24.6.5. Extending Net-SNMP

The Net-SNMP Agent can be extended to provide application metrics in addition to raw system metrics. This allows for capacity planning as well as performance issue troubleshooting. For example, it may be helpful to know that an email system had a 5-minute load average of 15 while being tested, but it is more helpful to know that the email system has a load average of 15 while processing 80,000 messages a second. When application metrics are available via the same interface as the system metrics, this also allows for the visualization of the impact of different load scenarios on system performance (for example, each additional 10,000 messages increases the load average linearly until 100,000).
A number of the applications that ship with Red Hat Enterprise Linux extend the Net-SNMP Agent to provide application metrics over SNMP. There are several ways to extend the agent for custom applications as well. This section describes extending the agent with shell scripts and Perl plug-ins. It assumes that the net-snmp-utils and net-snmp-perl packages are installed, and that the user is granted access to the SNMP tree as described in Section 24.6.3.2, “Configuring Authentication”.

24.6.5.1. Extending Net-SNMP with Shell Scripts

The Net-SNMP Agent provides an extension MIB (NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB) that can be used to query arbitrary shell scripts. To specify the shell script to run, use the extend directive in the /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf file. Once defined, the Agent will provide the exit code and any output of the command over SNMP. The example below demonstrates this mechanism with a script which determines the number of httpd processes in the process table.

Using the proc directive

The Net-SNMP Agent also provides a built-in mechanism for checking the process table via the proc directive. See the snmpd.conf(5) manual page for more information.
The exit code of the following shell script is the number of httpd processes running on the system at a given point in time:
#!/bin/sh

NUMPIDS=`pgrep httpd | wc -l`

exit $NUMPIDS
To make this script available over SNMP, copy the script to a location on the system path, set the executable bit, and add an extend directive to the /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf file. The format of the extend directive is the following:
extend name prog args
… where name is an identifying string for the extension, prog is the program to run, and args are the arguments to give the program. For instance, if the above shell script is copied to /usr/local/bin/check_apache.sh, the following directive will add the script to the SNMP tree:
extend httpd_pids /bin/sh /usr/local/bin/check_apache.sh
The script can then be queried at NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendObjects:
~]$ snmpwalk localhost NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendObjects
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendNumEntries.0 = INTEGER: 1
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendCommand."httpd_pids" = STRING: /bin/sh
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendArgs."httpd_pids" = STRING: /usr/local/bin/check_apache.sh
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendInput."httpd_pids" = STRING:
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendCacheTime."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: 5
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendExecType."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: exec(1)
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendRunType."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: run-on-read(1)
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendStorage."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: permanent(4)
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendStatus."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: active(1)
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutput1Line."httpd_pids" = STRING:
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutputFull."httpd_pids" = STRING:
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutNumLines."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: 1
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendResult."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: 8
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutLine."httpd_pids".1 = STRING:
Note that the exit code (8 in this example) is provided as an INTEGER type and any output is provided as a STRING type. To expose multiple metrics as integers, supply different arguments to the script using the extend directive. For example, the following shell script can be used to determine the number of processes matching an arbitrary string, and will also output a text string giving the number of processes:
#!/bin/sh

PATTERN=$1
NUMPIDS=`pgrep $PATTERN | wc -l`

echo "There are $NUMPIDS $PATTERN processes."
exit $NUMPIDS
The following /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf directives will give both the number of httpd PIDs as well as the number of snmpd PIDs when the above script is copied to /usr/local/bin/check_proc.sh:
extend httpd_pids /bin/sh /usr/local/bin/check_proc.sh httpd
extend snmpd_pids /bin/sh /usr/local/bin/check_proc.sh snmpd
The following example shows the output of an snmpwalk of the nsExtendObjects OID:
~]$ snmpwalk localhost NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendObjects
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendNumEntries.0 = INTEGER: 2
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendCommand."httpd_pids" = STRING: /bin/sh
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendCommand."snmpd_pids" = STRING: /bin/sh
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendArgs."httpd_pids" = STRING: /usr/local/bin/check_proc.sh httpd
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendArgs."snmpd_pids" = STRING: /usr/local/bin/check_proc.sh snmpd
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendInput."httpd_pids" = STRING:
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendInput."snmpd_pids" = STRING:
...
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendResult."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: 8
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendResult."snmpd_pids" = INTEGER: 1
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutLine."httpd_pids".1 = STRING: There are 8 httpd processes.
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendOutLine."snmpd_pids".1 = STRING: There are 1 snmpd processes.

Integer exit codes are limited

Integer exit codes are limited to a range of 0–255. For values that are likely to exceed 256, either use the standard output of the script (which will be typed as a string) or a different method of extending the agent.
This last example shows a query for the free memory of the system and the number of httpd processes. This query could be used during a performance test to determine the impact of the number of processes on memory pressure:
~]$ snmpget localhost \
    'NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendResult."httpd_pids"' \
    UCD-SNMP-MIB::memAvailReal.0
NET-SNMP-EXTEND-MIB::nsExtendResult."httpd_pids" = INTEGER: 8
UCD-SNMP-MIB::memAvailReal.0 = INTEGER: 799664 kB