STATISTICS — Runtime statistics publication

In GNUnet, the STATISTICS subsystem offers a central place for all subsystems to publish unsigned 64-bit integer run-time statistics. Keeping this information centrally means that there is a unified way for the user to obtain data on all subsystems, and individual subsystems do not have to always include a custom data export method for performance metrics and other statistics. For example, the TRANSPORT system uses STATISTICS to update information about the number of directly connected peers and the bandwidth that has been consumed by the various plugins. This information is valuable for diagnosing connectivity and performance issues.

Following the GNUnet service architecture, the STATISTICS subsystem is divided into an API which is exposed through the header gnunet_statistics_service.h and the STATISTICS service gnunet-service-statistics. The gnunet-statistics command-line tool can be used to obtain (and change) information about the values stored by the STATISTICS service. The STATISTICS service does not communicate with other peers.

Data is stored in the STATISTICS service in the form of tuples (subsystem, name, value, persistence). The subsystem determines to which other GNUnet’s subsystem the data belongs. name is the name through which value is associated. It uniquely identifies the record from among other records belonging to the same subsystem. In some parts of the code, the pair (subsystem, name) is called a statistic as it identifies the values stored in the STATISTCS service.The persistence flag determines if the record has to be preserved across service restarts. A record is said to be persistent if this flag is set for it; if not, the record is treated as a non-persistent record and it is lost after service restart. Persistent records are written to and read from the file before shutdown and upon startup. The file is located in the HOME directory of the peer.

An anomaly of the STATISTICS service is that it does not terminate immediately upon receiving a shutdown signal if it has any clients connected to it. It waits for all the clients that are not monitors to close their connections before terminating itself. This is to prevent the loss of data during peer shutdown — delaying the STATISTICS service shutdown helps other services to store important data to STATISTICS during shutdown.


libgnunetstatistics is the library containing the API for the STATISTICS subsystem. Any process requiring to use STATISTICS should use this API by to open a connection to the STATISTICS service. This is done by calling the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_create(). This function takes the subsystem’s name which is trying to use STATISTICS and a configuration. All values written to STATISTICS with this connection will be placed in the section corresponding to the given subsystem’s name. The connection to STATISTICS can be destroyed with the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_destroy(). This function allows for the connection to be destroyed immediately or upon transferring all pending write requests to the service.

Note: STATISTICS subsystem can be disabled by setting DISABLE = YES under the [STATISTICS] section in the configuration. With such a configuration all calls to GNUNET_STATISTICS_create() return NULL as the STATISTICS subsystem is unavailable and no other functions from the API can be used.

Statistics retrieval

Once a connection to the statistics service is obtained, information about any other system which uses statistics can be retrieved with the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_get(). This function takes the connection handle, the name of the subsystem whose information we are interested in (a NULL value will retrieve information of all available subsystems using STATISTICS), the name of the statistic we are interested in (a NULL value will retrieve all available statistics), a continuation callback which is called when all of requested information is retrieved, an iterator callback which is called for each parameter in the retrieved information and a closure for the aforementioned callbacks. The library then invokes the iterator callback for each value matching the request.

Call to GNUNET_STATISTICS_get() is asynchronous and can be canceled with the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_get_cancel(). This is helpful when retrieving statistics takes too long and especially when we want to shutdown and cleanup everything.

Setting statistics and updating them

So far we have seen how to retrieve statistics, here we will learn how we can set statistics and update them so that other subsystems can retrieve them.

A new statistic can be set using the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_set(). This function takes the name of the statistic and its value and a flag to make the statistic persistent. The value of the statistic should be of the type uint64_t. The function does not take the name of the subsystem; it is determined from the previous GNUNET_STATISTICS_create() invocation. If the given statistic is already present, its value is overwritten.

An existing statistics can be updated, i.e its value can be increased or decreased by an amount with the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_update(). The parameters to this function are similar to GNUNET_STATISTICS_set(), except that it takes the amount to be changed as a type int64_t instead of the value.

The library will combine multiple set or update operations into one message if the client performs requests at a rate that is faster than the available IPC with the STATISTICS service. Thus, the client does not have to worry about sending requests too quickly.


As interesting feature of STATISTICS lies in serving notifications whenever a statistic of our interest is modified. This is achieved by registering a watch through the function GNUNET_STATISTICS_watch(). The parameters of this function are similar to those of GNUNET_STATISTICS_get(). Changes to the respective statistic’s value will then cause the given iterator callback to be called. Note: A watch can only be registered for a specific statistic. Hence the subsystem name and the parameter name cannot be NULL in a call to GNUNET_STATISTICS_watch().

A registered watch will keep notifying any value changes until GNUNET_STATISTICS_watch_cancel() is called with the same parameters that are used for registering the watch.

The STATISTICS Client-Service Protocol

Statistics retrieval

To retrieve statistics, the client transmits a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_GET containing the given subsystem name and statistic parameter to the STATISTICS service. The service responds with a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_VALUE for each of the statistics parameters that match the client request for the client. The end of information retrieved is signaled by the service by sending a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_END.

Setting and updating statistics

The subsystem name, parameter name, its value and the persistence flag are communicated to the service through the message GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_SET.

When the service receives a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_SET, it retrieves the subsystem name and checks for a statistic parameter with matching the name given in the message. If a statistic parameter is found, the value is overwritten by the new value from the message; if not found then a new statistic parameter is created with the given name and value.

In addition to just setting an absolute value, it is possible to perform a relative update by sending a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_SET with an update flag (GNUNET_STATISTICS_SETFLAG_RELATIVE) signifying that the value in the message should be treated as an update value.

Watching for updates

The function registers the watch at the service by sending a message of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_WATCH. The service then sends notifications through messages of type GNUNET_MESSAGE_TYPE_STATISTICS_WATCH_VALUE whenever the statistic parameter’s value is changed.