OpenNebula’s XML-RPC API

Introduction: endpoint and bindings

OpenNebula offers an XML-RPC API, which you can use mainly for automating tasks related to handling VMs and get information out of the HPC Cloud environment. The XML-RPC API is accessible via the following URL:

That URL is called the endpoint. At the server side, this endpoint allows you to operate with your UI’s username and password as if you were operating on the UI itself. The beauty of having an API is that you can build programs that can handle interactions for you (think, for example, of shutting VMs down automatically once your computation is finished, so that you do not consume your quota).

And you can also get some extra information in formats that you can process. For example, you can look at your accounting status and, therefore, know how much of your CPU quota you have left.

In principle, you can “talk” directly to the XML-RPC endpoint just by sending HTTP POST requests and reading the information back from the HTTP responses. However, that can become rather tedious very quickly, because all communication must take place via XML, so most of your code should then need to be for creating, sending, receiving and extracting XML.


If you want to look at the plain XML-RPC documentation, it is available here

In order to hide all this XML-processing tediousness from the programmer, OpenNebula provide some bindings for programming languages. They make using the API a more intuitive experience. They offer bindings for the following languages:

The community has created bindings for other languages, like:

Python bindings


We chose to use Python bindings because we have received many questions already about this language. We will be happy to include information about your favourite binding if you help us.

Setting up the environment


We find conda and pip very useful, so that is why we recommend them here. Check for detailed instructions here

Setting up conda

The following commands will:

  1. create a directory to install your Python environment there with conda
  2. download the conda installer
  3. run the conda installer to install conda in the desired directory

Run in a terminal of an HPC Cloud VM:

mkdir ~/conda && cd ~/conda

You may have to close and re-open your terminal for changes to take effect. Or you may go ahead in a new terminal.

Preparing a conda environment

Conda allows you to keep different environments, which are collections of libraries that you can use at once, so that different projects can use different libraries or versions.

The following commands will:

  1. create an environment for your OpenNebula API project(s)
  2. set your current terminal to use the newly created environment
  3. install some basic dependencies in that environment
  4. download and install the OpenNebula API Python bindings in that environment

Run in a terminal:

conda create --name one_api_env python=2.7
source activate one_api_env
conda install pip
pip install oca

You can now verify the packages that you have available in the current environment by running:

conda list

That should return something like:

# packages in environment at ~/conda/envs/one_api_env:
oca                       4.10.0                    <pip>
openssl                   1.0.2f                        0
pip                       8.0.2                    py27_0
python                    2.7.11                        0
readline                  6.2                           2
setuptools                20.1.1                   py27_0
sqlite                    3.9.2                         0
tk                        8.5.18                        0
wheel                     0.29.0                   py27_0
zlib                      1.2.8                         0

See that you have package oca available. These are the Python bindings for OpenNebula that you downloaded from GitHub with the previous commands.

Running a first program

We will now use the Python bindings to send a simple request to the HPC Cloud endpoint that will tell you the version of OpenNebula that we have installed.

The following commands will:

  1. create a directory that will act as our “project”
  2. create a new file with a very basic first use of the API

Run in a terminal:

mkdir -p ~/workspace/my_project
touch ~/workspace/my_project/

Open now the ~/workspace/my_project/ file in your favourite editor. Copy and paste the following contents in it:

import oca                          # this imports the OpenNebula API bindings

class VersionCheck():
    """A simple OpenNebula API test class"""

    ONE_USER = 'UI_username'          # replace this with your HPC Cloud UI username
    ONE_PASSWORD = 'UI_password'      # replace this with your HPC Cloud UI password

    def __init__(self):
        self.client = oca.Client(self.ONE_USER + ':' + self.ONE_PASSWORD, self.ONE_ENDPOINT)

    def ask_version(self):
        return self.client.version()

if __name__ == '__main__':
    found_version = VersionCheck().ask_version()


Pay attention to filling your username and password in the file! Save the file.

Now, let’s run it:

python ~/workspace/my_project/

It should print something like:


API explanation

OpenNebula’s XML-RPC API is best described as a collection of actions that you can invoke to query, create, modify and delete the different kinds of (let us call them) objects that OpenNebula knows. In this sense, an object can be a VM or an image (for example), and examples of actions can be create a new image or tell me which VMs I am running. The XML-RPC documentation tells you which of these actions (which they call methods) are available. The documentation describes, per method:

Method names

In general terms, method names for actions than can take effect directly on objects, have the form one.<object>.<action>. The <object> part is rather intuitive (e.g.: vm for actions on VMs, image for images…), and if you want to look for what different <action> options are available for a given type of object, they are shown grouped on the documentation. For example, if you want to change the name of a VM you can use method one.vm.rename, and if you want to create a new VM you can use method one.vm.allocate.

If you want to query about several items of certain type of object (e.g.: tell me my VMs), you usually find an accompanying pool, in the form <object>pool that you can query. For example, to list all your VMs, you can use method

Method parameters

Each method requires a certain set of parameters. The parameters are positional, so if you see that a method is described as required 2 arguments, the order in which the parameters are described is the order in which you should provide your arguments as well. Each method and its parameters have a different meaning, although, in general terms, you can expect that:

Method output

Normally, results are received as a 3-tuple where: