Frequently Asked Questions

General

  1. What does MiscSARGE have to offer over other System Activity Reporters?

    MiscSARGE is built on MiscSAR, the Miscellaneous System Activity Reporter Graph Engine. MiscSARGE, in conjunction with MiscSAR, monitor, collect and display data that the SAR/SARGE suite does not.

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  3. What does MiscSARGE collect that SARGE does not?

    Process - number and type of processes running on the system. MiscSARGE identifies the number of interactive processes (being run by users that are logged in), the number of batch (system level) processes, and the number of session level processes.

    User - number and type of users logged in. MiscSARGE shows the number of interactive and batch users that have logged into the system.

    Load Average - how much the system is getting beat up.

    Uptime - number of days the system has been up without interuption.

    Memory - total amount and amount of used RAM.

    Swap - total amount and amount of used swap space.

    Ports - total, number of unique, and type of ports open. (Up to a point.)

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Installation

  1. What system requirements are needed to run MiscSARGE?

    This is dependent on the number of systems being monitored and other tasks the central system is running. A dedicated Intel PIII 1.0 GHZ with 512 MB RAM was able to monitor 35 systems without problems.

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  3. What is required to run MiscSARGE?

    Perl Version 5.8.x or greater.

    Perl Modules: (http://www.perl.com)

    CWD(Cwd.pm)
    File::Basename(File/Base.pm)
    FileHandle(FileHandle.pm)
    Getopt::Long(Getopt/Long.pm)
    Net::Ping(Net/Ping.pm)
    POSIX(<arch>/POSIX.pm)
    Time::Local(Time/local.pm)

    Web server (Apache)

    RRDTool (http://www.rrdtool.org) Installed with Perl module.

    MiscSAR - 'miscsar' installed on each system to be monitored.

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  5. How much space should I allocate for data collection?

    Roughly 3 MB per host per year for data storage, and another 1 MB per host for graph display. Systems with a large number of disk drives may require an additional 3 MB of space.

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  7. What Operating Systems are supported?

    MiscSARGE v0.10.0 is a complete code re-write. Support for several operating systems was removed to make development easier. Most of these will be restored in future versions. The following table shows the operating systems support status as of July, 2008.

    Operating SystemSupport
    AIX 5.3Planned
    AIX 5.4Planned
    Linux SysStat 5 Supported
    Linux SysStat 7 Supported
    Mac OSX TigerPlanned
    Mac OSX LeopardPlanned
    Irix 6.4Not Planned
    Irix 6.5Planned
    Solaris 7Planned
    Solaris 8Supported
    Solaris 9Supported
    Solaris 10Supported

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  9. Can I put a system into 2 different groups?

    Well, yes, but the system will have data collected from it twice.

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Operation

  1. If a machine is off the network, will the data still be collected and graphed?

    Maybe...it depends on what's "down".

    If the remote system is down, then no miscsar data is being collected and can't be graphed.

    If the remote system is unreachable due to a network problem, MiscSARGE will attempt to collect the previous 3 hours of data automatically. Anything beyond that will be lost.

    If the MiscSARGE data collection server is down for a significant length of time (a few days), historcal data can be collected using the the "loadall" script. (Be sure to turn off the crontab call to MiscSARGE while doing this.)

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  3. Can you control how much data is collected and how long it is kept?

    Not easily.

    RRDTool requires data to be collected as specific intervals, or else the data is considered invalid. RRDTool also requires that storage is pre-allocated for the predicted size. These constraints also aid in the small processing over head of RRDTool.

    Five minute data collection intervals and storage of one year of data per host were chosen as the MiscSARGE limits based on input from colleagues and years of running monitoring tools.

    The intrepid programmer can dive into the MiscSARGE code to change these, if desired. This is not recommeneded. Or supported.

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  5. Does MiscSarge run continually in the background on the Server? How about on the clients?

    No. The central server collects data from monitored systems every 15 minutes. Each remote system collects data locally every 5 minutes.

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  7. Does MiscSarge use up a lot of system resources on the server? What about the clients?

    Resources on the clients (i.e., systems being monitored) are neglible (< 1% CPU utilitazation).

    Resource use on the central server depends on the number of clients being monitored. Our operational server spikes to approximately 30% CPU usage for a minute every 15 minutes during data collection periods.

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  9. What about firewalls and the operation of MiscSarge?

    Data collection from clients will work as long as correct ports (port 514 for rsh, port 22 for ssh) are open and the 'miscsarge' user can perform data collection without a password.

    Graph display is via a web interface (port 80 for http).

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  11. Why can't I load historical data?

    Is there data to be loaded? MiscSAR data is pruned by crontab entries (see miscsa2) every few weeks to avoid filling disks.

    Is there already data in the RRDTool database? RRDTool is a "forward only" database, not a random access database. This means that only data with newer time stamps may be inserted into the database. Attempts to load old data will raise RRDTool errors.

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Data Collection

  1. No data is being collected on the client. What's wrong?

    Make sure that MiscSAR is installed and enabled. See step 4 of the configuration of the MiscSARGE Installation Guide

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  3. What is load average?

    According to Wikipedia:

    In UNIX computing, the system load is a measure of the amount of work that a computer system performs. The load average represents the average system load over a period of time. It conventionally appears in the form of three numbers which represent the system load during the last one-, five-, and fifteen-minute periods.

    It can basically be interpreted as the number of processes that were waiting for CPU time during the previous one, five, and fifteen minutes.

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Display

  1. Data appears to be collecting, why aren't the graphs displaying?

    Run "webgen" and see what happens.

    If that doesn't work, it's possible that there is a problem with the miscsar data being entered into RRDTool. RRDTool is a forward only database and some versions of miscsar have been known to enter data with timestamps in the future. We've tried to correct for this, but haven't been able to do so in all cases.

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  3. Why does it display "Too Many Ports" in my Ports Open A-M and Ports Open N-Z graphs?

    The maximum number of disks that can be displayed is 26. Any more than that would clutter the graphs to the point of uselessness.

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  5. The default screen shows "-24h" in Start and "now" in the End boxes, why doesn't it show a date?

    The default display period is 'the last 24 hours.' This is the method RRDTool specifies this period.

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  7. How do I make the graphs bigger/smaller?

    Re-run "webgen" with the "-p <percent>" option. The default size is 75%.

    Ex - Smaller: ./webgen -p 50

    Ex - Larger: ./webgen -p 150

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  9. Can I change the limits of the graphs?

    Again, not easily. RRDTool needs to have limits chosen at the time the databases are created. The limits chosen seem reasonable and are based on years of experience with MiscSAR data and performance monitoring.

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