cacti, or how it should not be done…

Over the years I have used a lot of OSS in my work to handle all kinds of tasks. I’ve setup a lot of Linux boxes with Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc..

For monitoring these machines we are using Nagios and Cacti. Nagios is pretty nice although there are some issues. Playing enough with it you can even monitor MS Exchange, MS Sql and Active directory machines using WMI calls through the check_nt plugin. This next to a lot of Unix/Linux checks.

Cacti handles everything using snmp by default. Once it is setup correctly that works fine. The bad part is setting it up correctly when it comes to using templates other then the ones that are in the project by default. When you need anything else a real challenge is faced.

Over the last couple of days I tried to find a solution for getting graphs using wmi data. The first thing I needed to do was either compile a very old wmic project that now seems to be abandoned. Parts of Samba are included there. This was solved using an Ubuntu package that I found (Debian is not even supporting it anymore in unstable). Be aware that using Debian Lenny and updates using the non-free repository will break wmic again. So do not make the machine available to the public and do not update it once it is working.

After some testing with the wmi scripts for cacti I found how to query and setup the right permissions on the windows machines. The wmi.php script calls the wmic executable and even gathers data. So far so good.

I then started messing around with the templates for graphs, data input, etc… Nothing happened. Whatever we do, rddtool dump shows only NaN values in the .rrd file. Now the real tricky part starts. To find a solution for your problem there only is a forum. For the specific problem I have I need to go through 38 pages holding 10 posts each. It holds information about different versions, it offers downloads to newer graph templates, etc…

At this moment I still did not find the solution. I even tend to give up and let the people who need to write reports for customers use the Nagios graphs we have. Cacti seems to have lifted the Bazaar development method a little to high. Imho they should offer clear download links and the people developing additions to it should learn how to write at least some basic documentation.

B.t.w. I also downloaded Zenoss again since they seem to support wmi too. They have there own packages for it. I started the vmware image and installed the package. It gave the same sort of errors…..


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2 thoughts on “cacti, or how it should not be done…

  1. Thomas Urban September 30, 2010 at 7:06 am Reply

    For creating and sending out PDF Reports containing the Cacti graphs, you can go for the CereusReporting plugin for Cacti. It does have an installation guide as well as a users manual.

    Scheduling reports is only available in the commercial corporate edition.

    There’s also a plugin available that integrates the nagios pnp4nagios graphs into Cacti …

    But yes, you are right that most of the addons, plugins and templates do not have a proper manual, but still getting support from the Cacti forum is great as it is a pretty active community.

  2. Hans March 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm Reply

    After getting a tip on irc I installed pnp4nagios today. I can recommend it. It shows performance counters for a lot of services and enables you to create pdf reports for your customers.

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