Developing osquery Extensions

osquery supports proprietary tables, config plugins, and logger plugins built in C++ (or other languages) through a Thrift-based extensions API. This is helpful if your deployment of osquery uses a custom method for osquery configuration or log collection. You can internally develop and maintain these custom behaviors in an extension, and ask osquery to depend on the plugins exposed by the extension. To make deployment and management of extensions simpler, osqueryd may "autoload", or subprocess, these extension binaries and monitor their performance.

If you are interested in writing extensions, please read the SDK and Extensions development article. That wiki article describes the Thrift API and provides example C++ code for an extension. Every extension runs as a separate process and communicates to the main osquery process using Thrift and a UNIX domain socket. A single extension may contain an arbitrary number of plugins, and each are registered using a setUp API call. Facebook, for example, is known to deploy an fb-osquery package and a single extension binary that contains its Facebook-specific tables and internal configuration/logging APIs.

Extensions Binary Permissions

First, a note: the osquery agent will refuse to load an extension executable from the filesystem if the file's permissions allow write or modify by non-privileged accounts. Before loading an extension, change the owner of the your_extension.ext file to be the root account.

On Windows, because of permission inheritance, just changing the owner of a file is not sufficient. You must also change the owner of the parent directory, remove all inherited DACLs, and disable inheritance. For example, if your osquery extensions are in the .\Extensions directory, the following commands will set permissions that satisfy osquery:

icacls .\Extensions /setowner Administrators /t
icacls .\Extensions /grant Administrators:f /t
icacls .\Extensions /inheritance:r /t
icacls .\Extensions /inheritance:d /t

Auto-loading Extensions

The following CLI flags control extension auto-loading:


extensions_autoload points to a line-delimited set of paths to executables. When osquery launches, each path is evaluated for "safe permissions" (extension executable files must be owned by root or Administrator) and executed as a monitored child process. Each executable receives 3 argument switches: socket, timeout, interval. An extension process may use these to find the osquery process's Thrift socket, as well as hints on retry/backoff configuration if any latency or errors occur. If the --verbose flag is passed to osqueryd, the flag will also be received by the executable.

The simplest extensions.load file contains a single extension path:

$ cat /etc/osquery/extensions.load
$ file /usr/lib/osquery/extensions/fb_osquery.ext
/usr/lib/osquery/extensions/fb_osquery.ext: ELF 64-bit LSB executable

The autoload workflow is similar to:

  • Check if extensions are enabled.
  • Read --extensions_autoload and check permissions/ownership of each path.
  • Checks if the file name extension of the path is .ext. Filename extension must be .ext.
  • Fork and execute each path with the switches described above.
  • Treat each child process as a "worker" and enforce sane memory/cycle usage.
  • Read set config plugin from --config_plugin.
  • If the config plugin does not exist and at least 1 extension was autoload:
  • Wait --extensions_timeout * --extensions_interval for the extension to register the config plugin.
  • Fail if the plugin is not registered or the plugin returns a failed status.

The same dependency check is applied to the logger plugin setting after a valid config is read. Every registered plugin is available throughout the run of the shell or daemon.

Manually Loading Extensions

Extensions can also be loaded individually on the osquery command line, for example:

osqueryi --extension /path/to/your_extension.ext

More Options

Extensions are most useful when used to expose config or logger plugins. Along with auto-loading extensions, you can start daemon services with non-default plugins using --flagfile=PATH. The osqueryd initscript or SystemV service on Linux searches for a /etc/osquery/osquery.flags path containing flags. This is a great place to add non-default extensions options or for replacing plugins:

$ cat /etc/osquery/osquery.flags

Retrieving Tables and Columns with SQL

Aside from the .tables and .schema shell builtins, there is an alternative way to retrieve all available tables and columns: using SQL.

To retrieve all tables:

SELECT * FROM osquery_registry
    WHERE active = true
    AND internal = false
    AND registry = 'table';

To retrieve all columns for a given table:

PRAGMA TABLE_INFO("table-name");

Note: PRAGMA is unavailable in v4.6.0, but was added back in later versions.


  • Ensure that your osquery config has --disable_extensions=false, which ought to be the default value.
  • If you observe a runtime error from osquery, Extension binary has unsafe permissions, you have to lock down the filesystem permissions on the extension executable. See the steps in "Extensions Binary Permissions," above. For quick testing, you can bypass this by running osquery with the --allow_unsafe flag (not recommended in deployment).