Cockpit Packages

Layout of Package Files
Package Manifest
Package Links and Paths
Content Negotiation
Using Cockpit API
Bridges for specific tasks
Replacing an existing package

Cockpit is separated into various packages, each of which brings specific features and/or code.

Warning

In addition, any APIs or behavior not explicitly documented here is an internal API and can be changed at any time.

Layout of Package Files

A package consists of one or more files placed in a directory or its subdirectories. It must have a manifest.json file and follow certain naming conventions.

The name of a package is the name of the directory.

The name of the package must be ASCII alphanumeric, and may contain an underscore. Names of directories and files in the package must consist of ASCII alphanumeric along with dash, underscore, dot, and comma. No spaces are allowed.

Cockpit uses the data directories from the XDG Base Directory Specification to locate packages. The $XDG_DATA_DIRS represents a colon separate list of system data directories, and $XDG_DATA_HOME is a user specific data directory. If the environment variables are not set, defaults are used, according to the spec. If cockpit has been built with an alternate --prefix=/path then the $prefix/share/cockpit is used by default.

A cockpit/ subdirectories in any of these data directories is the location where packages are loaded by Cockpit. If Cockpit finds a package with the same name, in multiple data directories, then the first one wins. According to the spec the first data directory is $XDG_DATA_HOME and then $XDG_DATA_DIRS in order.

This means that, by default the following directories are searched for cockpit packages, and in this order:

  • ~/.local/share/cockpit/

  • /usr/local/share/cockpit/

  • /usr/share/cockpit/

Packages placed in $XDG_DATA_HOME are not cached by Cockpit or the web browser. Other packages are cached aggressively, and are accessed using a checksum of the files in the packages and their names.

You can use the following command to list the packages installed on a server. You'll note that it's output may change when you run the command as different users, if there are packages installed in the user's home directory.

$ cockpit-bridge --packages
...

To further clarify things, here is an example package called "my-package" and its file layout:

/usr/share/cockpit/
    my-package/
        manifest.json
        file.html
        some.js

Place or symlink packages in your ~/.local/share/cockpit directory (or appropriate $XDG_DATA_HOME location) that you would like to modify and develop. System installed packages should not change while Cockpit is running.

Package Manifest

Each package has a manifest.json file. It is a JSON object. The following fields may be present in the manifest:

content-security-policy

By default Cockpit serves packages using a strict Content Security Policy, which among other things does not allow inline styles or scripts. This can be overriden on a per-package basis, with this setting.

If the overriden content security policy does not contain a default-src, connect-src, base-uri, form-action, object-src, or block-all-mixed-content then these will be added to the policy from the manifest.

name

An optional string that changes the name of the package. Normally packages derive their name from the directory that they are located in. This field overrides that name.

priority

An optional number that specifies which package is preferred in cases where there are conflicts. For example given two packages with the same name a package is chosen based on its priority.

requires

An optional JSON object that contains a "cockpit" string version number. The package will only be usable if the Cockpit bridge and javascript base are equal or newer than the given version number.

version

An informational version number for the package.

preload

A list of identifiers of the components that should be preloaded. Normally, the files of a component are loaded when the user navigates to it for the first time. The files of a preloaded component are loaded immediately after the user logs in, and the initialization code of the component is invoked.

The value of this field is an array of strings, where each string is one of the keys used in the dashboard, menu, or tool fields that are explained below.

In addition, the following keys contain information about where components of the package should appear in Cockpit's user interface. Each of these keys is optional and contains an object mapping unique identifiers to menu items, which are described below. (The naming of these fields doesn't perfectly match the current user interface for historical reasons.)

dashboard

Dashboard items appear in the leftmost navigation bar, next to Cockpit's Dashboard and the machines themselves.

menu

These items appear in the sidebar for an individual machine. This section is roughly ordered into these categories (with their order in parentheses):

  • System Information (10)

  • Logs (20)

  • Configuring major subsystems (30-40)

  • Things running on the machine (VMs, Containers - 50-60)

  • Implementation Details (Accounts, Services - 70-100)

tools

These items also appear in the sidebar for an individual machine, but are put in a lower position, next to Cockpit's Terminal.

Menu items and tools are registered using JSON objects that have the following properties:

label

The label for the menu item or tool.

order

An optional order number to place this menu item or tool. Lower numbers are listed first.

path

The relative path to the HTML file within the package that implements the menu item or tool.

docs

List of documentation URLs for the given page. Each item is an object containing label and url.

keywords

Keywords that describe the page and which are used for searching. These keywords should be lowercase. Keywords is a list containing keyword items as described below. Page label is prepended as first keyword in the first keyword item.

Keyword items are registered using JSON objects that have the following properties:

matches

List of keywords to be matched.

goto

Optional path that is used for all keywords in this item. When this argument starts with slash, then it is used as pathname, otherwise it is used as hash. Defining goto:"page_hash" in page with path:"/page_path" would redirect to /page_path#page_hash, while goto:"/page_path" would redirect to /page_path ignoring default page path.

weight

How much keywords are prioritized over others. Default is 3.

translate

false when keywords should not be localized. Default is true.

An example manifest.json with some optional properties set:

{
  "version": 0,
  "require": {
      "cockpit": "120"
  },
  "tools": {
     "mytool": {
        "label": "My Tool",
        "path": "tool.html"
     }
  }
}

A file called override.json may be placed next to the manifest. containing overrides to the information in the manifest. These override files are in the simple JSON Merge Patch format.

Package Links and Paths

When referring to files in your package, such as in a hyperlink or a <style> tag or <script> tag, simply use a relative path, and refer to the files in the same directory. When you need to refer to files in another package use a relative link.

For example here's how to include the base cockpit.js script in your HTML from the latest package:

<script src="../base1/cockpit.js"></script>

Do not assume you can link to any file in any other package. Refer to the list of API packages for those that are available for use.

Content Negotiation

In order to support language specific files, gzipped and/or minified data, the files in a package are loaded using content negotiation logic.

If a file does not exist at the expected path, Cockpit tries to insert .min before its extension. It also tries adding a .gz to both of those file names. If the file is still not found, and the request path has more than one extension, the second to the last extension is popped off, and the above process repeats.

This means that for the file test.de.js in the package named mypackage the following files would be tried in this order:

mypackage/test.de.js
mypackage/test.de.min.js
mypackage/test.de.js.gz
mypackage/test.de.min.js.gz
mypackage/test.js
mypackage/test.min.js
mypackage/test.js.gz
mypackage/test.min.js.gz

When packages are loaded from a system directory, Cockpit optimizes the file system lookups above, by pre-listing the files. This is one of the reasons that you should never change packages installed to a system directory while Cockpit is running.

Using Cockpit API

Cockpit has API available for writing packages. There is no API available for external callers to invoke via HTTP, REST or otherwise.

API from various packages can be used to implement Cockpit packages. Each package listed here has some API available for use. Only the API explicitly documented should be used.

To include javascript from the API, simply load it into your HTML using a script tag. Alternatively you can use an javascript loader.

Bridges for specific tasks

On the server side the cockpit-bridge connects to various system APIs that the front end UI requests it to. There are additional bridges for specific tasks that the main cockpit-bridge cannot handle. For example tasks that should be carried out with privilege escalation.

These additional bridges can be registered in a "bridges" section of a package's manifest.json file. Building such a bridge is a complex tasks, and we will skip over that here. However it is useful to adjust how these additional bridges are called, and so we'll look at how they are registered.

An example manifest.json with a bridges section:

{
  "bridges": [
    {
      "match": { "superuser": null },
      "environ": [ "SUDO_ASKPASS=/usr/bin/my-password-tool" ],
      "spawn: [ "/usr/bin/sudo", "-n", "cockpit-bridge", "--privileged" ],
      "problem": "access-denied"
    }
  ]
}

The bridges are considered in the order they are listed in the array. Use the manifest.json"priority" field to control order between packages. The bridges are registered using JSON objects that have the following properties:

environ

Optional, additional environment variables to pass to the bridge command.

match

The "match" object describes which channel open command options need to match for a given channel to be handed over to this bridge.

problem

If a problem is specified, and this bridge fails to start up then channels will be closed with this problem code. Otherwise later bridges or internal handlers for the channel will be invoked.

spawn

The command and arguments to invoke.

The spawn and environ values can be dynamically taken from a matching open command values. When a value in either the spawn or environ array contains a named variable wrapped in ${}, the variable will be replaced with the value contained in the matching open command. Only named variables are supported and name can only contain letters, numbers and the following symbols: ._-

For example a bridges section like:

{
  "bridges": [
    {
      "match": { "payload": "example" },
      "environ": [ "TAG=${tag}" ],
      "spawn: [ "/example-bridge", "--tag", "${tag}" ],
      "problem": "access-denied"
    }
  ]
}

when a open command is received with a payload of example with tag value of tag1. The following command will be spawned

TAG=tag1 /example-bridge --tag tag1

Processes that are reused so if another open command with a "tag" of tag1 is received. The open command will be passed to existing process, rather than spawning a new one. However a open command with an tag of tag2 will spawn a new command:

TAG=tag2 /example-bridge --tag tag2

If you need to include ${}, as an actual value in your arguments you can escape it by prefixing it with a \

Replacing an existing package

If the functionality in a package replaces that of another package then it can replace that package by claiming the same name and a higher priority.

For example, a package in the /usr/share/cockpit/disks directory could replace Cockpit's storage package with a manifest.json like this:

{
  "version": 0,
  "name": "storage",
  "priority": 10,
  "menu": {
     "index": {
        "label": "Disk Storage",
        "order": 15
     }
  }
}

It is also possible to hide or change labels on the menu items of an existing package by including a override.json in that existing package's directory.

For example an /usr/share/cockpit/systemd/override.json could hide the Logs menu item and move the Services menu item to the top of the menu.

{
  "menu": {
    "logs": null,
    "services": {
      "order": -1
    }
  }
}