Installing and configuring Trickster

For a project I’m working on we are using Prometheus and Grafana to monitor the Kubernetes clusters.

Today I found out about Trickster, a reverse proxy cache for Prometheus which can improve the dashboard rendering time in Grafana. This blogpost describes the installation and configuration of Trickster.


I’ve created a Vagrantfile with an installation file, which installs and configures the following components:

  • Prometheus, with a node-exporter to get some operating system metrics
  • Trickster
  • Grafana with some dashboards

For the Vagrantfile to work, you need the following tools installed on your PC or laptop:

As I most of the time work with Red Hat based linux systems, this post uses Ubuntu linux 18.04. The files for this blogpost can be found at my Github page.

Installing Prometheus

Prometheus is not available in the standard package repositories for Ubuntu 18.04, so we have to add the binary file ourselves.

Create the user which is going to run Prometheus:

sudo useradd --no-create-home --shell /bin/false prometheus

Create two directories for prometheus with the correct ownership (always nice to learn new commands):

sudo install --directory --owner=prometheus --group=prometheus /etc/prometheus /var/lib/prometheus

Download the latest version of Prometheus. While writing this blogpost it was 2.6.0. All versions can be found at Github:


Also download the sha256sums.txt file to compare the sha256 checksum with the one that is the textfile:


To compare the checksum of the file with the one that is in the textfile use the grep command. If the checksum is found it will show the output:

grep $(sha256sum prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz) sha256sums.txt

If the following output is shown, the checksum is allright:

sha256sums.txt:8f1f9ca9dbc06e1dc99200e30526ca8343dfe80c2bd950847d22182953261c6c  prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz

Untar the prometheus tarfile:

tar -xvf prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz

This will create a directory, which contains two binary files: - prometheus - promtool

Copy these files to the directory /usr/local/bin and change the ownership:

sudo cp prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64/prometheus /usr/local/bin/
sudo cp prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64/promtool /usr/local/bin/
sudo chown prometheus:prometheus /usr/local/bin/prometheus
sudo chown prometheus:prometheus /usr/local/bin/promtool

Copy the consoles and consoles_libraries directories to /etc/prometheus and change the ownership:

sudo cp -r prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64/consoles /etc/prometheus
sudo cp -r prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64/console_libraries /etc/prometheus
sudo chown -R prometheus:prometheus /etc/prometheus/consoles
sudo chown -R prometheus:prometheus /etc/prometheus/console_libraries

As an example also a configuration file is added, so we copy that file to the /etc/prometheus directory:

sudo cp prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64/prometheus.yml /etc/prometheus
sudo chown prometheus:prometheus /etc/prometheus /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml

Last step is to create a systemd unit file, to make sure Prometheus can be started both manually and at boottime. Create the file /etc/systemd/system/prometheus.service. Use the command sudo vi /etc/systemd/system/prometheus.service to add the following content:


ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/prometheus \
    --config.file /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml \
    --storage.tsdb.path /var/lib/prometheus/ \
    --web.console.templates=/etc/prometheus/consoles \


Reload systemd and start Prometheus:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl start prometheus

Now Prometheus should be running. This can be checked with the sudo systemctl status prometheus command. If it shows the status active (running), Prometheus is started correctly.

Enable the prometheus service to start at boottime:

sudo systemctl enable prometheus

Last step is to remove the downloaded files and extracted directories:

rm -f prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz sha256sums.txt
rm -rf prometheus-2.6.0.linux-amd64

To check if Prometheus is really running, use your web-browser and go to the url http::9090. In case you used the Vagrantfile, this is If everything went well you should see the Prometheus webpage. Currently it will only show some metrics about Prometheus itself so let’s add the node-exporter, which will add some server metrics to Prometheus.

Installing the node_exporter

Installing the node-exporter requires almost the same steps as we did with the installation of Prometheus, so I won’t describe every step, but instead show the commands for the installation:

sudo useradd --no-create-home --shell /bin/false node_exporter
grep $(sha256sum node_exporter-0.17.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz) sha256sums.txt
tar -zxvf node_exporter-0.17.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz
sudo cp node_exporter-0.17.0.linux-amd64/node_exporter /usr/local/bin
sudo chown node_exporter:node_exporter /usr/local/bin/node_exporter
rm -rf node_exporter-0.17.0.linux-amd64.tar.gz node_exporter-0.17.0.linux-amd64
sudo tee /etc/systemd/system/node_exporter.service <<EOF
Description=Node Exporter


sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl start node_exporter
sudo systemctl enable node_exporter

Configuring Prometheus to scrape the metrics from the node_exporter

To be able to collect (Prometheus calls it scraping) the metrics from the node_exporter, we have to add the some extra configuration to the Prometheus configuration file /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml. Don’t forget to use the sudo command when editing this file. Add the following lines:

  - job_name: 'node_exporter'
    scrape_interval: 5s
      - targets: ['localhost:9100']

After this part has been added, restart Prometheus:

sudo systemctl restart prometheus

Now when you visit the Prometheus webpage and select Status and Targets, you should see two endpoints now (node_exporter & prometheus).

Installing and configuring Trickster

We are going to install Trickster the same way as we did install Prometheus and the node_exporter, so again just the commands:

sudo useradd --no-create-home --shell /bin/false trickster
gunzip trickster-0.1.5.linux-amd64.gz
sudo cp trickster-0.1.5.linux-amd64 /usr/local/bin/trickster
sudo chown trickster:trickster /usr/local/bin/trickster
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/trickster
rm -rf trickster-0.1.5.linux-amd64
sudo tee /etc/systemd/system/trickster.service <<EOF
Description=Dashboard Accelerator for Prometheus

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/trickster \
ExecReload=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl start trickster
sudo systemctl enable trickster

The Trickster service will start, but immediately fail, as it will try to use the same network port Prometheus is using. So what we need is a configuration file for Trickster. This file should be located at /etc/trickster/trickster.conf. An example can be found at Github page of Trickster.

Download this file:

wget -O trickster.conf

First lets change the port Trickster is listening on to 19090. Edit the file trickster.conf and change the line:

# listen_port = 9090


listen_port = 19090

We also need to specify the Prometheus source server, which can be done by changing the parameter origin_url. Change the line:

origin_url = 'http://prometheus:9090'


origin_url = 'http://localhost:9090'

Copy the file to the directory /etc/trickster:

sudo install --directory --owner=trickster --group=trickster /etc/trickster
sudo cp trickster.conf /etc/trickster/trickster.conf
sudo chown trickster:trickster /etc/trickster/trickster.conf

Now restart the Trickster service and check the status:

sudo systemctl restart trickster
sudo systemctl status trickster

Installing and configuring Grafana

Although there is a possibility to show graphs in Prometheus, it’s kind of basic. That’s where Grafana comes into play. Grafana is an open-source, general purpose dashboard and graph composer. We are going to install Grafana using the normal way to install packages on Ubuntu. First add the repository to the sources.list file:

sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list <<EOF
deb stretch main

Add the GPG key:

sudo curl | sudo apt-key add -

Install Grafana:

sudo apt-get update -y
sudo apt-get install grafana -y

Make sure Grafana is started and enabled at boottime:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable grafana-server
sudo systemctl start grafana-server

Choosing a data source for Grafana

Now that everything is installed, log on to the Grafana webpage by going to http://:3000, which in my case is Both the username and password for Grafana are admin. Once logged in you can choose your data source by clicking on the Add data source icon.

We are going to add Trickster as our data source, but since it’s actually a reverse proxy cache for Prometheus, select the Prometheus tile as your data source type. The only field that needs to be filled in is the URL field. Here we add the value http://localhost:19090, which is Trickster. If you want, you can change the Name of the data source to for example Trickster.

Click on the Save & Test button and the data source is added.

Adding dashboards to Grafana

Now that we are scraping node metrics, it would be nice to have a dashboard that can show the metrics. On the Grafana website a lot of user created dashboards can be found. Search at Search in the search box for the Node Exporter Full dashboard. The number of this dashboard is 1860.

On the left side of your Grafana page, click on the 4 squares and on the home button. Click on the word Home and on Import dashboard. Fill in the id (1860) and click on Load.

In the next screen select the data source and click on Import. Now you should be able to see some graphs about the server.

Performance testing Grafana with and without Trickster

As we don’t have much data in Prometheus yet, it’s a bit difficult to measure the performance of Grafana. The good thing is that Trickster also has some metrics, so we could scrape those as well with Prometheus and see if the cache is being used.

Add the following lines to the file /etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml. Don’t forget to use the sudo command when editing this file:

  - job_name: 'trickster'
    scrape_interval: 5s
      - targets: ['localhost:8082']

Restart Prometheus:

sudo systemctl restart prometheus

There is also a Trickster dashboard available (5756) which can be imported in Grafana. This dashboard requires the grafana-piechart-panel. Plugins can be installed with the grafana-cli:

sudo grafana-cli plugins install grafana-piechart-panel

After a plugin is installed, a restart of Grafana is required:

sudo systemctl restart grafana-server

Now in Grafana add the Trickster dashboard (5756). The following fields need to be filled in:

option value
Prometheus Select the name of your data source
trickster_label_name job
trickster_label_value trickster
prometheus_label_name job
prometheus_label_value prometheus

After these values are filled in, click on the import button.

In my case I had a cache hit rate of around 90%, which seems fair, but the main question remains, if it still speeds up the loading of the dashboards.