Would you like to run some custom Python code when Nova creates and destroys virtual instances on your compute hosts? This is possible using Nova’s support for hooks, but the existing documentation is somewhat short on examples, so I’ve spent some time trying to get things working.

The demo_nova_hooks repository contains a working example of the techniques discussed in this article.

What’s a hook?

A Nova “hook” is a mechanism that allows you to attach a class of your own design to a particular function or method call in Nova. Your class should define a pre method (that will be called before the method is called) and post function (that will be called after the method is called):

class YourHookClass(object):

    def pre(self, *args, **kwargs):

    def post(self, rv, *args, **kwargs):

The pre method will be called with the positional and keyword arguments being passed to the hooked function. The post method receives the return value of the called method in addition to the positional and keyword arguments.

You connect your code to available hooks using Setuptools entry points. For example, assuming that the above code lived in module named your_package.hooks, you might have the following in the corresponding setup.py file:

entry_points = {
    'nova.hooks': [

What hooks are available?

The Nova code (as of 81b1bab) defines three hooks:

  • create_instance
  • delete_instances
  • instance_network_info


The create_instance hook is attached to the Nova API create function, and will receive the following arguments:

def create(self, context, instance_type,
           image_href, kernel_id=None, ramdisk_id=None,
           min_count=None, max_count=None,
           display_name=None, display_description=None,
           key_name=None, key_data=None, security_group=None,
           availability_zone=None, user_data=None, metadata=None,
           injected_files=None, admin_password=None,
           block_device_mapping=None, access_ip_v4=None,
           access_ip_v6=None, requested_networks=None, config_drive=None,
           auto_disk_config=None, scheduler_hints=None, legacy_bdm=True,
           shutdown_terminate=False, check_server_group_quota=False):

When called, self is a nova.compute.api.API object, context is a nova.context.RequestContext object, instance_type is a dictionary containing information about the selected flavor, and image_href is an image UUID.

During my testing, the instance_type dictionary looked like this…

{'created_at': None,
 'deleted': 0L,
 'deleted_at': None,
 'disabled': False,
 'ephemeral_gb': 0L,
 'extra_specs': {},
 'flavorid': u'2',
 'id': 5L,
 'is_public': True,
 'memory_mb': 2048L,
 'name': u'm1.small',
 'root_gb': 20L,
 'rxtx_factor': 1.0,
 'swap': 0L,
 'updated_at': None,
 'vcpu_weight': None,
 'vcpus': 1L}

…corresponding to the m1.small flavor on my system.


The delete_instance hook is attached to the _delete_instance method in the nova.compute.manager.ComputeManager class, which is called whenever Nova needs to delete an instance. The hook will receive the following arguments:

def _delete_instance(self, context, instance, bdms, quotas):


  • self is a nova.compute.manager.ComputeManager object,
  • context is a nova.context.RequestContext,
  • instance is a nova.objects.instance.Instance object
  • bdms is a nova.objects.block_device.BlockDeviceMappingList object, and
  • quotas is a nova.objects.quotas.Quotas object


The instance_network_info hook is attached to the update_instance_cache_with_nw_info function in nova.network.base_api.py. The hook will receive the following arguments:

def update_instance_cache_with_nw_info(impl, context, instance,
                                       nw_info=None, update_cells=True):

I am not running Nova Network in my environment, so I have not examined this hook in any additional detail.

A working example

The demo_nova_hooks repository implements simple logging-only implementations of create_instance and delete_instance hooks. You can install this code, restart Nova services, boot an instances, and verify that the code has executed by looking at the logs generated in /var/log/nova.