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Monitoring Servers with Zabbix

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Zabbix is an open source software application that can monitor servers, networks, and applications. You can use Zabbix with any of our plans, and it works on every Linux distribution we offer. Full hardware and software requirements can be found on the Zabbix requirements page.

Contents

Deciding How to Install Zabbix

There are two ways to install Zabbix. You can compile and install Zabbix from source, or you can install Zabbix packages, if your distribution supports it.

Installing the packages is faster and makes things easier to maintain, but the installed version might be older than what's available on the Zabbix website. Compiling and installing from source is a longer process, but it works on every distribution, and you'll get the latest version of Zabbix.

Installing Packages

If you're running Ubuntu or Debian and would like to install the Zabbix packages, follow these instructions:

Note

Other distributions may also have packages for Zabbix. Check the distribution's website for more information.

  1. Install Zabbix server by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install zabbix-server-mysql
    
  2. Install the Zabbix web interface by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install zabbix-frontend-php
    
  3. Install the Zabbix agent by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install zabbix-agent
    

Zabbix is now installed and running on your Linode.

Note

If you install the Zabbix packages, you do not need to follow the rest of the instructions in this guide.

Compiling and Installing from Source

If you decide not install the Zabbix packages, or your distribution does not support it, use the instructions in the rest of this guide to compile and install Zabbix from source.

Prerequisites

You'll need to install some software before you actually install Zabbix itself. It requires a database backend, and in this example we'll use MySQL, but you can also use PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle, or IBM DB2. Other mandatory requirements are a C compiler and GNU Make. Optionally, you can also include NET-SNMP for SNMP support, lksemel to enable Jabber messaging, and/or Libcurl to enable the WEB monitoring module.

Adding a New User

You'll also want to create a new user to run Zabbix. Here's how:

  1. Create a new user by entering the following command:

    sudo adduser zabbix
    
  2. Add the zabbix user to the admin group by entering the following command:

    sudo usermod -a -G sudo zabbix
    
  3. Start acting as the zabbix user by entering the following command:

    su - zabbix
    

You have successfully added the zabbix user.

Configuring MySQL

You'll first want to install MySQL on your Linode and create a MySQL user for Zabbix. Here's how:

  1. If you haven't already, install and configure MySQL on your Linode. See the MySQL reference manuals for more information.

  2. Log in to MySQL by entering the following command:

    mysql -uroot -p
    
  3. Enter the password for the MySQL root user.

  4. Create a database for Zabbix by entering the following command:

    create database zabbix;
    
  5. Create a MySQL zabbix user to the access the new database by entering the following command, replacing Password with a password:

    grant all privileges on zabbix.* to zabbix@localhost identified by 'Password';
    
  6. Log out of MySQL by entering the following command:

    quit;
    

You have configured MySQL for Zabbix.

Installing Apache and PHP

Zabbix requires Apache and PHP to be installed. Here's how to install them:

  1. Install Apache by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install apache2
    
  2. Install PHP and the required modules by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install php5 php-pear php5-suhosin php5-gd php5-curl php5-mysql
    
  3. Install other required libraries by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install libmysqlclient-dev libcurl3-gnutls libcurl3-gnutls-dev
    
  4. Verify that you have configured a name-based virtual host for Apache. This is required for the Zabbix web interface. For instructions, see Configuring Name-based Virtual Hosts.

The required applications, modules, and libraries have been installed on your Linode.

Configuring PHP

Now you'll want to make some adjustments to your php.ini file for Zabbix. Here's how:

  1. Open the php.ini file for editing by entering the following command:

    sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
    
  2. Verify that the following settings are set in the php.ini file.

File excerpt:/etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

memory_limit = 128M
post_max_size = 32M
upload_max_filesize = 16M
max_execution_time = 600
max_input_time = 600
date.timezone = America/New_York

Note

You can use this webpage to find the correct date.timezone value.

  1. Save the changes by restarting Apache. Enter the following command:

    sudo service apache2 restart
    

PHP is now configured for Zabbix.

Installing a Compiler

You'll need a C compiler and make to install Zabbix. If your Linode is running Ubuntu or Debian, use these instructions:

  1. Install make by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install make
    
  2. Install the C compiler by entering the following command:

    sudo apt-get install gcc
    

You have installed the C compiler and make on your Linode.

Zabbix Server

Now that all of the Zabbix prerequesites are ready, we can start installing.

Downloading and Unpacking

Let's start by downloading and unpacking Zabbix. Here's how:

  1. Find the latest version of Zabbix on the Zabbix download page. Log in to your Linode and enter the following command, replacing the link with the latest version available on the Zabbix download page:

    wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/zabbix/files/ZABBIX%20Latest%20Stable/2.0.1/zabbix-2.0.1.tar.gz/download
    
  2. Once we have the latest package downloaded, we'll need to unpack it by entering the following command:

    tar -xzf download
    

You have successfully downloaded and unpacked Zabbix.

Configuring MySQL

Populate your Xabbix database by entering the following commands, one by one. Replace Password with the Zabbix MySQL user password:

mysql -D zabbix -uzabbix -pPassword < /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/database/mysql/schema.sql
mysql -D zabbix -uzabbix -pPassword < /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/database/mysql/data.sql
mysql -D zabbix -uzabbix -pPassword < /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/database/mysql/images.sql

You have successfully configured MySQL for Zabbix server.

Compiling and Installing

Now we're ready to compile and install Zabbix server. Here's how:

  1. Change to the Zabbix directory by entering the following command:

    cd zabbix-2.0.1
    
  2. Enter the following command to compile Zabbix:

    ./configure --enable-server --with-mysql  --with-libcurl
    
  3. When the configuration completes, you can make and install Zabbix by entering the following command:

    sudo make install
    
  4. You'll also need to configure and make the agent binaries. Enter the following command to compile these statically so you don't have to download the entire Zabbix package to each monitored host to compile them:

    ./configure --enable-agent --enable-static
    
  5. Enter the following command to install Zabbix:

    sudo make install
    

You have successfully compiled and installed Zabbix.

Creating the Configuration and Log File

Now you'll need to create a configuration file for the Zabbix server in your /etc/zabbix directory. Here's how:

  1. Create a new directory in /etc by entering the following command:

    sudo mkdir /etc/zabbix
    
  2. Create the configuration file by entering the following command:

    sudo touch /etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf
    
  3. Change the owner by entering the following command:

    sudo chown -R zabbix:zabbix /etc/zabbix
    
  4. Create the log file by entering the following command:

    sudo touch /var/log/zabbix.log
    
  5. Change the owner of the log file by entering the following command:

    sudo chown zabbix:zabbix /var/log/zabbix.log
    
  6. Open the Zabbix configuration file for editing by entering the following command:

    sudo nano /etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf
    
  7. Add the following to the zabbix_server.conf file. At this point, it only requires your database connection details, though we will also be adding a Zabbix server log as well.

    File:/etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf

    DBName = zabbix
    DBPassword = YourZabbixMySQLpassword
    DBUser = zabbix
    LogFile = /var/log/zabbix.log
    

Note

A full list of configuration parameters for zabbix_server.conf are available here.

  1. Close and save the file by pressing Control X and then Y.

You have successfully created the configuration file.

Setting Zabbix to Start Automatically at Boot

To ensure that Zabbix starts every time you reboot your Linode, you'll need to copy the Zabbix init.d scripts to the appropriate directory and set the correct permissions. Here's how:

  1. Copy the scripts by entering the following commands, one by one:

    sudo cp /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/misc/init.d/debian/zabbix-server /etc/init.d
    sudo cp /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/misc/init.d/debian/zabbix-agent /etc/init.d
    
  2. Change the permissions by entering the following commands, one by one:

    sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/zabbix-server
    sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/zabbix-agent
    
  3. Set Zabbix to start when the machine boots by entering the following commands, one by one:

    sudo update-rc.d zabbix-server defaults
    sudo update-rc.d zabbix-agent defaults
    

Now the Zabbix server and agent will automatically start every time you boot your Linode.

Starting Zabbix

Now you can start the Zabbix server and agent by entering the following commands, one by one:

sudo /etc/init.d/zabbix-server start
sudo /etc/init.d/zabbix-agent start

Zabbix is now running on your Linode! To verify, enter the following command:

ps -aux | grep zabbix

Zabbix Agent

The Zabbix Agent (zabbix_agentd) is placed on the client servers you want to monitor.

Creating a New User

First, you'll want to create a zabbix user on the client system. Enter the following command to create the user:

adduser zabbix

The user has been created.

Installing and Configuring

Now you'll want to create directories for the Zabbix files on your client server. You'll also need to copy some files to the new directories. Here's how to do it:

  1. Create the directories by entering the following commands, one by one:

    mkdir /opt/zabbix
    mkdir /opt/zabbix/sbin
    mkdir /opt/zabbix/bin
    mkdir /etc/zabbix
    
  2. Next, you'll want to copy over the necessary files. There are 3 files to copy, as shown below. Place zabbix_agentd into /opt/zabbix/sbin on your client server. The zabbix_get and zabbix_send files go into /opt/zabbix/bin:

    /usr/local/zabbix/sbin/zabbix_agentd
    /usr/local/zabbix/bin/zabbix_get
    /usr/local/zabbix/bin/zabbix_send
    
  3. Verify that those files are owned by the zabbix user by entering the following command:

    chown -R zabbix:zabbix /opt/zabbix
    
  4. Create an agent configuration file by entering the following command:

    touch /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf
    
  5. Verify that the file is owned by the zabbix user by entering the following command:

    chown -R zabbix:zabbix /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf
    
  6. Open the configuration for editing by entering the following command:

    nano /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf
    
  7. The only option that is required is the Server parameter, which is the IP address of your Zabbix monitoring server. Copy and paste the following line into the configuration file, replacing 12.34.56.78 with the IP address of your Zabbix monitoring server.

    File:/etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf

    Server = 12.34.56.78
    

Note

A full listing of supported parameters, as well as their default values, is available in the Zabbix manual.

  1. Open the /etc/services file for editing by entering the following command:

    nano /etc/services
    
  2. Copy and paste the following lines into the /etc/services file:

    zabbix_agent 10050/tcp
    zabbix_trap 10051/tcp
    

You have successfully installed and configured the agent.

Starting the Agent

Once you have your files copied and the configuration file in place, start the agent by entering the following command:

/usr/local/zabbix/sbin/zabbix_agentd

The agent is now running.

Zabbix Web Interface

Zabbix also has a front-end component that you'll want to install. These instructions show you how.

Copying Files

The Zabbix frontend is written in PHP. You'll want to copy the front-end files to your web server's public directory. Here's how to create a subdirectory and copy the Zabbix front-end files to it:

Note

We assume that you followed the Hosting a Website guide. If you're using a different DocumentRoot directive than /home/example_user/public/example.com/public for your virtual host, you'll need to update the path to correctly reflect your DocumentRoot.

  1. Change to your virtual host directory by entering the following command, replacing example_user with your username and example.com with your domain name:

    cd /home/example_user/public/example.com/public
    
  1. Create a new directory by entering the following command:

    sudo mkdir zabbix
    
  2. Change to the Zabbix directory by entering the following command:

    cd /home/zabbix/zabbix-2.0.1/frontends/php
    
  3. Copy the files by entering the following command, replacing example_user with your username and example.com with your domain name:

    sudo cp -a . /home/example_user/public/example.com/public/zabbix
    

You have successfully copied the files.

Completing the Installation

You'll need to complete the installation of the Zabbix web interface with your web browser. Here's how:

  1. Open up a browser and point it to http://YourLinodeIP/zabbix to continue with the installation, where YourLinodeIP is the IP address of your Linode.
  2. The introduction page appears, as shown below. Click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Correct any prerequesite errors, as shown below. Click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Configure the connection to your Zabbix database, as shown below. After you've entered the information for the MySQL database, click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Enter the details for your Zabbix server, as shown below. Click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Check your pre-install summary, as shown below. Click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Download your Zabbix configuration file, as shown below. Click Next to continue.
Zabbix installer.
  1. Once you've updated your Zabbix configuration file to the specified location, click Retry.
  2. If the the configuration file is found, click Finish.
Zabbix installer.

After you've finished the front-end installation, you'll be forwarded to the Zabbix login page. The default username is Admin, the default password is zabbix.

Monitoring a Host

Now you have the Zabbix server and web admin installed, and you just set up the zabbix_agentd on your first monitored host. Now you can add that host to your web admin so you can actually monitor it. Here's how:

  1. Log into your web admin by entering the following URL in your web browser, replacing YourZabbixServerIP with your Linode's IP address:

    http://YourZabbixServerIP/zabbix
    
  2. Click the Configuration tab, then the Hosts menu item, then the Create Host button. The screen shown below appears.

Zabbix add host screen.
  1. Enter a name for the host in the Name field. This will be displayed on your server list.
  2. Add the IP address of your monitored host to the IP Address field.
  3. Click the Add button in the top right corner under the Linked Templates section.
  4. The template you'll want to use for a Linux server is Template_Linux.
  5. Once you have your server information added and your template linked, click Save.

You have successfully added the monitored host.

Using Graphs

If you would like the base graphs for your new monitored host, you can copy those from the Zabbix server. Here's how:

  1. Click on the Hosts tab under Configuration, then click the Graphs link on the Zabbix server line.
  2. Select the graphs you'd like to copy over and click Go button.
  3. On the next screen, you'll be able to select where to copy those graphs, whether to a Host Group or just a single Host, as shown below.
Zabbix copy graphs screen.

Note that the Zabbix manual has complete documentation on setting up the various actions and operations Zabbix can perform.

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Last edited by Matthew Cone on Monday, August 20th, 2012 (r3019).