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The ABCs of NSM - W is for Wireshark & Webmin

Welcome back for another episode of the ABC's of NSM.  What's NSM you say?  We'll go with Network and System Management, but you cabc_2_4 ould throw Security in there as well.  We'll work our way through the alphabet over  the next several weeks looking at  tools and concepts along the way for all the administrators out     there.   By the way, you can thank Joe for the format & Don for the title  (I  couldn't for the life of me come up with one.)

Today's letter W is a two-for-one special: Wireshark & Webmin. I'll start with Wireshark (formerly Ethereal), which is a cross-platform open-source protocol analyzer.  I've used it for years for troubleshooting network and application problems, even in environments where I had commercial options.  It's a clean interface with a robust set of features.  Don't like GUIs?  No problem, use Tshark, the command-line version of Wireshark.  I've had limited success (and wonky behavior) with detailed capture filters, but the display filter capabilities are excellent.  I usually capture with tcpdump on the BIG-IP and offload the files to my Wireshark-enabled desktop for analysis.  If you're really adventurous, you can download the Wireshark plugin for the BIG-IP that will decode some additional details on connection flow identifiers.

If you are a linux administrator--and not a command line apologist--then Webmin is the tool for you.  Webmin is a web-based administration tool kit that has dozens of modules that allow you to administer user accounts, work with database tables, create virtual hosts in Apache, etc, configure file shares, etc.  If you need to manually touch the configuration files you can, but most common tasks in an administrator's day can be completed in the Webmin interface.  One of my hosting providers grants limited Webmin access for my site, which allows me enough access to fix / check some things and perform backups without requiring a technical support call and an extended wait.  I like it.

 

 

 

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More Stories By Jason Rahm

Experienced predominantly in the networking realm over the last dozen or so years, Jason is expanding his horizons towards systems management and even trying his hand at python.

Jason assists in the maintenance duties for http://devcentral.f5.com, contributes frequently in the forums, and writes weekly on some cool geekery in the F5 product lines. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife Michelle and his four children. He is active and volunteers network administration duties at his church and if there are any remaining minutes in the week, he enjoys Wii & XBOX, tennis, racquetball, softball, etc. He does not enjoy running, but does (scratch that, thinks about doing) it anyway to recover his youthful appearance.

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