If you want to start learning Prometheus, the popular monitoring tool, you can create a very basic but fully functional Prometheus server using Docker containers.

Table of Contents

Documentation

You can go to https://prometheus.io/docs/introduction/overview/ to learn about Prometheus, their architecture and how to install and use it. This tutorial is based on that documentation and https://hub.docker.com/u/prom.

Docker / Podman

I am going to use Podman as the container manager but you use Docker just by replacing podman with docker in the following commands.

Container structure

We are going to use two containers: one for Prometheus itself and another for the “Node exporter” to monitor system resources. Containers will be inside a container network.

Create a container network

We are going to create a network for the Prometheus container and node exporter container:

podman network create prometheus

Create a Prometheus configuration file

Create a file called prometheus.yml (place it in a separate folder because we are going to mount that folder into the container later). Edit the file to add this:

global:
  scrape_interval:     15s
  evaluation_interval: 15s

rule_files:
  # - "first.rules"
  # - "second.rules"

scrape_configs:
  - job_name: prometheus
    static_configs:
      - targets: ['localhost:9090']

We are defining one simple target that just monitor Prometheus itself. We will edit this file again later to add a second target.

Create Prometheus server container

To be able to access Prometheus GUI, we need to “publish” port 9090. We also mount the folder in which the configuration file is located. Run:

podman run -d --network=prometheus -p 9090:9090 --name promserver -v <path/to/config>:/etc/prometheus docker.io/prom/prometheus
  • You can name the container whatever you want.
  • Replace <path/to/config> with the full path to the folder, e.g.: /home/user/prometheus-folder.
  • If you use docker, remove docker.io/ from the image name.

Create Node exporter container

The Node exporter allows to monitor system resources, like CPU usage.

podman run -d --network=prometheus --name promnode docker.io/prom/node-exporter-linux-amd64
  • You can name the container whatever you want.
  • If you use docker, remove docker.io/ from the image name.

Define a new target

We need to add a new target in our config file, so Prometheus can detect the Node exporter.

Edit prometheus.yml and add this to the end (respect the spaces):

  - job_name: node
    static_configs:
      - targets: ['promnode:9100']
  • Replace promnode with your node exporter container name if it’s different.

prometheus.yml will look like this:

global:
  scrape_interval:     15s
  evaluation_interval: 15s

rule_files:
  # - "first.rules"
  # - "second.rules"

scrape_configs:
  - job_name: prometheus
    static_configs:
      - targets: ['localhost:9090']
  - job_name: node
    static_configs:
      - targets: ['promnode:9100']

Restart Prometheus container

For Prometheus to be able to load the new target, we need to restart Prometheus process inside the server container. Run:

podman exec promserver kill -s SIGHUP 1
  • Replace promserver with your Prometheus server container name if it’s different.
  • 1 is the PID (Process ID) of prometheus process. You can run podman exec promserver ps to check that:
    $ podman exec promserver ps
    PID   USER     TIME  COMMAND
        1 nobody    0:08 /bin/prometheus --config.file=/etc/prometheus/prometheus.yml --storage.tsdb.path=/prometheus --web.console.libraries=/usr/share/prometheus/console_libraries --web.console.templates=/usr/share/prometheus/consoles
       12 nobody    0:00 ps
    

Access Prometheus GUI

Open a web browser and go to: http://localhost:9090. To check if our Node exporter works, click on “Graph” and paste this query inside “Expression” bar and press Enter (or click “Execute”):

rate(node_cpu_seconds_total{mode="system"}[30s])
  • This will show you CPU usage per core.

Prometheus

Extra: configuring Grafana

Grafana is a dashboard to visualize your collected data with great graphs. It’s pretty simple to configure and connect to Prometheus. First, run Grafana container:

podman run -d --network=prometheus --name grafana -p 3000:3000 docker.io/grafana/grafana

Now, go to http://localhost:3000 and type the default credentials: admin / admin. Add a new password when prompted. Click on the cogwheel icon. Under “Data Sources”, click “Add data source”. Select “Prometheus” and add the Prometheus server URL, e.g.: http://promserver:9090. Replace promserver with your Prometheus server container name if it’s different.

Grafana

Scroll to the bottom and press “Save & test”. If it connects successfully you can create a new dashboard (by clicking the “+” icon). Click “Add a new panel”. Under “Query” tab, make sure Prometheus data source is selected. Then, inside “Metrics Browser” bar, add a Prometheus query (e.g.: node_thermal_zone_temp). You’ll see a graph showing CPU temperature. Click “Apply” to save. Finally, click on the diskette icon on the top-right to save the new dashboard.

Grafana

Learn More

This is just an starting point. There are a lot of online resources to learn about Prometheus and Grafana.