Telegraf Plugin Spotlight: Exec & Execd

This is a copy of a blog post I wrote originally posted on

Telegraf comes included with over 200+ input plugins that collect metrics and events from a comprehensive list of sources. While these plugins cover a large number of use cases, Telegraf provides another mechanism to give users the power to meet nearly any use case: the Exec and Execd input plugins. These plugins allow users to collect metrics and events from custom commands and sources determined by the user.

telegraf exec and execd

The Exec Plugin

The exec input plugin allows users to run arbitrary commands to collect data and metrics at each collection interval. The plugin requires that each command returns output data in any accepted Input Data Formats.

For example, consider some of these possible use cases:

  • Interacting with proprietary or in-development systems
  • Collecting custom output from a highly unique use case
  • Executing a program directly to generate and collect data

The plugin’s configuration is straightforward in requiring a list of commands to run and the data format of the output:

  data_format = "json"
  commands = [
    "/usr/bin/cmd --json --option=value"

Note that the commands are all run in parallel at every collection interval, and each entry in the command array must produce valid output. The commands must exist in the PATH of the user running the telegraf process. Finally, if the user needs to do any setup or configuration, that should all occur in the command the user specifies.

Users can use multiple exec stanzas and the name_suffix option to differentiate them. For example, the suffix value of “_example” is appended to the metric name, changing “exec” to “exec_example”.

  name_suffix = "_script1"
  data_format = "influx"
  commands = ["/usr/bin/ --json --option=value"]

  name_suffix = "_script2"
  data_format = "json"
  commands = ["/usr/bin/ --json --option=value"]

The Execd Plugin

The execd input plugin allows users to run an external command as a long-running daemon. The plugin will process data as it comes in or will send a signal to receive data. The plugin also requires that each command returns output data in any accepted Input Data Formats.

execd is excellent for taking in streaming, event-based data. The specified execd command is run once instead of constantly executing the command at every collection interval like exec. Once running, Telegraf expects the command to pass data to STDOUT.

Below is an example configuration:

  command = ["/usr/bin/"]
  data_format = "json"

Execd gathering

The optional signal setting can instruct Telegraf to pass a newline on STDIN, or some other signal, to the process to gather new data. The signal setting is helpful in scenarios where the user wants to have Telegraf notify the command that it is time to run the collection.

For example, the following Go code will listen for a newline on STDIN, and when it is received, print the counter:

package main

import (

func main() {
    counter := 0
    reader := bufio.NewReader(os.Stdin)

    for {

        fmt.Printf("go_example count=%d\n", counter)

A user could modify this code to run a command to gather specific data instead of a simple print.

Get started with Exec and Execd plugins

With the exec and execd plugins, users can collect data and metrics from nearly any source. These plugins give users an immense amount of flexibility and freedom to start collecting data. Combined with a free InfluxDB Cloud account, download Telegraf, check out the complete list of input plugins, and start using Telegraf to collect metrics!