Pelix Shell

Most of the time, it is necessary to access a Pelix application locally or remotely in order to monitor it, to update its components or simply to check its sanity. The easiest to do those tasks is to use the Pelix Shell: it provides an extensible set of commands that allows to work on bundles, iPOPO components, …

The shell is split into two parts:

  • the core shell, handling and executing commands
  • the UI, which handles input/output operations with the user

Pelix comes with some bundles providing shell commands for various actions, and a few UI implementations. Feel free to implement and, maybe, publish new commands UIs according to your needs.

In order to use the shell, the bundle must be installed and running. It doesn’t require iPOPO and can therefore be used in minimalist applications.

Provided user interfaces

Pelix includes 3 main user interfaces:

  • Text UI: the one to use when running a basic Pelix application
  • Remote Shell: useful when managing an application running on a server
  • XMPP Shell: useful to access applications behind firewalls

Common script arguments

Before looking at the available user interfaces, note that all of them support arguments to handle the Initial Configuration files (see Initial Configuration File).

In addition to their specific arguments, the scripts starting the user interfaces also accept the following ones:

Argument Description
-h, --help Prints the script usage
--version Prints the script version
-D KEY=VALUE Sets up a framework property
-v, --verbose Sets the logger to DEBUG mode
--init FILE Start by running a Pelix shell script
--run FILE Run a Pelix shell script then exit
-c FILE, --conf FILE Use a configuration file, above the system configuration
-C FILE, --exclusive-conf FILE Use a configuration file, ignore the system configuration
-e, --empty-conf Don’t use any initial configuration

Text UI

The Text UI is the easiest way to manage or test your programs with Pelix/iPOPO. It provides the most basic yet complete interaction with the Pelix Shell core service.

If it is available, the Text UI relies on readline to provide command and arguments completion.

Script startup

The text (or console) UI can be started using the python -m command. This command will start a Pelix framework, with iPOPO and the most commonly used shell command providers.

This script only accepts the common shell parameters.

Programmatic startup

This UI is provided by the bundle. It is a raw bundle, which does not provide a component factory: the UI is available while the bundle is active. There is no configuration available when starting the Text UI programmatically.

Remote Shell

Pelix frameworks are often started on remote locations, but still need to be managed with the Pelix shell. Instead of using an SSH connection to work on a foreground server, you can use the Pelix Remote Shell.

The Pelix Remote Shell is a simple interface to the Pelix Shell core service of its framework instance, based on a TCP server. Unlike the console UI, multiple users can connect the framework at the same time, each with his own shell session (variables, …).

By default, the remote shell starts a TCP server listening the local interface (localhost) on port 9000. It is possible to enforce the server by setting up OpenSSL certificates. The server will have its own certificate, which should be checked by the clients, and each client will have to connect with its own certificate, signed by an authority recognized by the server. See How to prepare certificates for the Remote Shell for more information on how to setup this kind of certificates.


TLS features and arguments are available only if the Python interpreters fully provides the ssl module, i.e. if it has been built with OpenSSL.

Script startup

The remote shell UI can be started using the python -m command. This command will start a Pelix framework with iPOPO, and will start a Python console locally.

In addition to the common parameters, the script accepts the following ones:

Argument Default Description
--no-input not set If set, don’t start the Python console (useful for server/daemon mode)
-a ADDR, --address ADDR localhost Server binding address
-p PORT, --port PORT 9000 Server binding port
--ca-chain FILE None Path to the certificate authority chain file (to authenticate clients)
--cert FILE None Path to the server certificate file
--key FILE None Path to the server private key file
--key-password PASSWORD None Password of the server private key

Programmatic startup

The remote shell is provided as the ipopo-remote-shell-factory component factory defined in the bundle. You should use the constant instead of the factory name when instantiating the component.

This factory accepts the following properties:

Name Default Description localhost Server binding address 9000 Server binding port None Path to the clients certificate authority chain file None Path to the server’s SSL certificate file None Path to the server’s private key None Password of the server’s private key

XMPP Shell

The XMPP shell interface allows to communicate with a Pelix framework using an XMPP client, e.g. Pidgin, Psi. The biggest advantages of this interface are the possibility to use TLS to encrypt conversations and the fact that it is an output-only communication. This allows to protect Pelix applications behind hardened firewalls, letting them only to connect the XMPP server.

It requires an XMPP account to connect an XMPP server. Early tests of this bundle were made against Google Talk (with a GMail account, not to be confused with Google Hangout) and a private OpenFire server.

Script startup

The XMPP UI can be started using the python -m command. This command will start a Pelix framework with iPOPO, and will start a Pelix console UI locally.

In addition to the common parameters, the script accepts the following ones:

Argument Default Description
-j JID, --jid JID None Jabber ID (user account)
--password PASSWORD None Account password
-s ADDR, --server ADDR None Address of the XMPP server (found in the Jabber ID by default)
-p PORT, --port PORT 5222 Port of the XMPP server
--tls not set If set, use a STARTTLS connection
--ssl not set If set, use an SSL connection

Programmatic startup

This UI depends on the sleekxmpp third-party package, which can be installed using the following command:

pip install sleekxmpp

The XMPP shell is provided as the ipopo-xmpp-shell-factory component factory defined in the bundle. You should use the constant instead of the factory name when instantiating the component.

This factory accepts the following properties:

Name Default Description
shell.xmpp.server localhost XMPP server hostname
shell.xmpp.port 5222 XMPP server port
shell.xmpp.jid None JID (XMPP account) to use
shell.xmpp.password None User password
shell.xmpp.tls 1 Use a STARTTLS connection
shell.xmpp.ssl 0 Use an SSL connection

Provided command bundles

Pelix/iPOPO comes with some batteries included. Here is the list of the bundles which provide commands for specific services.

Note that the commands themselves won’t be described here: it is recommended to use the help command in the shell to have the latest usage information.

Bundle name Description Handles iPOPO factories and instances. Handles the Configuration Admin service (provided by pelix.misc.configadmin). See Configuration Admin. Handles the Event Admin service (provided by pelix.misc.eventadmin). See EventAdmin service. Looks into the Log Service (provided by pelix.misc.log). See Logging. Generates framework state reports. See Shell reports.

How to provide commands

Shell Command service

Shell commands are detected by the Shell Core Service when a Shell Command service (use the constant) is registered.

First, the Shell Core calls the get_namespace() method of the new service, in order to prepare the (potentially new) command namespace. Each shell command provider should have a unique, human-readable, namespace. Sometimes it can be interesting to have multiple services providing sets of optional commands in the same namespace, but this can lead to some unexpected behaviour, e.g. when trying to provide the same command name twice in the same namespace. A namespace must not contain spaces nor separator characters (dot, comma, …).

Then, the Shell Core calls get_methods(), which must a return a list of (command name, command method) couples. Like its namespace, a command name must not contain spaces nor separator characters (dot, comma, …).

Each command method must accept at least one argument: the ShellSession object representing the current session and handling interactions with the client. Note that the Python docstring of the method will be what is shown by the core help command.

The shell core bundle also provides a utility service,, which can be used to generate ASCII tables to print out to the user. This is the service used by the core method to print the list of bundles, services, iPOPO instances, etc..

Here is an example of a simple command service providing the echo and hello shell commands. echo accepts an unlimited list of arguments and prints it back to the client. hello asks a name if it wasn’t given as parameter then says hello.

from pelix.ipopo.decorators import ComponentFactory, Provides, Instantiate

class SampleCommands(object):
    Sample shell commands
    def get_namespace():
        Retrieves the name space of this command handler
        return "sample"

    def get_methods(self):
        Retrieves the list of tuples (command, method) for this command handler
        return [("echo", self.echo), ("hello", self.hello)]

    def hello(self, session, name=None):
        Says hello
        if not name:
            # Name not given as parameter, ask for it
            name = session.prompt("What's your name? ")

        session.write_line("Hello, {0} !", name)

    def echo(self, session, *words):
        Prints back the words it has been given
        session.write_line(" ".join(words))

To use this sample, simply start a framework with the Shell Core, a Shell UI and iPOPO, then install and start the sample bundle. For example:

bash:~ $ python -m
** Pelix Shell prompt **
$ start
Bundle ID: 14
Starting bundle 14 (
$ sample.echo Hello, world !
Hello, world !
$ hello World
Hello, World !
$ hello
What's your name? Thomas
Hello, Thomas !

The I/O handling of the session argument is implemented by the shell UI and hides the ways used to communicate with the client. The code of this example works with all UIs: local text UI, remote shell and XMPP shell.


How to prepare certificates for the Remote Shell

In order to use certificate-based client authentication with the Remote Shell in TLS mode, you will have to prepare a certificate authority, which will be used to sign server and clients certificates.

The following commands are a summary of OpenSSL Certificate Authority page by Jamie Nguyen.

Prepare the root certificate

  • Prepare the environment of the root certificate:

    mkdir ca
    cd ca/
    mkdir certs crl newcerts private
    chmod 700 private/
    touch index.txt
    echo 1000 > serial
  • Download the sample openssl.cnf file to the ca/ directory and edit it to fit your needs.

  • Create the root certificate. The following snippet creates a 4096 bits private key and creates a certificate valid for 7300 days (20 years). The v3_ca extension allows to use the certificate as an authority.

    openssl genrsa -aes256 -out private/ca.key.pem 4096
    chmod 400 private/ca.key.pem
    openssl req -config openssl.cnf -key private/ca.key.pem \
        -new -x509 -days 7300 -sha256 -extensions v3_ca \
        -out certs/ca.cert.pem
    chmod 444 certs/ca.cert.pem
    openssl x509 -noout -text -in certs/ca.cert.pem

Prepare an intermediate certificate

Using intermediate certificates allows to hide the root certificate private key from the network: once the intermediate certificate has signed, the root certificate private key should be hidden in a server somewhere not accessible from the outside. If your intermediate certificate is compromised, you can use the root certificate to revoke it.

  • Prepare the environment of the intermediate certificate:

    mkdir intermediate
    cd intermediate/
    mkdir certs crl csr newcerts private
    chmod 700 private/
    touch index.txt
    echo 1000 > serial
    echo 1000 > crlnumber
  • Download the sample intermediate/openssl.cnf file to the ca/intermediate folder and edit it to your needs.

  • Generate the intermediate certificate and sign it with the root certificate. The v3_intermediate_ca extension allows to use the certificate as an intermediate authority. Intermediate certificates are valid less time than the root certificate. Here we consider a validity of 10 years.

    openssl genrsa -aes256 -out intermediate/private/intermediate.key.pem 4096
    chmod 400 intermediate/private/intermediate.key.pem
    openssl req -config intermediate/openssl.cnf \
        -new -sha256 -key intermediate/private/intermediate.key.pem \
        -out intermediate/csr/intermediate.csr.pem
    openssl ca -config openssl.cnf -extensions v3_intermediate_ca \
        -days 3650 -notext -md sha256 \
        -in intermediate/csr/intermediate.csr.pem \
        -out intermediate/certs/intermediate.cert.pem
    chmod 444 intermediate/certs/intermediate.cert.pem
    openssl x509 -noout -text -in intermediate/certs/intermediate.cert.pem
    openssl verify -CAfile certs/ca.cert.pem \
  • Generate the Certificate Authority chain file. This is simply the bottom list of certificates of your authority:

    cat intermediate/certs/intermediate.cert.pem certs/ca.cert.pem \
        > intermediate/certs/ca-chain.cert.pem
    chmod 444 intermediate/certs/ca-chain.cert.pem

Prepare the server certificate

The steps to generate the certificate is simple. For simplicity, we consider we are in the same folder hierarchy as before.

This certificate must has a validity period shorter than the intermediate certificate.

  1. Generate a server private key. This can be done on any machine:

    openssl genrsa -aes256 -out intermediate/private/server.key.pem 2048
    openssl genrsa -out intermediate/private/server.key.pem 2048
    chmod 400 intermediate/private/server.key.pem
  2. Prepare a certificate signing request

    openssl req -config intermediate/openssl.cnf \
        -key intermediate/private/server.key.pem -new -sha256 \
        -out intermediate/csr/server.csr.pem
  3. Sign the certificate with the intermediate certificate. The server_cert extension indicates a server certificate which can’t sign other ones.

    openssl ca -config intermediate/openssl.cnf -extensions server_cert \
        -days 375 -notext -md sha256 \
        -in intermediate/csr/server.csr.pem \
        -out intermediate/certs/server.cert.pem
    chmod 444 intermediate/certs/server.cert.pem
    openssl x509 -noout -text -in intermediate/certs/server.cert.pem
    openssl verify -CAfile intermediate/certs/ca-chain.cert.pem \

Prepare a client certificate

The steps to generate the client certificates are the same as for the server.

  1. Generate a client private key. This can be done on any machine:

    openssl genrsa -out intermediate/private/client1.key.pem 2048
    chmod 400 intermediate/private/client1.key.pem
  2. Prepare a certificate signing request

    openssl req -config intermediate/openssl.cnf \
        -key intermediate/private/client1.key.pem -new -sha256 \
        -out intermediate/csr/client1.csr.pem
  3. Sign the certificate with the intermediate certificate. The usr_cert extension indicates this is a client certificate, which cannot be used to sign other certificates.

    openssl ca -config intermediate/openssl.cnf -extensions usr_cert \
        -days 375 -notext -md sha256 \
        -in intermediate/csr/client1.csr.pem \
        -out intermediate/certs/client1.cert.pem
    chmod 444 intermediate/certs/client1.cert.pem
    openssl x509 -noout -text -in intermediate/certs/client1.cert.pem
    openssl verify -CAfile intermediate/certs/ca-chain.cert.pem \

Connect a TLS Remote Shell

To connect a basic remote shell, you can use netcat, which is available for nearly all operating systems and all architectures.

To connect a TLS remote shell, you should use the OpenSSL client: s_client. It is necessary to indicate the client certificate in order to be accepted by the server. It is also recommended to indicate the authority chain to ensure that the server is not a rogue one.

Here is a sample command line to connect a TLS remote shell on the local host, listening on port 9001.

openssl s_client -connect localhost:9001 \
    -cert client1.cert.pem -key client1.key.pem \
    -CAfile ca-chain.cert.pem