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Blackbox Exporter Setup

After installing the Node and JSON Exporters, we will move on with the last exporter service for Prometheus: the Blackbox Exporter, as it's common practice to install the exporters before the main Prometheus service, as explained before.

The Blackbox Exporter probes endpoints over protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, DNS, TCP, and ICMP and provides detailed metrics on the results. In our case, it monitors the ping time between the node machine and two DNS servers. This information can be crucial in diagnosing network-related issues. If the ping time is too long or the connection fails, it could indicate network problems affecting your node's performance or ability to stay in sync with the rest of the blockchain network.

7.4.1 Creating a New User

As explained and done previously, we will create a new user to run the Blackbox Exporter service specifically. Running services as a system user with minimal privileges is a typical security best practice.

  • --system: This flag indicates that a system user should be created. System users are used to run services and daemons rather than for people to log in with.
  • --group: This flag instructs the user tool to create a new group with the same name as the user.
  • --no-create-home: By default, the user tool will create a home directory for each new user. This flag prevents that from happening, as we do not need different user directories if ye do not set the user up with a login. The option is typically used for users that are only meant to run a specific service and don't need a home directory. In this case, I'm naming the user node-exporter-worker to differentiate the service, often using the exact name of the program written in underscores and the user account related to it. Feel free to come up with your name, but remember that you must change future commands.
sudo adduser --system blackbox-exporter-worker --group --no-create-home

Once we configure the exporter, the node will run the service as this user by specifying the user in our system daemon service file.

If you want to confirm that the user has been created, you can search for it within the password file /etc/passwd, that houses all essential information for each user account. Using grep, a powerful command-line tool for global expression search within files or text, we can check if the user exists within the file.

grep "blackbox-exporter-worker" /etc/passwd

The output should look similar to this:

blackbox-exporter-worker:x:116:122::/home blackbox-exporter-worker:/usr/sbin/nologin

7.4.2 Installing the Blackbox Exporter

When installing the Blackbox Exporter, we first have to get the latest version from the official Prometheus Webpage. As of May 2023, the only listed version is 0.23.0.

Download Github Package

Before downloading anything, make sure you are in the home directory so everything is in one place:


We can then continue downloading this version using the previously installed wget tool. In this case, we're downloading the service directly from GitHub. Make sure to update your understanding if there is a newer release.


The output should look similar to this:

[DATE] [TIME] (12.5 MB/s) - ‘blackbox_exporter-0.23.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz’ saved [10831812/10831812]

Total wall clock time: 1.4s
Downloaded: 1 files, 10M in 0.8s (12.5 MB/s)

Extract the Archive

After downloading it, we can extract the tape archive using the Ubuntu tool. We're going to extract (x) and compress (z) the tape archive into its previous packaged files (f) using verbose mode (v) to list all files being processed during the extraction and compression.

tar xzfv blackbox_exporter-0.23.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz

The output should look similar to this:


Copy the Service Binaries into the System's Path

After extraction, we can copy the exporter binaries to the system's path so they appear as installed dependencies and can be used appropriately and linked within services.

sudo cp blackbox_exporter-0.23.0.linux-amd64/blackbox_exporter /usr/local/bin/

Set Blackbox Exporter Permissions

Now we can change the owner of the Blackbox Exporter service to the one that we created especially for this purpose:

As previously explained in the Node Exporter section of the guide, we can set both the user and group to the specified service user.

sudo chown blackbox-exporter-worker:blackbox-exporter-worker /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter

Let's also make sure the user can execute the file by changing the permissions as described in the Node Exporter section:

sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter

Cleaning up Install Files

After we have copied the executable file into the system's program path and give it the appropriate user rights, we can remove the extracted folders.

rm -rf blackbox_exporter-0.23.0.linux-amd64

The same applies to the tape archive, which we have previously downloaded:

rm blackbox_exporter-0.23.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz

7.4.3 Extend Network Capabilities

Because the Blackbox Exporter will monitor the ping time between the node machine and DNS servers. This information can be crucial in diagnosing network-related issues. However, it will ping those many times, and service has strict capabilities set by default.

We need to allow Blackbox Exporter to create raw network sockets, which are required to probe the network and provide metrics for its behavior and connectivity.

There is the capability settings tool setcap on Ubuntu, which helps us do this. It will take the following operators:

  • cap_new_raw: The first operator specifies the capability you're setting. In our case, cap_net_raw is the network capability that allows the program to use network sockets in a way that could bypass the system's normal security checks.
  • +ep: We can extend the capability of an operator using a plus sign. In our case, we're adding e and p. Setting it to effective using e means that the capability is turned on immediately. The operation p will permit the new ability.
  • path: Afterward, we need to specify the path to the service's executable.

In our case, the final command looks like this:

sudo setcap cap_net_raw+ep /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter

7.4.4 Configuring External Datasets

After installation, we want to create a separate configuration file to define a module that performs network probes. This configuration can monitor network connectivity by sending ping requests and waiting for replies.

We will create our folder for the applciation's configuration files within /etc/blackbox_exporter/.

sudo mkdir /etc/blackbox_exporter/

Now we can create a new config file within this folder:

sudo nano /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.yaml

Probing Configuration

Within the file, we can set our network configuration with the following properties:

  • modules: The main configuration section for defining different types of probes. Each module represents a specific type of probe that the Blackbox Exporter can perform.
  • icmp: The name of the module being defined. In this case, it's set up to perform an ICMP probe. ICMP stands for Internet Control Message Protocol, and it's used primarily for network diagnostic and control purposes. The most common use of ICMP is the ping command, which sends an ICMP echo request to a specified network host and waits for a response.
  • prober: Specifies the type of probe to be performed. In this case, it's set to ICMP, which means this module will perform ICMP probes.
  • timeout: Specifies how long the prober should wait for a response before giving up. In our case, it's set to 10s, meaning the prober will wait 10 seconds.
  • icmp: Contains additional configuration settings specific to ICMP probes.
  • preferred_ip_protocol: This field specifies the IP protocol that the ICMP prober should prefer to use when making its requests. In this case, it's set to IPv4, which means the prober will prefer to use Internet Protocol version 4.

Ping and ICMP

The configuration defines an ICMP module that performs ICMP probes using IPv4 and waits up to 10 seconds for a response. The Blackbox Exporter can use this configuration to set up ping requests and wait for replies. In this case, ping is a computer network diagnostic tool to test whether a particular host is reachable across an IP network. It will measure the round-trip time for packets sent from the origin host to a destination computer and back.

prober: icmp
timeout: 10s
preferred_ip_protocol: ipv4

Be cautious: When creating new rules or modifying existing ones, following the correct syntax and structure are essential to ensure that the Blackbox Exporter functions appropriately and provides the desired level of security. Verify that you always use 2 spaces for each indentation and the hyphen.

Those properties will, later on, be used within the Grafana Dashboard to fetch the token prices and build metrics based on our validator service.

Save and exit the file. As a final step, we give the exporter worker permissions to the configuration folder and the config file:

sudo chown -R blackbox-exporter-worker:blackbox-exporter-worker /etc/blackbox_exporter/

We can now continue the service configuration and link our external metrics there.

7.4.5 Configuring the Service

After installation, we want to define how the Blackbox Exporter service should be run. Within Ubuntu, the /etc/systemd/system/ directory is where system service unit files are stored and used to configure services to start automatically at boot.

Here, we can create a file called blackbox_exporter.service. A service file is generally used to define how daemon processes should be started. In our case, we create the file with the exact name of the Blackbox Exporter service stored within the system directory to modify the Blackbox Exporter's startup process.

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service

The configuration file is split between multiple sections: [Unit], [Service], and [Install]. The unit contains generic options that are not dependent on the type of service and provide documentation. The service and install section is where we will house our configuration properties:

  • Description: Provides a concise but meaningful explanation of the service used in the configuration
  • Documentation: Provides a URL where more information about the program can be found
  • After: Ensures that the service is started after a specific service, in this case, that the network has been set up, as we will need a network connection for this exporter to succeed.
  • User: Specifies under which user the service will run. In this case, it will be blackbox-exporter-worker.
  • Group: Specifies under which user group the service will run. In this case, it will be blackbox-exporter-worker.
  • Type: This option configures the process startup type for this service unit. The simple value means the exec command configured will be the primary process of the service.
  • ExecStart: Specifies the command to run when the service starts. In this case, it's /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter as the program folder of the Blackbox Exporter. It will also load the configuration file on the startup.
  • Restart: Configures whether the service shall be restarted when the service process exits, is killed, or a timeout is reached. The always value means the service will be restarted regardless of whether it exited cleanly or not.
  • RestartSec: This option configures the time to sleep before restarting a service. The value 5 means the service will wait for 5 seconds before it restarts. It is a typical default value and a balance between trying to restart the service quickly after a failure and not restarting it so rapidly that you could exacerbate problems.
  • SyslogIdentifier: Sets the program name used when messages are logged to the system log.
  • StandardOutput: Logfile where the output from the Blackbox Exporter will be logged.
  • StandardError: Logfile where errors from the Blackbox Exporter will be logged.
  • ProtectSystem: Protection rules to specify where the service can write files to the disk. If set to full it will limit the areas of the file system that the exporter can write outside of his regular application folder. This protection type works best as we are just using it for logging.
  • NoNewPrivileges: Prevent the Blackbox Exporter service and its children from gaining new service privileges independently.
  • PrivateTmp: Set to allow the service to generate a private /tmp directory that other processes can't access.
  • WantedBy: This option creates a small dependency and starts the service at boot time. If we input, we can specify that the service will start when the system is set up for multiple users. In our case, every Exporter service will have its user fitting the description.

Blackbox Exporter Logging

By default, the service will write journal logs into the /var/log/journal/ folder using the journal service. But you can also configure it to use system logs written into the /var/log/syslog folder by the syslog process. Here is a quick rundown:

  • journal: The logs are structured and include metadata about each log entry, making them easier to filter and analyze but more challenging to read our bugfix. The service includes default rate limiting and log rotation, which can help keep log sizes small. It also stores logs in a binary format, which can be more space-efficient and faster to process than text-based logs
  • syslog: System logs are text-based logs, which are easier to read, bugfix, and process with traditional command-line tools. It also has a network protocol, so it could send logs to remote servers if thats something you need.

Process Ownership

Make sure you change the User and Group properties if you've previously changed the name, as it will fall back to root and could cause security risks. Our final configuration file will look like this:

Description=Blackbox Exporter

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


Be cautious: When creating new rules or modifying existing ones, following the correct syntax and structure are essential to ensure that the Blackbox Exporter functions appropriately and provides the desired level of security. Verify that you do not use spaces between properties and their values.

7.4.6 Start the Blackbox Exporter Service

First, we need to reload the system manager configuration. It is used when making changes to service configuration files or creating new service files, ensuring that the system daemon is aware of the changes like before.

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Afterward, we can start the Blackbox Exporter service using the system control command:

sudo systemctl start blackbox_exporter

To enable the Blackbox Exporter service to start when the system boots, we can use the system control to create a symbolic link as we did before.

sudo systemctl enable blackbox_exporter

The output should look similar to this:

Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/ → /etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service.

We can fetch the current status from the system control to check if the Blackbox Exporter service is running and configured correctly. It will display whether it is active, enabled, or disabled and show any recent log entries.

sudo systemctl status blackbox_exporter

The output should look similar to this:

● blackbox_exporter.service - Blackbox Exporter
Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
Active: active (running) since [DATE] UTC; [TIME] ago
Main PID: 27272 (blackbox_export)
Tasks: 7 (limit: 38043)
Memory: 2.4M
CPU: 8ms
CGroup: /system.slice/blackbox_exporter.service
└─27272 /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter --config.file /etc/blackbox_exporter/blackbox.>

[DATE] [USER] systemd[1]: Started Blackbox Exporter.
[DATE] [USER] blackbox_exporter[27272]: ts=2023-05-18T09:11:09.531Z caller=main.go:78 >...

7.4.7 Maintenance

Proper maintenance ensures that all the components are working as intended, can be updated on the fly, and that software can be kept up-to-date and secure. It's also essential to identify and fix errors quickly.


If journal is your logging tool, you can access the full logs with the journal control tool.

  • -f: Logging in follow mode displays the most recent journal entries and then updates in real-time as new entries are added.
  • -u: In unit mode, it filters the log to show only entries for the specified system's service, this time blackbox_exporter.
sudo journalctl -f -u blackbox_exporter


If you made any changes to configuration files, reload the system daemon:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Then, restart the service using the system control:

sudo systemctl restart blackbox_exporter


You can stop the service using the system control:

sudo systemctl stop blackbox_exporter

7.4.8 Optional User Removal

If you ever want to remove the user or something went wrong, do the following steps:

Change the owner back to root:

sudo chown -R root:root /etc/blackbox_exporter/

Remove the user and all the files, so there are no orphaned data blobs on your system:

sudo deluser --remove-all-files blackbox-exporter-worker
sudo delgroup blackbox-exporter-worker

Afterward, you can redo the Blackbox Exporter guide and either set up a new user or remove the User property from the configuration in 7.4.5. By default, the process will run as root. Also, make sure to go through every step in 7.4.6 once again.

7.4.9 Optional Software Removal

If you want to remove the Blackbox Exporter tool, stop the running service:

sudo systemctl stop blackbox_exporter

Disable the service:

sudo systemctl disable blackbox_exporter

Remove the service file:

sudo rm /etc/systemd/system/blackbox_exporter.service

Reload the system service daemon to get the service file change:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Then continue deleting the configuration file folder.

sudo rm -rf /etc/blackbox_exporter

In the last step, remove the unlisted executable itself:

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/bin/blackbox_exporter