Advance Search tips in Foreman

Foreman uses the wonderful scoped_search gem written by Willem van Bergen and Amos Benari, and while the search auto completer is pretty good, there are cases where it’s worth knowing about some of the extra features.

Foreman Search functionality can be used both in the web interface, and via the API, in a follow up blog I’ll describe how to use the API and search via puppet directly as an alternative to storeconfigs - UPDATED: here

This blog entry has been updated and incorporated into our regular documentation. Please read on from the Foreman manual’s search chapter.

Search Per Page

First of all, each page gets its own search field, looking at page in the host tab is not the same as in the reports tab, make sure you look at the options the auto completer suggest.


Foreman supports the ability to make search bookmarks, allows users to quickly jump to predefined search conditions.

Once a bookmark is saved (make sure you save it via the bookmark icon next to the search bar), it would appear as a drop down under the main tab.

We provide a few bookmarks by default, you can try using them already by clicking on the dropdowns in the main tabs, for example under hosts or reports.

Bookmarks can be label as public, this would mean other users would see them as well.

Free text

If you ignore the auto completer, and just type stuff, Foreman would try searching for that attribute as free text across multiple fields.

for example, if you just typed 12 in the hosts page, that would search for all hosts with 12 in their ip address, mac address or maybe name, in general we try to keep the fields we search for to a sane list for performance reasons, if you know you are searching for an ip address, you probably want to type ip ~ 12.

Case sensitivity

When querying using = and != the we are looking for an exact match, the match is case sensitive. When running ~ (like) and !~ (unlike) the match is case insensitive.

Using quotes

In the search syntax white spaces are used as a delimiter. Here are some examples of the way a query will be interpreted:

  • description ~ “created successfully” => list all notifications that contains “created successfully”
  • description ~ created successfully => list all notifications that contains “created” and at least one of it’s text fields contains “successfully”
  • description !~ created successfully => list all notifications that doesn’t contains “created” and at least one of it’s text fields contains “successfully”

In the second and third example successfully is an additional term that is interpreted as a free text search

Wildcard ‘_’, ‘%’ and ‘*

The search terms are translated to SQL queries. ~’ -> LIKE ‘!~’ -> NOT LIKE

LIKE statement supports two wildcards ‘_’ and ‘%’.

 ’_’ is a wildcard for a single character replacement. For example the search name ~ fo_ will match both ‘foo’ and ‘for’.

The ‘%’ and ‘*’ wildcard will replace any number of characters including 0. For example the search name ~ corp% will match both ‘corp’ and ‘corporation’. The more common ‘*’ wildcard is not an SQL wildcard but can be used in the search.

When the ‘like’ or ‘unlike’ search is processed, a ‘%’ wildcard is added at the beginning and the end of a value if it isn’t there in the first place.

For example: The search name ~ foo will become “name LIKE ‘%foo%’” The search name ~ foo% will become “name LIKE ‘foo%’”

Date-time search query syntax

We can handle many time and date formats, here are some examples of the date and time formats that scoped_search accepts:

“30 minutes ago” , ”1 hour ago” , ”2 hours ago”, Today, Yesterday

“3 weeks ago” , ”1 month ago” , ”6 days ago” , ”July 10,2011″

The date can have different separators, “10-July-2011″ is going to read the same as “10/July/2010″ or “10 July 2011″

Month name could be the full name or a three letter abbreviation, Jan will read the same as January.

Many other formats are also acceptable, however it is not recommended to use ambiguous formats such as “3/4/2011″

The date time operators are ‘=’, ‘<’ and ‘>’ the operators should be read as ‘at’, ‘before’ and ‘after’. This is how the search term interpeted:

The right hand part of a date-time condition is parsed and translated into a specific date-time, “30 minutes ago” is translated to “now – 30 minutes”.

last_report > “2011-07-01 12:57:18 EDT” should be read as created after this time.

Note that in the same way: last_report > “30 minutes ago”, should read “created after 30 minutes ago” not “created more then 30 minutes ago”.

A search query like installed_at = Yesterday is translated into a period query, it will be translated in run time to the respective dates. For example, if running on Jan 1, it could be translated into “(installed_at >= Jan 1,2012 00:00) and (installed_at < Dec 31,2011 00:00)”.

Searching for NULL values

if you are searching for hosts without hostgroups, you could try: not has hostgroup

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