UNIX Sysadmin Resources – System and Network Management

This content was originally created, collected, and maintained by Stokely Consulting.
As of May 2005, it is being hosted and maintained by Bill Bradford.

Reviews & Information | Public Domain & Free Tools | Commercial Tools

Reviews & Information:

Monitoring Tools for Larger Sites describes event/fault and site monitoring Reviews Big Brother, Mon, Big Sister, NetSaint and MRTG. Written by Stephen Chan, Cary Whitney, Iwona Sakreja and Shane Canon for USENIX ;login.
System and Network Monitoring is a good primer on monitoring. Describes different types of monitoring, data logging, analysis, reporting, how to evaluate monitoring systems. Written by John Sellens for USENIX ;login.

Public Domain & Free Tools:

The Angel Network Monitor generates beautiful HTML tables showing the status of the devices on your network. Written in Perl and Java, freeware. Great documentation, easy to extend the software.
Big Sister is a rework of Sean MacGuire’s Big Brother, written in Perl. Compatible with Big Brother. Runs on NT and Unix. Free software, distributed under GPL.
Cfengine is an agent/software robot and a high level policy language for building expert systems to administrate and configure large computer networks. Cfengine uses the idea of classes and a primitive intelligence to define and automate the configuration and maintenance of system state, for small to huge configurations. Extremely powerful. Provided by Mark Burgess under the GNU license.
Cultured Perl: Automating UNIX system administration with Perl describes how to use cfengine to implement a centralized configuration file strategy.
Configuration and Service Tracker (CST) from Sun for Solaris SPARC systems, is a Web-enabled application. CST continuously tracks critical hardware and software events that occur on monitored systems over time, so that Sun system administrators can perform root cause analysis, track system availability, detect system configuration changes, and more. Free software.
coolcommands.com is a search engine for UNIX system administrators. The database provides access to useful commands for all flavors of UNIX. coolcommands.com is not an online database of man pages but is a query tool to find commands or one-line scripts which provide a function in a UNIX environment.
Cricket is a high performance, extremely flexible system for monitoring trends in time-series data. Cricket was expressly developed to help network managers visualize and understand the traffic on their networks, but it can be used for other jobs.
daemontools contains several useful tools for monitoring, logging, timestamping and log-watching. From D.J. Bernstein.
Eclipse provides system administrators with a simple, extensible tool to monitor the status of multiple clients and network connections. All monitoring is done through automatically generated WEB pages. Written in plain tcl and requires tcl version 7.5 or better. Tested and supported on SunOS 4.1.x, SOLARIS 2.x, AIX 3.2.5, AIX 4.x, and Linux.
Ganglia Cluster Toolkit provides a complete real-time monitoring and execution environment. Simple to install and use. All data is exchanged in well-defined XML and XDR to ensure maximum extensibility and portability.
Ganymede/gash2 is a portable and customizable network directory management system. Written in Java, designed to provide management for existing NIS, DNS, LDAP and other network directory servers, not to replace them. Provided by the Computer Science Division of the Applied Research Laboratories of The University of Texas at Austin.
ifmonitor is a simple network interface traffic logger and grapher for Linux. The collector daemon logs network traffic totals to mySQL every minute and displays the consumed bandwidth graph (drawn in realtime) in the web frontend. Many different language translations supported.
mon – Service Monitoring Daemon is a general-purpose resource monitoring system. It can be used to monitor devices, network services, server conditions and much more. mon tests for a condition and triggers a user-defined action (like paging someone) on failure. Very configurable. Written by Jim Trocki.
MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher) is an snmp agent which runs from cron. Written in Perl.
RRDtool is a reimplementation of MRTG’s graphing and logging features. RRD is a system to store and display time-series data (i.e. network bandwidth, machine-room temperature, server load average). It stores the data in a very compact way that will not expand over time, and it presents useful graphs by processing the data to enforce a certain data density. It can be used either via simple wrapper scripts (from shell or Perl) or via frontends that poll network devices and put a friendly user interface on it.
Nagios is a host and service monitor. Designed to run under Linux, but works fine under most *NIX variants. The monitoring daemon runs intermittent checks on hosts and services you specify using external “plugins” which return status information to Nagios. When problems are encountered, the daemon can send notifications out to administrative contacts in a variety of different ways (email, instant message, SMS, etc.). Current status information, historical logs, and reports can all be accessed via a web browser.
Installing Nagios will help you install and configure Nagios. Written by Oktay Altunergil.
nocol/snips is a system and net monitoring software package for Unix. Can poll network and system devices, monitors nameservers, web ports, host performance, syslogs, Radius servers. Easy to add monitors via C or Perl API. Maintained by Vikas Aggarwal.
NorthStar IP Address Tracking System tracks and allocates IP Addresses in a network. Can also track out-of-band access ports, Remote Power Control ports, DNS information and other information that can be related to a specific device. Written in Perl and should be fairly portable to most platforms.
OpenPKG Project allows cross-platform RPM-based Unix software packaging. Supports many different Unix flavors.
PIKT (Problem Informant/Killer Tool) monitors heterogeneous networked machines, reports problems and fixes the problems automatically when it can. PIKT is an embedded scripting language, script interpreter, script scheduler, installer, script and configuration file management facility. Free GPL software. Commercial support available. Written by Robert Osterlund.
PPing is a TCP port pinger. The output is similar to the ICMP ping command. Runs on Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and BSD/OS. Written by Michael Hedlund.
SEC – simple event correlator is a free and platform independent event correlation tool. It accepts input from regular files, named pipes, and standard input, and lets you define rules to take action on the events.
SE Toolkit by Adrian Cockroft and Rich Pettit. It’s an extensive toolkit of performance tools and utilities and you can easily build in more. It’s great for finding bottlenecks in Solaris 2.x performance.
ServDoc is a system information tool for different Unixes and standard software products.
Spong is a simple system/network monitoring package, written in Perl, shows results in a web browser. Maintained by Stephen L Johnson. Based on Big Brother.
Tkwatcher is a tcl program that allows monitoring and analysis of program output. Can report problems via email, to a file, to stdout or external programs.
Topitall is a system monitoring tool designed to run as an agent or daemon, to gather and display html time-series graphs of the most useful system resource information. It uses vmstat, ps, df and uptime to gather information and gnuplot to display them as a series of time-series graphs. Generates alerts by email and syslog when configured thresholds are triggered. Individual processes or whole applications can be monitored. Written in Perl5 by John Belshaw.
WOTS is a tool for monitoring logging output from multiple sources and then generating actions and reports based on what is found in these logs. Written in Perl by Tony Curtis.
Webmin is a free web-based admin interface for Unix systems. Via a web browser, you can configure DNS, Apache, Samba, filesystems, startup scripts, inetd, crontabs and more. Written in Perl5 and easily extendable. Supports several Linux versions and Solaris.
Xlogmaster from GNU, is a program that lets you monitor an almost infinite number of logfiles and all devices that can be read via "cat", like the /proc ones. Define filters, take actions on events. Runs on most Unix versions.

Commercial Tools:

AdminUX is a system administration framework used to monitor and maintain Unix systems automatically. Enterprise Management Console coordinates alarm notifications with CA Unicenter TNG, HP OpenView and Tivoli NetView and Enterprise products. Runs on at least Red Hat, Caldera, SuSe, Tru 64, DG/UX, HP-UX, Aix, Open Server and Solaris.
Akcp Inc. designs and develops remote environmental monitoring devices that are low cost, SNMP enabled and web based. Their intelligent sensors can measure humidity, temperature, airflow, water, dry contacts, voltage and more, sending alerts via email, SNMP and SMS.
Aprisma SPECTRUM suite of products that monitor, analyze and restore service across multiple platforms.
Automize is java-based automation software from Hitek Software. Runs on Solaris, Linux, HPUX, AIX, and all other Java 1.3 enabled Unix platforms.
Big Brother is a commercial Web-based Unix Network Monitoring and Notification System, written by Sean MacGuire. C source provided. It runs on (at least) FreeBSD, Solaris and SunOS, Linux and Red Hat Linux, SCO, HPUX, NetBSD, Ultrix, OSF, Irix and UnixWare. Clients include NT and Novell Netware. It can send pager alerts on any condition you wish, and is easy to configure. Monitors connectivity, http servers, disk space usage, uptime, essential processes, system messages and more. Very cool system.
BladeLogic data center software allow you to control thousands of UNIX, NT, Linux and other platform servers using familiar commands, all from a single console.
Change Management Expert is a web-based system that allows companies to track, document and safely implement changes in company resources such as computer equipment. All changes are stored in a relational database with a date/time stamp, with defined tasks for initiators, approvers, implementers and verifiers. Server runs on Windows, Solaris, Linux.
Computer Associates Unicenter provides integrated, enterprise-wide computing and data management.
ConsoleWorks from TECSys Development, LP is a web-based solution that provides secure remote monitoring and management for systems, networks and virtually any device that has a serial console port. It notifies users of events, activates actions based on the event and logs all activity crossing the console interface.
COSMOS from Open Systems Management provides a system management framework and a suite of programs and scripts with GUI and character-based interfaces for the multi-vendor Unix and NT environment.
FieldSight from Microport, Inc. monitors kernel/user memory allocation, apps, disks, jobs, controllers, process availability/scheduling, swap, and panic events. On problem detection, it will post logs, take system snapshots, dial out for help, page technicians, reboot, and reconfigure test thresholds. It survives panics, crashes and other failures that render a system inaccessible and still gives technicians remote dial-up access (even to kdb) when no other person can login or use the system. Runs on SCO Unixware and available on other Unix V versions.
Foglight detects problems within the individual components of the IT infrastructure, correlates these components and provides relevant information at the application level. From Quest Software.
HP OpenView manages systems, applications and the entire computing environment.
iAM:Servers is a system management tool to monitor and manage Unix systems through proactive, automatic problem fixing. Intelligent agents emulate the same steps a skilled IT professional would take in order to solve problems. Unix flavors – Tru64, Sun Solaris, HPUX, AIX and Linux. From Itheon Ltd.
InfoWIZ from SoftDomain, Inc. is a customizable remote service agent that lets you access data securely via any e-mail capable device such as cell phones, two-way pagers and PDAs. InfoWIZ uses your existing e-mail infrastructure.
Liebert Corporation, makers of UPS, surge surpression systems, precision air conditioning, enclosures, site environmental monitoring and software products, and DC power products.
Micromuse Netcool Solutions suite provides realtime fault management and service assurance solutions. It monitors the network for events, with GUI and text outputs. Lots of features.
Moonlight3 from Moonlight Systems, Inc. is a complete data center management application which automates the manual data center processes of modeling and configurations, distributing software and updates, audits and analyzes system states and helps to proactively manage network reliability.
NeedTEXT Shell lets you connect to network equipment (UNIX, NT servers, routers) from a RIM BlackBerry handheld. Perform any command line task. Contains logging, 128-bit encryption, wireless or direct connect capabilities.
NetBotz, Inc. makes web-accessible and SNMP network appliances for environmental monitoring of critical spaces and racks.
NetVigil from Fidelia is a massively scalable management tool for systems, network and applications. Runs on Solaris and Linux, ideally suited for enterprises and Service Providers with geographically distributed locations and/or multiple departments.
OpManager from ManageEngine is a comprehensive network, system and application monitoring software that offers advanced network monitoring functionality at an affordable price. Provides comprehensive router, switch, printer and server management functionality out-of-the-box. OpManager monitors networks, systems, services, applications and more, and can send automatic notifications by email / SMS.
OStivity, from Somix Technologies, is a web-based hardware and software asset inventory product.
Patrol from BMC Software manages "the entire business process" including the applications, databases, servers and networks.
PowerBroker, PowerPassword from Symark Software. PowerBroker allows delegation of root privileges with more granular control than sudo, while providing an indelible audit trail. PowerPassword lets system administrators control which users can log in to each Unix machine under which circumstances. Both run on most Unix platforms.
PureSecure for Windows and Unix is an all-inclusive network monitoring solution that allows you to monitor an entire network of servers from one powerful web interface. From Demarc Security.
RepliWeb cross platform, peer-to-peer file replication and one-to-many content distribution for production environments. Runs on Linux, commercial Unix, NAS platforms and Windows. Free 30 day download and support.
RiverSoft is a network management system that offers advanced discovery, polling and root-cause analysis all in a single solution. It uses object modeling, a problem analysis method that identifies objects, or classes of network elements, and the connections between them.
SarCheck is an inexpensive tool which analyzes the output of sar, ps and other tools, then identifies problem areas and recommends changes to the system’s tunable parameters. Runs on at least HP-UX, SCO and Solaris.
Sensorsoft Corporation provides monitoring solutions for temperature, humidity, flooding and power loss at remote locations.
sentinel3G is a monitoring tool for Linux, Unix and Windows NT/2000 systems. It monitors and manages operating systems, SNMP enabled devices, internet services, databases and applications. From 3G Software.
SiteMaestro is server, system and network monitoring and alarming software for multiple operating systems including Solaris, Linux, NT, and Windows 2000. There is also an Oracle8 plug-in to monitor and alarm critical database information. SiteMaestro has an embedded web-server so you can easily access all your monitoring and alarming information from any web browser. The software is easy to install (single 3 Mbyte executable file), easy to customize and easy to extend to include any custom scripts. Alarms are generated when necessary and are sent via SMTP to an e-mail account, pager or cell phone.
SysOrb is a stand-alone Agent/Server system that monitors networked nodes, sends alerts, interfaces with several system management frameworks, and collects statistics and historical data. Available for many server operating systems. From Evalesco Systems.
SysInfo provides highly detailed data on Unix/Linux based systems. It shows operating system configuration, installed hardware, low level device attributes, installed software, disk partitioning, and kernel parameters. Low cost, free to educational and non-profit organizations. From MagniComp.
Syslist is a secure, web-based inventory management program designed to keep track of an organization’s systems, peripherals, and software. “Systems” include: PCs, servers, laptops, network printers, etc. Features include a powerful administrative utility that allows you to grant inventory access of varying degrees to other users, software license tracking, and more.
Sysload is a system performance and monitoring tool for diagnosing problems across heterogeneous platforms (OS, DBMS, Apps). Flexible reporting on real-time and historical system data for finding bottlenecks. Features include alerts, trend analysis, automatic diagnosis, log analysis, web application, response time, and service level monitoring. NRG Global is a US distributor and tech support provider for Sysload.
SystemEDGE uses SNMP to give information about the system’s configuration, status, performance, users, applications, file systems, processes, and more to remote managers. Lets you to manage thousands of Unix and NT systems from a single site.
Taricon Xi-Batch is a networked job scheduler, providing a common point of control and management of jobs across networks of UNIX and Linux hosts. Simple, transparent operation, extensive security features and multiple user interfaces. Graphical and character user and administrative interfaces. Allows users to submit jobs without the need for a UNIX login. High performance with low overhead. Full API.
TeamQuest Performance Software is a suite of tools that can help plan server consolidation, manage service levels, predict capacity requirements, plan system expansion, identify underutilized resources, and detect performance bottlenecks.
Telemon, Inc., makers of TelAlert – an automated notification system for alerting and remote management. Supports paging, voice messaging, escalations, duty scheduling and environmental monitoring.
Tivoli central management of all computing resources.
UniSolutions Associates JobAcct (job accounting and chargeback software for Unix), SysAdmin (integrated sysadm package with a secure menu interface to delegate sysadm tasks) and BART (unattended network backup system). Downloadable demos are available.
Uptime Devices, Inc. tools for environmental monitoring, serial device controllers, intelligent power strips, network management software and utilities, and USB sensors.
Versalynx Corporation makes a rack mounted Environmental Monitor which provides temperature, humidity, and input channel data on a corporate Ethernet.