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Install Blackbox Exporter to Monitor Websites with Prometheus



Blackbox Exporter by Prometheus allows probing over endpoints such as http, https, icmp, tcp and dns.


What will we be doing

In this tutorial we will install the blackbox exporter on linux. Im assuming that you have already set up prometheus.

Install the Blackbox Exporter

First create the blackbox exporter user:

$ useradd --no-create-home --shell /bin/false blackbox_exporter

Download blackbox exporter and extract:

$ wget
$ tar -xvf blackbox_exporter-0.14.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz

Move the binaries in place and change the ownership:

$ cp blackbox_exporter-0.14.0.linux-amd64/blackbox_exporter /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter
$ chown blackbox_exporter:blackbox_exporter /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter

Remove the downloaded archive:

$ rm -rf blackbox_exporter-0.14.0.linux-amd64*

Create the blackbox directory and create the config:

$ mkdir /etc/blackbox_exporter
$ vim /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.yml

Populate this config:

    prober: http
    timeout: 5s
      valid_status_codes: []
      method: GET

Update the permissions of the config so that the user has ownership:

$ chown blackbox_exporter:blackbox_exporter /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.yml

Create the systemd unit file:

$ vim /etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service

Populate the systemd unit file configuration:

Description=Blackbox Exporter

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter --config.file /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.yml


Reload the systemd daemon and restart the service:

$ systemctl daemon-reload
$ systemctl start blackbox_exporter

The service should be started, verify:

$ systemctl status blackbox_exporter
  blackbox_exporter.service - Blackbox Exporter
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Wed 2019-05-08 00:02:40 UTC; 5s ago
 Main PID: 10084 (blackbox_export)
    Tasks: 6 (limit: 4704)
   CGroup: /system.slice/blackbox_exporter.service
           └─10084 /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter --config.file /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.yml

May 08 00:02:40 ip-172-31-41-126 systemd[1]: Started Blackbox Exporter.
May 08 00:02:40 ip-172-31-41-126 blackbox_exporter[10084]: level=info ts=2019-05-08T00:02:40.5229204Z caller=main.go:213 msg="Starting blackbox_exporter" version="(version=0.14.0, branch=HEAD, revision=bb
May 08 00:02:40 ip-172-31-41-126 blackbox_exporter[10084]: level=info ts=2019-05-08T00:02:40.52553523Z caller=main.go:226 msg="Loaded config file"
May 08 00:02:40 ip-172-31-41-126 blackbox_exporter[10084]: level=info ts=2019-05-08T00:02:40.525695324Z caller=main.go:330 msg="Listening on address" address=:9115

Enable the service on boot:

$ systemctl enable blackbox_exporter

Configure Prometheus

Next, we need to provide context to prometheus on what to monitor. We will inform prometheus to monitor a web endpoint on port 8080 using the blackbox exporter (we will create a python simplehttpserver to run on port 8080).

Edit the prometheus config /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml and append the following:

  - job_name: 'blackbox'
    metrics_path: /probe
      module: [http_2xx]
      - targets:
        - http://localhost:8080
      - source_labels: [__address__]
        target_label: __param_target
      - source_labels: [__param_target]
        target_label: instance
      - target_label: __address__
        replacement: localhost:9115

Open a new terminal, create a index.html:

$ echo "ok" > index.html

Then start a SimpleHTTPServer on port 8080:

$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080

Head back to the previous terminal session and restart prometheus:

$ systemctl restart prometheus

Configure the Alarm definition:

Create a alarm definition that desribes that defines when to notify when a endpoint goes down:

$ vim /etc/prometheus/alert.rules.yml

And our alert definition:

- name: alert.rules
  - alert: EndpointDown
    expr: probe_success == 0
    for: 10s
      severity: "critical"
      summary: "Endpoint {{ $labels.instance }} down"

Ensure that the permission is set:

$ chown prometheus:prometheus /etc/prometheus/alert.rules.yml

Use the promtool to validate that the alert is correctly configured:

$ promtool check rules /etc/prometheus/alert.rules.yml
Checking /etc/prometheus/alert.rules.yml
  SUCCESS: 1 rules found

If everything is good, restart prometheus:

$ systemctl restart prometheus

Blackbox Exporter Dashboard

To install a blackbox exporter dashboard:, create a new dashboard, select import, provide the ID: 7587, select the prometheus datasource and select save.

The dashboard should look similar to this:


Next up, Alertmanager

In the next tutorial we will setup Alertmanager to alert when our endpoint goes down


See all #prometheus blogposts

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