On the Topic of Technology… 5

12 07 2013

July 7, 2013

(Back to the Previous Post in the Series) (Forward to the Next Post in the Series)

As many readers of this blog are probably aware, Oracle Corporation has released Oracle Database 12.1.0.1 so far for the Linux, Solaris, and Windows platforms.  Oracle Database 12.1.0.1 may be downloaded from Oracle’s OTN website.  This article is not about Oracle Database 12.1.0.1, at least not specifically about that version.

In the previous article in this blog series last year, I mentioned experimenting with a Synology DiskStation DS212+, as well as a couple of IP based 640×480 resolution security cameras.  Since that time I have had the opportunity to purchase a couple of additional NAS devices including a Synology Diskstation DS112J, Synology Diskstation DS412+, and Synology Diskstation DS1813+.  The DS212+ and DS112J NAS devices have ARM type processors, while the DS412+ (32 bit?) and DS1813+ (64 bit) have Intel Atom D2700 series processors (the processor series for other Synology processors may be determined by visiting this link).  The processor type in the NAS partially determines the native capabilities of the NAS, as well as what else may be done with the NAS.  Setting up the Synology NAS devices to support FTP server functionality is fairly easy to accomplish, regardless of the processor type.  That FTP server functionality helps to support the upload functionality of the IP based security cameras.

As an experiment shortly after buying the Synology DiskStation DS212+, I attempted to install the network monitoring tool Nagios, in part to allow keeping track of which IP cameras were offline.  I hit a bit of a brick wall trying to find a precompiled package to permit the Nagios server functionality to run on the Synology DiskStations, which at the core run a version of Linux.  The closest thing that I could find was a plugin for Nagios to permit Nagios running on another machine to monitor a Synology NAS.  I first worked with Red Hat Linux in 1999, implemented dual inline manually-coded iptables firewalls based on a stripped down Red Hat Linux in early 2002, compiled/built a Linux based X.509 certificate supporting VPN server before the Linux kernel supported X.509 certificates (I tried compiling a patched version of the Red Hat kernel, patched with X.509 support, but eventually gave up and compiled the Working Overloaded Kernel), and even tried running Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Samba and Windbind as a member of the company’s file server team.  I first worked with Nagios in 2002, when one of my brothers introduced me to the Linux based network monitoring tool (previously called NetSaint).  Needless to say, I have experience working with Linux and manually compiling software on that platform, but that experience is apparently quite rusty.  The attempt to compile the Nagios source code on the Synology DiskStation DS212+ came to an abrupt halt when I received a message during the compile process essentially stating that the ARM type CPU (Marvell Kirkwood mv6282) did not support fine timer resolutions.

A couple of months later, I tried compiling the Nagios source on the Synology DiskStation DS412+, which features an Intel CPU architecture.  I encountered a couple of unexpected snags in the compile process, and had to put the project on hold for several months.  The paths to the various files on the Linux operating system running on the DiskStation differs a bit from the paths used by the Red Hat variants of Linux – that lack of standardization across the various Linux distributions has frustrated me from time to time over the years.

I recently purchased and reviewed a Synology DiskStation DS1813+.  In the review, I stated the following before testing the theory:

“Additionally, ipkg support permits the installation of roughly 900 additional applications, including C++ compilers – which in theory suggests that the source for the Nagios network monitoring utility can be downloaded and compiled on the DS1813+.”

I am curious to know whether or not anyone is able to get the Nagios server software to run on a Synology DiskStation DS412+ or DS1813+.

I suppose that I should not have proposed that the Nagios network monitoring utility might work on the DiskStation without actually confirming that the utility will work.  I am now able to confirm that the Nagios network monitoring utility will execute on the Synology DiskStation DS1813+, although the check_http plugin failed to compile.  The installation is anything but straight-forward – no how-tos that are close to being useful, and no Setup.exe to double-click.  The following screen capture also does not help (non-root users are not permitted to use the ping command on the DiskStations):

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At this time, I cannot provide a detailed instruction list for running the Nagios network monitoring utility on a Synology DiskStation.  However, as a starting point it is necessary to add ipkg support to the DiskStation.  The following ipkg items might be necessary: optware-devel, gcc, libtool, mysql, apache, openssl, openssl-dev, sendmail, inetutils.  With a bit of experimentation (and luck), you might see something similar to this when typing the ps command in a telnet session (I actually typed the command a second time so that the column headings would be visible – there certainly are a lot of background processes on the DiskStation):

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As I found out, just because Nagios is in the process list, that does not mean that it is able to do much of anything useful.  A work-around for the non-root ping issue is needed (I might have hinted part of the solution when listing the various ipkgs), as well as a work-around for the non-root sendmail problem that I did not mention.

When Nagios is working properly, unplugging a monitored device should result in an email message being sent (of course, if you unplug your computer, you probably will not receive an email message stating that the computer is down :-) ):

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There appear to be several Nagios plugins to monitor Oracle databases, although I have not had a chance yet to determine if any of those plugins will compile and work on a Synology DiskStation.  In theory it should wor… wait, I am not headed down that path yet!

In addition to a Synology DiskStation DS212+, the previous article in this series also showed a couple of smart 640×480 resolution IP cameras.  At the time of the previous article, I did not fully comprehend the usefulness of smart IP cameras.  Roughly 30 IP based cameras later, I now have a better understanding of their usefulness and limitations.  Last year I wrote reviews for three 640×480 model cameras here (it appears that Amazon now has this review attached to a different camera), here (it appears that Amazon now has this review attached to a different camera), and here (OK, there is a forth camera included in this review due to a model change over).  I was also burned badly (at a loss of $1343) when I bought two 1080P cameras last year that could not meet (or even approach) the manufacturer’s claims for the product.  All of those reviews include video samples produced by the cameras.

This year I bought and reviewed a couple of smart 720P resolution IP cameras, as well as a couple of different (from last year’s 1080P) smart 1080P resolution IP cameras.  As before, the reviews include sample video clips recorded by the cameras (the 720P and 1080P video was uploaded at the native resolution, but it appears that Amazon uses a pretty aggressive compression algorithm, which leads to some lost video quality).  The new 720P and 1080P cameras are not perfect, but the manufacturer appears to be taking steps to address the weaknesses that I outlined in the reviews.  I was sent another updated firmware for the 1080P cameras, as well as an updated PDF that includes the instructions that were missing from the included printed manual.  The support person for the camera company also stated that their website is currently under development, and will probably be online in the next 30 days.  My review mentioned the lack of success at using the recommended P2PCam264 app on a Motorola Xoom tablet for viewing the live video feed from the smart 720P and 1080P cameras.  The support person suggested using the AnyScene app on the Motorola Xoom tablet for viewing the live feed – that app seems to work.  The AnyScene app, while seemingly lacking the sound feed from the cameras, might even work a little too well.  I brought the Xoom tablet to a different network, only to find that the app is somehow able to still pull a live video feed from any of the configured cameras on the other network without poking any holes in the firewall on either network, and universal plug and play (uPNP) is disabled (below is a low resolution cell phone captured picture).  I am now left wondering what level of security risk this plug and play technology might pose.

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Sample PNG Generated from 720P Camera’s Video (Click to Display Larger Version):

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Sample PNG Generated from 1080P Camera’s Video (Same Scene as the Above Example – Click to Display Larger Version):

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Sample JPG 720P Image from an Edited Video (the 1080P video suffers from fewer out of focus problems and is the same resolution – just with a roughly 50% wider and taller viewing area):

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TriVision User Manual for PC – Aug 2012
TriVision User Manual for PC and Mac – Dec 2013

FIRMWARE_EN_TRIVISION_NC_336PW_HD_1080P_60HZ_V5.78B20140916.mfw (Do NOT open with Microsoft Word – when saving, remove the .doc second extension)

FIRMWARE_EN_TRIVISION_NC_336W_HD_1080P_60HZ_V5.78B20140916.mfw (Do NOT open with Microsoft Word – when saving, remove the .doc second extension)


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