# Main script

The main boot script of EMQX is a bash script which can also be used to execute some of the administrative commands.

$ emqx help
Usage: emqx COMMAND [help]

Commonly used COMMANDs:
  start:      Start EMQX in daemon mode
  console:    Start EMQX in an interactive Erlang or Elixir shell
  foreground: Start EMQX in foreground mode without an interactive shell
  stop:       Stop the running EMQX node
  ctl:        Administration commands, execute 'emqx ctl help' for more details

  Shell attach:  remote_console | attach
  Up/Down-grade: upgrade | downgrade | install | uninstall
  Install info:  ertspath | root_dir | versions | root_dir
  Runtime info:  pid | ping | versions
  Advanced:      console_clean | escript | rpc | rpcterms | eval | eval-erl

Execute 'emqx COMMAND help' for more information

# The ctl Commands

The emqx ctl COMMAND ARGS ... (or equivalently emqx_ctl COMMAND ARGS ...) commands require EMQX node to be up and running.

It starts up a (hidden) Erlang node, connects to the local EMQX Erlang node and issues Erlang RPC calls to get the commands executed.

Below is a list of all supported commands without copy-pasting a lot of the descriptive information from the usage outputs.

# status

emqx ctl status

This command is a quick inspection to see if the broker is up and running.

# broker

emqx ctl broker

This command is to inspect the local broker running status, statistics and metrics.

# observer

emqx ctl observer

This command provides Erlang virtual machine insights including a realtime view like linux's 'top' top command.

# cluster_call

emqx ctl cluster_call

This command is mostly for troubleshooting when there is something wrong with cluster-calls used to sync config changes between the nodes in the cluster.

EMQX management API can be served by any of the 'core' nodes in the cluster, when a management API is called (e.g., from the dashboard) to change configuration, this change is first applied on the serving node, then replicated (asynchronously) to other nodes in the cluster. If for some reason, this replication can not apply in a peer node, this command can be used to inspect and even fix the replication so it can move forward.

For example, to inspect the 2nd config change (disabled SSL listener from dashboard).

$ emqx ctl cluster_call tnxid 2
{atomic,#{created_at => {{2022,6,21},{21,57,50}},
          initiator => 'emqx@',
          mfa =>
                     {action,stop,#{<<"enabled">> => false}},
                     #{override_to => cluster,rawconf_with_defaults => true}]},
          tnx_id => 2}}


The skip and fast_forward commands may result in diverged configs between the nodes in the cluster.

# admins

emqx ctl admins

The admins command can be used to create/update/delete administrative users.

# retainer

emqx ctl retainer

The retainer command can be used to inspect or manage retained messages. It also comes with a emqx ctl retainer reindex command which can be used to create or update indices for retained messages.

# cluster

emqx ctl cluster

This command is to join a node to a cluster. Please note that the join instruction is 'requesting' rather not 'inviting'. That is, the emqx ctl cluster join <OneOfTheClusteredNodes> is the be executed on the joining node, but not from any of the nodes in the cluster.

# clients

emqx ctl clients

This command is to list/show/kick connected clients.


It may take a long time to list all when there is a large number of clients.

# topics

emqx ctl topics

This command is previously (in 4.x releases) known as the routes command. It's to list/describe subscribed topics (or topic filters) in the cluster.


It may take a long time to list all when there is large number of topics.

# subscriptions

emqx ctl subscriptions

This command is to list/show/add/delete client's subscriptions.


It may take a long time to list all when there is large number of subscriptions.

# plugins

emqx ctl plugins

This command is used to manage plugin installation.

# vm

emqx ctl vm

Inspect statistic data collected from the Erlang virtual machine.

# mnesia

emqx ctl mnesia

Prints mnesia runtime status and metrics.

# log

emqx ctl log

This command can be used to manage log handlers states, such as setting logging level etc.

# trace and traces

emqx ctl trace

This command is used to trace (and log) events of a given client or topic etc.


It's recommended to use absolute paths for trace log files when start from command line. emqx ctl trace start client foobar /abs/path/to/trace.log debug


You can also manage traces from the dashboard UI. See tracer

emqx ctl traces

This command is like the trace command, but applies on all nodes in the cluster.

# listeners

emqx ctl listeners

List or start/stop listeners


Stopping or restarting a listener causes all the connected clients to disconnect.

# authz cache-clean

emqx ctl authz cache-clean

This command is useful when you want to force evict cached authz (ACL) data.

# pem_cache

emqx ctl pem_cache

This command is to force EMQX reload updated pem (x509 keys and certificates) files after for example a certificate renewal.

# olp

emqx ctl olp

OLP stands for overload protection. The olp command is to check overload status, and also the enable/disabled system overload protection.

For more details see overload_protection configuration doc.


olp is not enabled by default, enabling from CLI does not persist it to the configs.

# gateway-registry

emqx ctl gateway-registry

List the registered gateways in the system.

Currently there are by default 5 registered gateways:

  • coap
  • exproto
  • lwm2m
  • mqttsn
  • stomp

EMQX is designed to be plugable, so that more gateways can be installed as plugins and register to EMQX at runtime. Once registered, a gateway can be managed with management APIs and CLIs (see gateway command below)

# gateway

emqx ctl gateway

This command can be used to inspect or manage gateway loading/running status.

# gateway-metrics

emqx ctl gateway-metrics

Inspect gateway metrics.

# rules

emqx ctl rules

List rules crated in the Rule Engine. CLI is only for inspection, Rule and action managements are managed from dashboard.