Command reference


ubos-admin is the central administration command for UBOS. When invoked without arguments, it lists the currently available sub-commands. Note that the list of available sub-commands may become longer if you install certain extra packages.

To invoke an ubos-admin sub-command, execute:

% sudo ubos-admin <subcommand> <arguments>

To obtain help on a particular sub-command, execute:

% sudo ubos-admin <subcommand> --help

ubos-admin backup

To create a backup of all Sites on your Device and save it to all.ubos-backup:

% sudo ubos-admin backup --all --backuptofile all.ubos-backup

To create a backup of all Sites on your Device and save it to a file in your home directory letting UBOS choose a timestamped file name:

% sudo ubos-admin backup --all --backuptodir ~

To create a backup of a single Site and save it to a file:

% sudo ubos-admin backup --hostname <hostname> --backuptofile <backupfile>


% sudo ubos-admin backup --siteid <siteid> --backuptofile <backupfile>

To create a backup or a single AppConfiguration at a Site and save it to a file:

% sudo ubos-admin backup --appconfigid <siteid> --backuptofile <backupfile>

You can determine the SiteId or AppConfigId with ubos-admin listsites.

To encrypt the backup file as part of the process: add --encryptid <id> to the command, where <id> is the key identifier of a private key in the shepherd user’s GPG repository.

To automatically upload the created file to a remote host, specify a data transfer protocol, host and (potentially) user information as part of the destination. To determine the available data transfer protocols, run ubos-admin list-data-transfer-protocols.


  • scp:// will upload the file using scp to host, as user user.

  • s3://bucket/file will upload to an Amazon S3 bucket called bucket and create file file there. This requires that the package amazons3 is installed, and that you have permissions to upload to this bucket.

ubos-admin backupinfo

To determine the content of a .ubos-backup file:

% ubos-admin backupinfo --in <backupfile>

ubos-admin createsite

To create and deploy a new Site running one or more Apps:

% sudo ubos-admin createsite

and answer the questions at the terminal.

To create and deploy a new Site, running one or more Apps and secured by a self-signed SSL/TLS certificate:

% sudo ubos-admin createsite --tls --selfsigned

and answer the questions at the terminal.

To create and deploy a new Site, running one or more Apps and secured by a LetsEncrypt SSL/TLS certificate:

% sudo ubos-admin createsite --tls --letsencrypt

and answer the questions at the terminal.

To create and deploy a new Site, running one or more Apps and secured by an official SSL/TLS certificate, make sure you have private key and certificate files on your UBOS Device, then:

% sudo ubos-admin createsite --tls

and answer the questions at the terminal.

To only create a Site JSON file, append a -n or --dry-run argument. To save the Site JSON to a file, instead of emitting it on the terminal, append --out <filename> with a suitable filename.

To create a Site from a Site JSON Template file:

% sudo ubos-admin createsite --from-template <template>

and UBOS will only ask for values not already provided in the template.

ubos-admin deploy

If you have a Site JSON file for a Site, you can deploy the Site and all Apps configured for this Site with:

% sudo ubos-admin deploy --file <site.json>

To obtain a Site JSON file, either:

  • export the Site JSON file for an existing Site with ubos-admin showsite --json --site <siteid>;

  • create (but do not deploy) a Site JSON file with ubos-admin createsite --dry-run; or

  • manually create a Site JSON file; see the file.

You can take an existing Site JSON file, and edit it by, for example:

Currently, this needs to be performed using a text editor.

Then, deploy it again with ubos-admin deploy --file <site.json>. UBOS will find out what changed, and make appropriate adjustments.


If you remove an App from a Site JSON file, and redeploy the Site JSON, the data of the removed App at this Site will be deleted. There will be no warning. So save the data with ubos-admin backup first.

If you redeploy an existing Site with an existing, or new Site JSON file, you can create a backup of the old Site configuration and content with:

% sudo ubos-admin deploy --file <site.json> --backuptofile <backupfile>

If you additionally specify --template, you can use Site JSON Template files, so UBOS will auto-generate identifies and unique credentials during deployment.

ubos-admin hostid

Displays a unique identifier for the Device. It is is the fingerprint of the Device’s GPG public key. This HostId is used to identify the Device in the flock directory on the UBOS Staff.


This is a different key than the one used by the Shepherd to log into the Device over the network.

ubos-admin init-staff

Turns a USB disk device into a UBOS Staff. This erases all existing content on the USB disk, so do not use a UBOS Staff USB device for any other purpose. Invoke as:

% sudo ubos-admin init-staff <device>

ubos-admin list-data-transfer-protocols

Lists the data transfer protocols currently available for the destinations of backups. For example, if data transfer protocol scp is listed, ubos-admin backup understands how to scp (“secure copy”) the resulting backup file over the network to another host.

Note that the list of currently available data transfer protocols may become longer if you install certain optional packages.

ubos-admin listnetconfigs

This command shows all network configurations that UBOS could activate for the current Device. For example, if your device has two Ethernet interfaces, your Device could be used as a router, while this would be impossible if the Device had only one network interface. Invoke:

% ubos-admin listnetconfigs

To set one of these netconfigs, execute ubos-admin setnetconfig.

More network configurations may be available in packages not currently installed.

ubos-admin listsites

To see all Sites and Apps currently deployed on the Device, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin listsites --detail

This will list hostnames, SiteIds, whether or not the Site has SSL/TLS enabled, Apps deployed at the various Sites, their AppConfigIds, and the relative Context Paths.

For example:

% ubos-admin listsites --detail
Site: (s20da71ce7a6da5500abd338984217cdc8a61f8de)
    Context:           /guestbook (ab274f22ba2bcab61c84e78d944f6cdd7239a999e): gladiwashere-php-mysql
    Context:           /blog (a9eef9bbf4ba932baa1b500cf520da91ca4703e26): wordpress
Site: (s7ad346408fed73628fcbe01d777515fdd9b1bcd2)
    Context:           /foobar (a6e51ea98c23bc701fb10339c5991224e2c75ff3b): gladiwashere-php-mysql

On this Device, two Sites (aka virtual hosts) are hosted. The first Site, responding to, runs two Apps: the Glad-I-Was-Here guestbook toy App, and Wordpress, at the URLs and, respectively. The second Site at, runs a second, independent instance of Glad-I-Was-Here at

ubos-admin read-configuration-from-staff

Performs the same operations without rebooting that the Device would perform during boot when a UBOS Staff is present, such as setting up a Shepherd account.

Invoke as:

% sudo ubos-admin read-configuration-from-staff <device>

ubos-admin restore

To restore all Sites and Apps contained in a previously created backup file that you have on your Device, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin restore --in <backupfile>

If your backup is available on-line at a URL instead, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin restore --url <url-to-backupfile>

Either command will not overwrite existing Sites or Apps; if you wish to replace them, you need to undeploy them first with ubos-admin undeploy.

To only restore a single Site (of several) contained in the same backup file, specify the --siteid or --hostname as an argument:

% sudo ubos-admin restore --siteid <siteid> --in <backupfile>

If one or more Apps were upgraded since the backup was created, UBOS attempts to transparently upgrade the data during the restore operation.

This command has many other ways of invocation; please refer to:

% sudo ubos-admin restore --help

ubos-admin setnetconfig

Sets a Network Configuration for your Device. Some of these Network Configurations require the installation of additional ubos-networking-XXX packages. To determine the currently installed and available Network Configurations, invoke:

% ubos-admin listnetconfigs``.

To switch networking off entirely:

% sudo ubos-admin setnetconfig off

To configure all network interfaces to automatically obtain IP addresses via DHCP, if possible:

% sudo ubos-admin setnetconfig client

To assign static IP addresses to all network interfaces:

% sudo ubos-admin setnetconfig standalone

If your Device has two Ethernet interfaces and you would like to use it as a home gateway/router:

% sudo ubos-admin setnetconfig gateway

ubos-admin setup-shepherd

This command is particularly useful if you run UBOS in a Linux container.

% sudo ubos-admin setup-shepherd

will first ask you to enter an public ssh key, and then create the Shepherd account, and allow ssh login with the provided public ssh key.

% sudo ubos-admin setup-shepherd --add-key

will add another public ssh key and not overwrite any public ssh key already on the shepherd’s account.

ubos-admin showappconfig

To see information about a currently deployed single AppConfiguration, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin showappconfig --host <hostname> --context <path>

such as:

% sudo ubos-admin showappconfig --host --context /blog

or use --appconfigid instead.

ubos-admin shownetconfig

To see information about the current Network Configuration, invoke:

% ubos-admin shownetconfig

This lists all attached network interfaces, and various attributes such as whether the interface uses DHCP, allows App access etc.

ubos-admin showsite

To see information about a currently deployed Site and its Apps, invoke:

% ubos-admin showsite --siteid <siteid>


% ubos-admin showsite --host <hostname>

For example:

% ubos-admin showsite --siteid s20...
    /guestbook : gladiwashere-php-mysql
    /blog : wordpress

This Site responds to and runs two Apps: the Glad-I-Was-Here guestbook, and Wordpress, at the URLs and, respectively. Nothing is being said about other Sites that may or may not run on the same Device.

To determine information about a Site’s administrator, add the --adminuser flag to invocation. In order to see the administrator’s password, the command must be invoked with sudo.

To see other credentials or otherwise not-shown customizationpoints, use --credentials and/or --privatecustomizationpoints.

ubos-admin start-pagekite

To allow access from the public internet to one or more of the Sites on your Device using the Pagekite service, install package pagekite with sudo pacman -S pagekite and then execute:

% sudo ubos-admin start-pagekite <NNN>

where <NNN> is the name of your primary kite (e.g. UBOS will then ask you for the secret that goes with the kite name. You can find both of them on the website after you have logged into your account there.

ubos-admin status

To print interesting information about the Device, such as available disk and memory, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin status

There is a variety of options to control what information will be shown.

ubos-admin status-pagekite

Shows you the status of Pagekite on your Device if you have installed it. See ubos-admin start-pagekite above.

ubos-admin stop-pagekite

Stops Pagekite on your Device if you have installed and activated it. See ubos-admin start-pagekite above.

ubos-admin undeploy

To undeploy an existing Site and all Apps running at this Site as if they had never existed, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin undeploy --siteid <siteid>


% sudo ubos-admin undeploy --host <hostname>


Undeploying a Site is like rm -rf. All the data at the Site will be lost. To retain the data, first run ubos-admin backup before undeploying.

If you want to create a backup of the Site before it is undeployed:

% sudo ubos-admin undeploy ... --backup <backupfile>

ubos-admin update

To upgrade all code on your Device to the latest version, invoke:

% sudo ubos-admin update

This may cause your Device to reboot, depending on what code is being updated.

If you would like to create a backup of all Sites on the Device as they were before the update:

% sudo ubos-admin update ... --backuptofile <backupfile>

ubos-admin write-configuration-to-staff

Saves information about the current Device to the UBOS Staff in directory flock/<HOSTID> where <HOSTID> is a unique HostId for the current Device (see ubos-admin hostid above).

The saved information includes current IP address, Device Class, SSH server-side keys and others.