Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


What’s on your monitor?

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

What do you run on your monitor server?

Do you think you’re too small to run a monitoring server? Well, I have two local servers, a remote web server and a remote e-mail server that I’m in charge of worrying about and I run a monitoring server. It’s not much of a server, really, just an old workstation to which I added a bunch of spare memory and a large, clean hard drive. Naturally, I run Linux on my monitoring server, which, ironically enough, I named Monitor. Specifically, Monitor runs Red Hat Fedora.

Monitor runs Nagios, which I’ve mentioned before. With Nagios, I monitor both my main file server and my accounting SQL server. I also watch the off-site web server and the SMTP and POP3 e-mail services on the managed e-mail server we have through our ISP, just to make sure they’re up and running. (It’s a long story on why we have that, but, rather than run my own, to reduce hassle, headache and potential disaster, I let someone else worry about it.) Nagios tells me the status of drive space, the memory usage, the CPU usage and uptime on both servers. On the accounting SQL server, it verifies that the SQL service is available and that users can log into it. On the file server, it tells me the status of the Backupexec modules. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a way to get Nagios to tell me more than the running status of Backupexec, but, in my spare time, I still try to find a way to have it report the status of the last backup or restore job run. No joy yet, but I keep trying.

I also have a browser window open to the SolarWinds installation at our ISP. They monitor inbound and outbound traffic over the Internet connection we have. Usually, I keep a window open on the standard “interface details” reports which update regularly. Most of the time, I also open a window to the weekly history report on the min/max/average packets in and out. I have to update that manually, but it lets me quickly compare today’s traffic to network traffic for the past week. It’s nice to see those trends!
Lately, I’ve been keeping a browser window open to the national weather forecast, by hour, for our local area. In hurricane country, keeping track of the weather can be vitally important! But, if you live in snow country, the same thing would probably be true, too. I don’t recall heavy snow causing an outage during my time up North, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Finally, I almost always have Wireshark running a packet capture, too. If I see a sudden spike in traffic, having a packet capture already running could make a big difference. I have that capture set to save files locally, too, just in case. I’ve been setting the capture to rotate nine files and to keep the files at seven megabytes each. That should give me a pretty good spread of captured network data if I ever need to go back and diagnose a traffic problem. And, since the machine is actually kind of stinky hardware and crashes on occasion, when I restart the packet capture, I rename the base file using the current date. That way, I can tell at a glance when the capture was started.

One day, I’d like to move this all to another machine that’s more stable, faster and has more drive space, but, until then, this works. It’s only on the private network, so I can’t look at it directly from the Internet, but, it still does enough for me. One of these days, I’ll look into some of Nagios’ data presentation modules and teach this old dog a few new tricks, like automated uptime reports and that kind of thing.

Hopefully, that hasn’t bored too many of my non-geek readers. And, I hope it’s given my geek readers something to think about. So, tell me in the comments, if you have a monitoring server/station/whatever, what does it run? If you don’t have one, why not?


Scatterbrained Links

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Geek Work,Linux,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

And, I thought things would slow down this week.

Ha! Well, my work schedule is almost as grueling this week as it has been for the past month. So many things to do at work and so little time. In any case, that means that there’s no real theme to these links, but I found them all at least interesting.

First, since I can’t seem to get enough done or get enough sleep, the idea that someone may have invented a pill that removes my need for sleep strikes me as, well, “interesting”. Okay, to be honest, it’s not quite that good yet, but, still they’re getting there.
Second, since I love gimmicks in the workplace, the idea of monitoring a server via music hits me in the funny bone. Granted, this will only appeal to the geeks among my readers, but I like the idea of having a Linux-based monitor server running that lets me know what’s going on without having to actually watch it. Too much to do to keep eyes glued to monitor for server performance!
Next, in honor of the quickly approaching gift-giving holidays, namely Christmas and Chanukah, I’ve got a link to an article about how LEGOs are made. Who knew so much went into those little bricks I loved to play with as a kid?
And, finally, for the lonely, big kid in all of us who got picked last for kickball, now you can buy fake friends for your MySpace page. It’s actually a service called FakeYourSpace and, apparently, meant to make it seem like “sexy” members of the opposite sex find you irresistable on MySpace. It is an adult service, as evidenced by the pictures of the “friends” on the website, and… And, wow, I’m glad I’m not actually active on MySpace because this just seems, er, ah, well, pathetic. But, you know, I can think of a couple guys I’ve worked with who would do this sort of thing.

Well, anyway, that gives you some small idea where my head has been wandering while I wait for things to happen after hours at work. Crazy stuff, isn’t it?
Have a happy Friday!

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