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System administrator

April 16, 2013

Some time ago, I discovered some very great SaaS software. Simply impressed:

  • easy (really easy) to use
  • efficient: more than I dreamed.
  • cheap: I mean free (“free” as a free beer, not open source)

Currently, I selected 2 very important services for system administrators: logging and availabity. I will present more services in the future.


Web availability: if your run a website, you MUST use this service.
Your website is checked every minute and you have a very good graphics and it gives you very decent charts all over your uptime. No bullshit: you can rely on your provider but the must is to check if your website is available. It is free for one web page (which is the basic need: if one page is available, other are available too!)

The service offers a public page for your visitors and an API. If your are interested, you can check a website I created (not production quality): Sorry, the page is in French but you can see availability for the last 30 days through the API and a link to the public page.

Sign in less one minute and start to monitor 5 minutes later. You have an uptime report and a response time report. I recommend you monitor a simple page with a database access to monitor the response time with data selection.

Note a simple drawback: pings are made both from United States and Europe. Response times are very diffrents…


Log in the cloud. If you have a VPS (virtual private server) or even a dedicated server or, why not, your workstation running Unix (Linux, Solaris…), it is a very pleasant way to manage the log.

Basically, Unix has an integrated log system. Usually, all the logs are stored under /var/log through the syslogd daemon. As a beginner, I just go to the files to see what´s happening: old method!

If you go to the end of the configuration file and add a simple line (see tutorials), you can send a copy of these logs to a server… Very clever Unix system…

And papertrail is a very easy to configure (less than 3 minutes considering you have a connection to your server). You have to follow the instructions and the logs are sent to Papertrail immediatly.

That’s all: now you can look at your logs from everywhere with a simple browser and you have a confortable user experience!

The only drawback: the security. Even if logs should never contain passwords or sensible data, your logs goes “outside”. This can be not possible for some servers but for your personnal or professionnal use, I consider Papertrail as a very interesting alternative to classic software.

Note: you are not limited to syslog. You can use scripts for your Apache logs and other stuff: your choice. Follow the vey simple instructions available on the website and follow what you want.

Try it for free, you will be well surprised. Note I tested another online solution (clearly a competitor) but this one is definitivemy a killer app for sys admin.

Follow the blog for new adventures….


From → Computers

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