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Author Topic: Monitoring/Remote Control tools for Linux  (Read 1562 times)
Dani Filth
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« on: August 19, 2009, 12:15:49 am »

Hello folks,

My company is working on a project with a customer company that use both Windows and Linux for their system.
Their requirement for us is that we can use whatever tools/methods that we have to monitor and troubleshoot any issues which may happen to their system.

There are some general requirements such as :
- How do you assure that the Linux OS of a server is ok? In other words, how do you define a Linux OS as ok? What are the minimum core services required?
- Is there any tools to backup a Linux OS so that if anything occurs, we can use the backup file for disaster recovery to revert the system to how it was before the incident occurs?
- Is there any cross-platform tools to remotely access and control both Windows and Linux because we will do technical support remotely. I searched google for a while and found TightVNC, but haven't had a chance to try it myself.

Does anyone have experience with these? Kindly help me with these troubles  Smiley

Thanks in advance and I truly appreciate any helps here.  Smiley
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M0E-lnx
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2009, 04:46:06 am »

I define a linux OS as ok when it boots and my apps just work. The required core services will depend on your specific needs... There is really nothing set in stone there.
I for intances, like to run only the SSH, netmask, samba, and inetd servers. But other people may need to run a ftp, www, or sql service... so it really depends on what you use this server for.

There are backup tools available, but I have no experience there, so I'll leave that alone.

For remote access, there is really a wide variety of choices ranging from ssh to VNC.
Your options widen even more if you're willing to use a combination of windows and linux software.
For instance, say you're trying to troubleshoot a machine that runs on windows, but you run a Linux os.
You can connect to window's RDP interface using something like rdesktop + tsclient from your linux box and you have the full remote windows desktop right on yours.

VNC is very cross-platform and probably the easiest to work with.
but in my experience, if you're not doing this over a LAN, this is not the best in performance.
VNC would be my last resort.

so, If I were in this pickle, I would use a combination of windows/linux software.

WINDOWS TO LINUX REMOTE DESKTOP
CLIENT: NX client for windows
SERVER: Freenx

LINUX TO WINDOWS REMOTE DESKTOP
CLIENT: rdesktop + tsclient (optional, but useful)
SERVER: RDP

HTH
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brokndodge
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2009, 05:02:26 am »

linux from the ground up and throughout it's unix ancestry is intended and designed for the exact purposes that you describe.  tightvnc may not be the right tool for the task that are are describing.  simply put, remoting into a linux server is a rather simple matter.  google is your friend for this one.  now, getting your windows machines (which do require quite a bit of additional work and probably some expensive tools) to talk nicely with your linux servers may be a bit trickier. 

rdesktop can handle remoting into an xp pro, win2000, or vista pro machine.  it's in the repo, but that version is a lil old and buggy.  we use rdesktop 1.6 at work, building a package is rather simple for that particular tool.  google vectorlinux sbbuilder for instructions.  most of the rest of your windows setup will depend on what your trying to do.  if your trying to run windows servers, ask your self: why?  windows desktops are more understandable.  there are a few corporate tools that require windows.  in our environment we have two such tools.  qcterm to access our old mpe/ix servers and ms office (our sales contracts have not been ported to open office yet, it's a lawyer thing).  for qcterm, wine actually works better than windows.  for office, we set up one win 2000 terminal server and use rdesktop to access it company wide.  we do have four mpe/ix machines (two production, two backup).  the rest are all running linux. 

unfortunately, the web developer with the lowest bid is an ms fanboi, so our corporate website as well as our intranet site heavily rely on ms software.  those are running on the win 2000 server.  unfortunately, the company spent a lot of money on an intranet site that most of the company can't access.  hoping google-chrome will fix that, so far so good, just a few bugs left in that package to work out. 

the thing is, and the moral of the story is, set your ms machines up the way you normally would.  linux is configurable enough to adapt to almost any situation.  i don't worry about the security stuff in linux, i setup a cron job to update each linux machine every night.  if you want tighter control over what gets patched then setup your own repository server and vet each package before you make it available.  but, i tend to figure that most distro's are pretty good at making sure a patch won't break something before releasing it. 

as for your specific questions: 
Quote
- How do you assure that the Linux OS of a server is ok? In other words, how do you define a Linux OS as ok? What are the minimum core services required?
i don't understand this question. if your asking what services need to be initialized during startup, that depends mostly on what your intentions are for the server. 
Quote
- Is there any tools to backup a Linux OS so that if anything occurs, we can use the backup file for disaster recovery to revert the system to how it was before the incident occurs?
most assuredly, there are various raid options built into the kernel.  also is't fairly easy to script nightly or hourly backups.  load balancing accross multiple servers (hey, if the software is free and cheap, you can use two or three times as many servers)  most of this stuff is in the repository, the rest can be googled.
Quote
- Is there any cross-platform tools to remotely access and control both Windows and Linux because we will do technical support remotely. I searched google for a while and found TightVNC, but haven't had a chance to try it myself.
windows terminal server, rdesktop and i believe there is a linux terminal server project (xrdp) that uses the same protocols as the builtin windows remote desktop tool.  also, a google search revealed openwbem which might fit the bill. 

linux server and desktop administration is not as complex as it's ms conterparts.  sure you might have to get into the commandline every now and then. but if your an admin and your scared of the commandline, well, you should be looking for another line of work.  like i said before, just set up the windows machines the way you normally would, then configure your linux machines around them.  i'll almost guarantee, if your linux machines are setup correctly, they won't be the ones that keep yuo up at night.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 05:16:20 am by brokndodge » Logged

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brokndodge
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nightflier
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2009, 05:07:07 am »

I can offer a couple of suggestions based on personal experience.

Backing up operating system: Since I don't have to worry about activation or registry entries, I just back up my configuration files. In the case of a system restore, I re-install the OS and applications, then restore the config files. Of course your data needs a different approach. In my case, simple shell scripts use rsync to copy data to a sepearate, dedicated backup server. There are of course high-level tools that will do data and OS, but I have not used any.

TightVNC is probably the easiest to set up and use if you want to control display 0 (what the user sees) on Windows, but the TightVNC server will not do this on a Linux desktop. You could use x11vnc on the Linux side. However, Linux servers usually don't run X-windows. You control them using command line. In that case, SSH is the tool of choice.
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rbistolfi
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2009, 05:45:06 am »

I use backup-manager http://www.backup-manager.org/about/
I set it up to backup all the data weekly and incremental backups daily (that is, it does a master backup of all the files tracked once a week, and backups only changed files daily. A restore implies using one master backup and as daily ones as days passed after the master was made.) It can use several protocols to send the zipped files to a remote server, rsync, ssh, ftp, etc.
About monitoring a linux box, I use a double approach. I test sending messages from my desktop box to the server and parsing the responses. You can do simple tests like this one by using ping for example. The other approach is using scripts at the server that would send a mail if some service goes down. It is pretty easy to write a script to check a pid file or the output of the system log, and send a mail if some problem is detected. Some commands you may want to look at are ps aux, dmesg. The contents of /var/run might be interesting also.
These tasks can be done without much pain using the scripting languages usually present in every linux box, like perl, python and bash.

HTH
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bigpaws
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Posts: 1857


« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2009, 08:31:43 am »

I define a Linux Server as ok when all required services are available.

Remote connections I use ssh, and screen for Linux for Windows boxes I use
UltraVNC with ssh tunnel.

Remote backup I use rsync on all boxes. There are other ways to backup
that work as well.

As far as reinstall you could image the disks and then use the image to
restore. Depends on the speed you need to be back up and running.

Windows can be challenging even more so when you work with the flexibility
the Linux and others offer.

Bigpaws
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Dani Filth
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Posts: 15


« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2009, 10:18:38 pm »

Thank you all for your replies. We are still doing some set-ups so maybe I will be around and look for your help again soon.
Thanks again  Smiley
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