Cacti

As I said a few posts back, I recently set up an Ubuntu system back home to use IPTables and run the firewall and router stuff for the home network. Since that post I’ve had minimal troubles, and it’s really been a joy.

As you know, I’d previously been using a stripped down version of linux known as SmoothWall to handle the firewall. I have been very happy with it, it works very well, and best of all, it’s free. However, it was so stripped down that it was nearly impossible to install some software to add a new feature to it. This is primarily why I switched, however, SmoothWall was also polished.

It had pretty graphs, and ajax pages to show me real-time statistics about the network throughput and etc. I never needed it to be that fancy, but it is nice to have a general visual conception of how the network and my systems are doing.

I’ve previously talked to you about SmokePing for graphing network data. However, I quickly found out that SmokePing is rather limited, and while excellent for graphing ping response time data, it’s not that great at handling just about anything else. So I created my own system that offered me some different options. I got rid of SmokePing, and began using my new system dubbed Muinatit. I still use Muinatit, however, I wanted to graph the network throughput statistics, and I knew an easy way to do that would be through the SNMP protocol. Since for right now I’m lazy, I decided instead of upgrading Muinatit to handle SNMP as well as Ping and Temperature data, I would find some open source software that will handle the SNMP data for me. Cue Cacti.

Cacti is a lot like SmokePing or Muinatit. It’s a system that uses a poller every so often to gather some arbitrary data, and stuff it into a Round Robin Database. Then it graphs it. OOOHH PRETTY! Really it doesn’t do anything new compared to my software, it just has SNMP and I wanted to play with the options. Cacti does have significantly more flexibility than SmokePing does though, however, it must be kept in mind that SmokePing is a focused tool designed for a specific purpose (which it does very well), whereas Cacti is designed very generally.

Enough of that whining though. If you’re looking for a simple solution with built in basic support of SNMP and basic Linux system data gathering, you should check out http://www.cacti.net. If I weren’t ridiculously picky I would use it for graphing everything. However, I am, and I like my solution better… I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

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