Syslog and Collectd

Monitoring your packages with syslog and collectd

Introduction

In this article, we will explain why it is important to monitor your system packages and explore the main tools that allow you to do this, such as syslog and collectd. We will also tell you how to monitor system packages using PackagecloudPackagecloud is a service that does not depend on programming language and operating system. It allows you to manage packages of any type and deploy them to any environment using one simple and convenient interface.

            

To learn more about how to use Packagecloud to monitor system packages, sign up for the Packagecloud free trial.

           

Why is it important to monitor packages?

The main purpose of monitoring packages is to maintain system performance, quickly identify and correct errors. Monitoring allows you to make sure that all services and applications are working as expected. There are different types of packages that contain information about user actions, transactions history, resource usage, and critical system errors. You should use automatic monitoring tools to simplify the monitoring and analysis of a large number of system packages. Below we will take a closer look at some of them.

       

What is syslog?

Syslog is a standard for sending system and application status messages. Messages can transfer information about events type, events timestamps, status, and more. Syslog works on MacOs, Linux, Unix, and other *nix systems. Syslog is not natively supported on Windows systems, but there are a lot of third-party tools that allow Windows devices to communicate via a syslog server.

      

A big advantage of syslog is that the log server can track a huge number of syslog events through log files. Although syslog files are standardized, they can still vary greatly from system to device. This makes their use and transfer between different servers very inconvenient.Using the syslog, the system administrator can learn about any deviations from the normal functioning of the system or device. Syslog data can also be used to create detailed reports, diagrams that explain the structure of the network.

      

What is collectd?

Collectd is a daemon that collects system and application performance statistics. It runs in the background and receives data that can be used to get information about the health of the system. Collectd is an open-source tool. During its development, great attention is paid to fixing errors and improving the quality of the code.

   

Collectd has a high level of portability. It does not depend on any external dependencies. This allows it to run on many different operating systems. Collectd is highly extensible. There are different plugins for many programming languages ​​(such as C, Perl, Java, and Python) that allow you to extend the functionality of collectd according to your needs. Collectd is scaling. It allows you to control one or more hosts, it works great for both small and large networks.

        

Installing collectd

Before installing collectd, make sure that Python and Apache server are installed on your system.

       

To download and install the collectd package for Ubuntu/Debian users, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install collectd

   

RHEL/CentOS 6.x/5.x users need to enable EPEL repository first on your system and then install the collectd package from it:

yum install collectd

      

RHEL/CentOS 7.x users can install and enable EPEL repository from default yum repos using the following commands:

yum install epel-release
yum install collectd

      

After installing the collectd package, run the following command to start the service for Ubuntu/Debian/RHEL/CentOS 6.x/5.x users:

service collectd start

      

For RHEL/CentOS 7.x users run:

systemctl start collectd.service

       

Configuring collectd

The collectd configuration is defined in the collectd.conf file located in /etc/collectd on a Linux system. Open this file for editing using the following command:

sudo vim /etc/collectd/collectd.conf

      

The configuration file contains a lot of commented lines to make it easier to set up. You can make basic collectd configuration settings by simply uncommenting some lines. Collectd also provides commented configurations for plugins that are disabled by default to help format the configuration file properly when enabled.

      

You can read more about all the configuration options in the official documentation.

        

How to collect system stats

Before you start collecting labels, you need to enable the mod_status module for apache2 on the host machine. This can be done using the following command:

sudo a2enmod status

      

Then stop and restart the Apache webserver with the following commands:

sudo service apache2 stop
sudo service apache2 start

     

Then go to http://127.0.0.1/server-status page. If the Apache webserver statistics page generated by your Apache instance opens, you are done.

      

Now we need to configure the Apache plugin in the collectd configuration file.

In the collectd.conf file located in /etc/collectd find the LoadPlugin section and add or uncomment the following line:

LoadPlugin Apache

     

Paste the following block of code:

<plugin apache>
<instance "web tracking">
URL "http://localhost/server-status?auto"
Server "apache"
</instance>
</plugin>

      

This way we set up one instance for the Apache plugin. This instance will be called "web-tracking" and http://localhost/server-status?auto will be used by collectd to collect web server metrics.

       

To track system metrics, you first need to select the metrics you want to track using the collectd configuration. Collectd tracks certain system metrics using plugins. Open the collectd.conf file, enable and configure the plugins you want to use. There are different plugins that you may need to enable. For example, CPU, battery, disk, memory, etc.

      

Collectd does not provide graphical functions for creating visualizations. To display metrics collected with collectd, you need to use additional tools.

       

Using packagecloud for tracking system metrics

Packagecloud is a cloud service that allows you to store system packages in a repository, and also provides access to package data analytics and statistics. Packagecloud allows you to store packages of different types in one repository. It supports such packages as RPM, Debian, npm, Python, RubyGem, Node.JS, JAR, WAR, APK, AAR.

   

Packagecloud has a multi-level authentication system that keeps your data secure. It is also possible to distribute the data access levels. Packagecloud supports custom domains, GPG keys, and SSL certificates for signing package repositories. Packagecloud is independent of the programming language, infrastructure used, and operating system. It can be installed on your cloud provider's server. An important advantage of using Packagecloud is the presence of a convenient and beautiful interface with which you can manage your packages.

        

Create a free trial Packagecloud account and test all benefits that it provides for monitoring your packages.

      

To get started with Packagecloud first you need to log in. After that create a repository and upload packages to it. A Packagecloud repository allows you to store a set of packages and metadata and provides more features than a traditional one. For working with repositories you can use the Packagecloud GUI or the command line.

   

From the command line, you can create repositories for different packages types, upload packages to the created repository, remove packages, promote packages between repositories, create and remove the master and read tokens to control access to the repository. Read more about all possible command-line commands in the Packagecloud documentationPackagecloud allows you to store different types of packages for different Linux distributions in one repository. You can also save multiple versions of packages.

         

Conclusion

Monitoring your system packages is a very important process for keeping applications, services, and systems up and running. Popular tools such as syslog and collectd have the ability to collect and store metrics but cannot visualize them. Therefore, there is a need for a tool that provides opportunities not only to collect metrics but also to analyze and visualize them. One such tool is Packagecloud.

         

Check out the Packagecloud free trial and use all benefits it provides for working with system packages.

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