Using swiftclient for Object Storage on OpenStack

I wanted to play with my new account on East African OpenStack provider, specifically to use the OpenStack Swift object storage to do periodic backups from my desktop. I’d used tools like s3cmd to do backups to Amazon S3 object storage, but it doesn’t seem to work with OpenStack’s Swift.

python-swiftclient seems to be the answer. These are my notes from getting it set up to backup some data from my desktop to my shiny new OpenStack provider.

See also

Related links and documentation:

Download RC file

This is actually the trickiest part of this whole exercise (you’re welcome!). For an outsider, the OpenStack API jargon is a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I found that OpenStack provides a shell init script which will set all the shell environment variables you need to get started with swiftclient (and presumably other OpenStack tools).

In the dashboard, navigate to Project -> Compute -> Access & Security -> Download OpenStack RC File. We’ll need this later.

Create and prepare virtualenv

There’s no swiftclient package in my GNU/Linux distribution, so I decided to just install it into a virtual environment straight from pypi/pip.

$ mkvirtualenv -p `which python2` swift
$ pip install python-swiftclient python-keystoneclient

Assuming you installed Python virtualenv plus the excellent virtualenvwrapper, all you need to do to use this environment in the future is workon swift, but that’s beyond the scope of this document!

Setup the environment

Source the environment RC script you downloaded from the OpenStack dashboard:

$ . ~/Downloads/

It will prompt you for your OpenStack dashboard password.


Check if the settings are correct:

$ swift stat
       Account: AUTH_8b0c9cff5d094829b0cf7606a0390c1a
    Containers: 0
       Objects: 0
         Bytes: 0
 Accept-Ranges: bytes
        Server: nginx/1.4.7
    Connection: keep-alive
   X-Timestamp: 1406586841.02692
    X-Trans-Id: tx5d47eff065074335a3a9f-0053d7c93e
  Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

This means the API key and all other settings are ok, and authentication was successful; you’re now ready to use OpenStack CLI tools.

Create a container

You could create a container in the OpenStack dashboard (Object Store -> Containers -> Create Container), but it’s much nicer to be able to do this from the commandline using the API.

$ swift post Documents
$ swift list

Upload files

My use case is to backup Documents from my desktop.

$ cd ~/Documents
$ swift upload Documents *

Note: I cd into the directory I want to upload first, because I found that if I wasn’t inside it, I would end up with another layer of hierarchy in my container itself, ie Documents/Documents.

Check the status of the container:

$ swift stat Documents
       Account: AUTH_9b0a8aff5d584828b5af7656c0385a1c
     Container: Documents
       Objects: 2691
         Bytes: 262663872
      Read ACL:
     Write ACL:
       Sync To:
      Sync Key:
 Accept-Ranges: bytes
        Server: nginx/1.4.7
    Connection: keep-alive
   X-Timestamp: 1406586841.13379
    X-Trans-Id: txbf31671156c64147bd9ad-0053d767c9
  Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Looks good! ~250MB of data in my Documents container now, which just about matches the size of the folder on my disk.

Bonus points

Bonus points and future research:

  • If I want to call this from a cron job, how do I enter my password?
  • How do I encrypt my backups?
  • Use --skip-identical to only sync new files
  • What other interfaces are there to this storage, ie can I point a music player at this?
  • Play with public/private read/write ACLs