Big Brother is watching you (and your network)

Big Brother is watching you (and your network)

As mentioned in the documentation, Big Brother is a a web-based systems
and network monitoring and notification system.  For more information, see

Big Brother requires a web server.  So install it on a box which already has apache
installed.  See the Apache topics for more

Installing Big Brother

Remember, I have the entire ports tree
installed.  So it was easy.  See also, Installing
a port without installing the ports

cd /usr/ports/net/bb
make install

The file to read is ./work/bb/README.INSTALL.  In there, it suggests
that you subscribe to the Big Brother mailing list.  I did.  So should
you.  To subscribe:

Send an e-mail to  
In the body of the e-mail message (not the Subject line),
place the statement: 

    subscribe bb


Big Brother is installed to /usr/local/bb/.  Unless
otherwise specified, all paths in this article are relative to the this directory.

is a list of some of the things you should do.  Most of this list has been obtained
from /usr/local/share/doc/bb/README.

  • create a symbolic link from /usr/local/bb/www to somewhere within your
    webserver tree.  On a default apache install, the following command will do this:
ln -w /usr/local/bb/www /usr/local/www/data/bb

You can then access the Big Brother output through the URL

  • edit and ensure BBHOME is set like this: BBHOME="/usr/local/bb"
  • modify ./etc/bb-hosts to contains the list of machines you wish to monitor.
      See /usr/local/share/doc/bb/README for the format of this file.
  • After modifying the bb-hosts file, remember to run ./etc/
    to check for any errors.
  • If you want web-based history, modify ./web/ much the same way as
    you modified and copy it to your webserver’s CGI directory (in my
    case, /usr/local/www/cgi-bin/).
  • Modify ./etc/ to specify how Big Brother reacts to various
  • In ./etc/bbwarnsetup.cfg you can specify who to email about various things.
      See the pagemaster token.

Running Big Brother

This is easy:


The install creates the script /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ which will start
Big Brother for you after each reboot.

Security considerations

You may or may not wish to make the output from Big Brother available to
the outside world.

More to come

I’m not finished with Big Brother.  There are more configuration
options I need to perform.  Those will come later.

1 thought on “Big Brother is watching you (and your network)”

  1. Unfortunately BB makes active connections to each service it monitors, so you’ll get a ton of FTP errors showing up in syslog.

    I had to disable big brother for this and a few other reasons.

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