NTP on Debian reporting 95 years in the future – Part 2: The Time Traveler

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, make sure you start there.

This issue has really intrigued me.

Setting the date manually fails:

Invalid argument? Maybe it wants me to set the time too?

Nope, that made no difference.

Well, what does my hardware clock say (since the Pine A64+ has one)?

Oh yay, that looks better! Let’s use that! Obviously the system knows the date and time…

Oh, COME ON!

Maybe I’ll try the long-form command…

Nope. Same result. Ach!

This is looking a lot like an old kernel bug I recall from the late 2000’s. Better check what kernel I’m running…

If I had hair…

Just to be sure, let’s reconfigure my timezone config:

Okay, so let me get this straight… it’s August 28, 2113. But it’s July 5, 2018 according to the RTC.

Think, Robbie, think.

I did a quick grep through the /var/log folder for anything talking about ntp, and interestingly, I find this at the top of dpkg.log:

So on first boot, the system had the date correct: July 4, 2018. The time is off by a couple hours however (it was perhaps 6am when I flashed and fired up the system and then left for work).

What’s interesting here is that the typical ntp startup tasks unpack, install and run, but then after the package is installed (a presumably automated process since I didn’t do it!) the date suddenly changes to August 27, 2113.

Being a Raspberry Pi user all my SBC life, I’m honestly impressed that the Pine A64+ has a built-in RTC… but nowhere in the specs do I see that it also includes a corresponding flux capacitor, so I must presume the jump through time is more likely a glitch in the matrix.

I’m afraid to reboot.

What’s Next? Read Part 3:

NTP on Debian reporting 95 years in the future – Part 3: Community

Bad SD cards in a NEMS Server Raspberry Pi

With the coming release of NEMS 1.3, the retroactive stats system was implemented to allow me a way to see how many systems have been upgraded, and if any are having trouble.

Now, behind the scenes, I also developed the anonymous stats system as a way for me to gauge system load on various platforms.

Why would I do that? Because NEMS is branching out onto other SBC’s, starting with the ODROID XU4.

The fact remains, I often get the question “How many hosts can I add to NEMS” and the truth is, I have no idea! I’ve received great feedback from users who are monitoring 100+ hosts on a Raspberry Pi NEMS server, but otherwise I don’t really know much about what’s actually going on in the real world of NEMS.

So the stats system shows me, anonymously, how NEMS is being used, and how it is performing.

So, that system has been running for a few days, and today I began seeing some alerts: some users have bad SD cards!

This is causing their NEMS server to run very, very slowly.

If your NEMS server is running slowly, you may be one of these! Remember, the stats are anonymous, so I can’t contact you.

I’ve considered making the stats system able to send back a response to your NEMS server… that way, even though it’s anonymous and I don’t know who you are, I can have the system programmatically warn you that your card is failing.

It’s really quite cool for me to see how NEMS is being used. So far more than 100 NEMS servers have reported in with their current statistics, and many are running more than 100 nagios monitors with a 0.01 load average.

So back to my comment about branching out to other SBCs and knowing how many hosts we can handle on NEMS: the fact is, now that I will have real world statistical data, I will be able to put together proper information about how many services can be running on NEMS on various platforms! It’ll start with the Pi 3 obviously, but I’ll be able to see for example, how a NEMS server with 500 hosts has a higher load than one with 100, so we can therefore recommend if you have 500 hosts or more, you should install on an ODROID XU4 (for example). I’ll also be creating new graphs that show comparisons of various platforms, performance graphs over time, averages based on user deployments, and so-on. Really exciting stuff!

Thanks for using NEMS! If you have any questions, I’m here for you!

Robbie

Why support may ask for your backup.nems file, and why you should never share it with others

During support sessions I often request either SSH access or a copy of the user’s backup.nems file. SSH access, it should be obvious, should not be shared with just anyone. Also, you should never, ever, ever, open SSH to the world on your NEMS server if you have not yet initialized it. This is because there are botnets that look for Raspberry Pi computers which use the default “raspberry” password, and then compromize them. Continue reading

NEMS 1.2.1 Technical Information

The following is the technical information outline of NEMS (Nagios Enterprise Monitoring Server). Continue reading

Setting up NRPE on Windows for NEMS

Please Note: As of NEMS 1.2 NSClient++ is optional for monitoring of Windows computers (thanks to the addition of WMIC). If you’d like to use it, please follow the directions below.

  1. Grab the latest Windows client at https://www.nsclient.org/download/
  2. Install the client with the following settings:
    • Select to install the “Generic mode” NSClient++.
    • Choose “Complete installation” and if asked, choose to save config to ini file.
    • Under “Allowed Hosts” it should read 127.0.0.1,NEMSIP (where NEMSIP is the IP address of your NEMS server)
    • Clear the Password field for ease of deployment. NEMS sample scripts are setup to use NRPE without a password because I’m making the assumption that this is being deployed in a trusted LAN. If you do not blank the password here, you will have to edit all the scripts before NEMS will be able to communicate with this computer.
    • Enable all modules and change the NRPE mode to Legacy. NEMS uses Nagios 3.5.1 at present, and I suppose that’s technically “Legacy”. 🙂
    • Screen should look a little something like this:
      nsclient-setup
  3. Add your Windows host to NEMS. If you are using NEMS 1.1+ you can use the template “ourwinserver” in nconf. Just change the hostname and the IP address.

Please note: If you have a software firewall running on your Windows machine, setup an exception for your NEMS server IP to gain access through ports 5666 and 12489.

Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi 3

I wanted to document the instructions shared on Episode 459 to supplement the episode.

On the show, Jeff and I demonstrated how to turn a Raspberry Pi 3 with Raspbian Jessie into a Plex Media Server, giving you the chance to stream your entire video and music library to all your devices.

I won’t get into the full details here, since this is only a supplement to give you some copy-and-paste instructions, but I’d encourage you to watch the video.

What You Need

  1. A Raspberry Pi 3 Micro Computer. Please consider purchasing it through our store to support what we do: https://cat5.tv/pi
  2. Raspbian Jessie – A free download from raspberrypi.org
  3. Obvious stuff like a good MicroSD card, Ethernet cable (preferred as opposed to wifi), keyboard and mouse… etc.

How to Do The Do
Updated February 7, 2018
due to some evolution of the process. These steps are more current than those used in the video (a new video will be coming soon).

  1. In terminal, upgrade your distro to the latest and greatest.
  2. Reboot the Pi.
  3. Add the ability for apt to use https repositories. If you already have this, it’ll report as “already the current version” and you can move on.
  4. Add the Plex Media Server repository provided by Universität Leipzig.
  5. Add the GPG key for the repository.
    This is the “easy” method (which didn’t work for us because my keyboard was in some weird mode with no pipe character):

    Alternate method (which I had to use on the show since I didn’t have a pipe character… I’ve cleaned it up a bit since the live show so it is cleaner since it was an unexpected twist and I kinda made it seem more confusing than it should):
  6. Update apt.
  7. Install Plex Media Server.
  8. Create the default config file so Plex knows what user to operate under.

    (Thanks to Steve for submitting this additional step)
  9. Reboot one final time.

And there you have it! All the commands we used to get Plex Media Server installed on a Raspberry Pi 3 in a nice clean blog post  🙂

Optional: Use External Storage for Media

From there, we plugged in the USB flash drive (don’t do it! Use a proper external hard drive–this was only a demonstration) and after it mounted we used the following command to see its /dev assignment:

Since our drive was /dev/sda1, and of the filesystem type “fat32” this is what I did to make it work as the media library for Plex Media Server:

and add the following line:

I then created the mountpoint:

and made it so it can only be written to if mounted:

and finally, mounted the drive:

From there, I could easily add folders on my external drive to Plex using the web interface, which you’ll find on Port 32400 in the /web subfolder on your Pi.

To get my IP address, I brought up the terminal on the Pi and typed:

That showed the IP address of my Pi under “Ethernet”… 192.168.0.105

So to open Plex in my browser, from my computer I entered:

The IP address will most likely be different for yours, and you might even want to set it up as a static IP. Easiest way to do that would be to use your router’s DHCP reservations to hard-set the Pi to something outside your DHCP pool. For me, that’d be 192.168.0.5 or something like that, since the pool seemingly starts at 100.

Good luck, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Don’t forget, if this has helped you out, or if you just love supporting nice guys who wanna keep giving knowledge for free, please head over to our Patreon page, or throw a bit in the tip jar. Thanks!

NEMS Linux – Nagios Enterprise Monitoring Server for Raspberry Pi 3

NEMS Linux – Nagios Enterprise Monitoring Server for Raspberry Pi

Important Note: NEMS started as a small project here on my blog, but since has grown into a full-fledged distro! The blog therefore is here for historical purposes, but for the most current information, please visit the NEMS Linux web site: nemslinux.com


NEMS is a modern pre-configured, customized and ready-to-deploy Nagios Core image designed to run on the Raspberry Pi 3 micro computer. At its core it is a lightweight Debian Stretch deployment optimized for performance, reliability and ease of use.

NEMS is free to download, deploy, and use. Its development however is supported by its community of users. Please consider contributing if you can.

Please Note: NEMS is a very ambitious project, and I’m just one guy. Please consider throwing a little gift in my Tip Jar if you find NEMS saves you time or money. Thanks!

Support
[NEMS Documentation]
[NEMS Community Forum]
[NEMS User Comments]

Index

NEMS 1.1 Featured on Category5 Technology TV

 

If you like NEMS, please donate: donate.category5.tv

The Out-Of-The-Box NEMS Experience:

Buy The Needed Hardware

Raspberry Pi 3 Nagios ServerRaspberry Pi 3 are very affordable, and using our Micro SD image, you simply buy the device, “burn” the image to the Micro SD card, and boot it up.

Here’s our link to buy the device you’ll need, complete with the Micro SD card, a power adapter, a good solid case, and more: shop.category5.tv

Please buy it through that link, or let me know if you need a customized link to a different model. We get a small percentage of the sale, and it helps to make it possible to offer this as a free download.

Who Creates NEMS:
Robbie Ferguson is the host of Category5 Technology TV. He’s the kind of guy who when he figures stuff out, he likes to share it with others. That’s part of what makes his show so popular, but also what makes NEMS possible.

Support What I Do:
This project is a part of something much bigger than itself, and we’re all volunteers. Please see our Patreon page for information about our network.
– Please support us by simply purchasing your Raspberry Pi at https://cat5.tv/pi
– We have some support links on the NEMS menu, such as buying from Amazon using our partner link. Please use these every time you use those stores. A small percentage of your purchase will go toward our projects.
– Your donations are VERY MUCH appreciated – https://donate.category5.tv – Please consider how many hours (and hours) of work this project has saved you, and how much you’ll save on hardware and even electrical costs as you consider contributing
– Our network also has a Patreon page – Please consider becoming a patron – https://patreon.com/Category5