So, I’ve made some headway on the comparison. I have Hyperic installed and partly configured, albeit without email alerts yet. I’ve found some serious features that I need missing, but I’m going to give it a full run before I move on to another.

The full text, updated a few times a day, is available on my wiki. Here’s a bit of an excerpt:

Part I - Installation

  1. setup Xen virtual machine running OpenSuSE 10.3 base packages. (3 hours, some server problems, some Xen problems, and some time learning Xen administration from the CLI)
  2. Download hyperic-hq-installer-3.2.0-607-x86-linux.tgz from Hyperic and extract.
  3. Browse to
  4. cd into hyperic-hq-installer and run ./ -full

    1. The installation can’t be run as root (though I assumed it would need root privileges).
    2. I selected to install all 3 components - Server, Shell, and Agent.
    3. Well, whoops! Sorta stupid to not allow installation as root, when the default location to install to is /home/hyperic. How do they expect an arbitrary user to install there? Even worse, it appears that the default OpenSuSE 10.3 installation doesn’t come with sudo (!!!!) so I can’t try that.
    4. As root, create /home/hyperic and chown to my user.
    5. Repear the above steps (well, hopefully not all of them).
    6. Default ports for everything - web GUI on 7080, HTTPS web GUI on 7443, jnp service on 2099, mbean server on 9093,
    7. Change domain names in default URLs to logical ones for my test environment (no real DNS, just IPcop hosts, so devel-hyperic1.localdomian). I hope that I can change these later, or even better that absolute paths aren’t used too much, as this will screw with my idea of using SSH port forwarding for remote access.
    8. Leave the default SMTP server alone and change it later - I odn’t even have mail running here at the apartment.
    9. Use the built-in PostgreSQL database with default port of 9432.
    10. Go with the defaults for everything after this.
    11. Everything runs nicely, and then it tells you to login to another terminal as root and run a script. I’m not sure I like this method, but I guess it works. Login and do it.
    12. How will it start the builtin database? As my user???? Yup. postgres is running as my user. Wonderful. Nothing in the install document mentioned user creation. Was this just assumed? Because in the naive world I live in, most installer scripts (think Nagios) create a user for you, or tell you to.
    13. Setup script complete. A few instructions follow…
  5. Run /home/hyperic/server-3.2.0/bin/ start… as my user. Note to self: setup a user for Postgres and Hyperic. Believe it or not, but it booted - but followed with the message, “Login to HQ at:

  6. Browsed to http://devel-hyperic1:7080 and was greeted by a startup page, saying that the server was 18% finished booting. My, I yearn for little C binaries and a PHP frontend.
  7. Page turns blank and stops there. I refresh, and get a login page. I enter my username and password, and get a little message box where the “invalid password” box usually is - says “Server is still booting”. This is over a minute later. I’m happy to see Apache/Coyote1.1, but would like to be able to get into Hyperic in less time than it takes the machine to boot to a graphical login screen (ok, granted, I’m running XFCE). In SuSE’s YaST Xen Monitor, I see that the VM is at 45% of its’ 464MB RAM, and 90% CPU - with 8.5% consumed by dom0.
  8. CPU usage for the VM drops to 1% and I login again. BAM! Hyperic HQ. Aside from the fact that it shows NO resources… oh… start the Agent.
  9. Start the Agent on the VM running Hyperic. It asks me for the server IP address. What, no DNS? I enter the IP as it is… for now. I keep everything at defaults, including using the hqadmin username and password. Successfully started.
  10. BAM! In Dashboard, I see the auto-discovered host with the right hostname, as well as Tomcat, Agent, JBoss, and PostgreSQL. Amazing! Click “Add to Inventory”.
  11. Check out the “Resources” -> “Browse” screen. It knows this machine is OpenSuSE 10.3, and I see my four services (listed above). Of course, no metrics yet, but I see the correct IP, gateway, DNS, vendor (SuSE), kernel version, RAM, architecture, and CPU speed.
  12. Looking through the “Inventory” screen, I see everything - NICs and MACs, running servers and one service (a CPU resource). What more could a man want in…let’s see.. just over an hour!
  13. I really *love* the “Views” screen which, even out-of-the-box, allows “Live Exec” information from cpuinfo, df, ifconfig, netstat, top, who, and more.
  14. Well, it’s 03:35, and I have work and class tomorrow. I think it’s time to give Part I a rest. But first…
  15. Go to the “Platform” page for my one machine and… YES! Graphs are starting to appear!
  16. Following the suggestion here, I enable log and config tracking on the platform for /var/log/warn and /etc/hosts, respecitvely.
  17. Before I call it a night (now 03:42), I stop back at the downloads page and grab the Linux x86 Agent for the dom0 machine, hoping to get some physical information as well. While I’m at it, I grab the Linux AMD64 Agent to try on my laptop. I create “hyperic” users on each system. On the base Xen server, I give it a shot and get “Unable to register agent: Error communicating with agent: Unauthorized”. Same thing on the laptop.
  18. Did a little reading here. As to keeping all of the defaults, it turns out that both clients had firewalls blocking TCP port 2144. I opened it up on both, and also set the IP address (that the server uses to contact the client) to the correct ones. Viola! Now I have 3 clients connected, and gatheirng data for the next \~16 hours until I have time to check it out agian.

More to come in Part II tomorrow - actually doing something with Hyperic. For
now (04:08), time to sleep.

Part II - Configuration

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to play with Hyperic in the two days
since installation. The most I’ve really done is setup Agents on my laptop,
desktop, and the host machine (both dom0 and domU for Hyperic), so that they
start to collect data.

While I found a lot of upsetting stuff in the features list (see below), I
decided to go ahead and add some other devices. On the network at the
apartment, I have two manageable switches (a Linksys and a 3Com) - which pretty
much make up the sum of non-host equipment. I also have an IPcop box, though I
assume the standard Linux Agent will handle that. The one item missing that I
have at home is my set of APC SmartUPS UPSs with SNMP cards, but I guess I’ll
just have to skip them for this review.

First, I went in and added a platform (Resources->Browse, Tools Menu->Add
Platform) for the 3Com switch (a SuperStack II Switch 3300). It showed
successful creation - but nothing else. I went in and entered the SNMP
community string, IP, and version (1). In about a minute or so, I started to
see metrics - Availability, IP Forwards, IP In Receives, an IP In Received per
Second. While it’s quite basic, that’s good for a starting point. While the
Network Device Platform] documentation lists lots of metrics that can be
enabled, I’d also like telnet availability and - my big one since I use a
“cute” (crappy) IPcop installation for local DNS, a dig on DNS to make sure
the entry is there. In the Monitor screen, I was able to enable a bunch of
additional metrics (by clicking on the “Show All Metrics” link), though
there’s also no way (that I can find) to monitor the status of individual

Next, I browsed through the “Administration” pages, setup a few users, and
started setting *way* more default metrics for various platforms, services,
and servers. While I don’t have mail running yet, that will come this
weekend. While I added a lot of things as “Default On”, I still need to go
back and add more things in the templates as Indicators.

I also added some escalations, though they’re quite simple - you can notify HQ
users or “other users” by email or SMS, write to SysLog, or suppress alerts
for 0 minutes to 24 hours. Hopefully I’ll also find a plugin for Asterisk
integration. One striking omission is user groups. Also, the concept of
“Roles” (maybe their idea of groups?) is only available in the Enterprise

At this point, I also notice one other majoe issue, though perhaps I’ll find a
solution in my experimentation - there doesn’t be a way to setup default
alerts for metrics. If they have all of this platform, server, and service
information defined as default templates, why not just have a way to assign
default users (and groups) to these objects, and have default alerts

In terms of Apache 2.2 monitoring, out-of-the-box, nothing worked. No metrics
at all. Firstly, Hyperic requires the mod_status module. Persoanlly, I’d
rather handle all of that through a backend, like Nagios. Secondly, it got the
pidfile and apache2ctl paths wrong. Furthermore, it has no “smart” checking for resources - while my Apache 2.2 resource config was clearly wrong (wrong PID file path, no mod_status), Hyperic didn’t detect this and was showing the resource as “Down”.

After that, I setup a bunch of alerts for things that I thought would be off-kilter a lot (like WARN log entries on my laptop, high memory usage on some stressed machines, etc.) as well as log and config file monitoring and alerts for them. While I didn’t have mail working yet, I figured I might as well get that stuff running.

On the Xen dom0 host that runs the Hyperic vm (box called xenmaster1), I wasn’t able to add config file tracking for any of the /etc/xen/ files. At this point I notice some serious shortcomings - not only is it not possible to define a template of alerts for a given platform/server/service, it’s also impossible to define a template for alerts. I also noticed that it’s not possible to define groups of contacts. This wasn’t much of a problem for my test installation - the alerts are only going to my roommate and I - but it would surely be an issue in any larger setting.

At this point in configuration, I come to a make-or-break point. With some of these shortcomings, I really need a way to call a script with alert information when an alert is generated - whether it’s to dial out through Asterisk or just automatically create a ticket for the problem.

Adding alerts is a cumbersome process. You have to browse to a page for a specific metric - which means going to the page for a specific platform, server, or service - and then opening the page for that metric. The actual alert creation takes up two pages - one for the metric, threshold, and time-based criteria, and a second for who to alert. This means that to add alerts for a machine, you need to view the platform page as well as the services and servers pages, and each metric therein.

I’ll be posting some more in the days to come. From a post at the Hyperic Forums, I was able to find out that a Xen plugin is in the works, but for the Open Source version, the only way to trigger a script is to send an email and have it handled by a filter such as Procmail.


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