Collectd Front-ends

Finally, I found a good enough Collectd front-end: the Collectd Graph Panel (CGP). But first lets look at those front-ends which did not pass the exam:

  • Collectd-web is the first I tried, maybe because it is the only one with a package in Gentoo (but it is poor package, so I ended up installing from source). My main complain is that some graphs, like the very useful context-switches, don’t work. It is also quite slow generating the graphs.
  • Collection4, developed by the lead developer of collectd, did not even build. I did not insist.

Many of the front-ends listed in the collectd wiki page were discarded either because they looked like dead (no new commit in the last few years) or because their deployment process was too cumbersome (need to setup database…). But I still tried a few more:

  • Sickmuse is sleek. However there are some details in the way to deployment, like there is no option to make server to listen only the local interface. Alright, it’s just Python, I can fix it… Problem is, the build process requires to install npm (the Node.js package manager), just to install another package manager named Bower, just to install the JS and CSS.
  • Jarmon is very simple to deploy but requires to define every plugin in the front-end, i.e. it is unable to discover the hosts and plugins just like every other front-end does. So it is a pain in the ass to maintain.
  • Visage just shows nothing. I tried to add a host and plugins through the web interface, but the interface is buggy.

Like when looking for the keys, the answer was in the last pocket. Well, the CGP web site is designed to discourage potential users. There is no documentation. I had to dig a little to find out how to get it working with Nginx for instance.

Just one note about CGP, it has two modes to generate the graphs: PNG (the default) and canvas, to generate the graphs in the browser. The canvas mode did not work for me: zooming with the mouse scroll is so sensible it is unusable; it is slow, the fan in my notebook started to run like crazy; my browser even gave me some error like “This scripts is stalled, kill it?”. But the PNG mode is fine.

Conclusion. The weakness of Collectd is the lack of a good and well established front-end. Instead there are more than a dozen front-ends of varying quality. This is my selection:

  1. CGP. Don’t look any further, unless you have some free time.
  2. Visage. This one is promising, maybe I will try again once they get 3.0 out.
  3. Sickmuse. If it only was less trendy and more practical… Three things to improve: the build process, deployment and usability.