• Tag Archives network
  • The Dude – Selection

    I felt my network was out of control. Was it really? That was my problem… I did not know what it was doing, in or out of control, I had no idea.
    Need to monitor it then.. and once we are gathering the data, then we can make informed decisions.
    In other words, “You can’t control what you don’t monitor”.

    Really rough brain dump for selecting ‘The Dude’ to do that job at home.

    SNMP.
    Simple Network Management Protocol.
    This is the right tool for the job of network monitoring. It has been around a lot of years, is a bit of a standard, and works on Windows, Linux, managed switches and Raspberry Pis.

    The best way to use this protocol is to use some SNMP monitoring software. There are Open Source, free and paid options. Google will guide you. (I have tried Cacti, Nagios, Zabbix, Ntop and The Dude). Look closely at the features, look at the amount of hosts the free versions support, look closely if the free version shows ads on the reports etc etc.
    In the end, you just have to pick one and stick with it (wort’s and all). The longer you work with it, the better you will get at working around any shortcomings it has. One feature I would look at is its reports and alerting features. Sadly, The Dude seems to be lacking in this area.

    I chose ‘The Dude’ from Mikrotik. We have been using it on and off for years and years thanks to Dan. I like the mapping feature. It’s not open source, but it is free.
    One major gotcha with this application; They no longer are developing the Windows server. They are only developing their routerOS version.
    Not all the features of the Windows platform has made it over onto the RouterOS version yet, so its sort of in a no mans land at the moment.
    I am happy with the features and bugs on the Windows version, so I am mostly using that, but I have purchased their minimum level router (Mikrotik hEX RB750Gr3) to run it on.
    Here is an auto generated map of my network generated by The Dude.

    Network overview of home

    I am a very graphic/visual guy, so really like The Dude for this reason. Most of my interaction with The Dude is through this map.
    Double or right click on each object (I don’t mean to ‘sell’ The Dude, most SNMP applications are the same, so just bare with me) to expose the features of each device.
    Green is all services up (you can add custom services like port 2001 and 22001 for Opto 22 devices), orange is one or more services are down and red is all services down.
    On the links you can see some data, these are the current bandwidth values for that device to that port on the switch.
    Hovering over them shows a graph.

    This is for an OptoEMU-SNR-3v. It monitors the house power. You can see that it is uploading power readings (the blue spikes) and is receiving a lot of broadcast packets and data addressed to it.
    So how did we get here?

    The main advantage of SNMP software is that makes the SNMP tree structure a lot LOT simpler to work with.
    Most Ethernet interfaces have some SNMP stack built in, so at the very least, to get SNMP up and running on your hardware, it should just take a software package to install.

    What if your device does not support SNMP? If you connect the network port of that device to a managed switch, then you can get some data from the switch.
    When Dan was in town, we went to the junk store and picked up a sweet Dell managed switch. We then added 3 more TP-Links because Gary uses them.
    Here is a screenshot of the TP-Link;

    This is one of the smaller 8 port, but the 24 port and 48 port look almost the same.
    The important part here is that under ‘Global Config’ you turn on SNMP and then under ‘SNMP Community’ you add a community name.
    To check what it is in your Opto 22 devices, open PAC Manager, inspect the device, click on communications and then SNMP;

    Thoughts about this. IT guys might like to change the community name so that it is a little more secure. You can also set up a user/password for the SNMP user/community/group. I recommend that you adhere to any of their recommendations. That said, for my house, I set it to read-only and left the default group and community name as ‘public’ and no user/pass.
    One of the reasons for this is that I wanted The Dude to be able to do a scan (discover) of the network and did not want to have to set up each device or several profiles for the SNMP user.
    While The Dude can handle different SNMP communities, when I tried to use it like that, I had a lot of issues, thus going back to the ‘public’ for every device.

    Once you have your SNMP client enabled and your SNMP community name saved, you can then unleash The Dude to scan the network and walk the SNMP tree of each device as it finds it.
    Here is a typical small section of an Opto SNMP tree screenshot;

    I have closed a lot of the tree folders, they go on and on and on and on and on.
    You can drill your way into any leaf of the tree and look at just that OID data. Thankfully a lot of the SNMP software knows the tree structure (as I said, its a lose standard) and will pick the right parts for automatically saving a HUGE amount of time.

    MIB
    A quick word on MIB’s.
    MIB’s or Management Information Base work hand in hand with SNMP.
    MIB describes vendor specific sections of the SNMP tree that are not in the standard.
    Here is the front of the Opto 22 MIB;

    As you can see, they are all things that are unique to Opto 22.
    Most managed switch vendors do the same thing, the SNMP standard takes care of all the interface data in/out counters etc, but they might add CPU use or CPU temperature, Fan status/RPM and things like that…. You will find those OID’s in their MIB.
    Most network management software allows you to add MIB’s as needed.

    So, to summarize.
    SNMP is a rough standard.
    OID’s are a rough standard.
    The Dude knows about those standards and can play nice with pretty much all of them.



  • Mesh Wifi

    I am not totally thrilled with the Wifi coverage in my house.
    I am not the only one having this issue. Seems houses over here (in California) are built, then covered in chicken wire, then sprayed with cement. The net result of which is that WiFi coverage in two story houses is terrible.
    My router is upstairs and we mostly live downstairs.

    Added to this is the fact that we (Terry and I) fly (well, test hover – and in Terry’s case, move the little guys around a little bit – its not that big of a park, but its super convenient and fun) our drones in the park over the back of the house, and its a dead spot, both for my personal WiFi and for cell phone coverage. So when we want to post pictures or videos it’s often a case of standing on the park benches and sticking out your tongue and looking for the best wind direction to get a signal.

    Dan and I tried to do some tweaking years ago, but it resulted in poor through put and the usual problem where the phone will hang on to a low signal level access point in favor of the high signal strength access point you are standing next to.

    Thus, I am always on the look out for a solution too all the above problems……
    Is this it?

    https://betanews.com/2017/08/06/amplifi-mesh-wifi-system-review/

    Not only does the AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System sort of look like an AirPort router, but it promised an easy app-based setup. What really sweetens the pot, however, is that the 802.11ac system uses “mesh” technology, allowing several access points to work together. Oh, and let’s not forget that this home-based product is made by the much-respected Ubiquiti Networks.

    In addition to the router, there are two mesh access points called “AmpliFi MeshPoint HD” that plug directly into a wall outlet. The design here is quite brilliant, as the antennas sit on a magnetic ball joint. You can easily rotate — or remove them — without the need to screw or unscrew anything. They also have a series of LED lights to show you connectivity.

    Answer. No.

    There were some anomalies, however. Sometimes my MacBook Pro on the second floor would connect to the router a floor below rather than the much-closer access point on the same floor. To make matters worse, it would connect on the 2.4GHz band at a slower speed.

    To remedy this, I would turn off the Wi-Fi on my MacBook Pro and then turn it on. It would then connect to the closer mesh access point on the 5GHz band as I wanted. Yes, this actually did matter. When running the Speedtest app on my Mac, I would see a dramatic speed boost when on the closer access point with the 5GHz band. It is worth noting, this “bug” only happened a few times. It has worked as it should ever since.

    Seems they also have not yet solved the signal strength issue either. Bleh.
    Not only, but also, at 350 US bucks, it waaaaay out of my buy and test price range.
    Still… tempting… I really like Ubiquity networking gear. (I currently have a set of their 900mHz radios at Opto to test with our gear).



  • Network issues at home – back to stock Asus firmeware

    The router has crashed around 3-4 times (I am losing track) in the past 30ish hours.
    So, we have reset it back to stock Asus firmware.
    This is part one of a two part plan…. If it lasts until Sunday morning (a record if it does), it gets a stay of execution. If it crashes again with the same symptoms, then we are taking it back to Best Buy and getting another, the same (hopefully they have one in stock).

    Leaving the new one at stock for a week or three to see how it goes.

    So, thats the two part plan.
    See if the third party firmware was the issue.
    See if I just got a dud router.

    I just want a router that is reliable and that I can live with. Seems too much to ask at this point in time….



  • Network issues at home – the kill packet

    Non-tech description first…….
    The network is ‘glitching’ every 1 to 3 days.
    I have no idea what it is, or why it is doing it. I just know it happens at any time it wants.
    When it happens, I lose network connectivity to the Internet and between devices at the house. This means that if my website is down, sorry. Send me an email. I do not have anything automatic set up to let me know when it goes down, because when it goes down, I cant send emails!
    It is driving me nuts!

    Techo version.
    The Asus router has a lot going for it. I really like a lot of its features and it seems to be powerful enough to do the job when things are going smooth.

    The frustrating thing is that I have not had more than 2 days of a working network since all this started. I have not been blogging about it because I have been spending my time trying to find and fix it. (The other generic blogs are all scheduled blogs that I wrote ages ago).

    It is annoying because once it goes down, the only way I can find to get things back up is to reboot the router.
    Here is the thing, I am not 100% sure it is even the router that is causing the issue.
    It seemed like it was at first. Like there was a memory leak or something (keeping an eye on the status page of the router does not show anything like that).
    I then setup a cronjob to reboot the router at 3:14am every morning….. When whatever it is that glitches does the same thing as when the router reboots. It will take out random devices around the network. Not just take them out, but sometimes services on those devices.
    For example. It will glitch one or more Linux PC’s. Sometimes they refuse to ping, sometimes they ping fine, but the web server service does not respond, or it pings fine, but the SNMP service goes south. Sometimes it is the Linux boxes, sometimes the Opto controllers, sometimes the Arduino, sometimes a combination of devices, sometimes a single device. The best way to get them back is to just unplug their network connection, count to three, plug it back in and they are fine.

    Why is it not the router? Because I have had times when the router stays up, but that sort of glitch goes through the network and takes out one or more devices. I can not seem to find a way to log the system from the firewall on the Asus, so all the traffic data is bound up in the core Linux router log data. Having some issues finding a clear way to log it to the USB stick rather than RAM, so I have not been able to view any logs.
    Sometimes it happens when I am at home, and sometimes when I am at work.

    Is is like there is a kill packet floating around taking out stuff at random.

    The worst is when it happens and no one is at home.

    It reminds me of what was happening to Ipcop. Where it just glitched and went weird. I blamed Ipcop or the PC it was running on, but now the Asus is doing the same things.

    To top it all off, I am trying to monitor the network traffic to see what is going on and I have found that my network is circulating around 90 gigabytes of traffic every 24 hours… does that seem like a lot to you, because it seems to be an insane amount to me!

    I thought it might be the Verizon ONT, so we got the guy to come out and change it. Nice side effect is that we now have speeds over 100Mbs, so when it’s working, the Internet fairly screams at our place.
    I also changed out the two switches in the place for gigabit versions and that did not change the glitches, but again, when its working, everything hauls ass big time.

    Blood pressure was up again this morning. 132/93
    I do not have any clue what is going on. I do not have a plan to move forward.

    In other news, a blog reader, David, very kindly sent me a Ubiquiti Wifi AP to evaluate and integrate into the system. I have been using it because one of my frustrations with the Asus is that I can not seem to get more than 30Mbs speed from the Wifi…. The UBNT is doing the same speed…. it is nice to have something to compare against, so now I know it is my wifi devices… Only they get ~50+ at work, so I know it’s not the devices…..