Command Line Reference

You can control Rally with subcommands and command line flags:

  • Subcommands determine which task Rally performs.
  • Command line flags are used to change Rally’s behavior but not all command line flags can be used for each subcommand. To find out which command line flags are supported by a specific subcommand, just run esrally <<subcommand>> --help.



The race subcommand is used to actually run a benchmark. It is the default one and chosen implicitly if none is given.


The list subcommand is used to list different configuration options:

  • telemetry: Will show all telemetry devices that are supported by Rally.
  • tracks: Will show all tracks that are supported by Rally. As this may depend on the Elasticsearch version that you want to benchmark, you can specify --distribution-version and also --distribution-repository as additional options.
  • pipelines: Will show all pipelines that are supported by Rally.
  • races: Will show all races that are currently stored. This is needed for the tournament mode.
  • cars: Will show all cars that are supported by Rally (i.e. Elasticsearch configurations).
  • elasticsearch-plugins: Will show all Elasticsearch plugins and their configurations that are supported by Rally.

To list a specific configuration option, place it after the list subcommand. For example, esrally list pipelines will list all pipelines known to Rally.


This subcommand is needed for tournament mode and its usage is described there.


This subcommand is needed to configure Rally. It is implicitly chosen if you start Rally for the first time but you can rerun this command at any time.

Command Line Flags


Selects the track repository that Rally should use to resolve tracks. By default the default track repository is used, which is available in the Github project rally-tracks. See adding tracks on how to add your own track repositories.


Selects the track that Rally should run. By default the geonames track is run. For more details on how tracks work, see adding tracks.


A track consists of one or more challenges. With this flag you can specify which challenge should be run. If you don’t specify a challenge, Rally derives the default challenge itself. To see the default challenge of a track, run esrally list tracks.


Each challenge consists of one or more tasks but sometimes you are only interested to run a subset of all tasks. For example, you might have prepared an index already and want only to repeatedly run search benchmarks. Or you want to run only the indexing task but nothing else.

You can use --include-tasks to specify a comma-separated list of tasks that you want to run. Each item in the list defines either the name of a task or the operation type of a task. Only the tasks that match will be executed. Currently there is also no command that shows a list of tasks per challenge so you need to look at the track source.


  • Execute only the tasks with the name index and term: --include-tasks="index,term"
  • Execute only tasks of type search: --include-tasks="type:search"
  • You can also mix and match these: --include-tasks="index,type:search"


Selects the team repository that Rally should use to resolve cars. By default the default team repository is used, which is available in the Github project rally-teams. See the documentation about cars on how to add your own team repositories.


A car defines the Elasticsearch configuration that will be used for the benchmark. To see a list of possible cars, issue esrally list cars. You can specify one or multiple comma-separated values, for details please refer to the documentation about cars.


esrally --car="4gheap,ea"

Rally will configure Elasticsearch with 4GB of heap (4gheap) and enable Java assertions (ea).


A comma-separated list of Elasticsearch plugins to install for the benchmark. If a plugin supports multiple configurations you need to specify the configuration after the plugin name. To see a list of possible plugins and configurations, issue esrally list elasticsearch-plugins.


esrally --elasticsearch-plugins="analysis-icu,xpack:security"

In this example, Rally will install the analysis-icu plugin and the x-pack plugin with the security configuration. See the reference documentation about Elasticsearch plugins for more details.


Selects the pipeline that Rally should run.

Rally can autodetect the pipeline in most cases. If you specify --distribution-version it will auto-select the pipeline from-distribution otherwise it will use from-sources-complete.


Allows to run the benchmark for multiple laps (defaults to 1 lap). Each lap corresponds to one full execution of a track but note that the benchmark candidate is not restarted between laps.


This option enables a profiler on all operations that the load test driver performs. It is intended to help track authors spot accidental bottlenecks, especially if they implement their own runners or parameter sources. When this mode is enabled, Rally will enable a profiler in the load driver module. After each task and for each client, Rally will add the profile information to a dedicated profile log file. For example:

2017-02-09 08:23:24,35 rally.profile INFO
=== Profile START for client [0] and operation [index-append-1000] ===
   16052402 function calls (15794402 primitive calls) in 180.221 seconds

   Ordered by: cumulative time

   ncalls  tottime  percall  cumtime  percall filename:lineno(function)
      130    0.001    0.000  168.089    1.293 /Users/dm/Projects/rally/esrally/driver/
      129    0.260    0.002  168.088    1.303 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/
   129000    0.750    0.000  167.791    0.001 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/
   516000    0.387    0.000  160.485    0.000 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/
   516000    6.199    0.000  160.098    0.000 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/
   516000    1.292    0.000  152.289    0.000 /usr/local/Cellar/python3/3.6.0/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.6/lib/python3.6/
   516000  150.783    0.000  150.783    0.000 {function Random.seed at 0x10b7fa2f0}
   129000    0.363    0.000   45.686    0.000 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/
   129000    0.181    0.000   41.742    0.000 /Users/dm/.rally/benchmarks/tracks/develop/bottleneck/parameter_sources/

=== Profile END for client [0] and operation [index-append-1000] ===

In this example we can spot quickly that Random.seed is called excessively, causing an accidental bottleneck in the load test driver.


Allows you to test a track without running it for the whole duration. This mode is only intended for quick sanity checks when creating a track. Please don’t rely on these numbers at all (they are meaningless).

If you write your own track, please keep in mind that you need prepare your track to support this mode.


Activates the provided telemetry devices for this race.


esrally --telemetry=jfr,jit

This activates Java flight recorder and the JIT compiler telemetry devices.


If you actively develop Elasticsearch and want to benchmark a source build of Elasticsearch (which will Rally create for you), you can specify the git revision of Elasticsearch that you want to benchmark. But note that Rally does only support Gradle as build tool which effectively means that it will only support this for Elasticsearch 5.0 or better. The default value is current.

You can specify the revision in different formats:

  • --revision=latest: Use the HEAD revision from origin/master.
  • --revision=current: Use the current revision (i.e. don’t alter the local source tree).
  • --revision=abc123: Where abc123 is some git revision hash.
  • --revision=@2013-07-27T10:37:00Z: Determines the revision that is closest to the provided date. Rally logs to which git revision hash the date has been resolved and if you use Elasticsearch as metrics store (instead of the default in-memory one), each metric record will contain the git revision hash also in the meta-data section.

Supported date format: If you specify a date, it has to be ISO-8601 conformant and must start with an @ sign to make it easier for Rally to determine that you actually mean a date.


If you want to benchmark a binary distribution, you can specify the version here.


esrally --distribution-version=2.3.3

Rally will then benchmark the official Elasticsearch 2.3.3 distribution.

Rally works with all releases of Elasticsearch that are supported by Elastic.

The following versions are already end-of-life:

  • 0.x: Rally is not tested, and not expected to work for this version; we will make no effort to make Rally work.
  • 1.x: Rally works on a best-effort basis with this version but support may be removed at any time.

Additionally, Rally will always work with the current development version of Elasticsearch (by using either a snapshot repository or by building Elasticsearch from sources).


Rally does not only support benchmarking official distributions but can also benchmark snapshot builds. This is option is really just intended for our benchmarks that are run in continuous integration but if you want to, you can use it too. The only supported value out of the box is release (default) but you can define an arbitrary repositories in ~/.rally/rally.ini.


Say, you have an in-house repository where Elasticsearch snapshot builds get published. Then you can add the following in the distributions section of your Rally config file:

in_house_snapshot.url ={{VERSION}}.tar.gz
in_house_snapshot.cache = false

The url property defines the URL pattern for this repository. The cache property defines whether Rally should always download a new archive (cache=false) or just reuse a previously downloaded version (cache=true). Rally will replace the {{VERSION}} placeholder of in the url property with the value of distribution-version provided by the user on the command line.

You can use this distribution repository with the name “in_house_snapshot” as follows:

esrally --distribution-repository=in_house_snapshot --distribution-version=6.0.0-SNAPSHOT

This will benchmark the latest 6.0.0 snapshot build of Elasticsearch.


The command line reporter in Rally displays a table with key metrics after a race. With this option you can specify whether this table should be in markdown format (default) or csv.


By default, the command line reporter will print the results only on standard output, but can also write it to a file.


esrally --report-format=csv --report-file=~/benchmarks/result.csv


With this option you can customize Rally’s internal Elasticsearch client.

It accepts a list of comma-separated key-value pairs. The key-value pairs have to be delimited by a colon. These options are passed directly to the Elasticsearch Python client API. See their documentation on a list of supported options.

We support the following data types:

  • Strings: Have to be enclosed in single quotes. Example: ca_certs:'/path/to/CA_certs'
  • Numbers: There is nothing special about numbers. Example: sniffer_timeout:60
  • Booleans: Specify either true or false. Example: use_ssl:true

In addition to the options, supported by the Elasticsearch client, it is also possible to enable HTTP compression by specifying compressed:true

Default value: timeout:60000,request_timeout:60000


If you provide your own client options, the default value will not be magically merged. You have to specify all client options explicitly. The only exceptions to this rule is ca_cert (see below).


Here are a few common examples:

  • Enable HTTP compression: --client-options="compressed:true"
  • Enable SSL (e.g. if you have X-Pack Security installed): --client-options="use_ssl:true,verify_certs:true". Note that you don’t need to set ca_cert (which defines the path to the root certificates). Rally does this automatically for you.
  • Enable SSL with a client key and certificate: --client-options="use_ssl:true,verify_certs:true,ca_certs:'/path/to/cacert.pem',client_cert:'/path/to/client_cert.pem',client_key='/path/to/client_key.pem" (see also the [Elasticsearch Python client docs](
  • Enable basic authentication: --client-options="basic_auth_user:'user',basic_auth_password:'password'". Please avoid the characters ', , and : in user name and password as Rally’s parsing of these options is currently really simple and there is no possibility to escape characters.


By default, Rally will run its load driver on the same machine where you start the benchmark. However, if you benchmark larger clusters one machine may not be enough to generate sufficient load. Hence, you can specify a comma-separated list of hosts which should be used to generate load with --load-driver-hosts.


esrally --load-driver-hosts=,

In the example, above Rally will generate load from the hosts and For this to work, you need to start a Rally daemon on these machines, see distributing the load test driver for a complete example.


If you run the benchmark-only pipeline or you want Rally to benchmark a remote cluster, then you can specify a comma-delimited list of hosts:port pairs to which Rally should connect. The default value is


esrally --pipeline=benchmark-only --target-hosts=,

This will run the benchmark against the hosts and on port 9200. See client-options if you use X-Pack Security and need to authenticate or Rally should use https.


Suppresses some output on the command line.


Tells Rally that it should assume it has no connection to the Internet when checking for track data. The default value is false. Note that Rally will only assume this for tracks but not for anything else, e.g. it will still try to download Elasticsearch distributions that are not locally cached or fetch the Elasticsearch source tree.


Rally usually installs and launches an Elasticsearch cluster internally and wipes the entire directory after the benchmark is done. Sometimes you want to keep this cluster including all data after the benchmark has finished and that’s what you can do with this flag. Note that depending on the track that has been run, the cluster can eat up a very significant amount of disk space (at least dozens of GB). The default value is configurable in the advanced configuration but usually false.


This option does only affect clusters that are provisioned by Rally. More specifically, if you use the pipeline benchmark-only, this option is ineffective as Rally does not provision a cluster in this case.


Rally checks whether the cluster health is “green” before it runs a benchmark against it. The main reason is that we don’t want to benchmark a cluster which is shuffling shards around or might start doing so. If you really need to run a benchmark against a cluster that is “yellow” or “red”, then you can explicitly override Rally’s default behavior. But please think twice before doing so and rather eliminate the root cause.


esrally --cluster-health=yellow


This flag determines whether Rally should present additional (advanced) configuration options. The default value is false.


esrally configure --advanced-config


This flag determines whether Rally should automatically accept all values for configuration options that provide a default. This is mainly intended to configure Rally automatically in CI runs. The default value is false.


esrally configure --assume-defaults=true


This is only relevant when you want to run tournaments. You can use this flag to attach an arbitrary text to the meta-data of each metric record and also the corresponding race. This will help you to recognize a race when you run esrally list races as you don’t need to remember the concrete timestamp on which a race has been run but can instead use your own descriptive names.

The required format is key ”:” value. You can choose key and value freely. Note that only one user tag is supported.


esrally --user-tag="intention:github-issue-1234-baseline"

You can also specify multiple tags. They need to be separated by a comma.


esrally --user-tag="disk:SSD,data_node_count:4"

When you run esrally list races, this will show up again:

dm@io:~ $ esrally list races

    ____        ____
   / __ \____ _/ / /_  __
  / /_/ / __ `/ / / / / /
 / _, _/ /_/ / / / /_/ /
/_/ |_|\__,_/_/_/\__, /
Recent races:

Race Timestamp    Track    Challenge            Car       User Tag
----------------  -------  -------------------  --------  ------------------------------------
20160518T122341Z  pmc      append-no-conflicts  defaults  intention:github-issue-1234-baseline
20160518T112341Z  pmc      append-no-conflicts  defaults  disk:SSD,data_node_count:4

This will help you recognize a specific race when running esrally compare.