Using alation_conf

Customer Managed Applies to customer-managed instances of Alation

To configure specific features in Alation, you may sometimes need to work with alation_conf.

alation_conf is a file that stores most of the Alation application configuration settings. alation_conf is also a utility you can use to work with the alation_conf file. Using the alation_conf utility requires server-side admin access to the Alation application.


alation_conf includes critical information. Use discretion when making changes to alation_conf. Always follow the steps that Alation recommends. If you make unneeded or incorrect changes, it can cause irrecoverable damage to the Alation application.

Accessing alation_conf

To use alation_conf, you must first access the Alation server and enter the Alation shell.

  1. Use SSH to connect to the Alation server.

  2. Enter the Alation shell using the following command:

    sudo /etc/init.d/alation shell

You are now in the Alation shell. This gives you access to alation_conf. See below for help interacting with alation_conf.

Getting Help

To output documentation on alation_conf usage, run one of the following commands:

alation_conf -h


alation_conf --help

Viewing Values

All Parameters

To view the value of all parameters, run alation_conf inside the Alation shell:



Be aware that alation_conf is a very long file. You may wish to use one of the options below.

Searching and Filtering

You can search alation_conf for parameters that match a search term. To do this, enter alation_conf followed by the search term. This is a good way to view all the parameters related to one of Alation’s components.


(env)[alation]$ alation_conf postgres
alation.cluster.postgres_state = ready
customer.agent.postgres_log_directory = /var/log/postgresql/
tableau.permissions.extraction_conf.postgres_query_batch_size = 1000
alation.postgresql.full_scan = True
alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled = False
alation.postgresql.auto_scan.scheduled_minute = 0
alation.postgresql.auto_scan.scheduled_hour = 4
alation.postgresql.auto_scan.scheduled_day = sun,mon,tue,wed,thu,fri,sat


Many parameters related to Postgres are named with “pgsql” rather than “postgres.”

Specific Parameters

You can also view the value of a specific parameter. To do this, enter alation_conf followed by the full name of the parameter.


(env)[alation]$ alation_conf alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled
alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled = False

Verbose Output

To get extra help with parameters, use the -v argument. Verbose output may give you details such as:

  • The data type of the value

  • What the value is for

  • Allowed values

  • What services you’ll have to restart after changing the value

The output may include other information, depending on the parameter.


(env)[alation]$ alation_conf alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled -v
type: <class 'bool'>
comment: Schedule automated scan_postgres run
require_restart: True
whitelist: True

JSON Output

For automation purposes, it may be helpful to get the value of parameters in JSON format. To do this, use the -j argument.


(env)[alation]$ alation_conf alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled -j
{"alation.postgresql.auto_scan.enabled": false}

Setting a Value


alation_conf has critical information. If you make unneeded or incorrect changes, it can cause irrecoverable damage to the Alation application.

To set a value for a parameter, use the -s option:

alation_conf <> -s <value>


alation_conf alation.install.base_url -s ''

Encrypted Values

Starting from version 5.8.x, you can use the -se option to set an encrypted value with a prompt and hidden entry.

alation_conf <> -se

You’ll be prompted with the message Please enter your value:. Enter the new value. This only applies to encrypted attributes.


(env)[alation]$ alation_conf alation.authentication.ldap.bind_password -se
Please enter your value:

Clearing a Value

To clear value for a parameter, use the -c option:

alation_conf <> -c

Deploying Changes

Some changes to alation_conf take effect immediately. In some cases, you must take an extra step to deploy changes before they take effect. Deploying a change copies it to other configuration files in the Alation application. You will always be instructed when you need to deploy changes.

Alation uses Chef Solo to deploy changes inside the Alation chroot.

Some changes can be deployed with specific commands. This is helpful when configuring a specific component of Alation. For example, to deploy only the Postgres configuration, you can run the following command:

alation_action deploy_conf_postgres

To deploy all configuration changes at once, run the following command:

alation_action deploy_conf_all

Any services affected by the configuration change need to be manually restarted. In each specific case, the instruction will explain which component requires a restart.

See Alation Actions for more details about restarting services.