The metadata mechanism has two types of information, client metadata and group metadata. The client metadata describes which top level group a client is associated with.The group metadata describes groups in terms of what bundles and other groups they include. Each aspect grouping and clients’ memberships are reflected in the Metadata/groups.xml and Metadata/clients.xml files, respectively.

Usage of Groups in Metadata

Clients are assigned membership of groups in the Metadata descriptions. Clients can be directly assigned to ‘profile’ or ‘public’ groups. Client membership of all other groups is by those groups being associated with the profile or public groups. This file can be indirectly modified from clients through use of the -p flag to bcfg2.

Clients are associated with profile groups in Metadata/clients.xml as shown below.


The Metadata/clients.xml file contains the mappings of Profile Groups to clients. The file is just a series of <Client /> tags, each of which describe one host. A sample file is below:

<Clients version="3.0">
  <Client profile="backup-server" pingable="Y" pingtime="0" name=""/>
  <Client profile="console-server" pingable="Y" pingtime="0" name=""/>
  <Client profile="kerberos-master" pingable="Y" pingtime="0" name=""/>
  <Client profile="mail-server" pingable="Y" pingtime="0" name=""/>
  <Client name='foo' address='' pingable='N' pingtime='-1'>
      <Alias name='foo-mgmt' address=''/>

Clients Tag

The Clients tag has the following possible attributes:

Name Description Values
version Client schema version String

Client Tag

Each entry in clients.xml must have the following properties:

Name Description Values
name Host name of client. This needs to be the name (possibly a FQDN) returned by a reverse lookup on the connecting IP address. String
profile Profile group name to associate this client with. String

Additionally, the following properties can be specified:

Name Description Values
Alias Alternative name and address for the client. XML Element
address Establishes an extra IP address that resolves to this client. ip address
location Requires requests to come from an IP address that matches the client record. fixed|floating
password Establishes a per-node password that can be used instead of the global password. String
pingable If the client is pingable (deprecated; for old reporting system) Y|N
pingtime Last time the client was pingable (deprecated; for old reporting system) String
secure Requires the use of the per-client password for this client. true|false
uuid Establishes a per-node name that can be used to bypass dns-based client resolution. String

For detailed information on client authentication see Authentication


The Metadata/groups.xml file contains Group and Profile definitions. Here’s a simple Metadata/groups.xml file:

<Groups version='3.0'>
  <Group name='mail-server' profile='true'
                            comment='Top level mail server group' >
    <Bundle name='mail-server'/>
    <Bundle name='mailman-server'/>
    <Group name='apache-server'/>
    <Group name='rhel-as-5-x86'/>
    <Group name='nfs-client'/>
    <Group name='server'/>
  <Group name='rhel-as-5-x86'>
     <Group name='rhel'/>
  <Group name='apache-server'/>
  <Group name='nfs-client'/>
  <Group name='server'/>
  <Group name='rhel'/>

Nested/chained groups definitions are conjunctive (logical and). For instance, in the above example, a client associated with the Profile Group mail-server is also a member of the apache-server, rhel-as-5-x86, nfs-client, server, and rhel groups.

Groups describe clients in terms for abstract, disjoint aspects. Groups can be combined to form complex descriptions of clients that use configuration commonality and inheritance. Groups have several attributes, described below:

Metadata Groups Tag

The Groups tag has the following possible attributes:

Name Description Values
version Group schema version String
origin URL of master version (for common repository) String
revision Master version control revision String

Metadata Group Tag

The Group Tag has the following possible attributes:

Name Description Values
name Name of the group String
profile If a client can be directly associated with this group True|False
public If a client can freely associate itself with this group. For use with the bcfg2 -p option on the client. True|False
category A group can only contain one instance of a group in any one category. This provides the basis for representing groups which are conjugates of one another in a rigorous way. It also provides the basis for negation. String
default Set as the profile to use for clients that are not associated with a profile in clients.xml True|False
comment English text description of group String

Groups can also contain other groups and bundles.

Use of XInclude

XInclude is a W3C specification for the inclusion of external XML documents into XML source files. Much like the use of #include in C, this allows complex definitions to be split into smaller, more manageable pieces. As of bcfg2-0.9.0pre1, the Metadata plugin supports the use of XInclude specifications to split the clients.xml and groups.xml files. This mechanism allows the following specification to produce useful results:

<Groups version='3.0' xmlns:xi="">
 <xi:include href="my-groups.xml" />
 <xi:include href="their-groups.xml" />

Each of the included groups files has the same format. These files are properly validated by bcfg2-lint. This mechanism is useful for composing group definitions from multiple sources, or setting different permissions in an svn repository.


The metadata plugin includes client-side probing functionality. This is fully documented here.


A special client metadata class is available to the TGenshi and TCheetah plugins.

Attribute Description Value
hostname Client hostname String
profile Client profile String
aliases Client aliases List
addresses Adresses this client is known by List
groups Groups this client is a member of List
categories Categories of this clients groups List
uuid uuid identifier for this client String
password bcfg password for this client String
connectors connector plugins known to this client List
query MetadataQuery object MetadataQuery

Method Description Value
inGroup(group) True if this client is a memnber of ‘group’ Boolean
group_in_category(category) Returns the group in ‘category’ if the client is a member of ‘category’, otherwise ‘’ String


This class provides query methods for the metadata of all clients known to the Bcfg2 server. Note that *by_groups() and *by_profiles() behave differently; for a client to be included in the return value of a by_groups() method, it must be a member of all groups listed in the argument; for a client to be included in the return value of a by_profiles() method, it must have any group listed as its profile group.

Method Description Value
by_name(client) Get ClientMetadata object for ‘client’ ClientMetadata
by_groups(groups) Get ClientMetadata object for clients in all listed groups List of ClientMetadata
by_profiles(client) Get ClientMetadata objects for clients whose profile matches any listed profile group List of ClientMetadata
names_by_groups(groups) Get the names of all clients in all listed groups List of strings
names_by_profiles(profiles) Get the names of clients whose profile matches any listed profile group List of strings
all_clients() All known client hostnames List of strings
all_groups() All known group names List of strings
all_groups_in_category(cat) The names of all groups in category ‘cat’ List of strings
all() Get ClientMetadata for all clients List of ClientMetadata

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