U2 /dev/null old
    --- /dev/null 2022-02-15 11:47:16.100000270 +0100
    +++ old 2022-02-16 14:06:19.697132568 +0100
    @@ -0,0 +1,6 @@

    And removed files are similar, except with the new file being /dev/null

    --- old	2022-02-16 14:06:19.697132568 +0100
    +++ /dev/null 2022-02-15 11:47:16.100000270 +0100
    @@ -1,6 +0,0 @@

  2. Install the role

    Input: Bash
    ansible-galaxy install -p roles -r requirements.yml
  3. Create a new playbook, monitoring.yml with the following:

    --- /dev/null
    +++ b/monitoring.yml
    @@ -0,0 +1,4 @@
    +- hosts: monitoring
    +  become: true
    +  roles:
    +    - usegalaxy_eu.influxdb

    During this tutorial we will install everything on the same host, but often one keeps the monitoring infrastructure (Grafana, InfluxDB, Sentry) on a separate host.

  4. Edit the inventory file (hosts) an add a group for monitoring like:

    --- a/hosts
    +++ b/hosts
    @@ -4,3 +4,5 @@ ansible_connection=local ansible_user=ubuntu
     [pulsarservers] ansible_user=ubuntu
    +[monitoring] ansible_connection=local ansible_user=ubuntu

    Ensure that the hostname is the full hostname of your machine.

  5. Run the playbook:

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook monitoring.yml

This will setup an InfluxDB server listening on port :8086. The service is currently unauthenticated but it is only listening on localhost so it is less of a concern. The service can be authenticated and SSL configured quite easily but that is outside the scope of this tutorial.

You can access the InfluxDB service by running the command influx.

$ influx
Connected to http://localhost:8086 version 1.7.7
InfluxDB shell version: 1.7.7
> show databases
name: databases
> use _internal
Using database _internal
> show measurements
name: measurements

The influx command provides command line access to InfluxDB in a similar fashion to psql for Postgresql. It provides commands like show databases and others, but we will not use this interface very often. Telegraf will automatically try to create any database needed, and no interaction is required to setup Grafana to talk to the database.


We use Telegraf for monitoring as it is incredibly easy to get started with, and it natively integrates with InfluxDB.

Data Input

Telegraf has extensive documentation on how to configure different types of monitoring, and it supports a huge array of inputs. If Telegraf doesn’t support a specific data source you wish to query, you can write a bash script to query this data, and have Telegraf execute it regularly. Telegraf supports several text formats here but the easiest to manage is the InfluxDB line protocol format. The InfluxDB format looks like:

weather,country=germany,city=freiburg temperature=25,wind=0 1453832006274169688
weather,country=usa,city=state-college temperature=33,wind=10 1453832006274169688

The first portion is the metric name, in both of these cases weather. This is just a unique key for a metric which describes the data being collected. Telegraf commonly collects metrics like cpu, or disk, or mem. After the metric name, up to the first space are tags. Tags are used to store categorical data usually, something that is discrete and enumerable. If you’re interested in the weather you would collect some information from a particular city, and then tag these values with information about where they’re collected. After the space, are the various values or data points that are of interest. For weather this would be information like temperature, wind speed or direction, percentage cloud coverage, etc. After the final space is a timestamp, formatted as Unix epoch with nanosecond precision.

To apply this example to real world data, we’ll look at the some example output of the disk plugin, which measures information about disks mounted to a server:

disk,device=devtmpfs,fstype=devtmpfs,,mode=rw,path=/dev free=952795136i,inodes_free=232283i,inodes_total=232616i,inodes_used=333i,total=952795136i,used=0i,used_percent=0 1564485157000000000
disk,device=tmpfs,fstype=tmpfs,,mode=rw,path=/dev/shm free=963690496i,inodes_free=235275i,inodes_total=235276i,inodes_used=1i,total=963690496i,used=0i,used_percent=0 1564485157000000000
disk,device=tmpfs,fstype=tmpfs,,mode=rw,path=/run free=862007296i,inodes_free=234817i,inodes_total=235276i,inodes_used=459i,total=963690496i,used=101683200i,used_percent=10.551437460684472 1564485157000000000
disk,device=tmpfs,fstype=tmpfs,,mode=ro,path=/sys/fs/cgroup free=963690496i,inodes_free=235260i,inodes_total=235276i,inodes_used=16i,total=963690496i,used=0i,used_percent=0 1564485157000000000
disk,device=vda2,fstype=xfs,,mode=rw,path=/ free=6652604416i,inodes_free=6134444i,inodes_total=6290368i,inodes_used=155924i,total=12872298496i,used=6219694080i,used_percent=48.31844197780791 1564485157000000000
disk,device=vdb,fstype=xfs,,mode=rw,path=/vdb free=2013384704i,inodes_free=1044728i,inodes_total=1048576i,inodes_used=3848i,total=2136997888i,used=123613184i,used_percent=5.78443173454367 1564485157000000000
disk,device=tmpfs,fstype=tmpfs,,mode=rw,path=/run/user/0 free=192741376i,inodes_free=235275i,inodes_total=235276i,inodes_used=1i,total=192741376i,used=0i,used_percent=0 1564485157000000000
disk,device=tmpfs,fstype=tmpfs,,mode=rw,path=/run/user/1000 free=192741376i,inodes_free=235275i,inodes_total=235276i,inodes_used=1i,total=192741376i,used=0i,used_percent=0 1564485157000000000

Reformatting one of the lines to be a bit easier to read:




The plugin generates a line of output per disk. It is tagged with the fstype, the type of the filesystem (e.g. ext3/ext4/xfs/autofs/etc.), the mode by which the filesystem was mounted (rw or ro), and the path to which the filesystem was mounted. Then various numbers are collected, the i suffix meaning an integer. Those without a suffix are floats. In this example, you can see that it is an xfs formatted device, available as vdb, mounted read-write on the path /vdb. Telegraf automatically tags values with the name of the host from which the data was collected.

The values collected usually have quite self-explanatory names. Here there are 2013384704 bytes free on the disk, 1044728 inodes, so many bytes total and used, and finally 5.784% disk usage.


In the Galaxy world, the InfluxDB line protocol format and exec plugin are commonly seen together in conjunction with gxadmin to run various database queries, and store the results into InfluxDB.

gxadmin provides various commands to inspect the database like gxadmin query queue-detail. It was written such that many of the queries can be automatically formatted for consumption by InfluxDB:

$ gxadmin iquery queue-overview --short-tool-id
queue-overview,tool_id=__SET_METADATA__,tool_version=1.0.1,state=new,handler=handler_main_9,destination_id=unknown,job_runner_name=unknown count=3
queue-overview,tool_id=iuc/mothur_pre_cluster/mothur_pre_cluster,tool_version=,state=new,handler=handler_main_2,destination_id=unknown,job_runner_name=unknown count=1

If Telegraf runs this command in an exec block, the data will then be available for graphing. Here the only numeric value we’re collecting is the count of how many jobs of that type are currently running.



We capture information about what tool is running, the job state, and where it is running. This will allow us to produce nice graphs of the current queue status, how many jobs are new or queued or running.

Configuring Telegraf

Setting up Telegraf is again very simple. We just add a single role to our playbook and set some variables.

Hands-on: Dependencies
  1. Edit your requirements.yml and add the following:

    --- a/requirements.yml
    +++ b/requirements.yml
    @@ -45,3 +45,7 @@
       version: 1.0.2
     - src: usegalaxy_eu.influxdb
       version: v6.0.7
    +# Monitoring
    +- name: dj-wasabi.telegraf
    +  src:
    +  version: 6f6fdf7f5ead491560783d52528b79e9e088bd5b
  2. Install the requirements

    Input: Bash
    ansible-galaxy install -p roles -r requirements.yml
  3. Add an entry to the end of your galaxy.yml playbook under roles:

    --- a/galaxy.yml
    +++ b/galaxy.yml
    @@ -49,6 +49,7 @@
         - usegalaxy_eu.rabbitmqserver
         - galaxyproject.gxadmin
         - galaxyproject.cvmfs
    +    - dj-wasabi.telegraf
         - name: Setup gxadmin cleanup task
  4. Create and edit group_vars/all.yml and add the following variables:

    --- a/group_vars/all.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/all.yml
    @@ -20,3 +20,28 @@ galaxy_job_metrics_plugins:
       - type: env
       - type: cgroup
       - type: hostname
    +# Telegraf
    +telegraf_agent_package_state: latest
    +# Configure the output to point to an InfluxDB
    +# running on localhost, and # place data in the
    +# database "telegraf" which will be created if need be.
    +  - type: influxdb
    +    config:
    +    - urls = [""]
    +    - database = "telegraf"
    +# The default plugins, applied to any telegraf-configured host
    +  - plugin: cpu
    +  - plugin: disk
    +  - plugin: kernel
    +  - plugin: processes
    +  - plugin: io
    +  - plugin: mem
    +  - plugin: system
    +  - plugin: swap
    +  - plugin: net
    +  - plugin: netstat

    This configures telegraf to output to the configured influxdb server in the telegraf database. A number of plugins are enabled as defaults like cpu or disk or memory, all of which is generically interesting to observe, across every host.

    Any host that we setup Telegraf on, will have this base configuration. If you are setting up multiple hosts to be monitored, you will need to put the full hostname (or IP address) where InfluxDB will be available in the telegraf_agent_output, rather than That way every host with Telegraf will send data to the correct location.

  5. Now with the generic configuration applied to all of our hosts, we will apply some specific configuration to the Galaxy server.

    Open your group_vars/galaxyservers.yml file, and add the following variables at the end not under any category:

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -330,3 +330,12 @@ flower_ui_users:
       GALAXY_CONFIG_FILE: "{{ galaxy_config_file }}"
    +# Telegraf
    +  listen_galaxy_routes:
    +    plugin: "statsd"
    +    config:
    +      - service_address = ":8125"
    +      - metric_separator = "."
    +      - allowed_pending_messages = 10000

    We have configured the statsd plugin for telegraf, as we will use it to receive Galaxy timing data. StatsD was an earlier time series database and had an associated line protocol with a different format. Telegraf supports data sent in this format, allowing us to reuse the long-present Galaxy support for this with our newer Telegraf/InfluxDB setup. Telegraf parses the data and converts it into a format that InfluxDB can understand.

  6. Lastly, we need to enable Galaxy to send data to Telegraf:

    In group_vars/galaxyservers.yml, edit the galaxy_config block, and add statsd_host: localhost and statsd_influxdb: true under the galaxy subsection. It should look like:

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -116,6 +116,9 @@ galaxy_config:
           result_backend: "redis://localhost:6379/0"
         enable_celery_tasks: true
    +    # Monitoring
    +    statsd_host: localhost
    +    statsd_influxdb: true
         process_manager: systemd
         galaxy_root: "{{ galaxy_root }}/server"
  7. Run the galaxy.yml playbook

Monitoring with Grafana


Grafana provides a visual interface to our metrics. It includes a nice query builder that provides a uniform experience across multiple backend databases, along with many attractive graphing and other visualization options. Each page in the Grafana webserver display is called a “dashboard.” Dashboards can each have multiple visualizations and graphs, all responding to the data collected by InfluxDB. Another benefit of using Grafana is that many of the UseGalaxy.* servers share their dashboards publicly, and you can easily copy these and use them on your own server.

There are some nice examples of dashboards available from the public Galaxies, we recommend that you peruse them to get an idea of the possibilities:

Hands-on: Setting up Grafana
  1. Edit your requirements.yml and add the following:

    --- a/requirements.yml
    +++ b/requirements.yml
    @@ -49,3 +49,5 @@
     - name: dj-wasabi.telegraf
       version: 6f6fdf7f5ead491560783d52528b79e9e088bd5b
    +- src: cloudalchemy.grafana
    +  version: 0.14.2
  2. Install the role

    Input: Bash
    ansible-galaxy install -p roles -r requirements.yml
  3. Add cloudalchemy.grafana to your monitoring.yml playbook:

    --- a/monitoring.yml
    +++ b/monitoring.yml
    @@ -2,3 +2,4 @@
       become: true
         - usegalaxy_eu.influxdb
    +    - cloudalchemy.grafana
  4. Edit the file group_vars/monitoring.yml and set the following variables:

    --- /dev/null
    +++ b/group_vars/monitoring.yml
    @@ -0,0 +1,17 @@
    +grafana_url: "https://{{ inventory_hostname }}/grafana/"
    +    # Please change at least the password to something more suitable
    +    admin_user: admin
    +    admin_password: password
    +# These datasources will be automatically included into Grafana
    + - name: Galaxy
    +   type: influxdb
    +   access: proxy
    +   url:
    +   isDefault: true
    +   version: 1
    +   editable: false
    +   database: telegraf
  5. Run the monitoring playbook:

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook monitoring.yml
  6. Update the nginx configuration in templates/nginx/galaxy.j2 to include the following at the end, before the last curly brace

    --- a/templates/nginx/galaxy.j2
    +++ b/templates/nginx/galaxy.j2
    @@ -108,4 +108,9 @@ server {
     		proxy_pass http://{{ galaxy_config.gravity.reports.bind }}:/;
    +	location /grafana/ {
    +		proxy_pass;
    +		proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
    +	}

    Since we will setup everything on the same host, we will re-use the Nginx server we setup for Galaxy. If you had planned to run the Grafana and InfluxDB servers on a separate host, you would need to setup Nginx for this host separately.

  7. Run the Galaxy playbook which includes Nginx:

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook galaxy.yml

This has now deployed Grafana on your domain under /grafana/, with the username and password you set. The datasource, from which Grafana obtains data, is preconfigured. The Grafana web application will now be available, but currently there is no data available to it. We will return to Grafana shortly in the tutorial to configure dashboards once data is present.

The stats have been collecting in InfluxDB for a few minutes, so now we will now configure Grafana with dashboards and alerting rules.

Importing a dashboard

For any public Grafana dashboard, you can copy the dashboard for your own use. This is a nice feature of Grafana that has really helped it spread in the Galaxy community, any cool thing one of us builds, everyone else can copy and build upon.

Hands-on: Import a dashboard
  1. Visit’s Node Detail dashboard

  2. Look for the sharing icon at the top and click it

  3. Under the “Export” tab, click “Save to file”

  4. On your own Grafana server, on the home page, hover over the + icon and use “Import” from the menu.

  5. Click “Upload .json file” and select the json dashboard you downloaded

  6. Click “Import”.

With this, your first dashboard should be live! You should see some data from your Galaxy instance, like CPU/load/memory/etc. This can give you a nice htop like view into your systems, all collected in one easy dashboard. At the top you will see a box labelled “Host” with a dropdown. If you have more systems, you can click here to select between different machines.

Setting up a Galaxy dashboard

Importing dashboards is a good start, but it’s more interesting to create our own that’s personalised to our needs.

Hands-on: Create a dashboard
  1. Again find the + icon in Grafana and create a dashboard. This will bring you to a new screen

  2. Click Add Query, and you will be dropped into the Grafana query builder

    Grafana query builder interface.

    This is the query builder interface. The interface somewhat resembles a SQL query, selecting data from a database, where it meets some condition, selecting some specific data, and grouping by time period. If this isn’t immediately clear how it behaves, hopefully it will become more clear once you have built some queries.

  3. Let’s build a query:
    • From:
      • “select measurement”: galaxy.
    • Select:
      • “field(value)”: field(mean)
    • Group by:
      • “fill(null)”: fill(none)
      • add new (+): tag(path)
    • Alias by: [[tag_path]]
  4. At the top of the page it probably says “Last 6 hours”, click this to change to “Last 30 minutes”

  5. Remember to save the dashboard (using the galaxy-save at the top), and give it a name like “Galaxy”

  6. You can hit Escape to exit out of the graph editor, if need be.

This will track how long it takes the interface to respond on various web routes and API routes. The collection of individual points is a bit hard to interpret the “feeling” of, so it’s common to add a query like the 95th percentile of requests. This is a value that is calculated from all of the data points collected. The 95th percentile means that 95% of requests are responded to more quickly than this value.

Hands-on: Add a second query to an existing graph
  1. The top of the graph is probably labelled “Panel Title”, unless you changed it. Click this to access a dropdown and click “Edit”

  2. On the right side you will find a button Add Query, click it.

  3. Let’s build a query:
    • From:
      • “select measurement”: galaxy.
    • Select:
      • “field(value)”: field(mean)
      • add new (+): Selectors → percentile
    • Group by:
      • “fill(null)”: fill(none)
    • Alias by: percentile
  4. Remember to save the dashboard

  5. You can hit Escape to exit out of the graph editor

  6. At any time you can drag the bottom right corner of the graph to resize it as needed.

We should now have a graph that gives us not only individual data points, but also a more easily consumable overall representation. For many metrics there are so many data points individually collected that it can be overwhelming and so it is often useful to come up with an aggregate representation that summarises the points into a more easily consumed value. We will touch upon this again under the monitoring section.


There is a significant amount of visual styling that one can do to the graphs to make data more or less prominent as you need.

Grafana graph configuration sections. Open image in new tab

Figure 1: Graph configuration sections, from top to bottom: data, visualisation, configuration, and alerting

We will update the panel we’ve added to highlight the important information and downplay less important facets, as well as configuring it to have a nicer title than “Panel Title”

Hands-on: Styling the graph
  1. Again edit the one graph we’ve added in our dashboard

  2. On the left side, select the second icon, Visualisation

  3. In the first section, we can edit some display attributes.

    We are primarily interested in the 95th percentile line. Here we can change the display from points to lines or bars, change the tooltip that displays when we hover over the graph, among other facets.

    • Click Add series override, click in the box that appears and type “percentile”, to find the series we created early. Select it when it appears. We can now apply custom styling to this series.
    • Click the “+” after the series override, and find “Color → change”, and choose a colour that you like.
    • Click the “+” again, and find “Line width → 5” to make the line more visible. This is the most important facet of the graph for us, so we can emphasise it through colour and size.
  4. In the second section, we can edit information about the Axes:

    • Left Y
      • “Unit”: Time → millisecond (ms)

    This will cause the axis to display nicely at any scale. Before Grafana only knew it was a number, now it knows the type of number. If you have a request that takes 30 seconds, it will display as “30s” in Grafana, rather than “30000 ms”.

    This section is also useful for setting the scale if your data is better viewed with a logarithmic scale, or forcing specific axis bounds. Commonly on graphs that show things like “disk usage percentage”, it can be useful to set the axis bounds to 0 and 100 to ensure that full context is available.

  5. In the next section, “Legend” allows us to format the legend in more interesting ways.

    • Options
      • “Show”: yes
      • “As table”: yes
      • “To right”: yes
    • Values
      • “Min”: yes
      • “Max”: yes
      • “Avg”: yes

    Clicking on the headers of the table that has appeared, you can force it to be sorted by one column or another.

  6. On the left side, select the third icon, “General”

    • “Title”: Galaxy Request Times
  7. Save the dashboard

Your graph should look something like the following:

Final graph. Open image in new tab

Figure 2: The final graph should look something like this, but probably different based on the requests to your server. For this image the author made repeated, automated requests to Galaxy to produce more data points than might normally be present.


Collecting all of this data is interesting to visualise but as an administrator you surely have more interesting things to do than to watch graphs all day. Many organisations like to display these dashboards on large monitors, but again this assumes someone is watching it. Everyone has better things to do with their time! So we will setup monitoring on the most important aspects of our system.

Doing monitoring effectively, without causing undue burden to the administrators (extraneous alerts that are not actionable), or the users (unexpected/unnoticed downtime), is a very complex topic. Recommended reading here includes the monitoring chapter of the Google SRE book Beyer et al. 2016 which can provide some general guidance on the topic and what metrics may be interesting or annoying to alert upon.

Comment: No generic advice

We cannot easily provide generic and applicable recommendations, that work across every system and every scale. Some of these performance bounds or features you will need to discover yourself, either adding new metrics in support of this, or changing monitoring thresholds to match the values you need.

We will add an example alert, to make you familiar with the process. This is not an alert that will probably be useful in production.

Hands-on: Add an alert to your graph
  1. Again edit the Galaxy Request Times graph

  2. On the left side, select the last icon, Alerting

  3. Click Create Alert

    Alerts consist of a Rule, with some name, evaluated every N seconds, for a period of time. The for can be an important parameter, which you can read more about in the Grafana documentation.

    Under some conditions, this alert will activate. We will change the conditions of the alert here:

    • “When”: avg()
    • “OF”: query(B, 1m, now), here we select query B, the 95th percentile track, and the average over 1 minute
    • “IS ABOVE”: 50

    We will not configure a notification channel in this tutorial. In practice, it is useful to do to ensure that the relevant people are notified automatically. If you and your team use one of the many services, then you can configure this following their documentation.

  4. Save the dashboard

Telegraf & gxadmin

Via this setup using systemd we collect metrics about Galaxy request times. To get statistics about other Galaxy-specific metrics such as the job queue status, we need to use gxadmin to query the Galaxy database and configure Telegraf to consume this data. In this section we will setup gxadmin, and to configure Telegraf to have permissions to run it.

Installing gxadmin

It’s simple to install gxadmin. Here’s how you do it, if you haven’t done it already:

Hands-on: Installing gxadmin and configuring Telegraf
  1. Edit your requirements.yml and add the following:

    - src: galaxyproject.gxadmin
      version: 0.0.12
  2. Install the role with ansible-galaxy install -p roles -r requirements.yml

  3. Add the role to your galaxy.yml playbook, it should come before the Telegraf role.

You can run the playbook now, or wait until you have configured Telegraf below:

Configuring Telegraf for gxadmin

Hands-on: Configuring Telegraf
  1. Edit the group_vars/galaxyservers.yml, we need to add some additional permissions to permit Telegraf to run gxadmin:

    --- a/group_vars/dbservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/dbservers.yml
    @@ -2,9 +2,16 @@
     # PostgreSQL
       - name: "{{ galaxy_user_name }}"
    +  - name: telegraf
       - name: "{{ galaxy_db_name }}"
         owner: "{{ galaxy_user_name }}"
    +  - database: galaxy
    +    roles: telegraf
    +    privs: SELECT
    +    objs: ALL_IN_SCHEMA
     # PostgreSQL Backups
     postgresql_backup_dir: /data/backups
  2. Again edit the group_vars/galaxyservers.yml, we need to configure Telegraf to run gxadmin

    Under telegraf_plugins_extra, where we already have set a Galaxy StatsD listener, add a stanza to monitor the Galaxy queue

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -342,3 +342,10 @@ telegraf_plugins_extra:
           - service_address = ":8125"
           - metric_separator = "."
           - allowed_pending_messages = 10000
    +  monitor_galaxy_queue:
    +    plugin: "exec"
    +    config:
    +      - commands = ["/usr/bin/env PGDATABASE=galaxy /usr/local/bin/gxadmin iquery queue-overview --short-tool-id"]
    +      - timeout = "10s"
    +      - data_format = "influx"
    +      - interval = "15s"

    This one is slightly more complex in the configuration. The command block does several things:

    • it wraps the command with env which allows setting environment variables for a single command
    • It sets the PGDATABASE to the Galaxy database, by default the psql will try and connect to a database with the same name of the user. So the telegraf user will attempt to connect to a (non-existent) telegraf database.
    • Then it calls the gxadmin command queue-overview. By using iquery instead of query, the output is automatically converted to InfluxDB line protocol.
    • The command is run every 15 seconds, and has a timeout of 10 seconds. If the command fails to finish in 10 seconds, it will be killed.
  3. Run the Galaxy playbook

With this, Telegraf will start monitoring the Galaxy queue by calling the query every few seconds to check the status every 15 seconds. This monitoring will miss jobs that complete within the 15 second interval, but for most servers this is not an issue. Most jobs are running for more than 15 seconds, and if not, it still gives an accurate point-in-time view.

We’ll now create a graph for this, just like the one on

Hands-on: Building the queue graph
  1. Click the new graph button at the top of Grafana’s interface, and Add a Query

  2. Let’s build a query:
    • From:
      • “select measurement”: queue-overview
    • Select:
      • “field(value)”: field(count)
      • add new (+): Aggregations → sum
    • Group by:
      • “time(__interval)”: time(15s), because we set the interval to 15s
      • add new (+): tag(tool_id)
      • add new (+): tag(tool_version)
    • Alias by: [[tag_tool_id]]/[[tag_tool_version]]
  3. In the second tab on the left, Visualisation:

    Under the first section:

    • Draw Modes:
      • “Bars”: no
      • “Lines”: yes
      • “Points”: no
    • Mode Options:
      • “Staircase”: yes
    • Stacking & Null Value
      • “Stack”: yes
      • “Null Value”: null as zero

    Below, under the Legend section,

    • Options:
      • “Show”: yes
      • “As table”: yes
      • “To Right”: yes
    • Values:
      • “Max”: yes
      • “Avg”: yes
      • “Current”: yes
    • Hide Series:
      • “With only nulls”: yes
      • “With only zeros”: yes
  4. In the third tab, General settings:

    • “Title”: Galaxy Queue Overview
  5. You can hit Escape to exit out of the graph editor, and remember to save your dashboard.

Run some tools in Galaxy, try to generate a large number of jobs. It is relatively easy to upload a dataset, and then run the “Secure Hash / Message Digest” or another tool repeatedly, running it over every dataset in your history, repeating until you’ve generated a few dozen datasets. If you have a slower tool like bwa installed, this can be an option too.

Final Graph. Open image in new tab

Figure 3: Final graphs generated from this tutorial.

You can also import a copy of the dashboard.

Hands-on: Time to git commit

It’s time to commit your work! Check the status with

git status

Add your changed files with

git add ... # any files you see that are changed

And then commit it!

git commit -m 'Finished Galaxy Monitoring with Telegraf and Grafana'

Comment: Got lost along the way?

If you missed any steps, you can compare against the reference files, or see what changed since the previous tutorial.

If you’re using git to track your progress, remember to add your changes and commit with a good commit message!


Monitoring with Telegraf, InfluxDB, and Grafana can provide an easy solution to monitor your infrastructure. The UseGalaxy.* servers use this stack and it has proven to be effective in production situations, with large Galaxy servers. The base monitoring done with Telegraf is easy to setup and extend on a per-site basis simply by adding scripts or commands to your servers which generate InfluxDB line protocol formatted output. Grafana provides an ideal visualisation solution as it encourages sharing, and allows you to import whatever dashboards have been developed by UseGalaxy.*, and then to extend them to your own needs.

Comment: Galaxy Admin Training Path

The yearly Galaxy Admin Training follows a specific ordering of tutorials. Use this timeline to help keep track of where you are in Galaxy Admin Training.

  1. Step 1
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Step 4
  5. Step 5
  6. Step 6
  7. Step 7
  8. Step 8
  9. Step 9
  10. Step 10
  11. Step 11
  12. Step 12
  13. Step 13
  14. Step 14
  15. Step 15
  16. Step 16
  17. Step 17
  18. Step 18
  19. Step 19
  20. Step 20
  21. Step 21