3/Flux Message Protocol
This specification describes the format of Flux message broker messages, Version 1.
Jim Garlick <email@example.com>
The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
The Flux message protocol v1 provides a way for Flux utilities and services to communicate with one another within the context of a flux instance. It has the following specific goals:
Enable Flux components to communicate within a Flux instance.
Enable the remote procedure call communication idiom.
Enable the publish-subscribe communication idiom.
Allow Flux services to be deployed and accessed without consulting a location service.
Avoid sending Flux data over networks without encryption.
Allow messages to be propagated over different transports including, but not limited to, ZeroMQ.
Enable scalability to many thousands of nodes.
Implement failure mitigation strategies that are simple to reason about.
Ensure that messages between any pair of endpoints are received in transmission order.
flux-broker is a message broker daemon for the Flux resource manager
framework. A Flux instance is a set of
flux-broker processes that
form an overlay network for distributed communication. Flux components
communicate with each other by exchanging messages over the overlay network.
In a Flux instance of size N, each broker is assigned a rank from 0 to N - 1. The overlay network is a tree topology, with the root of the tree at rank 0. Different tree shapes are permitted as long as peer connections are only between tree levels, and each node has at most one parent. The tree shape, the instance size, and each broker’s rank are fixed once the instance begins running.
The overlay network is capable of routing messages using several methods. Messages may be routed over the shortest path between any two brokers, using “smart host” routing where messages are forwarded upstream until a more informed broker knows how to route it, or by multi-casting to all broker ranks. These capabilities support remote procedure call (RPC) and publish-subscribe, the two main communication idioms used in Flux.
If a broker fails or its connection is lost, any pending RPCs involving that broker as a target or as a message router receive automatic error responses, and the broker is forced to restart before reconnecting. If the failed broker is an interior node of the tree acting as a router, its entire sub-tree is forced to restart. In a Flux system instance, this restart is managed by systemd.
Flux messages share a common structure that is strongly influenced by ZeroMQ conventions, since ZeroMQ provides a transport for Flux messages, and certain ZeroMQ socket types impose structural requirements on messages for routing and subscription filtering. Flux messages may be sent over other transports, however. For example, regular UNIX domain stream sockets transport messages between local processes and Flux brokers.
There are four distinct Flux message types: request and response messages for remote procedure call; event messages for publish-subscribe, and control messages for internal use by the overlay network implementation.
Common Message Format
All Flux messages share a common message structure that is compatible with the ZeroMQ message transport:
Message SHALL be divided into ordered parts.
Messages SHALL support a route stack of message parts for source-address routing.
Messages SHALL support a topic string message part for subscriber filtering.
The boundary between message parts SHALL be preserved by message transports; that is, Flux messages sent as an array of parts MUST be received as an array of parts, not a concatenated blob.
Message transports MAY modify Flux messages if directed to do so. For example, a ZeroMQ ROUTER socket implements source-address routing by adding a message part in one direction and removing one in the opposite direction.
Optional Message Parts
The following message parts MAY appear in Flux messages, in the following order:
Messages MAY contain a route stack for request/response message routing. Each route SHALL be a message part containing a NULL-terminated UUID string that represents one route hop. The most recent hop SHALL be on the top of the stack.
- route stack delimiter
The route stack delimiter is an empty message frame that delimits the route stack from other message parts. The delimiter is REQUIRED if the message contains any routes. The routes and delimiter MUST be the first message parts in the message, if present.
- topic string
Messages MAY contain a NULL-terminated string representing an event topic or a RPC service endpoint.
Messages MAY contain a payload of zero or more bytes of user-specific content.
Required Message Parts
Flux messages are REQUIRED to have one message part that acts as a protocol header and is encoded as described by the following ABNF  grammar. This block of data MUST be the last message part in the message. Note the following about the message header:
It has a fixed length.
It includes the message type.
The 4-byte integers SHALL be encoded in network (big endian) byte order.
Some fields (notably the last two 4-byte integers) have different meanings depending on the message type.
The message flags determine which of the optional message parts are present.
The message credentials (userid and rolemask) are those of the user that sent the message, and are set when the message is accepted by a broker.
PROTO = request / response / event / control request = magic version %x01 flags userid rolemask nodeid matchtag response = magic version %x02 flags userid rolemask errnum matchtag event = magic version %x04 flags userid rolemask sequence unused control = magic version %x08 flags userid rolemask type status ; Constants magic = %x8E ; magic cookie version = %x01 ; Flux message version ; Flags: a bitmask of flag- values below flags = OCTET flag-topic = %x01 ; message has topic string frame flag-payload = %x02 ; message has payload frame flag-noresponse = %x04 ; request message should receive no response flag-route = %x08 ; message has route delimiter frame flag-upstream = %x10 ; request should be routed upstream ; of nodeid sender flag-private = %x20 ; event message is requested to be ; private to sender, instance owner flag-streaming = %x40 ; request/response is part of streaming RPC ; Userid assigned by connector at message ingress userid = 4OCTET / userid-unknown userid-unknown = 0xFF.FF.FF.FF ; Role bitmask assigned by connector at message ingress rolemask = 4OCTET ; Matchtag to correlate request/response matchtag = 4OCTET / matchtag-none matchtag-none = %x00.00.00.00 ; Target node ID nodeid = 4OCTET / nodeid-any nodeid-any = %xFF.FF.FF.FF ; UNIX errno errnum = 4OCTET ; Monotonic sequence number sequence = 4OCTET ; Control message type type = 4OCTET ; Control message status status = 4OCTET ; unused 4-byte field unused = %x00.00.00.00
Request Message Type
When the message header indicates a message type of request (1), the following rules apply:
The message SHALL include a route delimiter.
The message MAY include routes. One SHALL be added by the system each time the request transits a socket.
The message SHALL include a topic string, which MAY include period delimiters. The first portion (up to the first period) SHALL be interpreted as a service name.
The message MAY include a payload.
The header MAY include the upstream flag, which affects request routing.
The header SHALL include a nodeid field which affects request routing.
The header SHALL include a matchtag field, used to match requests and responses.
If the header noresponse flag is set, responses to the request SHALL be suppressed.
Request messages received by a broker are routed in three ways, depending on the value of the nodeid header field and the upstream header flag:
1. If the request nodeid is set to the nodeid-any constant, the broker SHALL attempt to match a locally-registered service with the request topic string. On a match, the message SHALL be routed to that service. Otherwise, it SHALL be routed to the next upstream broker peer, which does the same. If the message reaches the root broker without matching a service, that broker SHALL generate a response message containing POSIX error number 39 (Function not implemented).
2. If the request nodeid is not nodeid-any and the upstream flag is clear, the nodeid SHALL be interpreted as the destination broker rank. Brokers SHALL use topology data to route these requests to the destination broker. Upon receipt, the destination broker SHALL attempt to match a locally-registered service with the request topic string. On a match, the message SHALL be routed to that service. Otherwise, the broker SHALL generate a response message containing POSIX error number 39 (Function not implemented).
3. If the request nodeid is not nodeid-any and the upstream flag is set, the nodeid SHALL be interpreted as the broker rank of the sender. The receiving broker SHALL NOT attempt to match a locally-registered service on that rank. Instead, the message SHALL be routed to the upstream broker peer, as in the first case, until a service is matched or an error is generated.
The upstream flag enables a distributed service that registers the same service name on all broker ranks to send requests to its own service on an upstream broker. Without the flag, the request would be looped back to the sender. The same could be accomplished by addressing the request to the upstream broker’s rank, but that requires knowledge of the topology, which is a little more involved than setting a message flag.
Response Message Type
When the message header indicates a message type of response (2), the following rules apply:
The message SHALL include a route delimiter and routes copied from the request. A route SHALL be removed by the system each time the response transits a socket. The route selects the next peer hop.
The message SHALL include a topic string, copied from the request.
The message MAY include a payload.
The header SHALL include a errnum field.
The header SHALL include a matchtag field, copied from the request.
Event Message Type
When the message header indicates a message type of event (4), the following rules apply:
The message SHALL NOT include routes or a route delimiter.
The message SHALL include a topic string.
The message MAY include a payload.
The header SHALL include a monotonically increasing event sequence number.
The header MAY include the private flag, which instructs the broker only to deliver the event to connections with credentials matching the event sender or the instance owner.
Event messages SHALL only be published by the rank 0 broker. Other ranks MAY cause an event to be sent by first forwarding it to rank 0.
Control message type
When the message header indicates a message type of control (8), the following rules apply:
The message SHALL NOT include routes or a route delimiter.
The message SHALL NOT include a topic string.
The message SHALL NOT include a payload.
The header SHALL include two general purpose 4-byte integers labeled type and status.
The message SHALL NOT be routed - it is only for use between direct peers.
Control messages are currently used between overlay network peers to communicate status, send heartbeats, and to force disconnects. They are also used between broker modules and the broker module loader to communicate module status. Since they are not routed, they are not of much use outside of those contexts.
Request, response, and event messages MAY contain a payload. Payloads MAY consist of any byte sequence. To maximize interoperability, norms are established for common payload types:
String payloads SHALL include a terminating NULL character.
Structured objects are RECOMMENDED to be represented as JSON .
JSON payloads SHALL conform to Internet RFC 7159.
JSON payloads SHALL be objects, not arrays or bare values.
JSON payloads SHALL include a terminating NULL character.
Message Framing and Security
When Flux uses ZeroMQ for transport (overlay network peer connections and the
shmem connector), ZeroMQ handles security and message framing. When Flux
uses a UNIX domain stream socket for transport (
local connector), Flux
handles security and message framing as described below. The remainder of
this section applies only to connection over UNIX domain stream sockets.
Upon accepting a connection from a new client, Flux SHALL determine the peer identity using SO_PEERCRED and apply security policies described in RFC 12 to determine if user is authorized to access Flux. If the user is denied access, a single nonzero byte representing a POSIX errno SHALL be sent to the client. When the client receives a nonzero errno byte, it SHOULD interpret the error and disconnect. If the user is allowed access, a single zero byte SHALL be sent to the client. Upon receipt of the zero byte, the client MAY proceed to exchange Flux messages on the socket.
Messages SHALL be framed as follows: First, within a message, message parts SHALL be encoded as a size field followed by a data field. The size field consists of a short message size (1 byte) followed by an optional long message size (4 bytes). The message sizes SHALL be interpreted as unsigned integers in network byte order.
- short message parts
If the data field is from 0 to 254 bytes, its length SHALL be placed in the short message size. The long message size SHALL be omitted.
- long message parts
If the data field is 255 bytes or greater, its length SHALL be placed in the long message size. The short message size SHALL be set to a value of 255.
After the message parts are encoded and concatenated, the message SHALL be
prefaced with a 4 byte magic value of (
a 4-byte unsigned integer message length in network byte order. The message
length SHALL be set to the size of the concatenated message parts, including
their length fields.