First, install an MQTT broker of your choice. My choice is Eclipse Mosquitto. On Fedora, you install that package like so …

# dnf install mosquitto


Then, to communicate with that broker from Python programs, you install a Python client implementation of your choice. My choice is the Paho implementation, which is installed like so …

$ pip install paho-mqtt

Starting the Service

This is Fedorish, your mileage might vary:

# systemctl start mosquitto.service
# netstat -antp|grep mosquitto
tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN      53767/mosquitto
tcp6       0      0 :::1883                 :::*                    LISTEN      53767/mosquitto

Ah, runs on port 1883.

See if it works. In one terminal, subscribe to a random topic. (Topic are created as soon as they are mentioned.)

$ mosquitto_sub --host localhost --port 1883 --topic /random/topic
...sit and wait for message...

In another terminal, publish a message,

$ mosquitto_pub --host localhost --port 1883 --topic /random/topic --message blah

You should see “blah” as the output of mosquitto_sub in the other terminal.

Publishing a Message in Python

This is the easiest, so lets start with that.

#!/usr/bin/env python

from paho.mqtt import client

c = client.Client()
c.connect('localhost', 1883)
c.publish('/random/topic', 'blech')

Run it, and in the terminal running mosquitto_sub you’ll see "blech" on stdout.

Subscribing a Topic in Python

A little more complicated - we have to

  • run an event loop: we want to see more than one message coming in

  • register a callback function that is called by MQTT to notify us about an incoming message

#!/usr/bin/env python

from paho.mqtt import client

def message_received(client, userdata, message):

c = client.Client()
c.connect('localhost', 1883)
c.on_message = message_received


Run it, possibly side by side with mosquitto_sub. Publish a message, using either the program above, or mosqitto_pub.

$ ./

Message Payload?

Note the b in the output: what comes in is not a string. MQTT’s transport is encoding-free; what is sent is completely up to the communicating parties.

You should probably read up on

  • Encoding: Strings and Encoding

  • JSON, a popular transport format, used for MQTT message transfer, and on The Web which is full of it.


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