Foreman 1.17 fact filtering

Newer versions of Foreman come with a handy feature - fact and NIC filtering. When Foreman manages hypervisors or container hosts with many bridge or virtual devices, fact names are too often updated and when under heavy load, database locks or rollbacks can happen as fact uploads are one of the most common API calls. Also for each individual NIC reported, Foreman creates a NIC entry and by design it never deletes those from the database. This can lead to situations when hypervisors and container hosts are assigned thousands of NICs when more and more VMs (or containers) are spawned. This slows down performance of various actions, most importantly fact import.

NIC filtering has been in Foreman for some time (introduced by 1.11), it is available as an Administer - Setting option and is called “Ignore interfaces with matching identifier”. It’s an array of ignored patterns where asterisk is wildcard, which defaults to:

  • lo
  • usb*
  • vnet*
  • macvtap*
  • vdsmdummy
  • veth*
  • docker*
  • tap*
  • qbr*
  • qvb*
  • qvo*
  • qr-*
  • qg-*
  • vlinuxbr*
  • vovsbr

All network interfaces detected by Foreman matching any of these patterns are silently ignored and never added into Foreman inventory. This setting solves part one of the problem. Now let’s focus on what’s new in Foreman 1.17.

The new setting is named “Exclude pattern for facts stored in Foreman” and works similarly, but for fact names. This prevents Foreman from performing unnecessary updates in fact names database table which can easily become a bottleneck for all fact update API calls. The default pattern list is the very same, but both lists can be changed individually via Administer - Settings - Provisioning.

We also see the same problems for hosts with many (thousands) of hard disks which are reported as “blockdevice” facts. In that case, users can add a new entry to the “Exclude pattern for facts stored in foreman” setting in the form of “blockdevice*” to prevent slow updates. Unfortunately, this is currently only possible globally, not per server.

During Foreman upgrades, filters are set but data is never deleted. Users with slow performance of puppet or RHSM fact updates must perform a cleanup of all fact names from the database to actually take advantage of this improvement. Use the following command during or after upgrade to get rid of unnecessary NICs:

# foreman-rake interfaces:clean

The same command for getting rid of unnecessary fact names:

# foreman-rake facts:clean

Foreman users on version 1.11 - 1.16 can still ignore fact names via a workaround. There is a patch which filters out all fact names, it’s a generated regular expression from the list above. It does not have “blockdevice” filter, edit the line accordingly if needed. The patch will block both puppet and RHSM facts, to use this for Ansible, Salt or Chef, construct similar regular expression. Do not forget to delete all unecessary fact_names from the database. This depends on content created by managed hosts, here is an example in foreman-rake console (psql can be used as well):

arel = FactName.arel_table
query = arel[:name].matches_any(['blockdevice%', '%veth%', '%\\_br\\_%', '%br-%'])

FactName.where(query).select(:id, :name).find_in_batches(:batch_size => 100) do |batch|
  name_ids =
  records = FactValue.where(:fact_name_id => name_ids).delete_all
  puts "Removed #{records} fact_value records."

records = FactName.where(query).delete_all
puts "Removed #{records} fact names"

Please note that the settings for “Exclude pattern for facts stored in Foreman” and “Ignore interfaces with matching identifier” have some additional logic to simplify regex writing. For example, if “exclude pattern for facts” contains foo01, it will match interfaces::foo01::mac. Typically you will not want to copy/paste from one field to another.

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