Like many of you, I was excited when Raspberry PI hit the market. It is a computer the size of a credit card and, while it was fun to tinker with, I could never really find anything to actually do with it. So, as with so many gadgets, it ended up in a drawer. Enter NetBeez network monitoring.
After their presentation at Mobility Tech Field (you can watch it here), I was intrigued. Using a Raspberry PI as a node for both wired and wireless network monitoring? Then tying it into an easy-to-use web interface? What a great use for a Raspberry PI; it is small and uses very little power. Netbeez offers a kind of DIY single agent license for free. I decided to dust off the old Raspberry PI and give them a whirl.
NetBeez provides a pre-packaged custom Raspberry PI image build specifically for a NetBeez without all the bloat or the GUI. There is also a great set of instructions that are easy to read and simple, if you understand Linux. Me, I know just enough Linux to get me in trouble. So, in addition to setting up Netbeez, I learned a few new Linux commands.
I had a fun time setting this up last weekend, and I thought I would write a guide on how to set one up for home.
One caveat: the free license is for wired monitoring only. Hopefully wireless will be added into the free license model sometime soon.
Step 1: Gather your Gear
- Raspberry Pi
- SD Card – At least 8GB
- USB Drive
- Computer for setup – I will be using my Macbook Air
- Monitor, Keyboard, USB Hub, and Cables
Step 2: Sign-up for a Netbeez account
This is easy enough; head over to https://netbeez.net/free-instance-signup/
After signing up, you will receive a welcome email with a certificate attached. Be sure to save that certificate as we will be using later.
Step 3: Prepare your SD card and USB Drive
Let’s start with formatting the USB Drive. The drive needs to be formatted to FAT32. This can be accomplished by using Mac’s Disk Utility. If you need help finding it just press Command + Spacebar and type “disk utility” and it should pop right up. Once the drive is formatted, don’t worry about closing Disk Utility as we will using it again shortly. Now take the certificate from the welcome email and copy it onto the drive.
Onto formatting the SD card. Open SDFormatter and choose the Overwrite Format option. If you like you can also choose to name your SD card. Click the format button, and we are off to the races. Just a note, SDFormatter seemed to hang and won’t indicate that formatting is complete. This seems to happen at random, as I tried various different SD cards with mixed results. Thus, the rule of thumb is if the blue bar is filled, it is complete, and it is ok to hit cancel.
Next, we will write the NetBeez image to the newly formatted SD card. To do this we will be using the terminal. But first we need to gather the BSD name of the SD card. To do this go to About this Mac, then click System Report. Under the card reader, you should be able to find the BSD name.
Once you have the BSD name, use Disk Utility to unmount the SD card.
Open a terminal and enter the following command. Be sure to replace the BSD name with yours
sudo dd bs=1m if=path_of_your_image.img of=/dev/disk#
Writing the image to the SD card takes some time so be patient (roughly 10 – 15 mins for me.) If you are interested in the checking the status you can use CTRL + T for an update.
Step 4: Setup your PI
Time to power up the PI and log in. the default credentials are
- Username: pi
- Password: netbeez–free
For those of you that are Linux gurus, here is a link to Netbeez’s instructions
For the rest of us, the first step is to modify hostname in the configuration file. The easiest way to do this is by using Nano, a text editing program built into the PI.
sudo nano /etc/netbeez/netbeez-agent.conf
Inside of the config file change “hostname” to the name you chose when you set up your account. It will look like this:
Then Ctrl + X to save and exit.
Next, let’s move the certificate from the USB to the Raspberry PI. You will need to create a directory for the USB. You can do that by using the following commands:
sudo mkdir /mnt/usb
Now to mount the USB drive:
sudo mount -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb
To verify that the USB drive is mounted type:
You should see the certificate listed there. Now we will move and rename the certificate with the following command:
sudo cp /mnt/usb/netbeez.pem /etc/netbeez/netbeez-agent.pem
You can verify that the certificate was moved and renamed by using the ls command:
All that is left is to restart the Netbeez agent.
sudo service nbagent_prod stop; sudo service nbagent_prod start
At this point, you should be able to log into your dashboard and see your shiny new agent
Step 5: Rule the World
It is now time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Netbeez does a great job of providing tutorials on how to navigate and use their dashboard. Go forth and enjoy setting up targets and monitoring networks!
Well, as always, I hope this was helpful and please let me know what you think in the comments below. Thank you.