Elektra  0.9.8
How-To: kdb import


The kdb tool allows users to interact with Elektra’s Key Database via the command line. This tutorial explains the import function of kdb. This command lets you import Keys from the Elektra Key Database.

The command to use kdb import is:

kdb import [options] destination [format]

In this command, destination is where the imported Keys should be stored below. For instance, kdb import system:/imported would store all the keys below system:/imported. This command takes Keys from stdin to store them into the Elektra Key Database. Typically, it is used with a pipe to read in the Keys from a file.


The format argument can be a very powerful option to use with kdb import. The format argument allows a user to specify which plugin is used to import the Keys into the Key Database. The user can specify any storage plugin to serve as the format for the Keys to be imported. For instance, if a user wanted to import a /etc/hosts file into KDB without mounting it, they could use the command cat /etc/hosts | kdb import system:/hosts hosts. This command would essentially copy the current hosts file into KDB, like mounting it. Unlike mounting it, changes to the Keys would not be reflected in the hosts file and vise versa.

Dump Format

The dump does not rename keys by design. If a user exports a KeySet using dump using a command such as kdb export system:/backup > backup.ecf, they can only import that keyset back into system:/backup using a command like cat backup.ecf | kdb import system:/backup.


The kdb import command only takes one special option -s <name> or alternatively --strategy <name>, which is used to specify a strategy.


cat backup.ecf | kdb import system:/backup

This command would import all keys stored in the file backup.ecf into the Key Database under system:/backup.

In this example, backup.ecf was exported from the KeySet using the dump format by using the command:

kdb export system:/backup > backup.ecf

backup.ecf contains all the information about the keys below system:/backup:

cat backup.ecf
#> kdbOpen 1
#> ksNew 3
#> keyNew 19 0
#> system:/backup/key1
#> keyMeta 7 1
#> binary
#> keyEnd
#> keyNew 19 0
#> system:/backup/key2
#> keyMeta 7 1
#> binary
#> keyEnd
#> keyNew 19 0
#> system:/backup/key3
#> keyMeta 7 1
#> binary
#> keyEnd
#> ksEnd

Before the import command, system:/backup does not exists and no keys are contained there. After the import command, running the command kdb ls system:/backup prints: