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Frequently Asked Questions





		The Big Brother System and Network Monitor
------------------------------------------------------------------------
			Frequently Asked Questions
		    Version 1.9i  - Fri, 30 Dec 2005 20:19:58 PST
				LICENSE
------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.0	About Big Brother

	1.1	What is Big Brother?
	1.2	Where can I get Big Brother?
	1.3	What is the current version?
	1.4	What do I need to run Big Brother?
	1.5	How do I install Big Brother?
	1.6	How can I upgrade?

2.0	Debugging Big Brother

	2.1	I get the message: "bb: CAN'T CONNECT TO bbd"
	2.2.1	I get lots of processes, then bb dies!
	2.2.2	bbnet test dies
	2.3	I get garbage / my environment all over my screen
	2.4	I get the message: "Can't open stream socket"
	2.5	conn (connection) test is always red / not working...
	2.6	http test is always red / not working...
	* 2.7	bbnet is dumping core
	2.8	Background color is always red / yellow / wrong
	2.9	Pager problems
	2.10	I've removed a host in bb-hosts and the screen is purple
	2.11	The gifs aren't displayed properly
	2.12	I'm not getting numeric pages
	2.13	Generating trace code to debug the notification feature


3.0	Using Big Brother

	3.1	How can I monitor routers / things that have no hostname?
	3.2	Can I monitor NT's, Novell servers, VAXEN with BB?
	3.3	Can I monitor things outside my network?
	3.4	Is Big Brother secure?  Do you have to be root to run it?
	3.5	How can I monitor more TCP services?
	3.6	How can I check password protected web pages?
	3.7	Can BB restart processes that have failed?
	3.8	Can BB show historical data?
	3.9	How can I add my own tests ?
	3.10	Can I check for errors in multiple log files ?
	3.11	Starting BB at system boot
	3.12	Why is availability report not working ?

4.0 	Miscellaneous Big Brother questions

	4.1	Where is the name from?
	4.2	Do you write BB or bb?
	4.3	Whose picture is that, and can I get rid of it?
	4.4	Is there a Big Brother user contribution site?
	4.5	Where can I get more help?

5.0      Security Considerations


------------------------------------------------------------------------
This FAQ is © Copyright Quest Software, Inc.  1997-2003  All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------------------





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Rev 12-16-2003

Questions? Comments? 

Contact:
	Quest Software, Inc.
     	E-mail: info@bb4.com
      	Tel: +1 (514) 996-INET
      	Fax: +1 (514) 996-0326

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Section 1: About Big Brother

1.1	What is Big Brother?

	Big Brother is a Web-based Systems and Network monitor written by
	Sean MacGuire (sean@bb4.com) and Robert-Andre Croteau (robert@bb4.com).

	Big Brother consists of simple shell scripts which periodically
	monitor system conditions and network connectivity.  Disk space,
	CPU, servers, and important processes can be kept track of.
	Unix and NT systems are supported  by Quest Software, Inc. 
	but we've heard of clients for Netware, /AS/400 and VMS.

	The Big Brother display is a Web page that presents a matrix of
	machines and monitored functions, with color codes denoting the
	current status.  

	Big Brother can notify administrators via a pager, e-mail and can also
	notify by numeric pager and SMS devices if the appropriate 3rd-party
	software is installed.


1.2	Where can I get Big Brother?

	Big Brother is only available via the web at http://bb4.com/


1.3	What's the current version?

	The current version of BB is 1.9i / Fri, 30 Dec 2005 20:19:58 PST.


1.4	What do I need to run Big Brother?

	Big Brother for Unix is written as Bourne Shell scripts (/bin/sh),
	with a couple of C programs for client-server communications.  You'll
	need:

	* A C compiler to port BB
	* A Web server to serve up the results

	For Paging, we recommend:
	* Kermit (http://www.kermit-project.org/) and a modem (for numeric pager communications)
	* Qpage (http://www.qpage.org) or Sendpage for Alpha pagers
	
	BB has been ported to and configuration files are available for
	most Unix and Linux-based systems.

	Big Brother for NT requires Windows NT 4.0 with at least service
	pack 3 installed.  It is available for the Intel platform (PC) only.


1.5	How do I install Big Brother?

	*** READ THE README.SECURITY FILE BEFORE PROCEEDING ***

	Unpack the archive, read the README.INSTALL and follow the
	instructions.  Basically

		cd install
		./bbconfig
		cd ../src 
		make
		make install
		cd ../
		chown -R  .
		cd etc/ 
			edit etc/bb-hosts, bbdef.sh,
			bbwarnrules.cfg and bbwarnsetup.cfg [server]
		and start it 
			cd ..
			./runbb.sh start

	Please read the README.install for client or server
	specific installation instructions.


1.6	How can I upgrade?

	Save your old bb-hosts/bbwarnrules.cfg/bbwarnsetup.cfg
	files... then...

	Depends how much customization has been made to your version
	of Big Brother.  Generally, all you should have to do is 
	recompile, make the above changes, and add your current
	settings to the config files in etc/. You may have to copy
	external scripts in ext/ if you are using some.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

Section 2: Debugging Big Brother


2.1	I get the message: "bb: CAN'T CONNECT TO bbd"

	This message indicates that an instance of bb can't
	connect to the Big Brother daemon.  This might be because
	bbd isn't running on the BB server, or that bb can't
	determine where bbd lives because of some troubles with
	the bb-hosts file.

	So check the following things:

	* bbd is actually running on the BB server...
	* BBHOME is correctly set in runbb.sh...
	* Your bb-hosts file is formatted correctly
	* Your firewall isn't blocking port 1984

	Some errors can be caught by:

	cd etc
	run ./bbchkcfg.sh
	run ./bbchkhosts.sh


2.2.1	I get lots of processes, then bb dies!

	Define -DZOMBIE in the Makefile, recompile and run "make install".
	This seems to happen on some Solaris machines, and will definitely
	happen on SunOS 4.1.3, although 4.1.4 is OK!


2.2.2	bbnet test hangs 

	Define -DSIGSETJMP in the Makefile, recompile and run "make install".
	This seems to happen on some RedHat machines.  Signals aren't
	handled properly.    Could also happen on other Linux distributions.
	

2.3	I get garbage / my environment all over my screen

	This is almost always due to a problem with the way your bb-hosts
	file is laid out.  BB needs this file to be perfect to work, and
	any little problem with it will cause BB to fail. 

	The most common cause of this problem is pop3 being defined as
	pop-3 in /etc/services.  Make sure the spelling of all services
	in bb-hosts matches /etc/services.

	Make sure also that the BBDISPLAY/BBPAGER are defined only once in
	the etc/bb-hosts file.  Also make sure that the hostnames defined
	in etc/bb-hosts are the same as returned by 'uname -n'.


2.4	I get the message: "Can't open stream socket"

	This message is from bbd being unable to attach itself to port
	1984 and begin listening.  Make sure there are no "bb" processes
	running (bb, bbd).  If there are, kill them.

	Make sure port 1984 is also not in use.  To check this issue
	the following command:

		netstat -an | grep 1984

	If anything comes back, wait a few minutes and try again.
	Once this command returns nothing, you should be able to
	start up Big Brother.


2.5	conn (connection) test is always red / not working...

	The connections column is generated from the machine defined
	as BBNET in bb-hosts.  This machine tries to ping every IP
	address listed in the bb-hosts file. BB looks to see that the
	reply from ping contains the string "bytes from".

	Check that PING and PINGPARS are set correctly in etc/bbsys.sh
	or etc/bbsys.local.


2.6	http test is always red / not working...

	This is usually because the http test isn't for the same
	machine as defined on that line in the bb-hosts file, i.e.:

	Wrong: 204.101.110.101 fred.bobo.com # http://youre.bobo.com/
	Right: 204.101.110.101 fred.bobo.com # http://fred.bobo.com/


2.7 *	bbnet is dumping core

	Add a trailing slash at the end of the URL.  This is a programming
	bug by the author.   Fixed as of v.1.04g thanks to Doug White
	<dwhite@gdi.uoregon.edu>


2.8	Background color is always red / yellow / wrong

	The background color should reflect the most serious state
	on your network at any given time.  If it's not doing this, or
	the background color is wrong, it's because there are some
	leftover log file in the $BBLOGS directory (BBLOGS is
	defined in etc/bbinc-server.sh).  To check this, hit the
	VIEW button on the main web screen, and the offending
	entries should become visible.  Delete them.  They live in
	$BBLOGS and an HTMLized version is in www/html.


2.9	Pager problems

	The paging subsystem is really time sensitive.  It's possible
	that the timing be either too long or two short for your pager.

	The following comes from  Don Carney <dcarney@fmi.fujitsu.com>:
	In the etc/numeric.scr where it actually dials the number.
	the command is something like
		dial /@[3],,,,,,,,/@[4]
	my fix was to remove a few of the commas, and everything worked 
	fine.  (Commas are generally used by modems for short delays).

	Similarly if you're using one of those 800 number paging services
	you'll probably have to embed these commas in the pager number
	itself, something like:
		PAGER="1800PAGENET,,,,,,7777"
	where 7777 is your account number.
		

2.10	I've removed a host in etc/bb-hosts and the screen is purple

	After you remove a host(s) in etc/bb-hosts, you must remove the
	corresponding files in $BBLOGS, www/html and $BBHIST. BBLOGS and
	BBHIST are defined in etc/bbinc.sh

	cd www
	rm logs/thedeletedhost*
	rm html/thedeletedhost*
	rm hist/thedeletedhost*

	User bin/bbrm to accomplish this task.


2.11	The gifs aren't displayed properly

	Make sure that the BBWEB value defined in bbdef.sh is
	correct.  Check spelling and location. Define it
	BBWEB="/bb" where /bb is the location in your web server
	docs directory.


2.13	Generating trace code to debug the notification feature

	If you're having problems with the notification feature and
	do not understand why it's not working, you can enable trace
	code to help you figure you what's going on.  Here's the
	steps to enable the trace code:

	in bbpage.c, right after the #include definitions, add

	#define DEBUG 1

	then 

	make bbd
	cd ..
	./runbb.sh stop
	rm BBOUT
	cp src/bbd bin/

	<make sure all BB processes are killed>

	./runbb.sh start

	Then when the next notification should have been sent out or
	whatever problem with notification has occured, take a look
	at BBOUT and follow the trace code.  You should get an idea
	of what's going on.

	Don't forget to remove the "#define DEBUG 1" and recompile
	bbd when you're all done or your BBOUT file will grow quite rapidly.



------------------------------------------------------------------------

Section 3: Using Big Brother



3.1	How can I monitor routers and things that have no hostname?

	Just put a line in the bb-hosts file and make up a name
	for your router.


3.2	Can I monitor Novell servers, VAXEN, AS/400 with BB?

	You can monitor them from the outside, but not from the 
	inside.  That means the bbnet tests that check for connectivity
	and servers should work, but the bb-local tests which monitor
	processes and disk space won't because there is no BB client 
	for these systems. 

	Without a client program for each platform you can still monitor
	connectivity and IP services.  Clients have been written for
	these platforms but Quest Software, Inc. doesn't support these
	3rd-party clients. Please check with the support mailing list
	for more info on these (http://support.bb4.com/).


3.3	Can I monitor things outside my network?

	Yup.  Just put the appropriate lines in the bb-hosts file and
	that's all.  However it is good form to ask permission, just
	because the remote admin may get curious about repeated accesses
	from the same addresses every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day.


3.4	Is Big Brother secure?  Do you have to be root to run it?

	A certain amount of effort has been made to make sure that
	BB is reasonably secure.  We also recommend running bb as
	it's own, non-root, user. Also read the README.SECURITY file.


3.5	How can I monitor more TCP services?

	Add the TCP service in the list defined by the BBNETSVCS
	variable in etc/bbdef-server.sh.  That service must be in
	/etc/services or you must define it with its port number
	in the bb-hosts file.  That's it, that's all.  Simple.

	Stop and start BB. It'll magically have a new column
	watching your service. The TCP service that is checked
	should always return something at connection time to
	properly be checked.

	Only add TCP services as UDP services aren't supported yet.


3.6	How can I check password protected web pages?

	Paul Venezia had the answer for this one:
	I've gotten around this by specifying LYNX to be
	/usr/contrib/bin/lynx -dump -auth <username>:<password>

	Note that the user/pwd can be viewed using 'ps'. So
	you may use another facility to provide user/pwd info.


3.7	Can BB restart processes that have failed?

	No, that is your job. BB will tell you about the problem, you
	solve it.  The philosophy is simple, BB will monitor and notify,
	that's all.  The reason behind this is simple, doing more than
	that makes BB exponentially more complex to run, configure and
	support.


3.8	Can BB show historical data?

	Yes.  The history is in the $BBHIST directory: the file contains
	the date of the last color change (status data is only saved on
	the initial state chage to preserve disk space).  If you drill down to a
	specific host.service, you can click on the history button, and
	it'll show your the last 24hr statistics and a log of the last
	50 status changes.


3.9     How can I add my own tests ?

        You can easily add your own tests.  Start with the template
        available at ext/ext-proto, add your code.  Look at bb-local.sh,
        bb-network.sh for an example on how to send data to BB.
        Specify the name of your script in the etc/bb-bbexttab
        file. This file defines all scripts to run for each hosts.
        Start with the etc/bb-bbexttab.DIST file, copy to
        etc/bb-bbexttab and configure. Typical entries in
        etc/bb-bbexttab:


        www.bobo.com : script1 script2;3600 script3;900 script4
        www.baba.com : script5 script6

        make sure each defined script exists in the ext directory
        of the client install.  See below for an explanation of
        the script2;3600 entry.

        Restart BB and your test should be running.  But
        before you use it within BB, I suggest you test it for errors
        by using the method:

        cd /home/bb (or wherever your BB is located)
        BBHOME=/home/bb
        export BBHOME
        . ./etc/bbdef.sh
        cd ext
        ./yourexternaltest

        Look for errors, fix them, rerun your test until you're
        satisfied, then update bbdef.sh.  Note that all temporary
        files should be created in $BBTMP and make sure you remove them
        after use.   Also, remember that you don't have to deal with
        sending notification messages, the 'bb' process send a 'page'
        type message to the BBPAGER host when the status color is
        found in the PAGELEVELS variable defined in bbdef.sh.

        You can also set the frequency of the test by specifying
        the interval it should run at.  In ext/bb-bbexttab, set an
        interval qualifier with the script name by appending the
        qualifier to the script name. Here's an example entry in
        etc/bb-bbexttab:

        www.bobo.com : script1 script2;3600 script3;900 script4

        script1 and script4 will run every 5mins (the default)
        while script2 and and script3 will run every 60 and 15
        minutes respectively.  You specify the interval in seconds.
        Note that the delimiter is ';'.

        When it's ready don't forget to update the svcerrlist token
        in the bbwarnsetup.cfg file on your BBPAGER host.  You must
        assign a numeric code to your column name.

        You can also set the lifetime of the status sent by your
        script by following the instructions described in
        section 6.8: "Setting a Time To Live to a status message".


3.10    Can I check for errors in multiple log files ?

	You can set multiple log file names in an entry (or multi line
	entries) in etc/bb-msgstab.  The log files will be checked that
	they are readable and not empty.  The empty test is done
	because some hackers sometimes link log files to /dev/null.


3.11     Starting BB at system boot
        
        Depending on U*X operation system version (Linux/BSD/Solaris/...)
        your startup procedures will vary from OS to OS.  In short, you
        have to create a startup script that has a start/stop
        capabilities.  Under a lot of OSes, you'll want to create your
        script in the init.d directory and create an S89bb link in rc3.d that
        links to init.d/S89bb (you may also want to create a K11bb link in
        rc3.d that'll be used when the system shuts down).  Use an existing
        startup script has an example and substitute with these commands:

        To start BB, use this command:

        su - <bbuser> -c "cd <BBHOME>;./runbb.sh start" 
                or
        su - <bbuser> -c "cd <BBHOME>;./runbb.sh restart"

        To stop BB, use this command:
        
        su -  <bbuser> -c "cd <BBHOME>;./runbb.sh stop"

        <bbuser> is the user that BB will execute has
                make sure that bbuser has all permissions under BBHOME
        <BBHOME> is the location of your BB install

        e.g. su - bb -c "cd /home/bb;./runbb.sh start"


3.12    Why is availability reporting not working ?

	If you get a "Page not found" when running the availability
	reporting feature, you probably have an invalid group name
	set for $BBHOME/www/rep.

	The group name of $BBHOME/www/rep must be set to the group
	id of the user that the web server is running as.  Do not
	set the $BBHOME/www/rep permissions to 777 as this may
	represent a security risk.  Only set the group name of
	$BBHOME/www/rep.
        


------------------------------------------------------------------------

Section 4: Miscellaneous Big Brother questions


4.1	Where is the name from?

	Big Brother is named for George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty Four.  
	Big Brother is the head of a totalitarian regime, INGSOC, where
	everyone is watched.  "... the poster with the enormous face
	gazed from the wall.  It was one of those pictures which are
	so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.
	BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran."

	Doubleplus ungood for people.  Doubleplus good for networks.


4.2	Do you write BB or bb?

	Doesn't really matter.  bb tends to be used when denoting
	programs (i.e. bbnet) whereas BB tends to be used when 
	discussing the entire Big Brother system.


4.3	Whose picture is that and can I get rid of it?

	That picure is of the creator of Big Brother, Sean MacGuire,
	doing his best to do justice to George Orwell.  It's supposed
	to be scary.... it now lives exclusively at the bottom of the
	BB help files.

	If you don't like it, feel free to change it to something more
	neutral.  Change the file $BBHOME/www/gifs/bb.gif.  Please leave
	a link back to the BB site, though.
	

4.4	Is there a Big Brother user contribution site?

	Yes, Adam Goryachev has set up an website with user
	contributed tools.  You can find it at:

	http://www.deadcat.net/


4.5	Where can I get more help?

	Run the tests as outlined on the install and debug web pages.

	Subscribe to the mailing list.  Check the archives of the
	mailing list to see if you're question has already been 
	answered.  Send a message to the mailing list, and as a
	last resort, mail sean@bb4.com

	Subscribe to the BB support mailing for support, security updates
	and other news:

	mailto: majordomo@bb4.com
	For Unix support, in the text of the message: subscribe bb
	For NT/W2K support, in the text of the message: subscribe bbntd
	For developer news, in the text of the message: subscribe bbd
	For BB announcements, in the text of the message: subscribe brothers

	More details at http://bb4.com/support.html

	An archive of the Big Brother mailing lists is available.
	It can be found at the URL: http://support.bb4.com/ 



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Section 5: Security Considerations

We care about security, and have a "full disclosure" policy.  That
means if a security problem is discovered, we'll disclose it promptly
to the BB mailing list, Bugtraq, and Freshmeat.net.  The reason for
this is simple, if we know about it, so do the bad guys, and they're
already exploiting it.

If we issue a security alert, please follow the instructions if
you're at risk.  If you discover a hole, please let us know 
immediately, and we'll fix it right away.  You will earn our
undying gratitude.

The following suggestions are mostly targeted as BB display and pager hosts.
These are the Big Brother daemons, and as such are higher risk than
the simple clients.  If you have any additional suggestions, please
pass them along!

* Never install network software without considering the security
  implications.  If you have a security person, discuss it with them.
  If not, talk nicely to your Sys Admin.  If you're the Sys Admin,
  feel free to give us a shout on the BB mailing list if you have any
  questions.

* Since you're probably running a Web server on the BBDISPLAY machine
  you might consider making sure it's secure.  Even Apache has gotten
  broken into, just from a misconfigured web server.  Beware!

* BB does not need to run as root.  We suggest creating a user 'bb'
  and running BB as that user.

* BB has the ability to restrict incoming connections to those IP
  addresses (and networks) listed in the etc/security file.  Use it.

* If you're in an environment with a firewall, we suggest running
  two instances of BB, one on this inside of the firewall, and one
  on the outside.  This keeps things clean, and doesn't require any
  unnecessary holes in the firewall.

* The usual warnings about scripts in the cgi-bin directory... make
  sure that your webserver isn't running as root, and be careful what
  can be seen and run by outsiders.

* We recommend password-protecting the Big Brother web pages. Also
  protect the CGI scripts.

* Don't use the "notes" and "disable/enable" features of
  the BB display/pager hosts unless you understand the implications.
  Refer to the documentation for more information.

* Subscribe to the BB support mailing for support, security updates
  and other news:

	mailto: majordomo@bb4.com
	in the text of the message: subscribe bb

	There's also a developer's mailing list:
	mailto: majordomo@bb4.com
	in the text of the message: subscribe bbd




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