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   README - readme for bcnu Version 1.21



README - readme for bcnu Version 1.21

Last update: Updated: 1st March 2000


The bcnu home page is at

Mirrors are available at


This document gives a brief outline of the functions and uses of bcnu, how to install it and get a basic system up and running. For more detailed information see the system admin document.


bcnu is a web based system management tool which delivers information on the status of networked systems in a simple and easy to use manner. Have a look at the sample screens to see how easy it is. It uses a web browser to display information about hosts in a tabular form. Coloured icons show the status of monitored conditions and clicking on these will bring up detail about the state of the system. Historical information can be held indefinitely and there is a powerful query tool available to interrogate it.

bcnu can be managed from a central unix system, with all agents, scripts and config files distributed from one point using the supplied shell scripts. It will soon be possible to configure agents from a web browser.

bcnu has a very open architecture. The agents are currently bourne shell scripts, but can be any program. There are a set of standard shell functions available to make interfacing with bcnu very easy. It is a simple matter to modify existing scripts to talk to bcnu. These will have all the benefits of bcnu agents, e.g. logging, resending, proxy etc. I would be happy to receive your agents to include with the distribution

bcnu has been designed to be very simple to implement. By default it is configured to make very little impact on the managed system. Logging levels can be set for each agent separately. It is possible to set an agent only to log in the event of an error.

Monitoring of network devices can be spread over multiple machines, all may have different checking and logging intervals. e.g. you may wish to check all web servers every 5 minutes, application servers every 10 minutes, but mail or print servers only every 30 minutes. This is easy with bcnu due to the flexible agent architecture.

Retry levels and severity for hosts can be set on a per agent/service basis. e.g. you can retry hosts 10 times but print servers 3 times and only generate a warning for the print servers but an error for the hosts

see INSTALLATION in this document for a quick install guide.


bcnu is a client-server monitoring system. It consists of a server daemon running on each system to be managed. The daemon schedules the running of agents on the system. The agents can be used to check the health of the system or to run periodic bcnu admin tasks.

One central system is designated as the ``master''. This is where all data is logged to and where remote management can be carried out from.

A web browser is used to display the status of the systems under its control.

These are the main features:

- easy to use
- simple agent based monitoring with flexible thresholds
- multiple views of the same information
- includes agent scheduler for total flexibility
- automatic logging and resend of messages
- discover agent to build a picture of your system automatically
- built in web server for static pages
- powerful cgi access to data including multiple views and historical queries
- free!! (Distributed under the terms of the Artistic licence)

Standard agents include:

- network monitor, ping, http, ftp etc
- log file scanning for messages and warnings
- checking for required processes to be running
- filesystem mount status and space usage
- processor usage and system up time
- oracle database availibility

Special agents include:

- volume management checks for solaris,aix and hpux
- config file gathering(experimental)
- system availibility

Admin agents include:

- logging and resending of agent data
- upgrade agent(experimental)
- agent proxy
- alerts sent by mail,web,pager or custom program
- discovery of systems to be managed
- static web page built to show status of all systems
- report of all errors and warnings

Contributed agents include:

- check file for changes
- oracle table space monitor
- check oracle backup log agent


What do I need to run it

In addition to Unix systems, any IP connected device can be monitored by bcnu i.e routers, Netware/NT servers, gateways, appliances etc. It will use a ping to test whether the system is alive or not.

It is also possible to check for IP services on any system, i.e. ftp, http etc

To check other internal services on Unix systems requires a bcnu daemon and agents to be loaded.

Currently the supported Unix platforms for the daemon are:

        Solaris 2
        HPUX 9,10
        AIX 4
        Linux Kernel 1 and 2
        FreeBSD 3
        ICL DRS NX (frozen due to instability)

As these are the only systems I have access to, these are the only ones I can test on, but I am hoping that others will contribute ports to other systems.

The software is distributed in source and with pre-built executables for the above platforms.

A C compiler will be required (gcc is fine) to rebuild.

For managed systems, that is all that is required as all the agents are bourne shell scripts and do not do anything very complicated.

For the master system perl is required to build the web pages. Perl 4 is fine.

Currently a web server is required for the cgi scripts where these are used. I use Apache.

The web browser should preferably be Explorer 3+ or Navigator 3+, but it will still work on older browsers. The use of background colours in tables makes these browsers better.

Installing the bcnu master system

change to the directory where you want the archive to be extracted to

e.g. cd /usr/local

untar the archive, it will create a directory called bcnu with all of the files under there

    gzip -dc bcnu-1.21.tgz  | tar xvf -

Once bcnu is installed, configuration can begin. There are a few files which need to be edited to set things up initially, but once that's done the only file which needs any maintenance is the agents file. Most of this is now handled by the Setup script.

Configuring bcnu on the master

Decide on the final location of bcnu (/usr/local/bcnu is the default)

If you choose the default, then there are less changes required to the standard scripts.

Run the Setup script in the bcnu home directory to set up the environment.


It will try to guess as much as possible and prompt for other information. Unless you know better, accept the defaults.

If there is already a version of bcnu installed, the server will be stopped and the new version will be configured. Any old config files will be retained.

The script will ask if you want bcnu started at startup, if the answer is yes it will add an entry to the appropriate startup file/directory for your platform. (N.B. root access will be required for this).

Once that's complete you should be able to start bcnu and it should work!

    /usr/local/bcnu/etc/bcnud_server start

will start the daemon.

Congratulations you have installed bcnu!

You can now add whatever additional agents you require using the comments in the sample config file.

You can get more detailed information from the documentation in the docs subdirectory. The System admin guide has full details on installing clients etc.


John Phillips

Please send all bugs, comments, and changes to


This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the Artistic License for more details.


Security is weak at the moment. bcnu is designed to be easy to use, it has not been tested for all vulnerabilities.


bcnud(1), bcnumsg(1), bcnu(1), agents(5), services(5), logpatterns(5), hostinfo(5), bcnunet(5)

The bcnu home pages also have full documentation

Updated: 1st March 2000


   README - readme for bcnu Version 1.21