Communication between instance and host

Communication between the hosted workload (instance) and its host while not strictly needed is a pretty useful feature.

In LXD, this feature is implemented through a /dev/lxd/sock node which is created and set up for all LXD instances.

This file is a Unix socket which processes inside the instance can connect to. It’s multi-threaded so multiple clients can be connected at the same time.


security.devlxd must be set to true (which is the default) for an instance to allow access to the socket.

Implementation details

LXD on the host binds /var/lib/lxd/devlxd/sock and starts listening for new connections on it.

This socket is then exposed into every single instance started by LXD at /dev/lxd/sock.

The single socket is required so we can exceed 4096 instances, otherwise, LXD would have to bind a different socket for every instance, quickly reaching the FD limit.


Queries on /dev/lxd/sock will only return information related to the requesting instance. To figure out where a request comes from, LXD will extract the initial socket’s user credentials and compare that to the list of instances it manages.


The protocol on /dev/lxd/sock is plain-text HTTP with JSON messaging, so very similar to the local version of the LXD protocol.

Unlike the main LXD API, there is no background operation and no authentication support in the /dev/lxd/sock API.


API structure

  • /

    • /1.0

      • /1.0/config

        • /1.0/config/{key}

      • /1.0/devices

      • /1.0/events

      • /1.0/images/{fingerprint}/export

      • /1.0/meta-data

API details


  • Description: List of supported APIs

  • Return: list of supported API endpoint URLs (by default ['/1.0'])

Return value:



  • Description: Information about the 1.0 API

  • Return: JSON object

Return value:

    "api_version": "1.0",
    "location": "",
    "instance_type": "container",
    "state": "Started",


  • Description: Update instance state (valid states are Ready and Started)

  • Return: none


   "state": "Ready"


  • Description: List of configuration keys

  • Return: list of configuration keys URL

Note that the configuration key names match those in the instance configuration, however not all configuration namespaces will be exported to /dev/lxd/sock. Currently only the cloud-init.* and user.* keys are accessible to the instance.

At this time, there also aren’t any instance-writable namespace.

Return value:



  • Description: Value of that key

  • Return: Plain-text value

Return value:



  • Description: Map of instance devices

  • Return: JSON object

Return value:

    "eth0": {
        "name": "eth0",
        "network": "lxdbr0",
        "type": "nic"
    "root": {
        "path": "/",
        "pool": "default",
        "type": "disk"


  • Description: WebSocket upgrade

  • Return: none (never ending flow of events)

Supported arguments are:

  • type: comma-separated list of notifications to subscribe to (defaults to all)

The notification types are:

  • config (changes to any of the user.* configuration keys)

  • device (any device addition, change or removal)

This never returns. Each notification is sent as a separate JSON object:

    "timestamp": "2017-12-21T18:28:26.846603815-05:00",
    "type": "device",
    "metadata": {
        "name": "kvm",
        "action": "added",
        "config": {
            "type": "unix-char",
            "path": "/dev/kvm"
    "timestamp": "2017-12-21T18:28:26.846603815-05:00",
    "type": "config",
    "metadata": {
        "key": "",
        "old_value": "",
        "value": "bar"


  • Description: Download a public/cached image from the host

  • Return: raw image or error

  • Access: Requires security.devlxd.images set to true

Return value:

See /1.0/images/<FINGERPRINT>/export in the daemon API.


  • Description: Container meta-data compatible with cloud-init

  • Return: cloud-init meta-data

Return value:

instance-id: af6a01c7-f847-4688-a2a4-37fddd744625
local-hostname: abc