/RethinkDB Ruby

System tables

Starting with version 1.16, RethinkDB maintains special system tables that contain configuration and status information about servers, databases, individual tables, and issues with the cluster. Querying system tables returns information about the status of the cluster and current objects (such as servers and tables) within the cluster. By inserting or deleting records and updating fields in these tables, the configuration of the objects they represent can be modified.


Access the system tables through the rethinkdb database. These tables aren’t real RethinkDB document stores the way user-created tables are, but rather “table-like” interfaces to the system allowing most ReQL commands to be used for control. System tables cannot be created, dropped, reconfigured, or renamed.

The metadata in the system tables applies to the RethinkDB cluster as a whole. Each server in a cluster maintains its own copy of the system tables. Whenever a system table on a server changes, the changes are synced across all the servers.

Note: As of version 2.3, only the admin user can access system tables. Read Permissions and user accounts for more details on user accounts and permissions.

The Tables

  • table_config stores table configurations, including sharding and replication. By writing to table_config, you can create, delete, and reconfigure tables.
  • server_config stores server names and tags. By writing to this table you can rename servers and assign them tags.
  • db_config stores database UUIDs and names. By writing to this table, databases can be created, deleted or modified.
  • cluster_config stores the authentication key for the cluster.
  • table_status is a read-only table which returns the status and configuration of tables in the system.
  • server_status is a read-only table that returns information about the process and host machine for each server.
  • current_issues is a read-only table that returns statistics about cluster problems. For details, read the System current issues table documentation.
  • users stores RethinkDB user accounts. (See Permissions and user accounts.)
  • permissions stores permissions and scopes associated with RethinkDB user accounts. (See Permissions and user accounts.)
  • jobs lists the jobs—queries, index creation, disk compaction, and other utility tasks—the cluster is spending time on, and also allows you to interrupt running queries.
  • stats is a read-only table that returns statistics about the cluster.
  • logs is a read-only table that stores log messages from all the servers in the cluster.


  • While system tables support changefeeds, they do not support all of the chaining that real tables do. For instance, aggregation (max and min) and limit commands will not work with system tables.
  • Some system tables are read-only. System tables which allow writing require specific document schema, described below.
  • Write operations on system tables are non-atomic. Avoid writing to the same system table row from more than one client at the same time.
  • The durability argument on writes is ignored for system tables.

With system tables only, the table command takes a new argument, identifier_format. Legal values are name and uuid. When it’s set to uuid, references in system tables to databases or other tables will be UUIDs rather than database/table names. This is useful for writing scripts and administration tasks, as UUIDs remain consistent even if object names change. The default is name.

Configuration tables


Sharding and replication can be controlled through the table_config table, along with the more advanced settings of write acknowledgements and durability. Tables can also be renamed by modifying their rows. A typical row in the table_config table will look like this:

    id: "31c92680-f70c-4a4b-a49e-b238eb12c023",
    name: "tablename",
    db: "test",
    primary_key: "id",
    shards: [
            primary_replica: "a",
            "replicas": ["a", "b"],
            "nonvoting_replicas": []
            primary_replica: "b",
            "replicas": ["a", "b"]
            "nonvoting_replicas": []
    indexes: ["index1", "index2"],
    write_acks: "majority",
    durability: "hard"
  • id: the UUID of the table. Read-only.
  • name: the name of the table.
  • db: the database the table is in, either a name or UUID depending on the value of identifier_format. Read-only.
  • primary_key: the name of the field used as the primary key of the table, set at table creation. Read-only.
  • shards: a list of the table’s shards. Each shard is an object with these fields:
    • primary_replica: the name or UUID of the server acting as the shard’s primary. If primary_replica is null, the table will be unavailable. This may happen if the server acting as the shard’s primary is deleted.
    • replicas: a list of servers, including the primary, storing replicas of the shard.
    • nonvoting_replicas: a list of servers which do not participate in “voting” as part of failover. If this field is omitted, it is treated as an empty list. This list must be a subset of the replicas field and must not contain the primary replica.
  • indexes: a list of secondary indexes in the table. Read-only.
  • write_acks: the write acknowledgement settings for the table. When set to majority (the default), writes will be acknowledged when a majority of replicas have acknowledged their writes; when set to single writes will be acknowledged when a single replica acknowledges it.
  • durability: soft or hard (the default). In hard durability mode, writes are committed to disk before acknowledgements are sent; in soft mode, writes are acknowledged immediately upon receipt. The soft mode is faster but slightly less resilient to failure.

If you delete a row from table_config the table will be deleted. If you insert a row, the name and db fields are required; the other fields are optional, and will be automatically generated or set to their default if they are not specified. Do not include the id field. The system will auto-generate a UUID.

If you replace a row in table_config, you must include all the fields. It’s usually easier to update specific fields.

Native ReQL commands like reconfigure also control sharding and replication, and if you’re not using server tags you can change sharding/replication settings in the web UI. Read Sharding and replication for more details.


This table stores the names of servers along with their tags. Server tags organize servers into logical groups: servers could be tagged by usage (database, application, etc.), or by data center location (“us_west,” “us_east,” “london,” and so on). For more about server tags, read Sharding and replication.

Every server that has ever been part of the cluster and has not been permanently removed will have a row in this table in the following format.

    id: "de8b75d1-3184-48f0-b1ef-99a9c04e2be5",
    name: "servername",
    tags: ["default"],
    cache_size_mb: "auto"
  • id: the UUID of the server. (Read-only.)
  • name: the server’s name.
  • tags: a list of unordered tags associated with the server.
  • cache_size_mb: the server’s cache size, either a number (the desired size in megabytes) or "auto" (let the server decide on startup, based on the system’s available memory).

If tags aren’t specified when a server starts, the server is automatically assigned the default tag. Documents cannot be inserted into server_config. A new document gets created when a server connects to the cluster.

Documents cannot be deleted from this table. When a server loses its connection to the cluster, its corresponding document will be automatically deleted.


One document exists in db_config for each database in the cluster, with only two fields in the document.

    id: "de8b75d1-3184-48f0-b1ef-99a9c04e2be5",
    name: "dbname"
  • id: the UUID of the database. (Read-only.)
  • name: the name of the database.

Documents can be inserted to create new databases, deleted to remove databases, and modified to rename databases. (Renaming databases is the only task that requires querying the db_config table; the other two tasks have native ReQL commands, dbCreate and dbDrop.) As with tables, if you insert a database, don’t include the id field: the system will auto-generate the UUID.


The cluster_config table contains only one row. Documents cannot be inserted into or deleted from this table.

    id: "heartbeat",
    heartbeat_timeout_secs: 10
  • id: the primary key, heartbeat.
  • heartbeat_timeout_secs: the time, in seconds, between when a server loses connectivity to a cluster and the failover process begins. The default is 10 seconds.

Status tables

All the status tables are read-only. Some of the information in status tables is also returned in config tables (such as object names and UUIDs).


This table stores information about table availability. There is one document per table (not counting system tables).

    id: "31c92680-f70c-4a4b-a49e-b238eb12c023",
    name: "tablename",
    db: "test",
    status: {
        ready_for_outdated_reads: true,
        ready_for_reads: true,
        ready_for_writes: true,
        all_replicas_ready: true
    shards: [
            primary_replicas: ["a"],
            replicas: [{server: "a", state: "ready"}, {server: "b", state: "ready"}]
            primary_replicas: ["b"],
            replicas: [{server: "a", state: "ready"}, {server: "b", state: "ready"}]

  • id: the UUID of the table.
  • name: the table’s name.
  • db: the database the table is in, either a name or UUID depending on the value of identifier_format (see “caveats” in the overview at the top of this document).
  • status: the subfields in this field indicate whether all shards of the table are ready to accept the given type of query: outdated_reads, reads and writes. The all_replicas_ready field indicates whether all backfills have finished.
  • shards: one entry for each shard in table_config. Each shard’s object has the following fields:
    • primary_replicas: a list of zero or more servers acting as primary replicas for the shard. If it contains more than one server, different parts of the shard are being served by different primaries; this is a temporary condition.
    • replicas: a list of all servers acting as a replica for that shard. This may include servers which are no longer configured as replicas but are still storing data until it can be safely deleted. The state field may be one of the following:
      • ready: the server is ready to serve queries.
      • transitioning: the server is between one of the above states. A transitioning state should typically only last a fraction of a second.
      • backfilling: the server is receiving data from another server.
      • disconnected: the server is not connected to the cluster.
      • waiting_for_primary: the server is waiting for its primary replica to be available.
      • waiting_for_quorum: the primary is waiting for a quorum of the table’s replicas to be available before it starts accepting writes.


This table returns information about the status and availability of servers within a RethinkDB cluster. A single document is created for each server that connects to the cluster. If a server loses its connection to the cluster, it will be removed from the server_status table.

This is a typical document schema for a server connected to the host server—that is, the server the client’s connecting to when they query the server_status table.

    id: "de8b75d1-3184-48f0-b1ef-99a9c04e2be5",
    name: "servername",
    network: {
        hostname: "companion-cube",
        cluster_port: 29015,
        http_admin_port: 8080,
        reql_port: 28015,
        time_connected: <ReQL time object>,
        connected_to: {
            "companion-orb": true,
            "companion-dodecahedron": true
        canonical_addresses: [
            { host: "", port: 29015 },
            { host: "::1", port: 29015 }
    process: {
        argv: ["/usr/bin/rethinkdb"],
        cache_size_mb: 100,
        pid: 28580,
        time_started: <ReQL time object>,
        version: "rethinkdb 2.2.5 (CLANG 7.0.2 (clang-700.1.81))"
  • id: the UUID of the server.
  • name: the name of the server.
  • network: information about the network the server is on:
    • hostname: the host name as returned by gethostname().
    • *_port: the RethinkDB ports on that server (from the server’s own point of view).
    • canonical_addresses: a list of the canonical addresses and ports of the server. These may differ from hostname and cluster_port depending on your network configuration.
    • time_connected: the time the server connected (or reconnected) to the cluster.
    • connected_to: a key/value list of servers this server is either currently connected to (true), or knows about but is not currently connected to (false). In most cases other servers will be identified by name, but if the server being queried cannot determine the name of a server in the cluster it is not connected to, it will be identified by UUID.
  • process: information about the RethinkDB server process:
    • argv: the command line arguments the server started with, as an array of strings.
    • cache_size_mb: the cache size in megabytes. (This can be configured on startup or by editing the server_status entry for that server.)
    • pid: the process ID.
    • time_started: the time the server process started.
    • version: the version string of the RethinkDB server.

User account tables

For details on these two tables, read Permissions and user accounts.


The users table contains one document for each user in the system, each with two key/value pairs: a unique id and a password field. The id is the account name. The password field behaves differently on writes than on reads; you can change an account’s password by writing a value to this field (or remove the password by writing false), but the password cannot be read. Instead, on a read operation password will be true or false, indicating whether the account has a password or not.

    id: "admin",
    password: true

Documents can be inserted into users to create new users and deleted to remove them. You cannot change the id value of an existing document, only change or remove passwords via update.


Documents in the permissions table have two to four key/value pairs.

  • id: a list of one to three items indicating the user and the scope for the given permission, the items being a username, a database UUID (for database and table scope), and a table UUID (only for table scope).
  • permissions: an object with one to four boolean keys corresponding to the valid permissions (read, write, connect and config).
  • database: the name of the database these permissions apply to, only present for permissions with database or table scope.
  • table: the name of the table these permissions apply to, only present for permissions with table scope.
    id: [
    permissions: {
        read: true,
        write: false,
        config: false
    database: "field_notes",
    id: [
    permissions: {
        write: true
    database: "field_notes",
    table: "calendar",
    id: [
    permissions: {
        write: false

Note: The table and database fields will be automatically filled in when inserting into permissions, based on how many items are in the id list.

Under most circumstances, it is easier to manipulate the permissions table by using the grant command.

Other tables


This table shows problems that have been detected within the RethinkDB cluster. For details, read the System current issues table documentation.


The jobs table provides information about tasks running within the RethinkDB cluster, including queries, disk compaction, and index construction, and allows you to kill query jobs by deleting them from the table. For details, read the System jobs table documentation.


The stats table provides statistics about server read/write throughput, client connections, and memory usage. For details, read the System stats table documentation.


This table stores the log files of the cluster. One row is added to the table for each log message generated by each server that’s connected to the cluster. A maximum of 1000 entries will be stored for each server.

    id: ["2015-01-09T02:11:55.190829899", "5a59c88f-8f66-4703-bf74-bf4cd7205db3"]
    level: "notice",
    message: "Running on Linux 3.13.0-24-generic x86_64",
    server: "companion_cube_3yz",
    timestamp: <ReQL time obj>,
    uptime: 0.389226
  • id: a two-element array, consisting of the timestamp of the log entry (in UTC) and the UUID of the server generating the message.
  • level: a string indicating the log message’s severity level. One of debug, info, notice, warn, or error.
  • message: the contents of the log message.
  • server: the UUID or name of the generating server (depending on the value of identifier_format).
  • timestamp: the time when the log message is posted.
  • uptime: how many seconds the server had been running at the time the log message was generated.

The logs table supports changefeeds. Only messages being written to the logs table will generate changefeed events.

  • The table stores a maximum of 1000 messages per server. The changefeed will not deliver events for log entries when they are removed.
  • When a server connects or disconnects, its log entries will be added to or removed from the logs table. The action of connecting or disconnecting will not generate changefeed events for those log entries.

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