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Varnish Configuration Language.

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NAME

VCL - Varnish Configuration Language

DESCRIPTION

The VCL language is a small domain-specific language designed to be used to describe request handling and document caching policies for Varnish Cache. When a new configuration is loaded, the varnishd management process translates the VCL code to C and compiles it to a shared object which is then loaded into the server process. This document focuses on the syntax of the VCL language. For a full description of syntax and semantics, with ample examples, please see the online documentation at https://www.varnish-cache.org/docs/ . Starting with Varnish 4.0, each VCL file must start by declaring its version with vcl <major>.<minor>; marker at the top of the file. See more about this under Versioning below. Operators The following operators are available in VCL: = Assignment operator. == Comparison. ~ Match. Can either be used with regular expressions or ACLs. ! Negation. && Logical and. || Logical or. Conditionals VCL has if and else statements. Nested logic can be implemented with the elseif statement (elsif/elif/else if are equivalent). Note that there are no loops or iterators of any kind in VCL. Strings, booleans, time, duration, integers and real numbers These are the data types in Varnish. You can set or unset these. Example: set req.http.User-Agent = "unknown"; unset req.http.Range; Strings Basic strings are enclosed in double quotes "...", and may not contain newlines. Long strings are enclosed in {"..."}. They may contain any character including single double quotes ", newline and other control characters except for the NUL (0x00) character. Booleans Booleans can be either true or false. In addition, in a boolean context some data types will evaluate to true or false depending on their value. String types will evaluate to false if they are empty; backend types will evalute to false if they don't have a backend assigned; integer types will evaluate to false if their value is zero; duration types will evaluate to false if their value is equal or less than zero. Time VCL has time. A duration can be added to a time to make another time. In string context they return a formatted string in RFC1123 format, e.g. Sun, 06 Nov 1994 08:49:37 GMT. The keyword now returns a time representing the current time in seconds since the Epoch. Durations Durations are defined by a number followed by a unit. The number can include a fractional part, e.g. 1.5s. The supported units are: ms milliseconds s seconds m minutes h hours d days w weeks y years Integers Certain fields are integers, used as expected. In string context they return a string. Real numbers VCL understands real numbers. As with integers, when used in a string context they will return a string. Regular Expressions Varnish uses Perl-compatible regular expressions (PCRE). For a complete description please see the pcre(3) man page. To send flags to the PCRE engine, such as to do case insensitive matching, add the flag within parens following a question mark, like this: # If host is NOT example dot com.. if (req.http.host !~ "(?i)example\.com$") { ... } Include statement To include a VCL file in another file use the include keyword: include "foo.vcl"; Import statement The import statement is used to load Varnish Modules (VMODs.) Example: import std; sub vcl_recv { std.log("foo"); } Comments Single lines of VCL can be commented out using // or #. Multi-line blocks can be commented out with /*block*/. Example: sub vcl_recv { // Single line of out-commented VCL. # Another way of commenting out a single line. /* Multi-line block of commented-out VCL. */ } Backend definition A backend declaration creates and initialises a named backend object. A declaration start with the keyword backend followed by the name of the backend. The actual declaration is in curly brackets, in a key/value fashion.: backend name { .attribute = "value"; } The only mandatory attribute is .host. The attributes will inherit their defaults from the global parameters. The following attributes are available: .host (mandatory) The host to be used. IP address or a hostname that resolves to a single IP address. .port The port on the backend that Varnish should connect to. .host_header A host header to add to probes and regular backend requests if they have no such header. .connect_timeout Timeout for connections. .first_byte_timeout Timeout for first byte. .between_bytes_timeout Timeout between bytes. .probe Attach a probe to the backend. See Probes .proxy_header The PROXY protocol version Varnish should use when connecting to this backend. Allowed values are 1 and 2. .max_connections Maximum number of open connections towards this backend. If Varnish reaches the maximum Varnish it will start failing connections. Backends can be used with directors. Please see the vmod_directors(3) man page for more information. Probes Probes will query the backend for status on a regular basis and mark the backend as down it they fail. A probe is defined as this: probe name { .attribute = "value"; } The probe named default is special and will be used for all backends which do not explic‐ itly reference a probe. There are no mandatory options. These are the options you can set: .url The URL to query. Defaults to /. .request Specify a full HTTP request using multiple strings. .request will have \r\n automatically inserted after every string. If specified, .request will take precedence over .url. .expected_response The expected HTTP response code. Defaults to 200. .timeout The timeout for the probe. Default is 2s. .interval How often the probe is run. Default is 5s. .initial How many of the polls in .window are considered good when Varnish starts. Defaults to the value of .threshold - 1. In this case, the backend starts as sick and requires one single poll to be considered healthy. .window How many of the latest polls we examine to determine backend health. Defaults to 8. .threshold How many of the polls in .window must have succeeded for us to consider the backend healthy. Defaults to 3. Access Control List (ACL) An Access Control List (ACL) declaration creates and initialises a named access control list which can later be used to match client addresses: acl localnetwork { "localhost"; # myself "192.0.2.0"/24; # and everyone on the local network ! "192.0.2.23"; # except for the dial-in router } If an ACL entry specifies a host name which Varnish is unable to resolve, it will match any address it is compared to. Consequently, if it is preceded by a negation mark, it will reject any address it is compared to, which may not be what you intended. If the entry is enclosed in parentheses, however, it will simply be ignored. To match an IP address against an ACL, simply use the match operator: if (client.ip ~ localnetwork) { return (pipe); } VCL objects A VCL object can be instantiated with the new keyword: sub vcl_init { new b = directors.round_robin() b.add_backend(node1); } This is only available in vcl_init. Subroutines A subroutine is used to group code for legibility or reusability: sub pipe_if_local { if (client.ip ~ localnetwork) { return (pipe); } } Subroutines in VCL do not take arguments, nor do they return values. The built in subrou‐ tines all have names beginning with vcl_, which is reserved. To call a subroutine, use the call keyword followed by the subroutine's name: sub vcl_recv { call pipe_if_local; } Return statements The ongoing vcl_* subroutine execution ends when a return(<action>) statement is made. The <action> specifies how execution should proceed. The context defines which actions are available. Multiple subroutines If multiple subroutines with the name of one of the built-in ones are defined, they are concatenated in the order in which they appear in the source. The built-in VCL distributed with Varnish will be implicitly concatenated when the VCL is compiled. Variables In VCL you have access to certain variable objects. These contain requests and responses currently being worked on. What variables are available depends on context. bereq bereq Type: HTTP Readable from: backend The entire backend request HTTP data structure bereq.backend Type: BACKEND Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend This is the backend or director we attempt to fetch from. When set to a director, reading this variable returns an actual backend if the director has resolved immedi‐ ately, or the director otherwise. When used in string context, returns the name of the director or backend, respectively. bereq.between_bytes_timeout Type: DURATION Readable from: backend Writable from: backend The time in seconds to wait between each received byte from the backend. Not available in pipe mode. bereq.body Type: BODY Writable from: vcl_backend_fetch The request body. bereq.connect_timeout Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend The time in seconds to wait for a backend connection. bereq.first_byte_timeout Type: DURATION Readable from: backend Writable from: backend The time in seconds to wait for the first byte from the backend. Not available in pipe mode. bereq.hash Type: BLOB Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend The hash key of this request. bereq.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend The corresponding HTTP header. bereq.is_bgfetch Type: BOOL Readable from: backend True for background fetches. bereq.method Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend The request type (e.g. "GET", "HEAD"). bereq.proto Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend The HTTP protocol version used to talk to the server. bereq.retries Type: INT Readable from: backend A count of how many times this request has been retried. bereq.uncacheable Type: BOOL Readable from: backend Indicates whether this request is uncacheable due to a pass in the client side or a hit on an hit-for-pass object. bereq.url Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_pipe, backend Writable from: vcl_pipe, backend The requested URL. bereq.xid Type: STRING Readable from: backend Unique ID of this request. beresp beresp Type: HTTP Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The entire backend response HTTP data structure beresp.age Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The age of the object. beresp.backend Type: BACKEND Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error This is the backend we fetched from. If bereq.backend was set to a director, this will be the backend selected by the director. When used in string context, returns its name. beresp.backend.ip Type: IP Readable from: vcl_backend_response IP of the backend this response was fetched from. beresp.backend.name Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Name of the backend this response was fetched from. Same as beresp.backend. beresp.body Type: BODY Writable from: vcl_backend_error The response body. beresp.do_esi Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Boolean. ESI-process the object after fetching it. Defaults to false. Set it to true to parse the object for ESI directives. Will only be honored if req.esi is true. beresp.do_gunzip Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Boolean. Unzip the object before storing it in the cache. Defaults to false. beresp.do_gzip Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Boolean. Gzip the object before storing it. Defaults to false. When http_gzip_support is on Varnish will request already compressed content from the backend and as such com‐ pression in Varnish is not needed. beresp.do_stream Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Deliver the object to the client while fetching the whole object into varnish. For uncacheable objects, storage for parts of the body which have been sent to the client may get freed early, depending on the storage engine used. beresp.grace Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Set to a period to enable grace. beresp.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The corresponding HTTP header. beresp.keep Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Set to a period to enable conditional backend requests. The keep time is cache lifetime in addition to the ttl. Objects with ttl expired but with keep time left may be used to issue conditional (If-Modified-Since / If-None-Match) requests to the backend to refresh them. beresp.proto Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The HTTP protocol version used the backend replied with. beresp.reason Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The HTTP status message returned by the server. beresp.status Type: INT Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The HTTP status code returned by the server. Status codes >1000 can be set for vcl-internal purposes and will be taken modulo 1000 on delivery. beresp.storage Type: STEVEDORE Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The storage backend to use to save this object. beresp.storage_hint Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Deprecated. Hint to Varnish that you want to save this object to a particular storage backend. Use beresp.storage instead. beresp.ttl Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error The object's remaining time to live, in seconds. beresp.uncacheable Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Writable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Inherited from bereq.uncacheable, see there. Setting this variable makes the object uncacheable, which may get stored as a hit-for-miss object in the cache. Clearing the variable has no effect and will log the warning "Ignoring attempt to reset beresp.uncacheable". beresp.was_304 Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_backend_response, vcl_backend_error Boolean. If this is a successful 304 response to a backend conditional request refresh‐ ing an existing cache object. client client.identity Type: STRING Readable from: client Writable from: client Identification of the client, used to load balance in the client director. Defaults to the client's IP address. client.ip Type: IP Readable from: client, backend The client's IP address. local local.ip Type: IP Readable from: client, backend The IP address of the local end of the TCP connection. now now Type: TIME Readable from: all The current time, in seconds since the epoch. When used in string context it returns a formatted string. obj obj.age Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_deliver The age of the object. obj.grace Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_deliver The object's remaining grace period in seconds. obj.hits Type: INT Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_deliver The count of cache-hits on this object. A value of 0 indicates a cache miss. obj.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: vcl_hit The corresponding HTTP header. obj.keep Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_deliver The object's remaining keep period in seconds. obj.proto Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_hit The HTTP protocol version stored with the object. obj.reason Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_hit The HTTP reason phrase stored with the object. obj.status Type: INT Readable from: vcl_hit The HTTP status code stored with the object. obj.ttl Type: DURATION Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_deliver The object's remaining time to live, in seconds. obj.uncacheable Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_deliver Whether the object is uncacheable (pass, hit-for-pass or hit-for-miss). remote remote.ip Type: IP Readable from: client, backend The IP address of the other end of the TCP connection. This can either be the clients IP, or the outgoing IP of a proxy server. req req Type: HTTP Readable from: client The entire request HTTP data structure req.backend_hint Type: BACKEND Readable from: client Writable from: client Set bereq.backend to this if we attempt to fetch. When set to a director, reading this variable returns an actual backend if the director has resolved immediately, or the director otherwise. When used in string context, returns the name of the director or backend, respectively. Note: backend_hint gets reset to the default backend by restarts! req.can_gzip Type: BOOL Readable from: client Does the client accept the gzip transfer encoding. req.esi Type: BOOL Readable from: client Writable from: client Boolean. Set to false to disable ESI processing regardless of any value in beresp.do_esi. Defaults to true. This variable is subject to change in future versions, you should avoid using it. req.esi_level Type: INT Readable from: client A count of how many levels of ESI requests we're currently at. req.hash Type: BLOB Readable from: vcl_hit, vcl_miss, vcl_pass, vcl_purge, vcl_deliver The hash key of this request. req.hash_always_miss Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_recv Writable from: vcl_recv Force a cache miss for this request. If set to true Varnish will disregard any existing objects and always (re)fetch from the backend. req.hash_ignore_busy Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_recv Writable from: vcl_recv Ignore any busy object during cache lookup. You would want to do this if you have two server looking up content from each other to avoid potential deadlocks. req.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: client Writable from: client The corresponding HTTP header. req.method Type: STRING Readable from: client Writable from: client The request type (e.g. "GET", "HEAD"). req.proto Type: STRING Readable from: client Writable from: client The HTTP protocol version used by the client. req.restarts Type: INT Readable from: client A count of how many times this request has been restarted. req.storage Type: STEVEDORE Readable from: vcl_recv Writable from: vcl_recv The storage backend to use to save this request body. req.ttl Type: DURATION Readable from: client Writable from: client Upper limit on the object age for cache lookups to return hit. Usage of req.ttl should be replaced with a check on obj.ttl in vcl_hit, returning miss when needed, but this currently hits bug #1799, so an additional workaround is required. Deprecated and scheduled for removal with varnish release 7. req.url Type: STRING Readable from: client Writable from: client The requested URL. req.xid Type: STRING Readable from: client Unique ID of this request. req_top req_top.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: client HTTP headers of the top-level request in a tree of ESI requests. Identical to req.http. in non-ESI requests. req_top.method Type: STRING Readable from: client The request method of the top-level request in a tree of ESI requests. (e.g. "GET", "HEAD"). Identical to req.method in non-ESI requests. req_top.proto Type: STRING Readable from: client HTTP protocol version of the top-level request in a tree of ESI requests. Identical to req.proto in non-ESI requests. req_top.url Type: STRING Readable from: client The requested URL of the top-level request in a tree of ESI requests. Identical to req.url in non-ESI requests. resp resp Type: HTTP Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth The entire response HTTP data structure. resp.body Type: BODY Writable from: vcl_synth The response body. resp.http. Type: HEADER Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth Writable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth The corresponding HTTP header. resp.is_streaming Type: BOOL Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth Returns true when the response will be streamed from the backend. resp.proto Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth Writable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth The HTTP protocol version to use for the response. resp.reason Type: STRING Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth Writable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth The HTTP status message that will be returned. resp.status Type: INT Readable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth Writable from: vcl_deliver, vcl_synth The HTTP status code that will be returned. Assigning a HTTP standardized code to resp.status will also set resp.reason to the cor‐ responding status message. resp.status 200 will get changed into 304 by core code after a return(deliver) from vcl_deliver for conditional requests to cached content if validation succeeds. server server.hostname Type: STRING Readable from: all The host name of the server. server.identity Type: STRING Readable from: all The identity of the server, as set by the -i parameter. If the -i parameter is not passed to varnishd, server.identity will be set to the hostname of the machine. server.ip Type: IP Readable from: client, backend The IP address of the socket on which the client connection was received. storage storage.<name>.free_space Type: BYTES Readable from: client, backend Free space available in the named stevedore. Only available for the malloc stevedore. storage.<name>.used_space Type: BYTES Readable from: client, backend Used space in the named stevedore. Only available for the malloc stevedore. storage.<name>.happy Type: BOOL Readable from: client, backend Health status for the named stevedore. Not available in any of the current stevedores. Functions The following built-in functions are available: ban(STRING) Invalidates all objects in cache that match the given expression with the ban mecha‐ nism. The format of STRING is: <field> <operator> <arg> [&& <field> <oper> <arg> ...] · <field>: · req.url: The request url · req.http.*: Any request header · obj.status: The cache object status · obj.http.*: Any cache object header · <operator>: · ==: <field> and <arg> are equal strings (case sensitive) · !=: <field> and <arg> are unequal strings (case sensitive) · ~: <field> matches the regular expression <arg> · !~:<field> does not match the regular expression <arg> · <arg>: Either a literal string or a regular expression. Note that <arg> does not use any of the string delimiters like " or {"..."} used elsewhere in varnish. To match against strings containing whitespace, regular expressions containing \s can be used. Expressions can be chained using the and operator &&. For or semantics, use several bans. The unset <field> is not equal to any string, such that, for a non-existing header, the operators == and ~ always evaluate as false, while the operators != and !~ always eval‐ uate as true, respectively, for any value of <arg>. hash_data(input) Adds an input to the hash input. In the built-in VCL hash_data() is called on the host and URL of the request. Available in vcl_hash. synthetic(STRING) Prepare a synthetic response body containing the STRING. Available in vcl_synth and vcl_backend_error. regsub(str, regex, sub) Returns a copy of str with the first occurrence of the regular expression regex replaced with sub. Within sub, \0 (which can also be spelled \&) is replaced with the entire matched string, and \n is replaced with the contents of subgroup n in the matched string. regsuball(str, regex, sub) As regsub(), but this replaces all occurrences. For converting or casting VCL values between data types use the functions available in the std VMOD.

VERSIONING

Multiple versions of the VCL syntax can coexist within certain constraints. The VCL syntax version at the start of VCL file specified with -f sets the hard limit that cannot be exceeded anywhere, and it selects the appropriate version of the builtin VCL. That means that you can never include vcl 9.1; from vcl 8.7;, but the opposite may be pos‐ sible, to the extent the compiler supports it. Files pulled in via include do not need to have a vcl X.Y; but it may be a good idea to do it anyway, to not have surprises in the future. The syntax version set in an included file only applies to that file and any files it includes - unless these set their own VCL syntax version. The version of Varnish this file belongs to supports syntax 4.0 only.

EXAMPLES

For examples, please see the online documentation.

SEE ALSO

· varnishd(1) · vmod_directors(3) · vmod_std(3)

HISTORY

VCL was developed by Poul-Henning Kamp in cooperation with Verdens Gang AS, Redpill Linpro and Varnish Software. This manual page is written by Per Buer, Poul-Henning Kamp, Martin Blix Grydeland, Kristian Lyngstøl, Lasse Karstensen and possibly others.
This document is licensed under the same license as Varnish itself. See LICENSE for details. · Copyright (c) 2006 Verdens Gang AS · Copyright (c) 2006-2015 Varnish Software AS
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