The CernVM-FS Notification System (Experimental)

This page describes the CernVM-FS notification system, a reactive repository change propagation system, complementary to the default, pull-based, approach based on the time-to-live value of cached repository manifests. This new system is used when a more precise propagation method is needed. One such use case is the distribution of conditions databases, which during data taking change at a much higher rate than software repositories. In a conditions data workflow, it is desired to process new data samples as soon as they are available, to avoid the pileup of new samples. Another case is the construction of a complex software build and test pipeline, where later stages of the pipeline depend on artifacts published at earlier stages of the pipeline already being available in replicas of the repository.

The main components of the notification system are a message broker, part of the CernVM-FS repository gateway application, and a command-line tool to publish new messages and subscribe to notifications. CernVM-FS clients can also be configured to receive and react to notifications. Communication between the notification system clients and the broker is done with standard HTTP. The message broker does not require any specific configuration. Please consult the relevant documentation (The CernVM-FS Repository Gateway and Publishers) for setting up a gateway.

Command-line tool for the notification system

There is a new notify sub-command in the cvmfs_swissknife command, which is used to publish and subscribe to activity messages for a specific repository.


  • The CernVM-FS repository is located at
  • The repository gateway is located at

To publish the current manifest of the repository to the notification system, simply run:

# cvmfs_swissknife notify -p \
  -u \

To subscribe to the stream of messages concerning the repository, run:

# cvmfs_swissknife notify -s \
  -u \

By default, once a message is received, the command will exit.

The subscription command has two optional flags:

  • -c enables “continuous” mode. When messages are received, the command will output the message but will not exit.
  • -m NUM specifies of minimum repository revision number to react to. For messages with a revision number smaller than or equal to NUM, no output is printed and the command will not exit (when the -c flag is not given).

CernVM-FS client configuration

A CernVM-FS client can also be connected to a notification server, allowing the client to react to activity messages by triggering a remount of the repository.

This functionality is enabled with the following client configuration option: