[rrd-users] General advice needed on using rrd graphs

Wed Aug 6 16:24:55 MEST 2003

I'd like to ask the opinions of this group regarding the best and easiest way to produce and display the graphs produced by rrdtools. I'm confused as to how I should proceed, and would like some advice.

So far, I've experimented with Cacti 0.6.8 and Cricket. I've had problems that were difficult and time consuming with each. Cacti was my first choice. I was able to graph data from SNMP for both the localhost and a remote host. I really like the appearance of the graphs, and the fact that they scale along the Y-axis to match the maximum being graphed. However, I am having difficulty getting my mind around the concepts and language used for the interface in Cacti. I just can't seem to understand how to work with the system. For instance, I've struggled for days trying to get a graph of web hits. I can see that I'm getting the data, and it seems to be in the RRD, but, since there's no prepared template for this type of data, I have to create one mostly by trial and error. This, in fact, seems to be the only way I've been able to work with Cacti so far. I've tried asking about this problem twice on the Cacti bulletin board, but haven't received any substantial help. I've noticed that many questions on the Cacti users support bulletin board go unanswered, and that the developer and one or two others are the only folks who seem to have the time and knowledge to help, and I'm sure that they're stretched thin.

In an attempt to work with a simpler system, I installed Cricket 1.03. I was pleased by the simplicity, and felt that this was a system that I could understand and use. However, I got discouraged with the appearance of the interface, which is pretty plain, and noticed that the graphs didn't adjust the Y-axis scale, for instance, on a graph of the local http-performance, even though all the data were below one second, the graph draws from zero to five seconds. Also, the Cricket project seems pretty dead, with few updates. There were many problems in the installation of the package that I had to overcome. All in all, it took me about 8 hours to install the package and produce my first graph. 

Finally, I was reminded by reading this forum, that many folks don't use any front-end to rrdtools, and just create web pages using their own scripts and HTML coding. I haven't  explored this route yet.

In addition to asking for general advice, I have these specific questions:
1. Are there other front-ends to rrdtools that I haven't found yet that I should try?
2. Do most people use Cacti, Cricket, some other tool, or just manipulate the output of rrdtools directly?
3. For the folks who use Cacti, am I experiencing the normal chaos of being a newbie with a system? If I persist using Cacti, will everything become clear? Or, is Cacti just a difficult package to use and understand?
4. Is Cricket dead, should I invest any time it in?
5. Is the magic of automatically adjusting the y-axis difficult to master? Could I retrofit it into Cricket or my own system?

Thank you very much for any advice you have to offer. I appreciate it.

-Kevin Zembower

E. Kevin Zembower
Unix Administrator
Johns Hopkins University/Center for Communications Programs
111 Market Place, Suite 310
Baltimore, MD  21202

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