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Big Brother is watching you (and your network) 18 February 2000
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As mentioned in the documentation, Big Brother is a a web-based systems and network monitoring and notification system.  For more information, see

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

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.

Here 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 situations.
  • 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.

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