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Monitor a Linux Box With Machine Generated Music 114

mcappel writes "Linux and Unix admins are familiar with vmstat and top, which are visual tools displaying the health of a computer. chordStats adds a new interface to a system monitoring setup — information passed through tone, timbre, and harmony. IBM's Nathan Harrington, who wrote Knock Some Commands Into Your Laptop, created a simple Perl script to send note events to FluidSynth that forces various system events to be interpreted as a part of a harmonious interval, and looks at options for enhancing a musical system monitor."
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Monitor a Linux Box With Machine Generated Music

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  • Music? (Score:3, Funny)

    by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:48PM (#16853872) Homepage
    K-D-E ... and ... L-A-M-P / keep on running in perfect harmony...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:13PM (#16854392)
      My boss hears about this "great" idea, and suddenly, I'm having conversations that sound like this with upper management....

      Big Boss: "What's the status of our servers right now?"
      Me: "Well, sir, it's like this. The web server is all light classical, but the mail server has gone a bit blues; we'll try to upgrade it to something jazzier once the new shipment comes in."
      Big Boss: "Any word on how Joe's doing with the corporate intranet issues?"
      Me: "Well, sir, it was death metal when we arrived this the morning; he's trying to make it perkier, but so far it's still stuck at atonal screechings..."
      Big Boss: "It's not going go all John Cage on us, is it?!!"
      Me: "No sir. Not this time. I swear!
      Big Boss: "Well, okay. Keep up the tempo!"
      (thinks)Hey, managing this technology stuff is easier than I thought!"
      Me: (thinks) Must stop bosses from reading slashdot. :-(
    • -... ... --- _.. (BSOD)

      Morse has been used a lot and it is a lot more descriptive than music (though I guess the learning curve is a bit less for music).

  • Neat! But.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:50PM (#16853894) Homepage Journal
    This is a cool idea and all, but the crabby old Linux box I run would probably come out sounding like the Tonto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein chorus.
  • Themes (Score:3, Funny)

    by Daemonstar ( 84116 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:50PM (#16853898)
    So if the server starts getting flooded, I can make it play the Star Wars Darth Vader theme? :P
    • "R2D2, I don't know what's gotten into you! Stop all those whistling noises! I'm never going to take you anywhere anymore! Want some Ritalin? What do you mean, Princess Leia needs our help? "
    • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )
      So if the server starts getting flooded, I can make it play the Star Wars Darth Vader theme? :P

      I don't know if it will sound quite like that, but somebody has setup their firewall to play sound [] as incoming packets hit it.
    • by archen ( 447353 )
      Provided you have some way of detecting the flood I don't know why not.

      I do some stuff similar already in my server room, although it certainly isn't as high tech as this. Generally I just use the PC speaker to beep some codes when some semi-severe problems occur. I wouldn't have the machines doing this on a regular basis mind you, because as others have stated it can get really old quick. With a quick script you should be able to monitor everything from temperature to network attacks. One I have beeps
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When all you hear is "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      Individual beeps are good though.
      I use this frequently while mucking around with my home network:

      $ ping | while read x ; do echo -e \\a$x ; done
      PING ( 56 data bytes
      64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.0 ms
      64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.0 ms ...
  • sound samples? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:55PM (#16853984)
    Anyone have any audio files of this to give us an idea of what it sounds like?
  • by Speare ( 84249 )

    When reading this blurb about using system condition to drive a "melody" of diagnostic signals, the first thing that came to my mind was a certain automatic doorway on the Heart of Gold. It was positively humming with joy when it was able to open and close for the people wandering through, thanks to an implementation of Genuine People Personalities(tm) software. From the TV series, the robotic sing-song line, "Glad to be of seeer-vice!" just floated through my mind.

  • I guess it doesn't quite count as a dupe, but this is the same concept [] as monitoring a network by music.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tylernt ( 581794 )
      These concepts remind me of an old Novell "bouncing ball" screensaver. The ball had a "tail" that grew in length as the load on the server increased.
  • I want minor chords when something is failing, and business as usual should play "Walking on Sunshine"...

    So does this also mean that people will start releasing CDs based on log files?
  • by Orrin Bloquy ( 898571 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:57PM (#16854032) Journal
    "All this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted," lead engineer Bruce Peart commented shortly before being arrested by the RIAA for accidentally reproducing "I Want It That Way" on his desktop. Under the DMCA, monkeys are no longer allowed near typewriters, unless under contract to reality television producers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BadMrMojo ( 767184 )
      Peart's colleagues - Lifeson and Lee - were even more outspoken in their comments. "[The RIAA have] taken care of everything, from the words you hear to the songs you sing," decried Lee.
    • It just goes to show, it's really just a question of your honesty.
  • This could be really cool on a desktop (probably better than listening to all the beeps and boops spurted out by my Windows desktop right now), but I wonder how "harmonious" it could possibly be if run on a server? This would take techno to a whole new level.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by schwaang ( 667808 )
      A slashdotting sounds like this: "Kaaaaaaaaaahhhhnn!"

      I just tried it on my desktop (fluidsynth is in Fedora Extras), and I think it would probably be more useful on a server.

      Because the state of the cpu/disk/network are just all over the map in normal desktop use, so I'm not getting useful information.

      But on a server the state probably changes more slowly, and you can quickly compare the sonic-state to what you expect your server to be doing.

  • Sounds like this would get anoying realy quick. What's wrong with just running Nagios or the like?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pclminion ( 145572 )

      Sounds like this would get anoying realy quick. What's wrong with just running Nagios or the like?

      You can continue monitoring while you go to the bathroom. Wait, do you take your laptop in the bathroom with you? Nevermind.

      • by Kenja ( 541830 )
        "You can continue monitoring while you go to the bathroom."

        I realy cant think of any server crash that would make me rush what ever it was I was doing in the bathroom. The servers can wait.

  • Just imagine if. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
    Google loaded this at one of it's datacenters!
  • Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, anyone?

    (Or maybe this one was from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency... I read them back to back several years ago, and now I can't keep them straight.)

    • by Kenja ( 541830 )
      Twas Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Long Dark teatime of the Soul was about the Norse Gods fighting lawyers, oh and refigerators being left unatended long enough that they spring forth as new deities.
    • I included a quote from the book in my own post a bit further down.

  • That was the sound of Nautilus crashing.
  • Does a server under stress play the Windows login song?
  • I have been monitoring my system's loadavg using speaker beeps for many years. I wrote a small music player that uses a simple melody syntax and that emits sounds via the system speaker. If the loadavg changes significantly, it can emit different kind of beep sequences, so that I get notified about what's going on even when I'm not at my computer (but near it of course).
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:07PM (#16854276)
    That's fine and dandy if your system is operating fine. But what if it's not and starts playing "The Overture of 1812" [] with the cannon fire? Kiss those surround sound speakers and your eardrums goodbye.
  • Kent Brockman: "Artie made megabucks with a revolutionary invention, a converter that changes that horrible modem noise into easy listening music..."

    *modem noise starts...Georgy Girl starts playing*

    I wonder if this would work on a Windows box? Would it sound like all your least favourite Country-Western songs as played on the bagpipe?
  • ...what I've been looking for - I think I will be spending some time with this.

    I might see if I can pump the data from an IDS into it too.
  • A good idea, but reminds me a lot of this []. Not much new here, though I'm glad to see that the idea is still afloat -- it sounds interesting.
  • by Sneakernets ( 1026296 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:13PM (#16854396) Journal
    How about a Beowulf Cluster Choir?
  • by EmperorKagato ( 689705 ) * <> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:18PM (#16854482) Homepage Journal
    If the ALSA driver fails to load what sound or music should I expect it to play?
  • It would be like working in a 1960's sci-fi B movie.
  • Except that none of my half dozen server blades are equipped with any sort of sound card.

    Plus, the music would have to be pretty loud to be heard over the jet engine that is their cooling system. :)
    • by cbr2702 ( 750255 )
      It's just a perl script. Make it run on your desktop and get it's input by polling the servers.
  • by pev ( 2186 )
    There've been a few mods on Linux based embedded systems where the heartbeat LED pulses at a speed relative to the CPU load. On a similar vein I like the idea of the tempo being relative to load / IO activity :-)

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:25PM (#16854648) Journal
    So, if a server crashes and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by johnfink ( 810028 )

      That depends on your definition of 'sound':

      the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium.

      No, it doesn't make a sound.

      mechanical vibrations transmitted through an elastic medium, traveling in air at a speed of approximately 1087 ft. (331 m) per second at sea level.

      Yes, it does make a sound.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:28PM (#16854698)
    ...someone made a program to "audiolize" system load as raindrops. Couldn't see the point back then, can't see it now.
  • I have a bt878 card in my machine, with a 3.5mm patch wire between its audio output and the soundcard.

    All you have to do is plug that cable into the Mic socket (instead of Line), turn all the volume meters up to 11, et voila - rhythmic (and highly irritating) induced computer noise, picked up by a cheap TV receiver!
  • Did this years ago. Too bad the project was abandoned. It could monitor one computer, or many. It never had a good client really to do it remotely, but it was pretty cool in a server room. I ran it at an ISP around 98, 99 I think.
  • OK, pipe the output of all your servers to your PC and rotate the music every few seconds, or even blend the sounds together.

    machine 1 plays everything with a jazz motif
    machine 2 plays everthing with a classical motif
    machine 3 ....

    "everything normal" is just a quiet sound, just above silence, or optionally, silence except for periodic sounds to alert you that the monitoring program is working properly.
    If something is wrong, you play a sound that 1) gets your attention and 2) uniquely identifies the subsyste
  • by Mixel ( 723232 )
    A much more useful instrument would be a microphone (or emf, rpm sensor) on the fans and some software coupled to that that predicts when the fan is about to fail. Also maybe for hard drives. I know sofware is used in cash machines that tracks the activities of the transducers and actuators, then sends a "fix me" notification to HQ, often many hours before a mechanical failure becomes serious enough to disable the machine; and that has been very successful.
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:41PM (#16854902)
    Back in the "old" days, we had techs that could tell you the error/fault that had occurred by the sound pattern produced by the line printers. To the very last one, they were upset/angry when the printers where replaced with quieter versions as this now meant they had to look up from playing solitaire/day trading to actually look if there were any significant events.

    • Yeah, my dad's store recently got rid of two of three dot matrix printers, which did the same thing. When an order came in, it was deet-deet-doot-doot, deet-deet-doot-doot, dee-doot-doot if everything was printing properly. If it didn't, you could really tell because the pitch would be off (e.g. paper not straight made it lower).

      Now, however, it's a laser printer which merely hums when active, and beeps once and flashes lights on errors. If you're out back, you can't hear it.
  • I bet... (Score:2, Funny)

    by zlogic ( 892404 )
    I bet that if you use the music from this idea, create lyrics from logs and memory dumps and use a text-to-speech for singing, this would sound better than most stuff RIAA sells :-)
    • lol. Microsoft SAM singing The Roof is on fire when any of those "office people" walk in the IT room door, have any of you guys had that thing when any person non techie even enters the server area you can just FEEL the blue screens of death popping up.....I have. foolish people who dont know where the power button my mother....if she walked in a server room, may god have mercy on your motherboards.
  • Chuck [] or Marsyas []. And it would probably be easier to do something more complicated such as use samples, have multiple threads (well shreds in chuck, you spork a shred) and do other fun stuff. Worth checking both out if you are into playing with audio (chuck has binaries for win and osx, source for linux, while marsyas is compile only).
  • We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of construction of the university's first computer []. A panel of the original builders and users was convened to discuss the history. One tidbit which was interesting and relevant to this thread was that they tied a speaker to the sign bit so they could monitor the health of the computer while it was running. Given that output was on paper tape the aural monitoring was useful. I found their choice of the sign bit
    • I remember hearing a similar story about an early mainframe at the University of Iowa. Using the speaker you could hear when a program would go into (and sometimes get stuck) in a loop.
  • This sounds a bit like "Peep" [] the "Network Auralizer" released back in 2000. That used sound bites rather than machine generated music, but had a similar effect in that a SysAdmin could monitor multiple systems just by having the background sounds going.

    I used it in a couple of places, and it worked relatively well - especially when the rest of the shop was quiet.

  • Prior art from 50s? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There was a very popular sci-fi russian book by I.Efremov called Andromeda Cloud that had a starship that had controls that played music sounds and if some data reading from sensors went into potentially dangerous area or even close, it would weave an ominous-sounding chime into the usual sound, and if data readings go further into danger area, the 'bad' chime would become louder.

    One of the best books of sci fi in my opinion.

    It's a bit heavy on communistic ideals, though. It had to be at the time, to get pu
  • I ran this on our rack at work and got this out of it: 218663660 []

    It even wrote the lyrics for us! trolsfortheheartofthesun.html []

    Is that Solaris you're runinng?!? Then turn it up man!!!!
  • Who the heck sits in the same room with their servers? How would you even hear the sound over all those fans, anyway? This is only useful if the music penetrates the network and comes out on your desktop somewhere.
    • Why not stream it? I generate a continuous stream of thunderstorms on a server tucked away in my basement that doesn't even have a sound card let alone speakers or anything hooked up to it. But I just pipe the raw sound output to a fifo, encode with LAME, then pipe to another process which sends the music to icecast--all on the same device. Since I only ever use the thing locally I want to switch to encoding to flac instead (the extra traffic isn't a problem) but I haven't got around to it yet.

      That way, I

      • Very nearly the most serious (and, probably, one of the most common) problems you can have with a server is loss of network connectivity, or problems with network connectivity, which would make streaming sound less useful.

        On the other hand, if your stream was continuous (like yours, evidently) you would know something was wrong not by the noise but by the silence.

        I like it.
  • What are the business drivers for this? Not ragging on it but curious to know why it exists.
  • This isn't a new idea, but I like the expansion of the concept into a full, on-going "melody". The Mac's startup tone is actually a diagnositic tone. If all is well, it plays a Middle C chord, but if anything doesn't pass the self test, the tone reflects a problem. ahref= h)rel=url2html-32130 [] hime_(Macintosh)>When this happens, it's called "Chimes of death" or "chimes of doom."
  • 1) Can you make it do Batman?

    2) Bet it would be better than 90% of the music out there today

    3) Isn't that how Trent came up with The Downward Spiral?

    4) Between the techno music and the fan noises coming out of the power supply, CPU, and GPU, you'd think I'm attending a rave near the airport.

    5) I'd be scared if my machine played Chopin's Funeral March on its own.

    6) I'd know we're in trouble when I get a call on my cell from one of the servers and the ringtone plays Bad Religion's "Los Angeles Is Burning"

    7) H
  • Look around for 'peep', this use audio of 'natural sounds' to indicate activity.
  • In the Shaper/Mechanist stories, there is a small spaceship that monitors it's health with tunes.

    In ex-Sov spacecraft, ship monitors you!

  • Solaris may have sucky package management and be backwards in other ways, but they've had snoop -a for years and years and years.. Very cute to listen to packets on a SPARC20 external speaker...
  • Deja Vu all over again.
    "Many users fondly remember the LEO III and enthuse about some of its quirkier features, such as having a loudspeaker connected to the central processor which enabled operators to tell if a program was looping by the distinctive sound it made." []
  • And to the creatures of the dark & night that dwell within them !!!

    Three cheers for linux monitoring music and the server room symphony !!!
  • Gone are the days... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:56PM (#16858702) Journal
    ...when you could stick an AM radio on top of the GA16/440, tune the radio to the far end of the band and listen to your programs compile. You could tell when it was sorting it's symbol table, was very melodic.
    • Yes! Math=music All good street-racers have known this axiom for decades! Why are computers different--in the visceral respect?
  • ... By a late gentleman who went by the name of Douglas Adams. The software, Anthem, in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, used a company's stock as input data instead of server logs, but the idea was still there. I wonder if his writing influenced the author of this tool.

    I can't help but wonder if the music generated by this software isn't going to sound like, in Mr. Adams own words, "a short burst of the most hideous cacophony in G minor" -- to say nothing of what it must sound like to listen to h

  • With it you really get to kill demon processes. In 3D. With a plasma rifle. []
  • This is not exactly new. Most mainframes built by UK companies, from the late 1950s until the 1980s, had a loudspeaker attached to a piece of logic (via an op-amp) somewhere or other in the machine (the "successful jump" logic being a favorite). The idea being that an operator could tell, simply by listening, whether the machine / program running was behaving itself

    This meant that nobody had to actually watch the console and could get on with doing the myriad other jobs needed: like changing tapes, paper,

  • The first computer I ever programmed on back in 1977 was a Marconi Myriad. It had a small speaker that made a different tone depending on what instruction was being executed. It provided excellent feedback on the health of the system. When everything was running normally it made a very rich and complex noise, but you could easily tell from the sound when things started to go wrong and if it went into a loop it would make a single high pitched tone. A bit like those cardiac monitors when a patient flatlines.
  • We had the suits from a major client fly in for a visit, and to help impress them, I was asked to set up an LCD monitor in the server room with lots of flashy bling-bling monitoring software running. After playing around with a few packages, and finding nothing that came close - I had a cunning idea. I installed XMMS and a bunch of visualisation plugins, resulting in a computer that did nothing but "monitor" Avril Lavigne music all day. It looked very impressive, and nobody even noticed that its ethernet
  • I was not aware that tone, timbre, and harmony were orthogonal to each other.
    • by neminem ( 561346 )
      Well, tone and timbre are - tone is a pitch, timbre is how that pitch sounds. A guitar A#4 sounds much different from a piano A#4 sounds much different from a triangle wave A#4. The A#4 is tone, the instrument defines the timbre.

      Of course, tones define the harmony as well... but I can overlook that, and assume "tone" refers to the root notes.
  • Is that Britney Spears singing, or did my hard drive just die?
  • With this cool script, we can finally hear the painful cries of the Slashdotted servers.
  • Some years ago at one of the usenix conferences someone reported a similar project. However, instead of trying for chords and harmony, they chose natural sounds -- frogs croaking, crickets, bird chirps, water, wind. Their take: As former hunter gatherers we detect change in this environment more quickly, and few combinations are dissonant, further, the 'normal' environment swiftly becomes non-distracting.

    So, for example, disk activity can be represented by the sound of bees. Incoming mail to the server

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham