Pimp my NOC
June 10, 2008 8:13 PM   Subscribe

How do I make the projection screen in my NOC look like the control room at NORAD?

We're adding a couple of huge projection screens to our NOC where I work that I'm going to connect to a ubuntu linux box. The actual useful information (Nagios charts, internal monitoring stuff) is going to pretty much be all on one screen, so I'm going to fill the other screen with eye-candy and infoporn. Does anyone have any recommendations for software that'll display things like cool looking world maps of network outages and latency, or rss feeds, or even stuff that has absolutely no connection to network stuff like the Digg Labs gadgets or similar things for google news? I'm not really looking for anything useful, more stuff that's kind of screen saver-y, but also does have useful info if you actually look. I'd prefer to have stuff that's internet related, but really anything built of real time info would be useful to throw in the mix.

Also, as an aside, is there anyway to make Nagios status pages less drab looking?
posted by empath to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Yes, I realize it's fairly open ended, but I'm not really looking for anything specific other than A) Looks Cool and B) Is hopefully derived somehow from real-time information
posted by empath at 8:14 PM on June 10, 2008

Take a look at Dartware's InterMapper. It provides fancy network monitoring graphics with auto discovery via SNMP and live traffic activity maps. Definitely not cheap.
posted by RichardP at 8:35 PM on June 10, 2008

What about flickrvision? Totally, totally useless. But it's really cool and derived from realtime information. You could also use wikipediavision as well but it isn't as visually interesting.
posted by true at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2008

My previous company hooked up 2 LCD monitors with Matrix screensavers, and then in the middle put an Apple ][ running a home-grown ASCII-based "Matrix screensaver". It looks awesome.

The Apple belonged to the CEO from his childhood, and the sysadmin booted it using a combination of a null modem cable and a C-64-formatted floppy disk I had pinned to my office door.
posted by nev at 8:47 PM on June 10, 2008

Akamai's Real time web monitor (attacks, latency & traffic)
The charts from Internet Storm Center?

Place the objects in to a customized page and stick on the big screen.
posted by mnology at 8:59 PM on June 10, 2008

A while ago there was a great page with someone's personal "James Bond villain infoscreen" setup, using Windows' active-desktop, three flatscreens and a bunch of webcams. It's gone now, but I think it was largely a few weather maps and a cycle through a bunch of webcams.

In that vein, could you grab a few feeds from these (or, quicker, here).

(was going to try to find you some animated weather maps, I know www.bom.gov.au has some somewhere... but some inconsiderate buggers want me to like, work, for my job. Bloody philistines.)
posted by pompomtom at 9:51 PM on June 10, 2008

I'd think it's fun to make a at-a-glance network health-o-meter. Two versions:

A port-by-port cumulative line graph. Port 80 it taking x% of traffic, bittorrent is taking y%, nntp is z% ..., smtp is..., update it every minute.

Or, count packet flags. So many TCP with SYN, so many with SYN+ACK, so many ACK, so many RST or FIN. Or count average duration of TCP sessions.

Neither tells you anything exactly useful, but if you spend enough time knowing what "normal" looks like, then you will be good at knowing when something is amiss, often before anyone else has a chance to tell you. (Back in my NOC days, we had a machine that emitted a hissing beeping chirping sound based on traffic it saw. When a circuit failed, we'd often know before anyone called tech support, just by being near the sound box and hearing it be sharper or flatter or more quiet than it usually was.)
posted by cmiller at 9:52 PM on June 10, 2008

xplanet with custom scripts/maps for realtime weather/natural disasters/satellite orbits/whatever you feel like scripting? It would be pretty easy to get the WarGames look with this program (simple line art map of the world, mercator projection).
posted by doowod at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2008

if you really want to make it look like NORAD, you could use it for playing DEFCON on...
posted by russm at 11:08 PM on June 10, 2008

Seconding the DEFCON plug. Great game....
posted by zap rowsdower at 11:10 PM on June 10, 2008

glTail is a must in every NOC.
posted by lodev at 11:47 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

nothing like a colored 'tail -f' on some big syslog aggregate.
multitail, logsurfer and loco are your friends.
and as a bonus it's very useful.
posted by anto1ne at 6:56 AM on June 11, 2008

3rding DEFCON game.
posted by lalochezia at 10:08 AM on June 11, 2008

Response by poster: i think defcon would get me in trouble :)
posted by empath at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2008

Digg visualizations are really cool.
posted by aeighty at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2008

I'm not installing Java here to test, but the Talisker Security Wizardry Portal might work for you.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:47 PM on June 11, 2008

Response by poster: pronoiac -- that's exactly what i was thinking of -- is there more like that?
posted by empath at 4:39 PM on June 11, 2008

I thought DShield or Internet Storm Center had something similar to the map, with tickers regarding ports. It looks like those have basically merged, but they still have charts that might not be on the previously mentioned portal.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2008

Monitoring hosts & services could be helpful - Nagios is the standard, I think, & example screenshots are available.

Tending toward the "less real world usefulness, but looks cool:" filelight is a tool for finding where the hard drive space went, but damn it looks cool. kdirstat does a similar analysis, only it uses rectangles.

Screensavers are calculated to look cool. Two come to mind, but they almost completely escape me. Instead, check out xscreensaver - specifically useful might be Carousel, Phosphor, & Sonar, given the right input.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:49 PM on June 12, 2008

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