How To: Send Email Alert on Different HAProxy Status or Based on HAProxy Stats

HAProxy is a great simple load balancing tool written in Lua. It is extremely efficient as a software load balancer and highly configurable as well. On the contrary, HAProxy lacks programmable automated monitoring tools. It has a directive called ‘mailer’ which has only support above 1.8. Default CentOS 7 repo comes with HAProxy 1.5 and it has no mailer alert support either. Even with 1.8, it doesn’t come with lots of available configuration options neither the tool gets programmable facility.

That is where, I thought to work on to trigger codes from HAProxy stats. This can be done in many ways, in my cases, I did it using per minute crons. If you want it much quicker like every 5 seconds for example, you would have to run this as a daemon, which isn’t like making a rocket, should be easy and short. My entire idea is to allow you understanding how to create programmable 3rd party tools by fetching data from HAProxy socket and trigger monitors.

HAProxy Stats through Unix Socket

First, we need to enable the HAProxy stats that is available through socket. To turn on stats through unix socket, you need put the following line in your global section of haproxy.cfg file:

stats socket /var/lib/haproxy/stats

An example of Global settings section would be like the following:

    log local2     #Log configuration

    chroot      /var/lib/haproxy
    pidfile     /var/run/
    maxconn     40000
    user        haproxy             #Haproxy running under user and group "haproxy"
    group       haproxy

    # turn on stats unix socket
    stats socket /var/lib/haproxy/stats

Check how the stats socket section is placed to fit it for your cfg file.

Once this is done, now you can restart the haproxy to start shooting stats through the socket. The output is basically a csv of the HAProxy stats page. So the values going to be in comma seperated format. To understand HAProxy stats page and exploding the values, you can visit the following:

Now, how to read the unix-socket using bash? There is a tool called ‘socat’ that can be used to read data from unix socket. ‘socat’ means ‘socket cat’, you may read more details about ‘socat’ here:

If socat is not available on your CentOS yum, you may get it from epel-release.

yum install epel-release
yum install socat

Once ‘socat’ is available in your system, you can use it to redirect the io and show the output as following:

echo "show stat" | socat unix-connect:/var/lib/haproxy/stats stdio

Now as you can see, you can retrieve the whole HAProxy stats in CSV format, you may easily manipulate and operate data using a shell script. I have created a basic shell script to get the status of the HAProxy backends and send an email alert using ‘ssmtp’. Remember, ssmtp is highly configurable mail tool, you can customize smtp authentication as well with ‘ssmtp’. You may use any other tool like Sendmail for example or ‘Curl’ to any email API like Sendgrid, possibility is infinite here. Remember, as the data is instantly available to socket as soon as the HAProxy generates the event, hence, it can be as efficient as HAProxy built in functions like ‘mailer’ is.


cd /root/
rm -f haproxy_stat.txt
echo "show stat" | socat unix-connect:/var/lib/haproxy/stats stdio|grep app-main > /root/test.txt


while IFS= read -r line

APP=`echo $line | cut -d"," -f2`
STAT=`echo $line | cut -d"," -f18`
SESSION=`echo $line | cut -d"," -f34`
if [ "$STAT" != "UP" ]; then

done < /root/test.txt

if [ $SEND_EMAIL -eq 1 ]; then
echo -e "Subject: Haproxy Instance Down \n\n$MESSAGE" | sudo ssmtp -vvv [email protected]
echo -e "Subject: Haproxy Instance Down \n\n$MESSAGE" | sudo ssmtp -vvv [email protected]


Data that I am interested in are the status of the backend, name of the backend and the session rate of the backend. So, if the load balancer sees any backend is down, this would trigger the email delivery. You can use this to catch anything in the HAProxy, like a Frontend attack for example, like the delivery optimization of your load balancer etc. As you are now able to retrieve data directly from HAProxy to your own ‘programming’ console, you can program it whatever the way you want to. Hope this helps somebody! For any help, shoot a comment!

How to Use Sticky Session for CSRF submission on Highly Scalable Cloud App in Haproxy

HINT: If you are a nginx fan and used it in mass scale, then, you must have done this using ip_hash (Nginx Documentation). It follows the same purpose for Haproxy. Difference and benefits of using Haproxy over Nginx for L7 proxy in a highly scalable and reliable cloud app would be a discussion for another day.

Case Discussion:

Suppose, you have a Cloud app, that is load balanced & scaled between multiple servers using Haproxy, for example:

Now, if your app has a submission form, for example, a poll submission from your users, then, there is an issue in this Haproxy setup.

Let’s say, an User A, requests for the app, and gets the data from the server, the CSRF token he gets for the poll submission to his browser, also maintains the app hosted on But when he press the submit button, HAProxy puts him on app, and the app hosted on instantly rejects the token for the session as the session is not registered for that app. For such cases, we need to maintain a ‘Sticky’ session based on the cookie set by the right server. That means, if the cookie is set by, HAproxy should obey and give the user until the cookie or the session is reset or regenerated.

How To Do That:

What we need to do, let haproxy write the server id in the cookie, and make the directive ‘server’ to follow the cookie. Please remember, there are couple of other way to achieve this. There is another way of doing this is called ‘IP Affinity’, where you make sticky session based on IP of the user. There is another based on PHP session value. Setting sticky session based on php session should also work. I preferred the cookie based sticky session, just on random selection.

So, to write the server id in the cookie, you need to add the following in the haproxy ‘backend’ directive as following:

backend app-main
balance roundrobin
cookie SERVERID insert indirect nocache

In the cookie directive, you can see, we are taking the HAProxy variable ‘SERVERID’ and inserting that to the cookie attribute. Now, all you need to do, is to configure your balancing IPs to follow the cookie, like the following:

backend app-main
balance roundrobin
cookie SERVERID insert indirect nocache
server nginx1 cookie S1
server nginx2 cookie S2
server nginx3 303.303.303.303 cookie S3

S1, S2, S3 are just 3 different names of the cookies for the specific servers. After the above is done, you can now restart and see Haproxy is following stickiness based on the session you have.

Just to find out, how to test if you are using laravel, try to regenerate the session based on the session() helper method as following:


You should be able to see the content loading from different web servers when the session regenerates. But it will persists when the regenerate session method is not called.