Install Osquery on Ubuntu 20.04

Last Updated:
Install Osquery on Ubuntu 20.04

In this guide, we are going to learn how to install osquery on Ubuntu 20.04. Osquery is an opensource tool that queries an operating system as if it were a relational database. It leverage SQL-like queries to gather Operating System information for performance, security, compliance audit analysis. It runs on multiple platforms such as Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS, Windows systems.

Installing Osquery on Ubuntu 20.04

Install Osquery APT Repository

The default Ubuntu repositories does not contain the osquery package. However, osquery publishes an apt repository for each stable release. To add osquery apt repository to Ubuntu 20.04, create the osquery source list;

echo "deb [arch=amd64] deb main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/osquery.list

Import the repository signing keys

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 1484120AC4E9F8A1A577AEEE97A80C63C9D8B80B

Update your system packages

sudo apt update

Once the update is done, install osquery;

sudo apt install osquery

Components of osquery

Osquery package installs three basic components;

  • osqueryctl – This is an osquery helper script for testing osquery configuration/deployment as well as managing the osqueryd service.
  • osqueryd – is an osquery daemon for scheduling queries and recording the changes in the state of OS.
  • osqueryi – is an osquery interactive shell. From the shell, you can run various queries to explore that state of your OS.

In order to learn the usage of the commands above, you can pass the -h/–help option.

osqueryctl -h
Usage: /usr/bin/osqueryctl {clean|config-check|start|stop|status|restart}

For example to start, stop and restart osqueryd using osqueryctl, run the commands;

osqueryctl start osqueryd
osqueryctl stop osqueryd
osqueryctl restart osqueryd

Running Osquery

Osquery can be run in standalone mode using the osqueryi or it can be run as service using osqueryd. In this guide, we are going to focus on how to use the osquery interactive shell to query various system activities.

Running osquery in standalone mode

When osqueryi is run without any arguments, it takes you to the interactive shell prompt;

Using a virtual database. Need help, type '.help'

You can obtain help by typing .help on the shell prompt.

osquery> .help

Welcome to the osquery shell. Please explore your OS!
You are connected to a transient 'in-memory' virtual database.

.all [TABLE]     Select all from a table
.bail ON|OFF     Stop after hitting an error
.echo ON|OFF     Turn command echo on or off
.exit            Exit this program
.features        List osquery's features and their statuses
.headers ON|OFF  Turn display of headers on or off
.help            Show this message
.mode MODE       Set output mode where MODE is one of:
                   csv      Comma-separated values
                   column   Left-aligned columns see .width
                   line     One value per line
                   list     Values delimited by .separator string
                   pretty   Pretty printed SQL results (default)
.nullvalue STR   Use STRING in place of NULL values
.print STR...    Print literal STRING
.quit            Exit this program
.schema [TABLE]  Show the CREATE statements
.separator STR   Change separator used by output mode
.socket          Show the osquery extensions socket path
.show            Show the current values for various settings
.summary         Alias for the show meta command
.tables [TABLE]  List names of tables
.types [SQL]     Show result of getQueryColumns for the given query
.width [NUM1]+   Set column widths for "column" mode
.timer ON|OFF      Turn the CPU timer measurement on or off

System Information tables

Osquery converts various OS attributes into tabular like database concepts. Hence, to list tables from which various system information is stored, run the .tables command within the osqueryi prompt.


osquery> .tables

Sample output;

=> acpi_tables
=> apt_sources
=> arp_cache
=> augeas
=> authorized_keys
=> block_devices
=> carbon_black_info
=> carves
=> chrome_extensions
=> cpu_time
=> time
=> uptime
=> usb_devices
=> user_events
=> user_groups
=> user_ssh_keys
=> users
=> yara
=> yara_events
=> yum_sources

For example purposes, let us see what is contained on some of the tables;

select * from os_version;

| name   | version                   | major | minor | patch | build | platform | platform_like | codename | arch   |
| Ubuntu | 20.04.1 LTS (Focal Fossa) | 20    | 4     | 0     |       | ubuntu   | debian        | focal    | x86_64 |

To query system users whose uid is greater than 1000,

select * from users where uid >=1000;

| uid   | gid   | uid_signed | gid_signed | username  | description | directory       | shell             | uuid |
| 65534 | 65534 | 65534      | 65534      | nobody    | nobody      | /nonexistent    | /usr/sbin/nologin |      |
| 1000  | 1000  | 1000       | 1000       | koromicha | koromicha   | /home/koromicha | /bin/bash         |      |
| 65534 | 65534 | 65534      | 65534      | nobody    | nobody      | /               | /usr/sbin/nologin |      |

To list all logged in users;

select user,tty,host,time from logged_in_users where tty not like '~';
| user      | tty   | host         | time       |
| koromicha | tty1  |              | 1613887707 |
| koromicha | pts/0 | | 1613888358 |

Check system uptime;

select * from uptime;
| days | hours | minutes | seconds | total_seconds |
| 0    | 1     | 21      | 49      | 4909          |

To show network interfaces and IP addresses;

select interface,address,mask from interface_addresses where interface NOT LIKE '%lo%';
| interface | address                         | mask                  |
| enp0s3    |                       |         |
| enp0s8    |                    |         |
| enp0s3    | fe80::a00:27ff:fe5c:52a%enp0s3  | ffff:ffff:ffff:ffff:: |
| enp0s8    | fe80::a00:27ff:fe7f:8415%enp0s8 | ffff:ffff:ffff:ffff:: |

Osquery command output view modes

The osquery command output view mode can be changed by running the command, .mode MODE from within the osqueryi shell prompt, where MODE can be line, csv, pretty (default), column, list.

For example to set the view to line mode;

osquery> .mode line

The when you run the queries, output is produced line by line;

SELECT * FROM system_info;

          hostname = ubuntu20
              uuid = 269c209d-fc67-ec4f-bf56-c759a8296e14
          cpu_type = x86_64
       cpu_subtype = 142
         cpu_brand = Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-10510U CPU @ 1.80GHz
cpu_physical_cores = 1
 cpu_logical_cores = 1
     cpu_microcode = 
   physical_memory = 2084356096
   hardware_vendor = innotek GmbH
    hardware_model = VirtualBox
  hardware_version = 1.2
   hardware_serial = 0
      board_vendor = Oracle Corporation
       board_model = VirtualBox
     board_version = 1.2
      board_serial = 0
     computer_name = ubuntu20
    local_hostname = ubuntu20

List installed system packages;

select * from deb_packages top limit 3;

      name = accountsservice
   version = 0.6.55-0ubuntu12~20.04.4
    source = 
      size = 452
      arch = amd64
  revision = 0ubuntu12~20.04.4
    status = install ok installed
maintainer = Ubuntu Developers <[email protected]>
   section = admin
  priority = optional

      name = adduser
   version = 3.118ubuntu2
    source = 
      size = 624
      arch = all
  revision = 
    status = install ok installed
maintainer = Ubuntu Core Developers <[email protected]>
   section = admin
  priority = important

Exit Osquery Interactive shell

To exit osqueri interactive shell, osquery>, use the command .exit or simply press Control+d keyboard combination keys.

osquery> .exit

Running Osquery as a service

osqueryd is an osquery daemon for scheduling queries and recording the changes in the state of OS. You can use this daemon to run Osquery a service.

For this to work, you need to copy the sample Osquery configuration to /etc/osquery directory as follows;

cp /usr/share/osquery/osquery.example.conf /etc/osquery/osquery.conf

Next, that the service;

systemctl start osqueryd

Checking the status;

systemctl status osqueryd

● osqueryd.service - The osquery Daemon
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/osqueryd.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Sun 2021-02-21 07:42:48 UTC; 18s ago
    Process: 66618 ExecStartPre=/bin/sh -c if [ ! -f $FLAG_FILE ]; then touch $FLAG_FILE; fi (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
    Process: 66633 ExecStartPre=/bin/sh -c if [ -f $LOCAL_PIDFILE ]; then mv $LOCAL_PIDFILE $PIDFILE; fi (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
   Main PID: 66634 (osqueryd)
      Tasks: 14 (limit: 2282)
     Memory: 7.6M
     CGroup: /system.slice/osqueryd.service
             ├─66634 /usr/bin/osqueryd --flagfile /etc/osquery/osquery.flags --config_path /etc/osquery/osquery.conf
             └─66637 /usr/bin/osqueryd

Feb 21 07:42:48 ubuntu20 systemd[1]: Starting The osquery Daemon...
Feb 21 07:42:48 ubuntu20 systemd[1]: Started The osquery Daemon.
Feb 21 07:42:48 ubuntu20 osqueryd[66634]: osqueryd started [version=4.6.0]

Well, that is it on how to install Osquery. You can continue to explore this awesome tool.

Further Reading

Osquery Documentation

Other Tutorials

Install and Setup Kolide Fleet on Ubuntu 18.04

Install Kolide Fleet Osquery Fleet Manager on Debian 10

Install Osquery on Debian 10 Buster


We're passionate about sharing our knowledge and experiences with you through our blog. If you appreciate our efforts, consider buying us a virtual coffee. Your support keeps us motivated and enables us to continually improve, ensuring that we can provide you with the best content possible. Thank you for being a coffee-fueled champion of our work!

Photo of author
I am the Co-founder of, Linux and the whole FOSS enthusiast, Linux System Admin and a Blue Teamer who loves to share technological tips and hacks with others as a way of sharing knowledge as: "In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others".

Leave a Comment