A Hacker’s Vacation

[Head in the clouds]I took this week off work to enjoy a Hacker’s Vacation. That is, I’m planning to spend a lot of time hacking on my computer.

It’s more than that, actually. I desperately need some time to put my life back in order and catch up on things that I’ve been neglecting, such as housework, email, this website, hard drive spring cleaning, my Tchou Tchou’s website, the Swing website, a new server, and various little projects I have going on. Slowly, I’m getting parts of it all done. I’ll have to carry on some of the tasks later, but at least this week will give me a good foundation to work with.

The biggest thing I want to hack on is my brain. As I mentioned above, I’ve got a new server and I need to spend some time learning how it works. I’m intimately familiar with FreeBSD, but since it’s a virtual hosting solution, I’m constrained at this point to use Debian GNU/Linux on the new server. Since I’ve been using Ubuntu (which is based on Debian) on my desktop for over a year, it is fairly easy to manage. But there are lots of server-related configurations and tasks that I need to nail down for good security and management.

For general Linux information goodness, I’m following a set of tutorials from the IBM Developer Network entitled the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) exam prep, described as a “series of tutorials to help you learn Linux fundamentals and prepare for system administrator certification”. I’m not intending to write the exams—just learn the material. I’m finding that the tutorials give very good background information, covering things in enough detail to explain the process. I can then, of course, delve into the man pages and other documentation to learn more.

I’m enjoying it so far.

vnStat Network Traffic Monitor

I just discovered vnStat, a network traffic monitor for Linux. Here’s a blurb from the website:

vnStat is a network traffic monitor for Linux that keeps a log of daily network traffic for the selected interface(s). vnStat isn’t a packet sniffer. The traffic information is analyzed from the /proc -filesystem, so vnStat can be used without root permissions.

It will tell you how much inbound and outbound bandwidth that your Linux machine is using—hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. That’s handy.

By inspection, I’ve been able to tell that it runs like so: it installs itself as a cron job that runs every five minutes to update its internal database. Then you can type vnstat on the command line to give you the stats.

I’d post some sample output, but since I’ve just started running it, there’s nothing to show. I’m glad to have found it, though.