Posts Tagged ‘network traffic’

Text Monitoring of connection server (traffic RX / TX) business in ASCII graphs with speedometer / Easy Monitor network traffic performance

Friday, May 4th, 2012

While reading some posts online related to MS-Windows TcpViewnetwork traffic analyzing tool. I've came across very nice tool for tracking connection speed for Linux (Speedometer). If I have to compare it, speedometer is somehow similar to nethogs and iftop bandwidth network measuring utilities .

What differentiates speedometer from iftop / nethogs / iptraf is it is more suitable for visualizing a network file or data transfers.
The graphs speedometer draws are way easier to understand, than iftop graphs.

Even complete newbies can understand it with no need for extraordinary knowledge in networking. This makes Speedometer, a top tool to visually see the amount of traffic flowing through server network interface (eth0) … (eth1) etc.

What speedometer shows is similar to the Midnight Commander's (mc) file transfer status bar, except the statistics are not only for a certain file transfer but can show overall statistics over server passing network traffic amount (though according to its manual it can be used to also track individual file transfers).

The simplicity for basic use makes speedometer nice tool to track for network congestion issues on Linux. Therefore it is a  must have outfit for every server admin. Below you see a screenshot of my terminal running speedometer on a remote server.

Speedometer ascii traffic track server network business screenshot in byobu screen like virtual terminal emulator

1. Installing speedometer on Debian / Ubuntu and Debian derivatives

For Debian and Ubuntu server administrators speedometer is already packaged as a deb so its installation is as simple as:

debian:~# apt-get --yes install speedometer

2. Installing speedometer from source for other Linux distributions CentOS, Fedora, SuSE etc.

Speedometer is written in python programming language, so in order to install and use on other OS Linux platforms, it is necessery to have installed (preferably) an up2date python programming language interpreter (python ver. 2.6 or higher)..
Besides that it is necessary to have installed the urwid -( console user interface library for Python) available for download via


Hence to install speedometer on RedHat based Linux distributions one has to follow these steps:

a) Download & Install python urwid library

[root@centos ~]# cd /usr/local/src
[root@centos src]# wget -q
[root@centos src]# tar -zxvvf urwid-1.0.1.tar.gz
[root@centos src]# cd urwid-1.0.1
[root@centos urwid-1.0.1]# python install
running install
running build
running build_py
creating build
creating build/lib.linux-i686-2.4
creating build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid

b) Download and install python-setuptools

python-setuptools is one other requirement of speedometer, happily on CentOS and Fedora the rpm package is already there and installable with yum:

[root@centos ~]# yum -y install python-setuptools

c) Download and install Speedometer

[root@centos urwid-1.0.1]# cd /usr/local/src/
[root@centos src]# wget -q
[root@centos src]# tar -zxvvf speedometer-2.8.tar.gz
[root@centos src]# cd speedometer-2.8
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python install
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 26, in ?
import speedometer
File "/usr/local/src/speedometer-2.8/", line 112
n = n * granularity + (granularity if r else 0)

While running the CentOS 5.6 installation of speedometer-2.8, I hit the
"n = n * granularity + (granularity if r else 0)

After consultation with some people in #python (, I've figured out this error is caused due the outdated version of python interpreter installed by default on CentOS Linux 5.6. On CentOS 5.6 the python version is:

[root@centos ~]# python -V
Python 2.4.3

As I priorly said speedometer 2.8's minimum requirement for a python to be at v. 2.6. Happily there is quick way to update python 2.4 to python 2.6 on CentOS 5.6, as there is an RPM repository maintained by Chris Lea which contains RPM binary of python 2.6.

To update python 2.4 to python 2.6:

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# rpm -Uvh[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-CHL[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# yum install python26

Now the newly installed python 2.6 is executable under the binary name python26, hence to install speedometer:

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python26 install
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# chown root:root /usr/local/bin/speedometer
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/speedometer

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python26 speedometer -i 1 -tx eth0

The -i will instruct speedometer to refresh the screen graphs once a second.

3. Using speedometer to keep an eye on send / received traffic network congestion

To observe, the amount of only sent traffic via a network interface eth0 with speedometer use:

debian:~# speedometer -tx eth0

To only keep an eye on received traffic through eth0 use:

debian:~# speedometer -rx eth0

To watch over both TX and RX (Transmitted and Received) network traffic:

debian:~# speedometer -tx eth0 -rx eth0

If you want to watch in separate windows TX and RX traffic while  running speedometer you can run in separate xterm windows speedometer -tx eth0 and speedometer -rx eth0, like in below screenshot:

Monitor Received and Transmitted server Network traffic in two separate xterm windows with speedometer ascii graphs

4. Using speedometer to test network maximum possible transfer speed between server (host A) and server (host B)

The speedometer manual suggests few examples one of which is:

How fast is this LAN?

host-a$ cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345
host-b$ nc host-a 12345 > /dev/null
host-b$ speedometer -rx eth0

When I red this example in speedometer's manual, it wasn't completely clear to me what the author really meant, but a bit after when I thought over the example I got his point.

The idea behind this example is that a constant stream of zeros taken from /dev/zero will be streamed over via a pipe (|) to nc which will bind a port number 12345, anyone connecting from another host machine, lets say a server with host host-b to port 12345 on machine host-a will start receiving the /dev/zero streamed content.

Then to finally measure the streamed traffic between host-a and host-b machines a speedometer is started to visualize the received traffic on network interface eth0, thus measuring the amount of traffic flowing from host-a to host-b

I give a try to the exmpls, using for 2 test nodes my home Desktop PC, Linux running  arcane version of Ubuntu and my Debian Linux notebook.

First on the Ubuntu PC I issued

hipo@hip0-desktop:~$ cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345

Note that I have previously had installed the netcat, as nc is not installed by default on Ubuntu and Debian. If you, don't have nc installed yet, install it with:

apt-get –yes install netcat

"cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345" will not produce any output, but will display just a blank line.

Then on my notebook I ran the second command example, given in the speedometer manual:

hipo@noah:~$ nc 12345 > /dev/null

Here the is actually the local network IP address of my Desktop PC. My Desktop PC is connected via a normal 100Mbit switch to my routing machine and receives its internet via  NAT. The second test machine (my laptop), gets its internet through a WI-FI connection received by a Wireless Router connected via a UTP cable to the same switch to which my Desktop PC is connected.

Finally to test / get my network maximum thoroughput I had to use:

hipo@noah:~$ speedometer -rx wlan0

Here, I  monitor my wlan0 interface, as this is my (laptop) wireless card interface over which I have connectivity to my local network and via which through the the WI-FI router I get connected to the internet.

Below is a snapshot captured showing approximately what is the max network thoroughput from:

Desktop PC -> to my Thinkpad R61 laptop

Using Speedometer to test network thorougput between two network server hosts screenshot Debian Squeeze Linux

As you can see in the shot approximately the maximum network thoroughput is in between:
2.55MB/s min and 2.59MB/S max, the speed is quite low for a 100 MBit local network, but this is normal as most laptop wireless adapters hardly transfer traffic in more than 10 to 20 MBits per sec.

If the same nework thoroughput test is conducted between two machines both connected to a same 100 M/bit switch, the traffic should be at least a 8 MB/sec.

There is something, else to take in consideration that probably makes the provided example network thoroughput measuring a bit inaccurate. The fact that the /dev/zero content is stremed over is slowing down the zeroes sent over network because of the  pipe ( | ) use slows down the stream.

5. Using speedometer to visualize maximum writting speed to a local hard drive on Linux

In the speedometer manual, I've noticed another interesting application of this nifty tool.

speedometer can be used to track and visualize the maximum writing speed a hard disk drive or hard drive partition can support on Linux OS:

A copy paster from the manual text is as follows:

How fast can I write data to my filesystem? (with at least 1GB free)
dd bs=1000000 count=1000 if=/dev/zero of=bigfile &
speedometer bigfile

However, when I tried copy/pasting the example in terminal, to test the maximum writing speed to an external USB hard drive, only dd command was started and speedometer failed to initialize and display graphs of the file creation speed.

I've found a little "hack" that makes the man example work by adding a 3 secs sleep like so:

debian:/media/Expansion Drive# dd bs=1000000 count=1000 if=/dev/zero of=bigfile & sleep 3; speedometer bigfile

Here is a screenshot of the bigfile created by dd and tracked "in real time" by speedometer:

How fast is writting data to local USB expandable hard disk Debian Linux speedometer screenshot

Actually the returned results from this external USB drive are, quite high, the possible reason for that is it is connected to my laptop over an USB protocol verion 3.

6. Using Speedometer to keep an eye on file download in progress

This application of speedometer is mostly useless especially on Linux where it is used as a Desktop.

However in some occasions if files are transferred over ssh or in non interactive FTP / Samba file transfers between Linux servers it can come handy.

To visualize the download and writing speed of lets say FTP transferred .AVI movie (during the actual file transfer) on the download host issue:

# speedometer Download-Folder/What-goes-around-comes-around.avi

7. Estimating approximate time for file transfer

There is another section in the speedometer manual pointing of the program use to calculate the time remaining for a file transfer.

The (man speedometer) provided example text is:

How long it will take for my 38MB transfer to finish?
speedometer favorite_episode.rm $((38*1024*1024))

At first glimpse it hard to understand (like the other manual example). A bit of reasoning and I comprehend what the man author meant by the obscure calculation:


This is a formula used in which 38 has to be substituted with the exact file size amount of the transferred file. The author manual used a 38MB file so this is why he put $((38* … in the formula.

I give it a try – (just for the sake to see how it works) with a file with a size of 2500MB, in below two screenshot pictures I show my preparation to copy the file and the actual copying / "real time" transfer tracking with speedometer's status percentage completion bar.

xterm terminal copy file and estimate file copying operation speed on linux with speedometer preparation

Two xterm terminals one is copying a file the other one uses speedometer to estimate the time remaining to complete the file transfer from expansion USB hard drive to my laptop harddrive


How to find out all programs bandwidth use with (nethogs) top like utility on Linux

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Just run across across a super nice top like, program for system administrators, its called nethogs and is definitely entering my “l337” admin outfit next to tools like iftop, nettop, ettercap, darkstat htop, iotop etc.

nethogs is ultra easy to use, to get immediately in console statistics about running processes UPLOAD and DOWNLOAD bandwidth consumption just run it:

linux:~# nethogs

Nethogs screenshot on Linux Server with Nginx
Nethogs running on Debian GNU/Linux serving static web content with Nginx

If you need to check what program is using what amount of network bandwidth, you will definitely love this tool. Having information of bandwidth consumption is also viewable partially with iftop, however iftop is unable to track the bandwidth consumption to each process using the network thus it seems nethogs is unique at what it does.

Nethogs supports IPv4 and IPv6 as well as supports network traffic over ppp. The tool is available via package repositories for Debian GNU/Lenny 5 and Debian Squeeze 6.

To install Nethogs on CentOS and Fedora distributions, you will have to install it from source. On CentOS 5.7, latest nethogs which as of time of writting this article is 0.8.0 compiles and installs fine with make && make install commands.

In the manner of thoughts of network bandwidth monitoring, another very handy tool to add extra understanding on what kind of traffic is crossing over a Linux server is jnettop
jnettop shows which hosts/ports is taking up the most network traffic.
It is available for install via apt in Debian 5/6).

Here is a screenshot on jnettop in action:

Jnettop check network traffic in console

To install jnettop on latest Fedoras / CentOS / Slackware Linux it has to be download and compiled from source via jnettop’s official wiki page
I’ve tested jnettop install from source on CentOS release 5.7 and it seems to compile just fine using the usual compile commands:

[root@prizebg jnettop-0.13.0]# ./configure
[root@prizebg jnettop-0.13.0]# make
[root@prizebg jnettop-0.13.0]# make install

If you need to have an idea on the network traffic passing by your Linux server distringuished by tcp/udp/icmp network protocols and services like ssh / ftp / apache, then you will definitely want to take a look at nettop (if of course not familiar with it yet).
Nettop is not provided as a deb package in Debian and Ubuntu, where it is included as rpm for CentOS and presumably Fedora?
Here is a screenshot on nettop network utility in action:

Nettop server traffic division by protocol screenshot
FreeBSD users should be happy to find out that jnettop and nettop are part of the ports tree and the two can be installed straight, however nethogs would not work on FreeBSD, I searched for a utility capable of what Nethogs can, but couldn’t find such.
It seems the only way on FreeBSD to track bandwidth back and from originating process is using a combination of iftop and sockstat utilities. Probably there are other tools which people use to track network traffic to the processes running on a hos and do general network monitoringt, if anyone knows some good tools, please share with me.

How to find and kill Abusers on OpenVZ Linux hosted Virtual Machines (Few bash scripts to protect OpenVZ CentOS server from script kiddies and easify the daily admin job)

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

OpenVZ Logo - Anti Denial Of Service shell scripts

These days, I’m managing a number of OpenVZ Virtual Machine host servers. Therefore constantly I’m facing a lot of problems with users who run shit scripts inside their Linux Virtual Machines.

Commonly user Virtual Servers are used as a launchpad to attack hosts do illegal hacking activities or simply DDoS a host..
The virtual machines users (which by the way run on top of the CentOS OpenVZ Linux) are used to launch a Denial service scripts like, trinoo, shaft, tfn etc.

As a consequence of their malicious activities, oftenly the Data Centers which colocates the servers are either null routing our server IPs until we suspend the Abusive users, or the servers go simply down because of a server overload or a kernel bug hit as a result of the heavy TCP/IP network traffic or CPU/mem overhead.

Therefore to mitigate this abusive attacks, I’ve written few bash shell scripts which, saves us a lot of manual check ups and prevents in most cases abusers to run the common DoS and “hacking” script shits which are now in the wild.

The first script I’ve written is , what the script does is to automatically look up for a number of listed processes and kills them while logging in /var/log/abusers.log about the abusive VM user procs names killed.

I’ve set this script to run 4 times an hour and it currently saves us a lot of nerves and useless ticket communication with Data Centers (DCs), not to mention that reboot requests (about hanged up servers) has reduced significantly.
Therefore though the scripts simplicity it in general makes the servers run a way more stable than before.

Here is OpenVZ kill/suspend Abusers procs script ready for download

Another script which later on, I’ve written is doing something similar and still different, it does scan the server hard disk using locate and find commands and tries to identify users which has script kiddies programs in their Virtual machines and therefore are most probably crackers.
The scripts looks up for abusive network scanners, DoS scripts, metasploit framework, ircds etc.

After it registers through scanning the server hdd, it lists only files which are preliminary set in the script to be dangerous, and therefore there execution inside the user VM should not be. then logs in a files it’s activity as well as the OpenVZ virtual machines user IDs who owns hack related files. Right after it uses nail mailing command to send email to a specified admin email and reports the possible abusers whose VM accounts might need to either be deleted or suspended.

search_for_abusers can be download here

Honestly I truly liked my script as it became quite nice and I coded it quite quickly.
I’m intending now to put the Search for abusers script on a cronjob on the servers to check periodically and report the IDs of OpenVZ VM Users which are trying illegal activities on the servers.

I guess now our beloved Virtual Machine user script kiddies are in a real trouble ;P

How to install and configure torbutton on Debian / Anonymizing Iceweasel, Firefox on Debian GNU/Linux

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Tor Onion Logo

There is a quite a buzz online recently about the implications breach of personal privacy by simple browing online.
A week ago I've blogged On How to improve your web browser security for better personal identity
Though there is probably a plenty of more things to be done on guaranteeing your anonymous identity online, the article lacked to mention one very one vital project related with anonymity – the tor Anonymity online project
The project offer the user the right to be anonymous online through a complex constantly expanding network of volunteers which voluntary install and grant access to the installed tor server to be used as a proxy from their computers.
A very thorough explanation on what is tor can be red here
Enabling tor on your personal computer would at least guarantee you that every now and then your traffic browser network traffic (request) would flow through a random tor servers located on a different worldly geographic locations.
Usually the traffic to a destination host would pass through 5 tor network nodes. Where the traffic is unecrypted between last node and the 4th node, while in the other four ones it's completely crypted.
This makes your tracking almost impossible if it's based on technologies like for instance Maxmind's Geoip or Geonames's geographical data base because every now and then you'll appear to be coming to the end point referrar web server originating from a different tor node ip address

The tor server is a free software licensed under the GPL and this is also a good assurance because everybody is able to have a look on the code and this is a further guarantee that the software doesn't include a malicious ways for a middle users to sniff on your traffic.

The tor project has even built a pre-bundled browser ready to be worn by yourself on a usb stick, so you can quickly start using the tor anonymous network on any random computer anywhere.
The tor browser page is available here also Tor Browser Bundle for Windows is available here
Tor server is available for both Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Linux/BSD Unix
Of course tor is not perfect it opens some other possible doors for attackers which are much less likely to occur if you don't use it, however in general it's better off with tor than without it.

One serious reason for not reason for not using Tor might be that it's usually many times slower than normal browser since, it routes traffic through a different tor network nodes.
So if you decide to go on and use it you better be patient and calm 🙂

Since I'm a Debian user and I really do value my privacy I decided to start using Tor.
In order to start using Tor it's usually necessary to configure your browser to use The TorButoon Firefox browserextension

Nevertheless on Debian GNU/Linux if you try to go the straigh way as explained on Tor's website install the TorButton and configure it to work in cooperation with the polipo caching proxy
You will be not able to browse after enabling straight the tor plugin.
If you try the up-mentioned approach you're probably about to come to errors like:
"the proxy server is refusing connections"
Proxy error: 502 Disconnected operation and object not in cache
504 Connect to failed: SOCKS error: host unreachableThe following error occurred while trying to access Connect to failed: SOCKS error: host unreachable

In order to properly install configure and enable the TorButton on my Debian GNU/Linux I had to get through the following steps:

1. Install the polipo caching proxy

debian:~# apt-get install polipo

2. Download and overwrite default polipo configuration with the one from

This is necessary to configure in order to have polipo adapted to work with tor, so issue the following commands:

debian:~# cd /etc/polipo
debian:~# wget
debian:~# mv config config.bak
debian:~# mv polipo.conf config

3. Restart polipo for the new config settings to take affect

debian:~# /etc/init.d/polipo restart

4. Install the iceweasel-torbutton browser extension

debian:~# apt-get install iceweasel-torbutton

The iceweasel-torbutton will also install you the tor package which is evidently required for the torbutton to operate.
Now you should be ready to go, you can enable the tor use from the tor button which should appear in your browser in the bottom right corner of your browser.
It should look something similar to:

Tor Button screenshot in Iceweasel

Tor Enable/Disable Iceweasel browser Button

To test your Tor Configuration you can use the Test Settings button which is straight available from TorButton's preferences

From here after it might be a good idea to play with the TorButton security settings and configure it according to your liking, bear in mind that you should have a solid knowledge on how browsers work and some basic Internet protocols before you start tampering this options.
If tou don't know what you do you better stop and don't tamper with the torbutton security options.
The only one that you will most probably want to untick is The Disable plugins during Tor usage , stopping this option will allow you to have a flash video streaming display properly, otherwise you won't be able to use , Vbox etc.
Below you see a screenshot of the TorButton Security Settings dialog.

TorButton properties Dialog

To open up this dialog you need to navigate to the TorButto and choose preferences with the right mouse buttons 🙂
Hope this article is informative to somebody out there.
User feedback is mostly welcome! Cheers 🙂