Blackbox Exporter: A Prometheus Component for Probing External Services
How to Download and Use Blackbox Exporter for Website Monitoring
Website monitoring is an essential activity for any business or organization that relies on a website or web service for marketing, data collection, or revenue. Website monitoring can help you check the availability, performance, and function of your website or web service from different locations and alert you when a problem occurs. It can also help you track uptime, measure key parameters, and customize monitoring plans.
There are many tools and services available for website monitoring, but one of the most popular and powerful ones is Blackbox Exporter. Blackbox Exporter is an open-source tool that allows you to perform blackbox probing of endpoints over HTTP, HTTPS, DNS, TCP, ICMP, and gRPC. It is part of the Prometheus ecosystem, which is a leading platform for systems monitoring and alerting.
download blackbox exporter
In this article, we will show you how to download and use Blackbox Exporter for website monitoring. We will cover the following topics:
What is Blackbox Exporter and what are its features and benefits?
How to download Blackbox Exporter from GitHub or run it from binaries or Docker?
How to configure Blackbox Exporter with a configuration file, modules, probes, and TLS/basic authentication?
How to use Blackbox Exporter to perform probes with URL parameters and check probe results and metrics?
How to integrate Blackbox Exporter with Prometheus and Grafana for data collection and visualization?
By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to download and use Blackbox Exporter for website monitoring. You will also find some FAQs at the end of the article to answer some common questions about Blackbox Exporter.
What is Blackbox Exporter?
Blackbox Exporter is a tool that allows you to perform blackbox probing of endpoints over various protocols. Blackbox probing means that you test the external behavior of an endpoint without knowing its internal details. For example, you can test if a website is reachable, if it responds with the expected status code, if it contains a certain keyword, etc.
Features and benefits of Blackbox Exporter
Some of the features and benefits of using Blackbox Exporter are:
It supports multiple protocols, such as HTTP, HTTPS, DNS, TCP, ICMP, and gRPC.
It allows you to define custom modules and probes with different settings and parameters.
It integrates well with Prometheus, which can scrape and store the metrics generated by Blackbox Exporter.
It provides a web interface where you can perform probes manually or view debug information.
It supports TLS and basic authentication for secure communication.
It is easy to install and run as a static binary or a Docker image.
How Blackbox Exporter works
The basic workflow of how Blackbox Exporter works is as follows:
How to download blackbox exporter for Prometheus
Download blackbox exporter binary from GitHub
Blackbox exporter installation guide for Linux
Blackbox exporter configuration examples for HTTP probes
Blackbox exporter metrics and labels explained
Download blackbox exporter docker image from quay.io
Blackbox exporter TLS and basic authentication settings
Blackbox exporter module parameters and options
Blackbox exporter probe success and failure scenarios
Download blackbox exporter source code and build locally
Blackbox exporter ICMP probe setup and troubleshooting
Blackbox exporter DNS probe configuration and usage
Blackbox exporter TCP probe examples and best practices
Blackbox exporter HTTPS probe with custom headers
Blackbox exporter gRPC probe support and documentation
Download blackbox exporter for Windows operating system
Blackbox exporter integration with Grafana dashboards
Blackbox exporter alerting rules and templates
Blackbox exporter service discovery and relabeling
Blackbox exporter performance tuning and optimization
Download blackbox exporter for Kubernetes cluster
Blackbox exporter Helm chart installation and upgrade
Blackbox exporter Prometheus Operator CRD definition
Blackbox exporter endpoint monitoring use cases
Blackbox exporter comparison with other exporters
Download blackbox exporter for Mac OS X platform
Blackbox exporter log level and format options
Blackbox exporter web UI and debug information
Blackbox exporter custom modules and probes creation
Blackbox exporter testing and validation tools
Download blackbox exporter for Raspberry Pi device
Blackbox exporter ARM container images availability
Blackbox exporter versioning and release notes
Blackbox exporter security and vulnerability reports
Blackbox exporter community and contribution guidelines
Download blackbox exporter for FreeBSD system
Blackbox exporter network latency and throughput metrics
Blackbox exporter SSL certificate expiration checks
Blackbox exporter HTTP POST method probes examples
Blackbox exporter query parameters and target encoding
Download blackbox exporter for OpenBSD environment
Blackbox exporter IPv6 support and configuration
Blackbox exporter DNSSEC validation checks examples
Blackbox exporter TCP socket connection tests examples
Blackbox exporter HTTP response status code checks examples
Download blackbox exporter for Solaris operating system
Blackbox exporter ICMP echo request tests examples
Blackbox exporter gRPC health check tests examples
You create a configuration file that defines the modules and probes that you want to use.
You run Blackbox Exporter as a service on your server or machine.
You send HTTP requests to Blackbox Exporter with URL parameters that specify the module and target that you want to probe.
Blackbox Exporter performs the probe according to the module settings and returns the probe results as metrics in a text format.
Prometheus scrapes the metrics from Blackbox Exporter at regular intervals and stores them in a time-series database.
You can use Grafana or other tools to query and visualize the metrics collected by Prometheus.
The following diagram illustrates the workflow of Blackbox Exporter:
+----------+ +------------------+ +------------+ +---------+ Endpoint Grafana +----------+ +------------------+ +------------+ +---------+
In the next sections, we will show you how to download, configure, and use Blackbox Exporter for website monitoring.
How to download Blackbox Exporter
There are two main ways to download and run Blackbox Exporter: from GitHub or from binaries or Docker.
Prerequisites and requirements
Before you download and run Blackbox Exporter, you need to have the following prerequisites and requirements:
A server or machine that can run Blackbox Exporter. It can be Linux, Windows, or Mac OS X.
A network connection that can access the endpoints that you want to probe.
A web browser that can access the web interface of Blackbox Exporter.
Prometheus installed and configured on your server or machine. You can follow this guide to install and configure Prometheus: https://prometheus.io/docs/prometheus/latest/installation/
Grafana installed and configured on your server or machine. You can follow this guide to install and configure Grafana: https://grafana.com/docs/grafana/latest/installation/
Downloading from GitHub
The easiest way to download Blackbox Exporter is from GitHub. You can find the latest release of Blackbox Exporter here: https://github.com/prometheus/blackbox_exporter/releases
You can download the zip file or tar.gz file that matches your operating system and architecture. For example, if you are using Linux 64-bit, you can download the file blackbox_exporter-0.19.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz.
After you download the file, you need to extract it to a folder of your choice. For example, if you are using Linux, you can run the following command:
tar -xzf blackbox_exporter-0.19.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz
This will create a folder called blackbox_exporter-0.19.0.linux-amd64 that contains the executable file blackbox_exporter and a sample configuration file blackbox.yml.
Running from binaries or Docker
Another way to download and run Blackbox Exporter is from binaries or Docker. You can find the binaries for different operating systems and architectures here: https://prometheus.io/download/#blackbox_exporter
You can download the binary file that matches your operating system and architecture and place it in a folder of your choice. For example, if you are using Linux 64-bit, you can download the file blackbox_exporter-0.19.0.linux-amd64 and place it in /usr/local/bin.
You can also run Blackbox Exporter as a Docker container. You can find the Docker image for Blackbox Exporter here: https://hub.docker.com/r/prom/blackbox-exporter/
You can pull the Docker image and run it with the following command:
docker pull prom/blackbox-exporter docker run -d -p 9115:9115 --name blackbox-exporter prom/blackbox-exporter
This will run Blackbox Exporter as a daemon on port 9115 with the default configuration file.
How to configure Blackbox Exporter
After you download and run Blackbox Exporter, you need to configure it with a configuration file, modules, probes, and TLS/basic authentication. Creating a configuration file
The configuration file for Blackbox Exporter is a YAML file that defines the modules and probes that you want to use. The default configuration file is called blackbox.yml and it contains some example modules and probes. You can edit this file or create a new one with your own settings.
The configuration file has two main sections: modules and scrape_configs. The modules section defines the settings and parameters for each module that you want to use. A module is a collection of options that specify how to perform a probe for a certain protocol. For example, you can have a module for HTTP, HTTPS, DNS, TCP, ICMP, or gRPC probes.
The scrape_configs section defines the targets and labels for each probe that you want to perform. A target is the endpoint that you want to probe, such as a website URL or a domain name. A label is a key-value pair that you can use to identify or group your targets. For example, you can have a label for the protocol, the location, or the service name of your target.
Here is an example of a configuration file with two modules and two scrape_configs:
modules: http_2xx: prober: http timeout: 5s http: valid_status_codes:  method: GET icmp: prober: icmp timeout: 5s icmp: preferred_ip_protocol: ip4 scrape_configs: - job_name: 'http_2xx' metrics_path: /probe params: module: [http_2xx] static_configs: - targets: - https://example.com - https://example.org - https://example.net labels: protocol: https location: us-east-1 - job_name: 'icmp' metrics_path: /probe params: module: [icmp] static_configs: - targets: - 18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 labels: protocol: icmp location: us-east-1
In this example, we have defined two modules: http_2xx and icmp. The http_2xx module performs an HTTP probe and checks if the status code is 200. The icmp module performs an ICMP probe and uses IPv4 as the preferred protocol. We have also defined two scrape_configs: http_2xx and icmp. The http_2xx scrape_config probes three HTTPS targets and assigns them the labels protocol=https and location=us-east-1. The icmp scrape_config probes two ICMP targets and assigns them the labels protocol=icmp and location=us-east-1.
Defining modules and probes
You can define as many modules and probes as you need in your configuration file. Each module has a name, a prober, a timeout, and some protocol-specific options. Each probe has a job_name, a metrics_path, some params, some static_configs, and some labels.
The name of the module is an arbitrary string that you can use to reference it in your probes. The prober is the type of probe that you want to perform, such as http, https, dns, tcp, icmp, or grpc. The timeout is the maximum time that the probe will wait for a response from the target. The protocol-specific options are different for each prober and they allow you to customize how the probe is performed.
Some of the common protocol-specific options are:
valid_status_codes: A list of status codes that are considered valid for HTTP or HTTPS probes.
method: The HTTP method to use for HTTP or HTTPS probes.
headers: A map of HTTP headers to send with HTTP or HTTPS probes.
body: The HTTP body to send with HTTP or HTTPS probes.
fail_if_body_matches_regexp: A list of regular expressions that will cause the probe to fail if they match the body of the response for HTTP or HTTPS probes.
fail_if_body_not_matches_regexp: A list of regular expressions that will cause the probe to fail if they do not match the body of the response for HTTP or HTTPS probes.
query_name: The domain name to query for DNS probes.
query_type: The type of DNS record to query for DNS probes.
valid_rcodes: A list of response codes that are considered valid for DNS probes.
source_ip_address: The source IP address to use for TCP or ICMP probes.
preferred_ip_protocol: The preferred IP protocol to use for TCP, ICMP, or gRPC probes.
tls_config: A map of TLS settings to use for HTTPS or gRPC probes.
grpc_config: A map of gRPC settings to use for gRPC probes.
You can find more details and examples of the protocol-specific options here: https://github.com/prometheus/blackbox_exporter/blob/master/CONFIGURATION.md
The job_name of the probe is an arbitrary string that you can use to identify or group your probes. The metrics_path is the path where the probe results and metrics are exposed by Blackbox Exporter. It is usually /probe. The params are the URL parameters that you need to pass to Blackbox Exporter to perform the probe. The most important ones are module and target, which specify the module and target that you want to probe.
The static_configs are the lists of targets and labels that you want to probe. You can have multiple static_configs for each probe, each with a different set of targets and labels. The targets are the endpoints that you want to probe, such as website URLs or domain names. The labels are the key-value pairs that you can use to identify or group your targets. You can use any labels that you want, but some common ones are protocol, location, service, etc.
Setting up TLS and basic authentication
If you want to use HTTPS or gRPC probes, you may need to set up TLS settings to ensure secure communication. You can do this by using the tls_config option in your module definition. The tls_config option is a map of TLS settings that you can use to specify things like certificate authority, client certificate, client key, server name, insecure skip verify, etc.
For example, if you want to use a self-signed certificate for your HTTPS probe, you can use the following tls_config:
tls_config: ca_file: /path/to/ca.crt cert_file: /path/to/client.crt key_file: /path/to/client.key server_name: example.com
If you want to use basic authentication for your HTTP or HTTPS probe, you can do this by using the basic_auth option in your module definition. The basic_auth option is a map of username and password that you can use to authenticate with your target.
For example, if you want to use basic authentication for your HTTP probe, you can use the following basic_auth:
basic_auth: username: admin password: secret
You can find more details and examples of the TLS and basic authentication options here: https://github.com/prometheus/blackbox_exporter/blob/master/CONFIGURATION.md
How to use Blackbox Exporter
After you configure Blackbox Exporter with a configuration file, modules, probes, and TLS/basic authentication, you can start using it to perform probes and check probe results and metrics.
Performing probes with URL parameters
To perform a probe with Blackbox Exporter, you need to send an HTTP request to Blackbox Exporter with URL parameters that specify the module and target that you want to probe. For example, if you want to probe https://example.com with the http_2xx module, you can send the following request:
This will tell Blackbox Exporter to perform an HTTP probe with the http_2xx module on the target https://example.com. You can change the localhost:9115 part to match the address and port where Blackbox Exporter is running. You can also change the module and target parameters to match the module and target that you want to probe.
You can send the request from your web browser or from a command-line tool like curl or wget. For example, if you are using curl, you can run the following command:
curl http://localhost:9115/probe?module=http_2xx&target=https://example.com Checking probe results and metrics
When you send a request to Blackbox Exporter, it will perform the probe and return the probe results and metrics in a text format. The probe results and metrics are exposed by Blackbox Exporter on the same URL as the request. For example, if you send the request:
You can see the probe results and metrics by visiting the same URL in your web browser or by using a command-line tool like curl or wget. For example, if you are using curl, you can run the following command:
This will show you something like this:
# HELP probe_duration_seconds Returns how long the probe took to complete in seconds # TYPE probe_duration_seconds gauge probe_duration_seconds 0.030597141 # HELP probe_failed_due_to_regex Indicates if probe failed due to regex # TYPE probe_failed_due_to_regex gauge probe_failed_due_to_regex 0 # HELP probe_http_content_length Length of http content response # TYPE probe_http_content_length gauge probe_http_content_length -1 # HELP probe_http_duration_seconds Duration of http request by phase, summed over all redirects # TYPE probe_http_duration_seconds gauge probe_http_duration_secondsphase="connect" 0.001610785 probe_http_duration_secondsphase="processing" 0.028776356 probe_http_duration_secondsphase="resolve" 0.000017676 probe_http_duration_secondsphase="tls" 0.000000000 probe_http_duration_secondsphase="transfer" 0.000192324 # HELP probe_http_redirects The number of redirects # TYPE probe_http_redirects gauge probe_http_redirects 0 # HELP probe_http_ssl Indicates if SSL wa