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Cacti 0.8 Network Monitoring

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 45

GJdeBoer writes "The book is aimed at people who are managing a network and would like to get insight into the performance of that network. It covers the installation and configuration of the Cacti application. In the preface the book states that it's not necessary to be a Linux Guru to use the book and that exactly is the case. The book builds up your knowledge about Cacti and the necessary steps to configure it for your network, and it teaches you about Net-SNMP and RRDTool, the building blocks of Cacti." Read on for the rest of GJdeBoer's review.As I've been working with Cacti for several years now, my aim was to get a book that describes the best practices for Cacti installations and to get a reference guide for myself. My hope was to get some more knowledge about the inner workings of Cacti and I think although meant for Cacti beginners, the book did a good job at that. I got a more clear idea about the architecture of Cacti which helps me with the integration of Cacti in my client's networks.

The book starts off with an introduction to Cacti. It explains what Cacti is, how the global architecture is and for what purposes it can be used. It also explains the basics of the prerequisite RRDTool. In the next chapter the book explains the installation of the prerequisites. The book then progresses on the installation, configuration and tasks like authentication and authorization of users. We then learn to add devices and assign templates to them.

The last chapters end the book with advanced topics for Cacti users such as Data Management and Cacti Management. It explains how to create your own data and snmp queries to be able to monitor custom devices. Personally, I found these chapters to be the most educational part of the book.

As for this book no advanced knowledge of Linux is needed. It explains the installation steps of Cacti and its prerequisites clearly and with a lot of exemplary screenshots. As Cacti is managed by means of an web interface it is the most clear way to make a point in a book about Cacti. The book is easy to read and I think the book covers the theory needed to install and operate a Cacti server perfectly. As it explains the use of Templates in Cacti and why you should use them, the book helps people build scalable and neat Cacti setups.

As a downside of the book I have found the clear focus being on the Debian side of Linux distributions. All the installation done in the book is by using apt-get, Debian and Ubuntu's package management system, but in the professional Linux world you are seeing more RedHat based distributions then Debian. I would have liked a couple of tooltips on how to install the prerequisites on RedHat or CentOS with the yum package manager or maybe by using source packages for installation. It's not a big downside for more advanced users but for the Linux novices, at who the book targets on, it could be a bit hard to find out the right way to install Cacti on a RedHat or CentOS box. Since the configuration of Cacti is the same on every platform this is only applicable for the installation chapters.

In general the book does exactly what the cover says: "Monitor your network with ease" although I found it a bit short. The book consists of a hundred and ten pages, but since there are a lot of screenshots on the pages there is less text. The book doesn't dive very deep into the inner workings of Cacti. One could argue that is exactly the point of the book: most people don't use that kind of knowledge. I would have liked a bit more insight into the MySQL database behind Cacti and troubleshooting steps for when your graphs stop working.

I think the book is great for people who want to start with Cacti because they want to monitor their network. They can install and operate a Cacti instance very quickly with help of this book without having previous knowledge of Linux. In my field of work I often come in contact with customers who have problems in their network. I always advice them to install a network monitoring appliance like Cacti. Since most of them use Windows networks they often have no experience in configuring a Linux server for Cacti. I think I will recommend this book in the future to these people.

Gert-Jan de Boer ia a self-employed IT Consultant with a company that specializes in Networking, Voice over IP, Storage and Virtualization.

You can purchase Cacti 0.8 Network Monitoring from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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I once sat on some cacti (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31063140)

I hurt my bum.

No endorsement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31063186)

This book is not endorsed by the Cacti Group.

Re:No endorsement (3, Funny)

LordEd (840443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063216)

In fact, I wouldn't even mention it to them. Its a bit of a prickly subject.

Re:No endorsement (1)

ronytomen (1476709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063278)

In fact, I wouldn't even mention it to them. Its a bit of a prickly subject.

I'm pretty sure they are aware of it.

Re:No endorsement (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063750)

Uh, whoooosh?

Re:No endorsement (1)

Cigamit (200871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063834)

100%

Re:No endorsement (1)

Linegod (9952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067184)

Yup.

Re:No endorsement (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063876)

Q: What's the difference between the Houses of Parliament and a cactus?

Re:No endorsement (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064366)

The cactus' pricks are all on the outside?

Re:No endorsement (1)

moreati (119629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064636)

A cactus has spines.

who cares if it's "Endorsed"? (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064580)

This book is not endorsed by the Cacti Group.

Maybe open-source project authors will Walk The Talk, instead of producing a decent-but-slightly-cranky-and-badly-documented open-source project, and then expecting to be able to make money off book deals instead of producing decent documentation.

Re:No endorsement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067174)

I hear they think it sucks.

This software obviously brought to you by... (0, Offtopic)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063240)

The Phone Losers of America [phonelosers.org]

Cactus. Cactus cactus, cactuses. Cactii, cactus. Cactus cactus.

Cactus.

(couldn't resist a good pun)

Cacti is one helpful tool (2, Informative)

spiffydudex (1458363) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063260)

I have been using cacti for approximately two years now and can say that the installation time and configuration are well worth every second spent learning its in and outs. Even if this book is not endorsed by the cacti group, a comprehensive guide is an extrodinarily nice thing to have. When I first began using cacti, documentation was haphazard and scattered all over the place. This book is a good resource for those who are new to linux and Cacti in general.

I myself have been developing a plugin for Cacti named GPSMaps(Available on the cacti forums). The more I develop and learn on my own the more I respect the effort and reasoning behind the mechanics of Cacti.

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063484)

I have been using cacti for approximately two years now

As TFA points out cacti can be a bit harsh for a newb. Not even Carlos Castaneda went straight to cacti. One suggestion is to start out with something milder, like 'shrooms and work your way up to the real deal.

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063660)

Yes, Cacti+Nagios = win

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (1, Informative)

inKubus (199753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066272)

This is off-topic and possibly flamebait, but I'm a little tired of comments that have some stupid "equation" that equals "win" or "fail". It literally sounds like you are mentally disabled. This manner of speaking is cliched and was never that funny to begin with. Please give it a rest with the "win", "fail", "teh internets", "FTW", etc. It's old, and you can do better.

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (2, Informative)

draxbear (735156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066580)

I was wondering how Cacti relates to Nagios. Do the both do the same job or compliment one-another?
In four words the post you're complaining about answered that question nicely.

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068438)

I was wondering how Cacti relates to Nagios. Do the both do the same job or compliment one-another? In four words the post you're complaining about answered that question nicely.

I am a longtime user of cacti, and dealt with MRTG before then. Nagios is designed for simple on-off monitoring. It does this very well. If you need pager rotation schedules, nagios is prolly your best bet. I like wowing the executives with pretty color graphs, and that is a job for Cacti. You can visually see the impact on the system of jobs running on your MySQL servers. You can see when script kiddies attack your Apache hosts and then get blocked by your scripts. And it looks great printed full-page on the new color laser printer you should be taking advantage of. Unless you need something expressly wacky, or a difinitive pager rotation, cacti and related modules (thold) can monitor your whole computing environment, and page you when there are problems. I've had trouble handling cloud management, mostly due to new machines spawning, and old machines dying. I'm sure others have had similar issues. It is a pain to run scripts to add new hosts, and manage removing hosts that have been terminated.

Re:Cacti is one helpful tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068032)

No, Monit + 0 = win

Cacti is Awesome. This book... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31063372)

is garbage. Honest. I rely heavily on Cacti at work and I was very eager to get this book. It is the single worst book that I've purchased. Ever.

book review on .8 version? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31063898)

What do you think that this says about version numbers? I'm not really taking any point of view here, other than that version numbers don't mean squat.

Here we have a book that's been produced on a less than 1.0 version, alpha? beta? what?

Google seems to keep beta on their products for a very long time, largely so they can't be held responsible for bugs.

Yall chime in.

Re:book review on .8 version? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064340)

For some reason OSS people seem to have version numbers >= 1.0. I don't know why that is, but there are an amazing amount of OSS projects that seem stuck perpetually in the "below 1.0" area. Hell look at OpenSSL. They are in 1.0.0 beta, but the current stable release is 0.9.8. Ok well first there's the fact that one would think "stable" would imply above 1.0 and then there's the fact that OpenSSL has been deployed for YEARS in production environments and is in every way release code.

I don't know what the reasoning is, maybe they figure that if they aren't 1.0 they aren't responsible for bugs or something, but it is extremely common.

Re:book review on .8 version? (1)

skelly33 (891182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064848)

... "maybe they figure that if they aren't 1.0 they aren't responsible for bugs or something" ...

My guess would be that it's more of a corporate culture thing that leads Google to label their apps as "beta" for so long; their exemption from "responsibility" is specifically covered in their Terms of Service [google.com] as so:

14.6 GOOGLE FURTHER EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.

Re:book review on .8 version? (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064344)

I came to post the same thing. I'm really tired of open source developers being so spineless in this regard. Come on -- your software is clearly successful, used by thousands, people are writing books about it -- surely you can make the commitment and say hey, we've created a real, useful product here, let's roll the version to 1.0. Sure, you might need to break your API at some future time, you might discover some terrible, data-destroying flaw... But at some point you ought to just pinch your nose and jump off the high board.

Software that remains continually pre-1.0 just gives the (probably accurate) impression that the authors don't really think their software works well enough for general use. Which is, of course, an indication to the user to choose other software.

Re:book review on .8 version? (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31069670)

Normally 1.0 implies that all features they expect/want to have in the "final version" of the product are present.

The question is, which features do you decide are going to be in "version 1.0" and what goes in "version 2.0"? I think a lot of OSS developers have a vision of what their project will eventually become, and those features all need to work and be stable before it'll be "1.0".

More commercially-focused developers may have a list of things they want in a "final" product, but then cull it down to a manageable subset and have that be the "1.0" release. And others might just develop until they run out of money, and then call whatever they've got "1.0".

I don't think it's anything to do with spinelessness; simply that if a program doesn't include all the expected features, then it's not "1.0". And the developers are the ones that decide which features are "expected"; it may still be a plenty useful program without them, but it's still "not finished".

spooky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31063920)

Really wierd. Just started having issues with my cacti installation today and then saw this posting. Probably a sign I should pick the book up...I realize they aren't exactly comparable, but for what its worth I've felt cacti was tons easier to configure than nagios. and nicer to look at, which for me, anyways, is a big deal.

Re:spooky (1)

matt_hs (1252668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066332)

We're in the process of revamping our network monitoring. One of the options for us is Cacti + Nagios. Yes, Nagios is more difficult to configure than Cacti, but really they're two different tools intended for two different purposes. Nagios excels at event notifications and monitoring when something goes down, but it isn't designed for long-term historical data collection (interface statistics, etc.). Yes, there are plugins that can do some of that, but it's not really the task for which it was designed. On the other hand, Cacti excels at tracking statistics on a device but isn't great at monitoring for up/down events.

The right tool for the right job.

Re:spooky (0, Troll)

p1esk (1622615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067210)

Well, I'm going to shamelessly promote the company I work for - LogicMonitor. We do all that Nagios+Cacti does, plus much more, and better, and, most importantly, with minimum configuration on your part. Even alert thresholds come preconfigured for typical production environment (which you can modify, of course). The product is hosted (SaaS), so all that you need to do is to install a small agent anywhere in the datacenter, and scan the ip range (or add devices manually). A few minutes later you start to see detailed performance data for practically any device (db/mail/web/virtualization servers, storage, balancers, network gear, cloud, UPS). We can save you lots of time and effort, for a very reasonable price. Try it free: http://logicmonitor.com/ [logicmonitor.com]

Re:spooky (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067284)

Check out Groundwork - it's what you are after (cacti + nagios + other stuff, bundled, web managed)

Ooh. Ahh. What? - OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31064238)

Looking at the comments, people are oohing and ahhing over Cacti. They say things like; I've been using it for years and it is da bomb! But, as is the case with so many other products mentioned on Slashdot, they don't offer any context for their opinion.

That you've been using Cacti "for years" doesn't indicate anything about your experience level in general. How many years have you been performing the function in question? Have you used any other products that perform the same function or is your experience limited to Cacti? What is your experience with the well known longstanding players in the field? Since we're talking about Cacti; have you also used openNMS, Hp OpenView, CA Unicenter, Tivoli? If so, which ones? Was your use in the form of playing around at home or did you roll it out into an enterprise of tens of thousands of nodes.

The standard Slashdot comments; I use this and it rocks; are as pointless as First Post. If you want to contribute then put some effort into it.

On the subject of cheese; Cheddar is the best! What?

Re:Ooh. Ahh. What? - OT (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067524)

4k servers, 300 network devices, 20k graphs, Have used openView, OpenNms, WhatsUp, BigBrother. We Now Use Nagios + Cacti + Cacti Plugins that integrate Nagios into cacti and a custom dashboard. Nagios + Cacti (with plugins for both) are easier to deploy and manage large scale then any other that we have used. The community that is behind cacti truely blow away all the other systems as well. I believe Cacti to be the best supported, most extensible, most reliable, and simplest of all the ones that we have tried.

Cact plugins (1)

ack_call (870944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064246)

Cacti has some great plugins too; although they can be a little messy to install to the new user. thold is a great plugin for alerting out if a threshold has been breached. Nagios + Centreon + Cacti = win

Read the Amazon reviews (3, Informative)

bofar (902274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31064590)

Love the Amazon review, "My initial inclination is to say that this book is worthless. Given that I spent $35 on it, it's worse that worthless. At around 100 pages in length, the first 40 are dedicated toward understanding what a network is, a general overview of RRD and Cacti and a very poorly written install guide...."

Minutely graphs? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31065366)

Anyone here got Cacti working with minutely instead of five-minutely updated graphs for network interface statistics? It is essential to spot traffic spikes. But after wasting an afternoon trying to get it right, I presume I just do not have what it takes (voodoo skills).

Re:Minutely graphs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068194)

Yeah you have to run the poller every minute, and there are some settings under the poller in the Cacti Console. After that is running, then you have to change every Query to display 60 seconds in stead of 300.

Re:Minutely graphs? (1)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068218)

if you mean the polling time, you just change the cacti cron job to run every 1 minute (default is 5), and in your data source / data template set Step to 60 (secs). usually you also set Heartbeat to 2x that of Step (so 120).

Do you understand sampling? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31078776)

To get a minute by minute graph of your network traffic, you will have to sample at least twice that fast. i.e. every 30 seconds or preferrably faster.
 

Nagios + Cacti an excellent combination (1)

peterthomas2009 (1599563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31065390)

Cacti is great for graphing performance, capacity planning and spotting anomalies while Nagios [nagios.org] is tops for monitoring / alerting. I have worked with many different monitoring tools and suites both commercial and open source. A well configured Nagios / Cacti solution is hard to beat for stability and usability.

Cacti is great, but... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31066104)

..You should be aware of some default-setup 'flaws'. All of them correctable with some custom templates.

* The default templates for load-monitoring is additive, they stack 1min/5min/15min average onto each other.
Thus rendering the graph plot exponential rather than flat accurate.

* Almost all graphs are averaged, round down, as they age.
If you had a peak netload for half a day in December, you don't wanna see a graph that tells you that your 24h average was just like a regular day.

* The templates for network monitoring does not, by default, use 64-bit counters. Leaving the rendering(bit count) of all gigabit interfaces faulty.
It's 2010, any switch worth monitoring pushes, atleast, gigabit interfaces.

I might just agree with Theo de Raadt on one single issue... If you can do it right by default, why don't you?

Johan

Re:Cacti is great, but... (1)

ltjohhed (231735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066150)

And I.. obviously can't login... by default :/

Not recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067112)

I work heavily with Cacti, and I do not recommend this book. For its price, you would just be better off reading the manual at http://docs.cacti.net/ [cacti.net]

Cacti with Nagios (1)

kokoko1 (833247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31069062)

I wonders if the author tried to mention how to integrated Cacti and Nagios in his book? Nagios is good at monitoring and sysadmin and manager might use the Cacti for trends and capacity plaining. At my work we are using Nagios for monitoring and pnp4nagios for trending the Nagios performance data and its work great so far.

Zenoss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31069154)

If you're looking for Nagios and Cacti functionality in one package, check out Zenoss. Very awesome free product.

fair point (1)

suzieque (1740694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220794)

Fair point kokoko1
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