My home network is connected to the Internet via radio bridge. The reason is ADSL services were not available a couple of years ago, now it is but since the radio bridge is cheap and works (most of the time) I really don’t care to change.

Some time ago I started to notice downtime of the Internet connection, I sent a few emails to the wisp but the answer was always the same: “we don’t see a problem right now”.

That was quite clear, I can send the email only if the Internet connection is active! Their time to react is very slow so I needed a tool to monitor my connection and a server to do it.

My first choice of tool to monitor connections is Smokeping. I use it to monitor not only link latency and packet loss but also DNS, Radius and other services response time. It’s very easy to configure and the graphs are very clear.

But where could I install Smokeping? Amazon AWS Free Usage Tier seemed the perfect choice! Amazon offers a micro istance for free for 12 months, read FAQ for details.

So I’ve registered and installed a Debian 32 bit AMI. The entire operation took me less than 15 minutes.

I was quite surprised I can access my server via SSH using the provided keys, somehow I’ve expected to access the server through a proprietary shell or front end.

The next step is to to install smokeping with

aptitute install smokeping

and I’m ready to configure it.

I did just a basic configuration, what I needed was to check the reachability of my home router and the next hop that is the radio bridge:

The only configuration I’ve added to Smokeping is an action to perform a traceroute and log it when more than half of the packets are lost.

Add this to /etc/smokeping/config.d/Alerts

+ totalloss
type = loss
pattern = >50%
to = |/bin/traceroute.bin
comment = lost half packets

and set the alert in the host section in /etc/smokeping/config.d/Targets

++ NEXT-HOP
menu = NEXT-HOP
title = NEXT-HOP 94.xx.xx.xx
host = 94.xx.xx.xx
alerts = totalloss

The script _/bin/traceroute.bin_ is very simple:

date >> /var/log/trace
tracepath -b 94.xx.xx.xx >> /var/log/trace

When the network goes down now I can see where the problem is and complain send a detailed email to the WISP.

So did they solve the problem? Of course not! The Wisp backbone is made by both fiber and wireless bridges, looks like they have an issue with a link but just don’t care or know how to fix it.

The conclusion is my Internet connection is still wonky, but at least I had the opportunity to understand a little bit more what AWS is and to play with a quite interesting technology for free thanks to Amazon.

I hope they’ll keep it free even after the first 12 months, the micro instance is micro but big enough for many small tasks.

HTH