VOLTTRON Distributed Control System Platform
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VOLTTRON is an open source platform for distributed sensing and control. The platform provides services for collecting and storing data from buildings and devices and provides an environment for developing applications which interact with that data.

Upgrading to VOLTTRON 8.x

VOLTTRON 8 introduces four changes that require an explict upgrade step when upgrading from an earlier VOLTTRON version

1. Dynamic RPC authorization feature - This requires a modification to the auth file. If you have a pre-existing
   instance of VOLTTRON running on an older version, the auth file will need to be updated.
2. Historian agents now store the cache database (backup.sqlite file) in
   <volttron home>/agents/<agent uuid>/<agentname-version>/<agentname-version>.agent-data directory instead of
   <volttron home>/agents/<agent uuid>/<agentname-version> directory. In future all core agents will write data only
   to the <agentname-version>.agent-data subdirectory. This is because vctl install --force backs up and restores
   only the contents of this directory.
3. SQLHistorians (historian version 4.0.0 and above) now use a new database schema where metadata is stored in
   topics table instead of separate metadata table. SQLHistorians with version >= 4.0.0 can work with existing
   database with older schema however the historian agent code should be upgraded to newer version (>=4.0.0) to run
   with VOLTTRON 8 core.
4. VOLTTRON feature to run individual agents as unique Unix users is now named "agent-isolation-mode" and is 
   consistently referred to using this name in code, configuration, and documentation. Before VOLTTRON 8.2 this 
   configuration parameter was called "secure-agent-users" and related documentation referred to this mode as 
   "secure mode".  

To upgrade:

1. If upgrading historian, make sure historians are not in auto start mode. To remove any historian from auto start
   mode use the command 'vctl disable <uuid of historian that is currently enabled>. This is necessary so that the old
   sqlhistorian does not automatically start after step 5. 
2. Update volttron source code version to VOLTTRON 8
3. activate the volttron environment, and run ```python bootstrap.py --force```. If you have 
   any additional bootstrap options that you need (rabbitmq, web, drivers, etc.) include these in the above command.
4. Run ```volttron-upgrade``` to update the auth file, move historian cache files into agent-data directory, and 
   rename the config parameter "secure-agent-users" in VOLTTRON_HOME/config to "agent-isolation-mode"
   **Note** that the upgrade script will only move the backup.sqlite file and will not move sqlite historian's db  
   file if they are within the install directory. If using a SQLite historian, please backup the database file of 
   sqlite historian before upgrading to the latest historian version.
6. Run ```vctl install --force --vip-identity <vip id of existing historian> --agent-config <config>``` to upgrade 
   to the  latest historian version. vctl install --force will backup the cache in <agent-version>.agent-data 
   folder, installs the latest version of the historian and restore the contents of 
   <agent-version>.agent-data folder.

Upgrading aggregate historians

VOLTTRON 8 also comes with updated SQL aggregate historian schema. However, there is no automated upgrade path for aggregate historian. To upgrade an existing aggregate historian please refer to the CHANGELOG.md within SQLAggregateHistorian source directory



VOLTTRON is written in Python 3.6+ and runs on Linux Operating Systems. For users unfamiliar with those technologies, the following resources are recommended:

1. Install prerequisites

Requirements Reference

From version 7.0, VOLTTRON requires python 3 with a minimum version of 3.6; it is tested only systems supporting that as a native package. On Debian-based systems (Ubuntu bionic, debian buster, raspbian buster), these can all be installed with the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential libffi-dev python3-dev python3-venv openssl libssl-dev libevent-dev git

(Note: libffi-dev seems to only be required on arm-based systems.)

On Redhat or CENTOS systems, these can all be installed with the following command:

sudo yum update
sudo yum install make automake gcc gcc-c++ kernel-devel python3.6-devel pythone3.6-venv openssl openssl-devel libevent-devel git

2. Clone VOLTTRON code

From version 6.0, VOLTTRON supports two message buses - ZMQ and RabbitMQ.

git clone https://github.com/VOLTTRON/volttron --branch <branch name>

3. Setup virtual environment

Steps for ZMQ

Run the following command to install all required packages

cd <volttron clone directory>
python3 bootstrap.py
source env/bin/activate

Proceed to step 4.

You can deactivate the environment at any time by running deactivate.

Steps for RabbitMQ

1. Install Erlang version 24 packages

For RabbitMQ based VOLTTRON, some RabbitMQ specific software packages must be installed.

On Debian based systems and CentOS 6/7

If you are running an Debian or CentOS system, you can install the RabbitMQ dependencies by running the rabbit dependencies script, passing in the OS name and appropriate distribution as parameters. The following are supported:

  • debian focal (for Ubuntu 20.04)

  • debian bionic (for Ubuntu 18.04)

  • debian stretch (for Debian Stretch)

  • debian buster (for Debian Buster)

  • raspbian buster (for Raspbian/Raspberry Pi OS buster)

Example command:

./scripts/rabbit_dependencies.sh debian xenial

You can download and install Erlang from Erlang Solutions. Please include OTP/components - ssl, public_key, asn1, and crypto. Also lock your version of Erlang using the yum-plugin-versionlock

2. Configure hostname

Make sure that your hostname is correctly configured in /etc/hosts (See this StackOverflow Post). If you are testing with VMs make please make sure to provide unique host names for each of the VM you are using.

The hostname should be resolvable to a valid IP when running on bridged mode. RabbitMQ checks for this during initial boot. Without this (for example, when running on a VM in NAT mode) RabbitMQ start would fail with the error "unable to connect to empd (port 4369) on ." Note: RabbitMQ startup error would show up in syslog (/var/log/messages) file and not in RabbitMQ logs (/var/log/rabbitmq/[email protected])

3. Bootstrap
cd volttron
python3 bootstrap.py --rabbitmq [optional install directory. defaults to

This will build the platform and create a virtual Python environment and dependencies for RabbitMQ. It also installs RabbitMQ server as the current user. If an install path is provided, that path should exist and the user should have write permissions. RabbitMQ will be installed under <install dir>/rabbitmq_server-<rmq-version>. The rest of the documentation refers to the directory <install dir>/rabbitmq_server-<rmq-version> as $RABBITMQ_HOME

You can check if the RabbitMQ server is installed by checking its status. Please note, the RABBITMQ_HOME environment variable can be set in ~/.bashrc. If doing so, it needs to be set to the RabbitMQ installation directory (default path is <user_home>/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-<rmq-version>)

echo 'export RABBITMQ_HOME=$HOME/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7'|sudo tee --append ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

$RABBITMQ_HOME/sbin/rabbitmqctl status
4. Activate the environment
source env/bin/activate

You can deactivate the environment at any time by running deactivate.

5. Create RabbitMQ setup for VOLTTRON:
vcfg rabbitmq single [--config optional path to rabbitmq_config.yml]

Refer to examples/configurations/rabbitmq/rabbitmq_config.yml for a sample configuration file. At a minimum you will need to provide the hostname and a unique common-name (under certificate-data) in the configuration file. Note: common-name must be unique. The general convention is to use <voltttron instance name>-root-ca.

Running the above command without the optional configuration file parameter will cause the user to be prompted for all the required data in the command prompt. vcfg will use that data to generate a rabbitmq_config.yml file in the VOLTTRON_HOME directory.

If the above configuration file is being used as a basis, be sure to update it with the hostname of the deployment (this should be the fully qualified domain name of the system).

This script creates a new virtual host and creates SSL certificates needed for this VOLTTRON instance. These certificates get created under the subdirectory "certificates" in your VOLTTRON home (typically in ~/.volttron). It then creates the main VIP exchange named "volttron" to route message between the platform and agents and alternate exchange to capture unrouteable messages.

NOTE: We configure the RabbitMQ instance for a single volttron_home and volttron_instance. This script will confirm with the user the volttron_home to be configured. The VOLTTRON instance name will be read from volttron_home/config if available, if not the user will be prompted for VOLTTRON instance name. To run the scripts without any prompts, save the VOLTTRON instance name in volttron_home/config file and pass the VOLTTRON home directory as a command line argument. For example: vcfg --vhome /home/vdev/.new_vhome rabbitmq single

The Following are the example inputs for vcfg rabbitmq single command. Since no config file is passed the script prompts for necessary details.

Your VOLTTRON_HOME currently set to: /home/vdev/new_vhome2

Is this the volttron you are attempting to setup?  [Y]:
Creating rmq config yml
RabbitMQ server home: [/home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7]:
Fully qualified domain name of the system: [cs_cbox.pnl.gov]:

Enable SSL Authentication: [Y]:

Please enter the following details for root CA certificates
Country: [US]:
State: Washington
Location: Richland
Organization: PNNL
Organization Unit: Volttron-Team
Common Name: [volttron1-root-ca]:
Do you want to use default values for RabbitMQ home, ports, and virtual host: [Y]: N
Name of the virtual host under which RabbitMQ VOLTTRON will be running: [volttron]:
AMQP port for RabbitMQ: [5672]:
http port for the RabbitMQ management plugin: [15672]:
AMQPS (SSL) port RabbitMQ address: [5671]:
https port for the RabbitMQ management plugin: [15671]:
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:Starting rabbitmq server
Warning: PID file not written; -detached was passed.
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Started rmq server at /home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
Checking for CA certificate

Root CA (/home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt) NOT Found. Creating root ca for volttron instance
Created CA cert
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Stopped rmq server
Warning: PID file not written; -detached was passed.
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Started rmq server at /home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7


Setup complete for volttron home /home/vdev/new_vhome2 with instance name=volttron1

-   Please set environment variable `VOLTTRON_HOME` to `/home/vdev/new_vhome2` before starting volttron

-   On production environments, restrict write access to
    /home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt to only admin user. For example: sudo chown root /home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt

-   A new admin user was created with user name: volttron1-admin and password=default_passwd.
    You could change this user's password by logging into <https://cs_cbox.pnl.gov:15671/> Please update /home/vdev/new_vhome2/rabbitmq_config.yml if you change password


4. Test

We are now ready to start the VOLTTRON instance. If configured with a RabbitMQ message bus a config file would have been generated in $VOLTTRON\_HOME/config with the entry message-bus=rmq. If you need to revert to ZeroMQ based VOLTTRON, you will have to either remove "message-bus" parameter or set it to default "zmq" in $VOLTTRON\_HOME/config and restart the volttron process. The following command starts the VOLTTRON process in the background:

volttron -vv -l volttron.log &

This command causes the shell to enter the virtual Python environment and then starts the platform in debug (vv) mode with a log file named volttron.log.

Next, start an example listener to see it publish and subscribe to the message bus:

vctl install examples/ListenerAgent

This script handles several commands for installing and starting an agent after removing an old copy. This simple agent publishes a heartbeat message and listens to everything on the message bus. Look at the VOLTTRON log to see the activity:

tail volttron.log

Listener agent heartbeat publishes appear in the logs as:

2020-04-20 18:49:31,395 (listeneragent-3.3 13458) __main__ INFO: Peer: pubsub, Sender: listeneragent-3.2_1:, Bus: , Topic: heartbeat/listeneragent-3.2_1, Headers: {'TimeStamp': '2020-04-20T18:49:31.393651+00:00', 'min_compatible_version': '3.0', 'max_compatible_version': ''}, Message:
2020-04-20 18:49:36,394 (listeneragent-3.3 13458) __main__ INFO: Peer: pubsub, Sender: listeneragent-3.2_1:, Bus: , Topic: heartbeat/listeneragent-3.2_1, Headers: {'TimeStamp': '2020-04-20T18:49:36.392294+00:00', 'min_compatible_version': '3.0', 'max_compatible_version': ''}, Message:

To top the platform run the following command:


Next Steps

There are several walkthroughs to explore additional aspects of the platform:

Acquiring Third Party Agent Code

Third party agents are available under the volttron-applications repository. In order to use those agents, clone the volttron-applications repository into the same directory as the VOLTTRON source code:

cd <parent directory of volttron>
git clone https://github.com/VOLTTRON/volttron-applications.git develop


How to contribute back:


There are several options for VOLTTRONTM support.

  • A VOLTTRONTM office hours telecon takes place every other Friday at 11am Pacific over Zoom.
  • A mailing list for announcements and reminders
  • The VOLTTRONTM contact email for being added to office hours, the mailing list, and for inquiries is: [email protected]
  • The preferred method for questions is through StackOverflow since this is easily discoverable by others who may have the same issue.
  • GitHub issue tracker for feature requests, bug reports, and following development activities
  • VOLTTRON now has a Slack channel


The project is licensed under Apache 2.

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