Writing a custom Proxy implementation#

JupyterHub 0.8 introduced the ability to write a custom implementation of the proxy. This enables deployments with different needs than the default proxy, configurable-http-proxy (CHP). CHP is a single-process nodejs proxy that the Hub manages by default as a subprocess (it can be run externally, as well, and typically is in production deployments).

The upside to CHP, and why we use it by default, is that it’s easy to install and run (if you have nodejs, you are set!). The downsides are that

  • it’s a single process and

  • does not support any persistence of the routing table.

So if the proxy process dies, your whole JupyterHub instance is inaccessible until the Hub notices, restarts the proxy, and restores the routing table. For deployments that want to avoid such a single point of failure, or leverage existing proxy infrastructure in their chosen deployment (such as Kubernetes ingress objects), the Proxy API provides a way to do that.

In general, for a proxy to be usable by JupyterHub, it must:

  1. support websockets without prior knowledge of the URL where websockets may occur

  2. support trie-based routing (i.e. allow different routes on /foo and /foo/bar and route based on specificity)

  3. adding or removing a route should not cause existing connections to drop

Optionally, if the JupyterHub deployment is to use host-based routing, the Proxy must additionally support routing based on the Host of the request.

Subclassing Proxy#

To start, any Proxy implementation should subclass the base Proxy class, as is done with custom Spawners and Authenticators.

from jupyterhub.proxy import Proxy

class MyProxy(Proxy):
    """My Proxy implementation"""

Starting and stopping the proxy#

If your proxy should be launched when the Hub starts, you must define how to start and stop your proxy:

class MyProxy(Proxy):
    async def start(self):
        """Start the proxy"""

    async def stop(self):
        """Stop the proxy"""

These methods may be coroutines.

c.Proxy.should_start is a configurable flag that determines whether the Hub should call these methods when the Hub itself starts and stops.


When using internal_ssl to encrypt traffic behind the proxy, at minimum, your Proxy will need client ssl certificates which the Hub must be made aware of. These can be generated with the command jupyterhub --generate-certs which will write them to the internal_certs_location in folders named proxy_api and proxy_client. Alternatively, these can be provided to the hub via the jupyterhub_config.py file by providing a dict of named paths to the external_authorities option. The hub will include all certificates provided in that dict in the trust bundle utilized by all internal components.

Purely external proxies#

Probably most custom proxies will be externally managed, such as Kubernetes ingress-based implementations. In this case, you do not need to define start and stop. To disable the methods, you can define should_start = False at the class level:

class MyProxy(Proxy):
    should_start = False


At its most basic, a Proxy implementation defines a mechanism to add, remove, and retrieve routes. A proxy that implements these three methods is complete. Each of these methods may be a coroutine.

Definition: routespec

A routespec, which will appear in these methods, is a string describing a route to be proxied, such as /user/name/. A routespec will:

  1. always end with /

  2. always start with / if it is a path-based route /proxy/path/

  3. precede the leading / with a host for host-based routing, e.g. host.tld/proxy/path/

Adding a route#

When adding a route, JupyterHub may pass a JSON-serializable dict as a data argument that should be attached to the proxy route. When that route is retrieved, the data argument should be returned as well. If your proxy implementation doesn’t support storing data attached to routes, then your Python wrapper may have to handle storing the data piece itself, e.g in a simple file or database.

async def add_route(self, routespec, target, data):
    """Proxy `routespec` to `target`.

    Store `data` associated with the routespec
    for retrieval later.

Adding a route for a user looks like this:

await proxy.add_route('/user/pgeorgiou/', '',
                {'user': 'pgeorgiou'})

Removing routes#

delete_route() is given a routespec to delete. If there is no such route, delete_route should still succeed, but a warning may be issued.

async def delete_route(self, routespec):
    """Delete the route"""

Retrieving routes#

For retrieval, you only need to implement a single method that retrieves all routes. The return value for this function should be a dictionary, keyed by routespec, of dicts whose keys are the same three arguments passed to add_route (routespec, target, data)

async def get_all_routes(self):
    """Return all routes, keyed by routespec"""
  '/proxy/path/': {
    'routespec': '/proxy/path/',
    'target': 'http://...',
    'data': {},

Note on activity tracking#

JupyterHub can track activity of users, for use in services such as culling idle servers. As of JupyterHub 0.8, this activity tracking is the responsibility of the proxy. If your proxy implementation can track activity to endpoints, it may add a last_activity key to the data of routes retrieved in .get_all_routes(). If present, the value of last_activity should be an ISO8601 UTC date string:

  '/user/pgeorgiou/': {
    'routespec': '/user/pgeorgiou/',
    'target': '',
    'data': {
      'user': 'pgeourgiou',
      'last_activity': '2017-10-03T10:33:49.570Z',

If the proxy does not track activity, then only activity to the Hub itself is tracked, and services such as cull-idle will not work.

Now that notebook-5.0 tracks activity internally, we can retrieve activity information from the single-user servers instead, removing the need to track activity in the proxy. But this is not yet implemented in JupyterHub 0.8.0.

Registering custom Proxies via entry points#

As of JupyterHub 1.0, custom proxy implementations can register themselves via the jupyterhub.proxies entry point metadata. To do this, in your setup.py add:

    'jupyterhub.proxies': [
        'mything = mypackage:MyProxy',

If you have added this metadata to your package, admins can select your authenticator with the configuration:

c.JupyterHub.proxy_class = 'mything'

instead of the full

c.JupyterHub.proxy_class = 'mypackage:MyProxy'

as previously required. Additionally, configurable attributes for your proxy will appear in jupyterhub help output and auto-generated configuration files via jupyterhub --generate-config.

Index of proxies#

A list of the proxies that are currently available for JupyterHub (that we know about).

  1. jupyterhub/configurable-http-proxy The default proxy which uses node-http-proxy

  2. jupyterhub/traefik-proxy The proxy which configures traefik proxy server for jupyterhub

  3. AbdealiJK/configurable-http-proxy A pure python implementation of the configurable-http-proxy