Decrease your stress

By Peter Baer Galvin, Unix Insider |  Networking

The installation process actually installs the configuration files and, if you examine the sample configuration files and manuals, you'll find the options and configuration file commands.


There are several configuration files, including commands, in which commands are defined, resource, for storing sensitive information such as passwords, nscgi, which configures NetSaint for monitoring via a Web server, hosts, in which monitored entities are defined, and netsaint, the master configuration file that pulls all of them together.


Those configuration files allow for a great amount of flexibility. You can define groups of hosts, routers, switches, and so on, and give rules for monitoring each of those groups, as well as break out individual entities for special treatment. For alerting, you can define time frames and give separate alert methodologies, depending on the time. For example, you could have email sent to yourself during standard working hours and pages sent to a coworker during nights and weekends. The reverse is also possible, but I don't recommend it. On the whole, the depth of monitoring isn't great.


You can monitor the amount of free hard disk space and CPU use -- the same types of things that standard Solaris commands will do. The advantage, of course, is that NetSaint will run them for you, parse the results, and compare that to thresholds. If the thresholds are exceeded, an alert is triggered. NetSaint offers many additional features, including use of multiple monitoring hosts for redundancy, automatic log file rotation, an event-handler feature that can trigger an activity if an alarm occurs, and an external command interface that allows configuration changes without editing configuration files.


One area where NetSaint goes beyond standard Unix commands is daemon monitoring. NetSaint can connect to a given port and have a discussion with the answering daemon. Obvious uses include ping for network availability, SMTP for email operation, and HTTP for simple Website status determination.


More complex monitoring can be added by writing your own plug-in or using the existing ones. Fortunately, NetSaint development is very active, and there's a wide variety of plug-ins and add-on tools at the NetSaint download page(www.netsaint.org/download/).


Use, abuse, and limitations

Before you spend time implementing NetSaint, reading the manuals, and trying to understand its use, visit the live demo running on the NetSaint Website. It gives a very good feel for how NetSaint works, how it can be used, and what types of activities it can perform for you. That free tool has some serious power and can keep you in close touch with all the systems that are under your control.


NetSaint isn't a capacity-planning tool, and it does not replace programs such as BMC's Best-1.

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