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My Weekend with NetBeez

Netbeez

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, USB stick

Hardware

  • Raspberry Pi
  • SD Card – At least 8GB
  • USB Drive
  • Computer for setup – I will be using my Macbook Air
  • Peripherals
    • Monitor, Keyboard, USB Hub, and Cables

Software

Step 2: Sign-up for a Netbeez account

This is easy enough; head over to https://netbeez.net/free-instance-signup/

netbeez 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.

SDFormatter

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.

 

Terminal

 

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#

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 8.03.18 PM

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:

Code

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:

ls /mnt/usb/

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:

ls /etc/netbeez/

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

Netbeez Dashboard

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.

Resources:

www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/installation/installing-images/mac.md
elinux.org/RPi_Adding_USB_Drives
maketecheasier.com/rename-files-in-linux/
learn.adafruit.com/adafruits-raspberry-pi-lesson-6-using-ssh/enabling-ssh

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Robert Boardman

2 Comments

  1. This is a resourceful post. I’m going to have to keep this in my back pocket for testing with my own rPI units.

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