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RRDash is a good looking and flexible dashboard for rrdtool graphs

First Screenshot

About RRDash

I have been using rrdtool for quite a few years. I've used several existing dashboards, but I did not like any one of them in particular. They were either too complicated, or needed too much to be set up, or in general had something that threw me off. For this reason, I turned to Grafana, but truth be told, setting up an InfluxDB, a Grafana server, and a lot more stuff, just isn't always worth it. Plus, some may argue that rrdtool looks better.. ;-)

Every time I set up something that was monitored with rrdtool, I always had a custom script, PHP, Python, or similar, that would produce the graphs. I started from a cron generating the PNGs every 5' and then serving them, and then moved to on-demand generation. But every time I had a different solution.

As I was setting up a couple of new installations of collectd, I realized that this doesn't scale, and created RRDash, which is a generic dashboard for rrdtool-generated graphs. It is flexible, and it allows you to generate any possible graph, since you can manually enter the arguments passed to rrdgraph. It allows for short configuration, by using macros (actually more like C's #define). It can show a beautiful GUI, with all the categories, and some defined time frames (last day, week, etc.).

Second Screenshot

In the two included screenshots you can see some data from my home setup. The first one is some network graphs (an Internet connection and the servers' LAN traffic), and in the second, right above, you can see some statistics on cache hit and miss from my local DNS resolver.


In order to install the software, you just extract it into a path that is served by a web server that supports PHP. It is recommended to use PHP 7 or later, but PHP 5 works as well. You also need rrdtool installed in the server of course, so the graphs can be produced.


To configure RRDash, there are three files currently, all inside the config folder. All files contain a large amount of comments to provide you with some help on how they work, but they are pretty basic.


This file contains all the categories defined in the system. Each category can contain one or more graphs. A graph can appear in more than one category if needed. These categories will show up in the left column of RRDash. They can be anything that makes sense to you. For example, if you have network traffic, you can have one category for every city, and maybe one master category that will provide a general, single-page view, of the entire network.


In this file you need to define all the graphs. Each graph has a unique ID, and you add this here. It will be executed as a PHP file, so you can even include PHP functions inside the graph definition, like strftime(), etc.


This file contains all the predefined periods that will appear in RRDash's menu. Each period has a from and a to, which can be either a UNIX timestamp, or, if they start with -, a time, relative to the current one. These are basically passed to rrdtool itself, in the -s and -e arguments. You can configure as many of them as you need, but some are included already as a bonus, since they're the most popular ones.


In order for RRDash to be flexible, and without requiring thousands of lines of code, a shortcut has been taken in its design, that increases the security risk, but a lot have been done to ensure that this risk is minimal, and is currently considered low.

Currently, to generate the graphs, RRDash passes shell commands via PHP's passthru() function, to the operating system. This is dangerous, and if not handled properly can lead to remote code execution. However, in this particular case, it is believed that this risk is not present, but you still need to know this beforehand. For a deeper analysis and explanation, look inside the rrd.php file, and more specifically the end of the file.

As a TL;DR, what you need to know is that the risk is minimal, and basically only the system operator can cause damage, but this is something that is not within any web application's threat model.

However, if this makes you uncomfortable, and you don't want to use RRDash, this is perfectly fine. Your decision is understandable.

In terms of access control, RRDash has no access control. That means that it is up to you to ensure that only authorized people have access to the page. This can be done with firewall rules, web server configuration, or HTTP Basic Authentication. Plans for adding access control, using HTTP Basic Auth exist, so it may be something that's coming soon.


RRDash is a good looking and flexible dashboard for rrdtool graphs








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