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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

By Ben Martin on November 04, 2008 (9:00:00 AM)

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System administrators need to keep an eye on their servers to make sure things are running smoothly. If they find a problem, they need to see when it started, so investigations can focus on what happened at that time. That means logging information at regular intervals and having a quick way to analyse this data. Here's a look at several tools that let you monitor one or more servers from a Web interface.

Monitorix

Monitorix shows you system information at a glance in three graphs: a central one on the left to give overview information and two smaller graphs on the right to give related details. It includes a Perl daemon that collects the statistics for your systems and a CGI Web interface that allows you to analyse the data.

There are no Monitorix packages in the Fedora, openSUSE, or Debian repositories. The Monitorix download page offers a noarch RPM file as well as a tarball for non-Red Hat/Fedora-based distributions. I used version 1.2.1 on a 64-bit Fedora 9 machine, installed from the noarch RPM file. If you are installing on a Debian-based system, in the monitorix-1.2.1 tarball there is an install.sh file that will copy the files to the correct path for your distribution, and an un_install.sh file, should you decide to remove Monitorix. You need to install Perl bindings for RRDtool (rrdtool-perl on Fedora 9, librrds-perl on Debian, and rrdtool on openSUSE 11) in order to use Monitorix.

Once you have the files installed in the right place, either by installing the RPM file or running install.sh, you can start collecting information by running service monitorix start. You should also be able to visit http://localhost/monitorix/ and be offered a collection of graphs to choose from (or just nominate to see them all).

Monitorix doesn't include a plugin system but has builtin support for monitoring CPU, processes, memory, context switches, temperatures, fan speeds, disk IO, network traffic, demand on services such as POP3 and HTTP, interrupt activity, and the number of users attached to SSH and Samba. A screenshot of Monitorix displaying daily graphs is shown below. There are 10 main graph panels, even though you can see only about 1.5 here.

You can configure Monitorix by editing the /etc/monitorix.conf file, which is actually a Perl script. The MNT_LIST option allows you to specify as many as seven filesystems to monitor. The REFRESH_RATE setting sets how many seconds before a Web browser should automatically refresh its contents when viewing the Monitorix graphs. You can also use Monitorix to monitor many machines by setting MULTIHOST="Y" and listing the servers you would like to contact in the SERV_LIST setting, as shown below. Alternatively you can list entire subnets to monitor using the PC_LIST and PC_IP options, examples of which are included in the sample monitorix.conf file.

MULTIHOST="Y" our @SERV_LIST=("server number one", "http://192.168.1.10", "server number two", "http://192.168.1.11");

Having each graph panel made up of a main graph on the left and two smaller graphs on the right allows Monitorix to convey a fair amount of related information in a compact space. In the screenshot, the load is shown in the larger graph on the left, with the number of active processes and memory allocation in the two smaller graphs on the right. Scrolling down, one of the graph panels shows network services demand. This panel has many services shown in the main graph and POP3 and WWW as smaller graphs on the right. Unfortunately, the selection of POP3 seems to be hard-coded on line 2566 of monitorix.cgi where SERVU2 explicitly uses POP3, so if you want to monitor an IMAP mail service instead you are out of luck.

Monitorix is easy to install and get running, and its three graph per row aggregate presentation gives you a good high-level view of your system. Unfortunately some things are still hard-coded into the CGI script, so you have a somewhat limited ability to change the Web interface unless you want to start hacking on the script. The lack of packages in distribution repositories might also turn away many users.

Next: Munin

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on Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.130.151.91] on November 04, 2008 04:50 PM

Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 93.172.203.232] on November 04, 2008 08:03 PM
Have a look on http://www.xpolog.com for log monitoring, server monitoring and log analysis

Or on http://www.log-viewer.com for log viewer and log monitor for linux, apache and more

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 97.120.82.204] on November 04, 2008 09:18 PM
As you say, it appears that the combination of collectd and cacti would be wonderful. However, I've long been searching for a decent explanation of how to connect the two. I haven't touched Cacti in a long time, otherwise it might seem obvious to me how this could be done, but I'm expecting it isn't. If anyone knows of a good way to do it, I'd love to hear about it.

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.21.200.238] on November 04, 2008 10:55 PM
Where is Nagios? none of tools mentioned in the article are as flexible and powerful as Nagios.... I'm disappointed.

http://www.nagios.org/

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.50.59.23] on November 04, 2008 10:57 PM
Why not Zenoss? Merging the functionality of cactii and nagios with an easy-to-use interface. http://zenoss.com

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.18.37.228] on November 05, 2008 01:15 AM
Don't forget dim_STAT: http://dimitrik.free.fr

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 218.219.203.156] on November 05, 2008 01:38 AM
Those 4 entries in the article do not have notification systems, but just graphing, as far as I can tell. So, Nagios and friends aren't listed for that reason I think. Besides, Nagios may be flexible and powerful but with a huge complication and clutter everywhere I wouldn't think to use it anymore, I'd rather use monit for that, which is much simpler, cleaner and does the job fine. The sheer amount of Nagios frontend tells something is wrong with itself and nothing really changed at version 3 unfortunately.

And there are also those unified server management packages like Zenoss and Zabbix. The latter is quite lightweight and a decent package in my opinion.

collectd seriously needs a decent frontend. Nothing is good if the data collected can't be revised... I don't know why author doesn't even try to start a sub project on that and let someone code it if he doesn't want to.

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Re: Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.201.123.212] on November 06, 2008 03:32 PM
I love it when people post negatives about nagios, or about how hard it is to deploy. I've played with Zabbix, HP-Openview, Solarwinds, Zenoss etc... and none aside from Openview can monitor servers with the depth that nagios can. net-snmp is very limited in it's scope to interact with various applications. Openview is out of the question due to cost. Try deploying Zabbix or Zenoss in a 1000 to 1500 server environment running 10,000 to 20,000 checks and watch what kind of hardware it requires to get it deployed. With nagios templating you have to setup your initial checks and the start grouping servers. Also if you can script in bash or perl there is nothing that can't be monitored with nagios. I may be biased because I've used it for 8 years, bouncing from one poser app to the next, but nagios is where I always land for mission critical systems, and it integrates easily with cacti or rrdtool to give you everything you need.

My opinion and everyone knows what they say about those

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.137.217.96] on November 05, 2008 07:56 AM
Also missed ganglia [http://ganglia.info/]

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.100.197.205] on November 05, 2008 10:28 AM
Don't forget Opsview (http://www.opsview.org/), based upon Nagios, Net-SNMP, RRDtool and the catalyst web fwk.

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 150.3.84.204] on November 05, 2008 02:13 PM
Zabbix for the win.
http://www.zabbix.com/

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.112.163.94] on November 12, 2008 03:45 PM
Another tool to check out for enterprise network monitoring, op5 Monitor http://www.op5.com/op5/products/monitor

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Four winning ways to monitor machines through Web interfaces

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.223.154.166] on November 13, 2008 06:31 AM
Take a look at Osmius. http://osmius.net
Its web based interface, service oriented, intrussive and non-intrussive monitoring and open source.

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How can you not mention Zenoss?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.19.110.133] on November 14, 2008 06:30 AM
http://www.zenoss.com/

Just out in v2.3 with tons of new features.
I've used it alot and it's amazing! Both an community version and a commercial version.

Best regards: in2os

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