Advanced object storage features

Static websites hosted in object storage

It is possible to host simple websites that contain only static content from within a container.

First set up a container, and configure the read ACL to allow read access and optionally allow files to be listed.

swift post con0
swift post -r '.r:*,.rlistings' con0

To confirm the ACL settings, or any of the other metadata settings that follow run the following command:

swift stat con0
         Account: AUTH_b24e9ee3447e48eab1bc99cb894cac6f
       Container: con0
         Objects: 3
           Bytes: 35354
        Read ACL: .r:*,.rlistings
       Write ACL:
         Sync To:
        Sync Key:
   Accept-Ranges: bytes
      X-Trans-Id: tx54e1341d5fd74634b19c5-005906aaf6
          Server: nginx/1.10.1
     X-Timestamp: 1493608620.58190
X-Storage-Policy: Policy-0
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Next upload the files you wish to host:

swift upload con0 index.html error.html image.png styles.css

It is possible to allow listing of all files in the container by enabling web-listings. It is also possible to style these listings using a separate CSS file to the one you would use to style the actual website.

Upload the CSS file and enable the web listing and styling for the listing.

swift upload con0 listing.css
swift post -m 'web-listings: true' con0
swift post -m 'web-listings-css:listings.css' con0

You should now be able to view the files in the container by visiting the container’s URL, where %AUTH_ID% & %container_name% are replaced by your values.

To enable the container to work as a full website, it is also necessary to enable the index and optionally the error settings:

swift post -m 'web-index:index.html' con0
swift post -m 'web-error:error.html' con0

You should now be able to view the index file as a website.

Object Versioning

This provides a means by which multiple versions of your content can be stored allowing for recovery from unintended overwrites.

First, you need to create an archive container to store the older versions of our objects:

$ curl -i -X PUT -H "X-Auth-Token: $token" $storageURL/archive

Now you can create a container to hold your objects. You must include the X-Versions-Location header, which defines the container that holds the previous versions of your objects.

$ curl -i -X PUT -H "X-Auth-Token: $token" -H 'X-Versions-Location: archive' $storageURL/my-container
HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Server: nginx/1.10.1
Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2016 23:50:00 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Content-Length: 0
X-Trans-Id: txe6d2f4e289654d02a7329-005845fd28

Once the X-Versions-Location header has been applied to the container, any changes to objects in the container automatically result in a copy of the original object being placed in the archive container. The backed up version will have the following format:


Where <length> is the length of the object name ( as a three character zero padded hex number ), <object_name> is the original object name and <timestamp> is the unix timestamp of the original file creation.

<length> and <object_name> are then combined to make a new container (pseudo-folder in the dashboard) with the backed up object stored within using the timestamp as its name.


You must UTF-8-encode and then URL-encode the container name before you include it in the X-Versions-Location header.

If you list your current containers, you can see you now have two empty containers.

$ openstack container list --long
| Name         | Bytes | Count |
| archive      |     0 |     0 |
| my-container |     0 |     0 |

If you upload a sample file into my-container, you can see the confirmation of this operation. This includes the etag, which is an MD5 hash of the object’s contents.

$ openstack object create my-container file1.txt
| object    | container    | etag                             |
| file1.txt | my-container | 2767104ea585e1a98a23c52addeeae4a |

Now if the original file is modified and uploaded to the same container, you get a successful confirmation, except this time you get a new etag, as the contents of the file have changed.

$ openstack object create my-container file1.txt
| object    | container    | etag                             |
| file1.txt | my-container | 9673f4c3efc2ee8dd9edbc2ba60c76c4 |

If you show the containers again, you can see now that even though you only uploaded the file into my-container, you now also have a file present in the archive container.

$ os container list --long
| Name         | Bytes | Count |
| archive      |    70 |     1 |
| my-container |    73 |     1 |

Further investigation of the archive container reveals that you have a new object, which was created automatically, and named in accordance with the convention outlined above.

$ openstack object list archive
| Name                          |
| 009file1.txt/1480982072.29403 |

Temporary URL

This is a means by which a temporary URL can be generated, to allow unauthenticated access to the Swift object at the given path. The access is via the given HTTP method (e.g. GET, PUT) and is valid for the number of seconds specified when the URL is created.

The expiry time can be expressed as valid for the given number of seconds from now or if the optional –absolute argument is provided, seconds is instead interpreted as a Unix timestamp at which the URL should expire.

The syntax for the tempurl creation command is:

swift tempurl [command-option] method seconds path key

This generates a temporary URL allowing unauthenticated access to the Swift object at the given path, using the given HTTP method, for the given number of seconds, using the given TempURL key. If the optional –absolute argument is provided, seconds is instead interpreted as a Unix timestamp at which the URL should expire.


swift tempurl GET $(date -d "Jan 1 2017" +%s) /v1/AUTH_foo/bar_container/ my_secret_tempurl_key --absolute
  • sets the expiry using the absolute method to be Jan 1 2017
  • for the object :
  • in the nested container structure : bar_container/quux.mdbar_container/
  • with key : my_secret_tempurl_key

Creating Temporary URLs in the Catalyst Cloud

At the time of writing, the only method currently available for the creation of temporary URLs is using the command line tools.

Firstly you need to associate a secret key with your object store account.

$ openstack object store account set --property Temp-Url-Key='testkey'

You can then confirm the details of the key.

$ openstack object store account show
| Field      | Value                                 |
| Account    | AUTH_b24e9ee3447e48eab1bc99cb894cac6f |
| Bytes      | 128                                   |
| Containers | 4                                     |
| Objects    | 8                                     |
| properties | Temp-Url-Key='testkey'                |

Then, using the syntax outlined above, you can create a temporary URL to access an object residing in the object store.

You will create a URL that will be valid for 600 seconds and provide access to the object “file2.txt” that is located in the container “my-container”.

$ swift tempurl GET 600 /v1/AUTH_b24e9ee3447e48eab1bc99cb894cac6f/my-container/file2.txt "testkey"

You can test this using cURL and appending the generated URL to the Catalyst Cloud’s server URL “”. If it is successful, the request should return the contents of the object.

$ curl -i ""
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.10.1
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2017 19:22:05 GMT
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Length: 501
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Last-Modified: Mon, 09 Jan 2017 19:18:47 GMT
Etag: 137eed1d424a58831892172f5433594a
X-Timestamp: 1483989526.71129
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="file2.txt"; filename*=UTF-8''file2.txt
X-Trans-Id: tx9aa84268bd984358b6afe-005873e2dd

"For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." "For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us."

You could also access the object by taking the same URL that you passed to cURL and pasting it into a web browser.

Working with Large Objects

Typically, the size of a single object cannot exceed 5GB. It is possible, however, to use several smaller objects to break up the large object. When this approach is taken, the resulting large object is made out of two types of objects:

  • Segment Objects which store the actual content. You need to split your content into chunks and then upload each piece as its own segment object.
  • A manifest object then links the segment objects into a single logical object. To download the object, you download the manifest. Object storage then concatenates the segments and returns the contents.

There are tools available, both GUI and CLI, that will handle the segmentation of large objects for you. For all other cases, you must manually split the oversized files and manage the manifest objects yourself.

Using the Swift command line tool

The Swift tool which is included in the python-swiftclient library, for example, is capable of handling oversized files and gives you the choice of using either``static large objects (SLO)`` or``dynamic large objects (DLO)``, which will be explained in more detail later.

Here are two examples of how to upload a large object to an object storage container using the Swift tool. To keep the output brief, a 512MB file is used in the example.

example 1 : DLO

The default mode for the tool is the dynamic large object type, so in this example, the only other parameter that is required is the segment size. The -S flag is used to specify the size of each chunk, in this case 104857600 bytes (100MB).

$ swift upload mycontainer -S 104857600 large_file
large_file segment 5
large_file segment 0
large_file segment 4
large_file segment 3
large_file segment 1
large_file segment 2

example 2 : SLO

In the second example, the same segment size as above is used, but you specify that the object type must now be the static large object type.

$ swift upload mycontainer --use-slo -S 104857600 large_file
large_file segment 5
large_file segment 1
large_file segment 4
large_file segment 0
large_file segment 2
large_file segment 3

Both of these approaches will successfully upload your large file into object storage. The file would be split into 100MB segments which are uploaded in parallel. Once all the segments are uploaded, the manifest file will be created so that the segments can be downloaded as a single object.

The Swift tool uses a strict convention for its segmented object support. All segments that are uploaded are placed into a second container that has _segments appended to the original container name, in this case it would be mycontainer_segments. The segment names follow the format of <name>/<timestamp>/<object_size>/<segment_size>/<segment_name>.

If you check on the segments created in example 1, you can see this:

$ swift list mycontainer_segments

In the above example, it will upload all the segments into a second container named test_container_segments. These segments will have names like large_file/1290206778.25/21474836480/00000000, large_file/1290206778.25/21474836480/00000001, etc.

The main benefit for using a separate container is that the main container listings will not be polluted with all the segment names. The reason for using the segment name format of <name>/<timestamp>/<size>/<segment> is so that an upload of a new file with the same name won’t overwrite the contents of the first until the last moment when the manifest file is updated.

Swift will manage these segment files for you, deleting old segments on deletes and overwrites, etc. You can override this behavior with the –leave-segments option if desired; this is useful if you want to have multiple versions of the same large object available.

Dynamic Large Objects (DLO) vs Static Large Objects (SLO)

The main difference between the two object types is to do with the associated manifest file that describes the overall object structure within Swift.

In both of the examples above, the file would be split into 100MB chunks and uploaded. This can happen concurrently if desired. Once the segments are uploaded, it is then necessary to create a manifest file to describe the object and allow it to be downloaded as a single file. When using Swift, the manifest fles are created for you.

The manifest for the DLO is an empty file and all segments must be stored in the same container, though depending on the object store implementation the segments, as mentioned above, may go into a container with ‘_segments’ appended to the original container name. It also works on the assumption that the container will eventually be consistent.

For SLO the difference is that a user-defined manifest file describing the object segments is required. It also does not rely on eventually consistent container listings to do so. This means that the segments can be held in different container locations. The fact that once all files are can’t then change is the reason why these are referred to as ‘static’ objects.

A more manual approach

While the Swift tool is certainly handy as it handles a lot of the underlying file management tasks required to upload files into object storage, the same can be achieved by more manual means.

Here is an example using standard linux commandline tools such as split and curl to perform a dynamic large object file upload.

The file ‘large_file’ is broken into 100MB chunks which are prefixed with ‘split-‘

$ split --bytes=100M large_file split-

The upload of these segments is then handled by cURL. See using curl for more information on how to do this.

The first cURL command creates a new container. The next two upload the two segments created previously, and finally, a zero byte file is created for the manifest.

curl -i $storageURL/lgfile -X PUT -H “X-Auth-Token: $token"
curl -i $storageURL/lgfile/split_aa -X PUT -H "X-Auth-Token: $token" -T split-aa
curl -i $storageURL/lgfile/split_ab -X PUT -H "X-Auth-Token: $token" -T split-ab
curl -i -X PUT -H "X-Auth-Token: $token" -H "X-Object-Manifest: lgfile/split_" -H "Content-Length: 0"  $storageURL/lgfile/manifest/1gb_sample.txt

A similar approach can also be taken to use the SLO type, but this is a lot more involved. A detailed description of the process can be seen here