Effective and Unified Monitoring for Linux Servers and Systems via SSH

Linux Server Monitoring with SSH

Effective and Unified Monitoring for Linux Servers and Systems via SSH

At FrameFlow, one of our primary aims is to be your one-stop unified monitoring solution for all of your IT systems and devices on the most widely used platforms and protocols. Many of us are aware that Windows is the most prolific operating system for business operations using desktop and laptop computers. FrameFlow leverages Performance Counters, WMI and SNMP as our primary protocols for effectively monitoring Windows servers across the globe. However, Linux is the most popular operating system for use in IoT and smart devices, web servers and supercomputers. We can monitor Linux machines using SNMP, but SSH gives us more options for robust and secure remote communications with the increasingly popular Linux open-source operating system, which is facilitating widespread innovation across the web.

The Rise of Linux and the Web

The rise of Linux coincides with the rise of the web, which has transformed our modern world. In 1991, a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds created a free operating system, that he thought would simply be a hobby. At this time, Richard Stallman and company had successfully re-written most of Unix, the old corporate standard created and controlled by big-telecom in the late 1960s, on a Unix-Clone called GNU (recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix”). The golden key that would open up GNU to legions of digital innovators, or in this case the golden kernel, was missing. The kernel is that crucial core of the operating system, which translates basic input from computer hardware into something that software can understand. Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel, and opened a critical gateway to the computing revolution that continues to grow as a direct result of the open-source operating system known as Linux and its close cousins, Unix-Like operating systems.

Linux works behind the scenes and across the internet, powering the majority of web servers, running every Android phone and tablet, not to mention the biggest sites and apps such as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia. Linux has also been adopted by the ever-expanding Internet of Things, finding its way into cars, appliances, thermostats, and an army of smart sensors managing buildings and cities in the second wave of the internet evolution,

The rise of Linux mirrors the rise of the web, which just happens to have started around the same time. It’s hard to pin down exactly how popular Linux is on the web, but according to a study by W3Techs, Unix and Unix-like operating systems power about 67 percent of all web servers. At least half of those run Linux—and probably the vast majority. – Wired Magazine 

Effective Monitoring for Linux Systems

At FrameFlow, we fully understand the increasing importance of monitoring the performance of servers, systems and devices powered by the Linux operating system. For comprehensive Linux monitoring, we typically deploy SSH, also know as “Secure Shell.” SSH is a protocol for operating securely over unsecured networks within Unix-like operating systems, of which Linux is the most popular and widely used. SSH is included within all Linux systems and FrameFlow Event Monitors using command-line SSH can easily be set up and configured within the FrameFlow interface with just a few clicks of your mouse.

How Does the SSH Protocol Work?

SSH is a widely used network protocol that enables authorized administrators to securely access remote computers. SSH also refers to the utilities that implement the protocol. The SSH protocol works in a client-server model, where an SSH client establishes a remote login connection with an SSH server. The client typically negotiates the connection set-up process with the server using strong authentication with passwords or public key cryptology, also referred to as SSH keys, to verify and establish a secure connection, even over unsecured networks like the internet. Once a secure connection is established, SSH uses strong symmetric encryption and hashing algorithms to maintain the security and privacy of the connection, all while protecting the integrity of the data flowing between the server and the client.

SSH is widely used by network administrators for remotely managing systems and applications, allowing managers to log in to another computer over the network, execute commands and move files from one computer to another. The use of SSH keys, for key-based authentication, facilitates secure automation, which is particularly appealing in large corporate environments where large-scale automated and interactive processes, applications and configuration management are at play 24 hours a day.

How Does FrameFlow Utilize SSH to Monitor Linux Machines?

FrameFlow takes advantage of SSH’s inherent compatibility with Linux to keep track of all your Linux-based systems in one unified monitoring solution. Use FrameFlow’s Health Event Monitor to track server and network health metrics like CPU usage, memory, drive space, bandwidth and more! You can track file changes and receive warnings when something is amiss. You can also keep tabs on individual processes and daemons to ensure that all critical components are ready and available when needed. You can even run custom shell scripts in FrameFlow to perform any task you choose, and receive the output in customized alerts that you can view via SMS on your mobile device, through email and in beautiful graphs within the FrameFlow dashboard.

At FrameFlow we are constantly innovating to provide additional value-added features in our software. Recent updates for monitoring via SSH include the ability to use SSH keys for authentication with Linux and other SSH-based systems. This past July we also launched a beta version of our new Linux/SSH YUM Update Event Monitor which checks Linux systems for pending updates with any Linux distro that uses the command “yum” to download and install updates. The beta version is working very well on our fleet of Amazon AWS instances and we are in the process of gathering additional feedback from our user base.

FrameFlow Linux/SSH Update Event Monitor Settings

SNMP Monitoring for Linux

At FrameFlow, we’re big fans of the versatility of SNMP for monitoring IT systems, networks, switches, bandwidth and a range of IP-Enabled devices. However, SSH is configured to get you up and running quickly for comprehensive Linux monitoring, so that’s usually our first choice. We can use SNMP for monitoring Linux machines, but this requires some additional setup and the results are not as robust as monitoring through SSH. SNMP is limited to data derived from counters and is reactive, by nature, in that it requires certain events to occur in order to flag an issue. So if you’re just looking for a simpler set of metrics with limited interaction between the client and the server or devices, SNMP can work just fine in a Linux environment. Whereas, SSH allows you to extract an entire range of configuration data in real time far beyond SNMP-based monitoring, making SSH the common choice for engineers requiring a deep dive to troubleshoot Linux servers and devices.

Use FrameFlow for all your Linux Monitoring Needs

As the uses for Linux continue to multiply across IT systems around the world, so too does the need to effectively monitor Linux servers, sensors and devices to ensure all components are working as expected. FrameFlow can monitor virtually any machine running on Linux to whatever scale your organization requires, pulling all the data into one unified dashboard and providing customized alerts to key staff members, if something even starts to go wrong. Download your free 30-day trial of FrameFlow now – no credit card required – and get started right away with Linux SSH monitoring.

James Taylor
James Taylor

James is the lead for FrameFlow’s sales and marketing efforts. Through blog posts and web original web content, he’s focused on telling the FrameFlow story about how our software helps you to make sure your critical systems are up and running.