The Semaphore cache tool helps optimize CI/CD runtime by reusing files that your project depends on, but are not part of version control. You should typically use caching to:

  • Reuse your project's dependencies so that Semaphore fetches and installs them only when the dependency list changes.
  • Propagate a file from one block to the next.

The cache is created on a per-project basis and is available in every pipeline job. All cache keys are scoped per project.

The cache tool uses key pairs for managing cached archives. An archive can be a single file or a directory.

When running jobs in Semaphore's hosted environment, the total cache size is 9.6GB and each archive automatically expires in 30 days. When running jobs in a self-hosted environment, you have full control over the cache size and archive expiration.

Basic usage#

The Semaphore caching script will try to recognize your project structure and automatically store or restore dependencies into or from default paths. The Semaphore cache works for the following languages and dependency managers:

  • Ruby (bundler) - default cache path: vendor/bundle, requires Gemfile.lock to be present in the repository.
  • Node.js (npm, yarn) - default cache path: node_modules if package-lock.json is present or node_modules and /$HOME/.cache/yarn if yarn.lock exists in the repository.
  • Python (pip) - default cache path: .pip_cache if requirements.txt is present.
  • PHP (composer) - default cache path: vendor, requires composer.lock to be present in the repository.
  • Elixir (mix) - default cache path: deps or _build if mix.lock is present.
  • Java (maven) - default cache path: .m2 or target if pom.xml is present.
  • nvm - default cache path: $HOME/.nvm if .nvmrc is present in the repository.
  • golang - default cache path: $HOME/go/pkg/mod if go.sum is present in the repository.

cache store#

A cache store command that has zero arguments will look up default paths used to store dependencies and cache them.

Example YAML:

- name: Cache bundle
      - name: Bundle install and cache
          - bundle install --path vendor/bundle
          - cache store
- name: Use cache
        - cache restore
      - name: Job 1
        commands: echo Use cache 1
      - name: Job 2
        commands: echo Use cache 2
      - name: Job 3
        commands: echo Use cache 3

The output of cache store in a project that has a Gemfile.lock and packages-lock.json will look like this:

$ cache store
==> Detecting project structure and storing it in the cache.

* Detected Gemfile.lock.
* Using default cache path 'vendor/bundle'.
Uploading 'vendor/bundle' with cache key 'gems-your-branch-33a6002a37f59b6f1841636085a22fbc'...
Upload complete.

* Detected package-lock.json.
* Using default cache path 'node_modules'.
Uploading 'node_modules' with cache key 'node-modules-your-branch-d17b3d82f1356d0c91469804e2fc320a'...
Upload complete.

cache restore#

A cache restore command that has zero arguments looks up cachable elements and tries to pull them from the repository.

Example output:

$ cache restore
==> Detecting project structure and storing it in the cache.

* Detected Gemfile.lock.
* Fetching 'vendor/bundle' directory with cache keys 'gems-your-branch-33a6002a37f59b6f1841636085a22fbc,gems-master-,gems-your-branch-'.
HIT: gems-your-branch-d17b3d82f1356d0c91469804e2fc320a, using key gems-your-branch-33a6002a37f59b6f1841636085a22fbc
Restored: vendor/bundle

* Detected package-lock.json.
* Fetching 'node_modules' directory with cache keys 'node-modules-your-branch-d17b3d82f1356d0c91469804e2fc320a,node-mdoules-master-,node-mdoules-your-branch-'.
HIT: node-mdoules-your-branch-d17b3d82f1356d0c91469804e2fc320a, using key node-mdoules-your-branch-d17b3d82f1356d0c91469804e2fc320a
Restored: node_modules/

Advanced usage#

If a third party project, such as Bundler, changes the location where they store dependencies or your project then dependency location is different than the default specified in Basic Usage; you might need to specify the key's path manually instead of using a caching shortcut.

cache store key path#

Here are a few examples of a cache store key path:

cache store our-gems vendor/bundle
cache store gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH vendor/bundle
cache store gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH-revision-$(checksum Gemfile.lock) vendor/bundle

The cache store command archives a file or directory specified by path and associates it with a given key.

Because cache store uses tar, it automatically removes the preceding / from the given path value. Any further changes of path after the store command completes will not be automatically propagated to the cache. The command always passes, i.e. exits with a return code of 0.

In case of insufficient disk space, cache store frees disk space by deleting the oldest keys.

Note: cache store does not overwrite data for an existing key. You need to delete the key first to update the associated information.

cache restore key [,second-key,...]#

Some examples of cache restore keys are:

cache restore our-gems
cache restore gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH
cache restore gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH-revision-$(checksum Gemfile.lock),gems-master

These will restore an archive which partially matches any given key. In case of a cache hit, the archive is retrieved and available at its original path in the job environment. Each archive is restored in the current path from where the function is called.

In case of a cache miss, the comma-separated fallback takes over and the command looks up the next key. If no archives are restored, the command exits with 0.

cache has_key key#


cache has_key our-gems
cache has_key gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH
cache has_key gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH-revision-$(checksum Gemfile.lock)

This command checks if an archive with the provided key exists in the cache. The command passes if a key is found in the cache, otherwise it fails.

cache list#


cache list

This command lists all cache archives for the project.

cache delete key#


cache delete our-gems
cache delete gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH
cache delete gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_BRANCH-revision-$(checksum Gemfile.lock)

This will remove an archive with a given key if it is found in the cache. The command always passes.

cache clear#


cache clear

Using this command will remove all cached archives for the project. The command always passes.

Note that in all commands of cache, only the cache has_key command can fail (exit with non-zero status).


The libchecksum scripts provide the checksum command. The checksum command is useful for tagging artifacts or generating cache keys. It takes a single argument - a file path - and outputs an md5 hash value.


$ checksum package.json 3dc6f33834092c93d26b71f9a35e4bb3

SFTP backend#

This is the default backend for jobs running in Semaphore's hosted environment. The following environment variables are required and automatically set in every hosted job:

Environment variable Description
SEMAPHORE_CACHE_BACKEND Controls the storage backend used by the cache CLI. For the hosted environment, it is set to sftp.
SEMAPHORE_CACHE_URL The IP address and port number of the cache sftp server (x.y.z.w:29920).
SEMAPHORE_CACHE_USERNAME The username that will be used to connect to the cache sftp server (5b956eef90cb4c91ab14bd2726bf261b).
SEMAPHORE_CACHE_PRIVATE_KEY_PATH The path to the SSH key that will be used to connect to the cache sftp server (/home/semaphore/.ssh/semaphore_cache_key).

For jobs in a self-hosted environment, these environment variables are not automatically set on every job.

AWS S3 backend#

The following environment variables are required for the s3 storage backend to work:

Environment variable Description
SEMAPHORE_CACHE_BACKEND To use the S3 storage backend, this should be set to s3.

Additionally, the cache CLI also needs your ~/.aws folder to be properly configured with the appropriate credentials in order to access your AWS S3 bucket. You can follow this guide to set this up.


cache restore restores an archive with a corrupted archive message#

If the cache restore output log includes lines similar to the following, you can make sure that only one job is creating an archive under the specific cache key:

$ cache restore gems-$SEMAPHORE_GIT_SHA
==> HIT: gems-c964fbeac09ef1fad45c2b10c849a4e6b23763b4, using key gems-c964fbeac09ef1fad45c2b10c849a4e6b23763b4
gzip: stdin: unexpected end of file
tar: Unexpected EOF in archive
tar: Unexpected EOF in archive
tar: Error is not recoverable: exiting now
Restored: vendor/bundle

Cache archives usually get corrupted when cache store is added to the prologue command sequence, resulting in its execution for all jobs in the related block.

To address the issue, structure Semaphore yml's so that cache store for an archive is executed in one job and cache restore is in the successive jobs.

Example YML:

  - name: Cache dependencies
        - name: Cache gems
            - checkout
            - cache restore bundle-gems-$(checksum Gemfile.lock)
            - bundle install --deployment --path vendor/bundle
            - cache store bundle-gems-$(checksum Gemfile.lock) vendor/bundle

  - name: Tests
          - checkout
          - cache restore bundle-gems-$(checksum Gemfile.lock)
          - bundle install --deployment --path vendor/bundle
        - name: RSpec 0
        - name: RSpec 1
        - name: RSpec 2

Note: Launch a debugging session to clear corrupted archives for your project by executing cache clear or cache delete <key>.