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Custom Scout Plugins For Lonely Sysadmins

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When you run servers, there are certain things you need to know. When you're the only one running the servers, there are a few more things you need to know.

One is the loneliest number

Since I'm basically the only person running the servers keeping Yardstick Measure alive, I need to know as much as I can about them. More than that, I need to know things you might not really care about if you have a team of dedicated people managing the servers.

Scout

I use Scout to track server metrics and keep an eye on things. I try my best to install the relevant plugins, have them setup properly and alert me when problems show up. When something happens and I don't hear about it right away, I try to find a new plugin on Scout to give better insight to what happened.

Sometimes you need some piece of information that Scout doesn't have a plugin for. Luckily, writing custom plugins is easy. I won't cover the entire process, because Scout has a great page on creating custom plugins. I made a couple simple plugins to make sure I stay on top of of a couple things. These work on Ubuntu boxes.

Reboots

The first plugin tells me if the server requires a reboot. Pretty simple, but if you don't login it and see the reboot required as part of the MOTD, then you don't really know that there is a kernel update that hasn't taken effect because the box needs a reboot. I can then alert on the reboot_required metric when it hits 1.0 to send me an email. It doesn't need to go to PagerDuty or anything. The alert also shows up in the Scout dashboard.

Updates

The second plugin tracks the number of pending updates, breaking out the number of security updates into their own metric. This way I can alert on the number of security upates pending so I know I need to run an update. This actually made me aware of the fact that the automatic security updates were only working on one of my servers. So that's nice.

They're nothing fancy, but they help me along with my sysadmin related tasks.


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