Collectl Utilities

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Latest Version: 4.8.2, Nov 19, 2014


The focus of collectl has always been efficient performance data collection and its display on a single machine. This set of utilities have been developed to enhace the use of collectl in 2 dimensions:


Colplot is a web-based plotting utility that uses gnuplot to generate plots against collectl-generated files that have been generated in plot format. The sample plot on the collectl home page was generated with colplot.

There are over 70 standard plots and a definition language that allows you to define your own if none of the existing ones meet your needs. If there are files for more than one system, colplot will generate separate plots for each system. Colplot also has an option that allows it to periodically redisplay the plots, which means if the files you point it to are being updated in real-time, colplot can show a dynamic plot. It can also save plots as invidual png files, as pdf files if ghostscript is installed or even email them to you. There is also a command line interface that will run on an X-enabled terminal.

Colgui is a utility whose focus is to display reasonably dense real-time graphics for one or more systems by starting collectl and directing it to send its output back to itself. Colgui requires perl-tk to build the graphics, which unfortunately is not the most efficient way to do this and so I'm officially declaring it end-of-life and will be removing it from the kit some time after 2014. While it seems to work reasonably well for less than 10 or 20 systems and could actually be a good starting point for someone who might like to build their own implementation, I personally haven't used it in years, especially after writing colmux. In fact, if you want to try building your own implementation colmux is a much better starting point and if you ask, I'll be happy to help get you started.

I've tried real hard to keep the quality of collectl and the utilities up to the highest quality by eating my own dog food and use collectl, colmux and colplot literally every day to see what's happening with all the servers in HP's Public Cloud. I just don't find colgui all that useful anymore and fear my lack of use will lead to longer term problems and really don't want to spend any time trying to support it. Since the main bulk of its code is actually shared with colplot, there's a good chance it will continue to work just fine, but as I said try colmux and I think you'll find it much more useful.

Multi-system Support

As already described above, both colplot and colgui support multiple systems and for looking at many types of data, particularly of a historical nature, colplot is really the only way to go. However, there are times when you want to look at what's going on (or went on in the past) on your cluster and want to see real numbers.

How many times is top the very first utility you run to see what's happening on your system? Colmux can do just that for an entire cluster of systems, supporing the ability to run virtually any collectl command in a top-like fashion, complete with sorting by any column. Sometimes you may be only interested in looking at one or two types of data as a single row of numbers, watching for changes in behaviors between lines. Colmux supports this form of output as well.

Like colgui, this utility starts collectl running on a number of systems and directs them to send their output back but rather than display graphics it can either sort the results by a column of your choice, displaying only as many lines as will fit in your terminal window OR display columns of text for that small number of user-specifiied data elements. By displaying this data in these two compact forms it makes it very easy to see a high-level view of what all systems in your cluster are doing and if any misbehave they're very easy to identify.

updated Feb 22, 2011