Apps Plugin

Costa Tsaousis edited this page Dec 14, 2016 · 7 revisions


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This plugin provides charts for 3 sections of the default dashboard:

  1. Per application charts
  2. Per user charts
  3. Per user group charts

Per application charts

This plugin walks through the entire /proc filesystem and aggregates statistics for applications of interest, defined in /etc/netdata/apps_groups.conf (the default is here).

The plugin internally builds a process tree (much like ps fax does), and groups processes together (evaluating both child and parent processes) so that the result is always a chart with a predefined set of dimensions (of course, only application groups found running are reported).

Using this information it provides the following charts (per application group defined in /etc/netdata/apps_groups.conf):

  1. Total CPU usage
  2. Total User CPU usage
  3. Total System CPU usage
  4. Total Disk Physical Reads
  5. Total Disk Physical Writes
  6. Total Disk Logical Reads
  7. Total Disk Logical Writes
  8. Total Open Files (unique files - if a file is found open multiple times, it is counted just once)
  9. Total Dedicated Memory (non shared)
  10. Total Minor Page Faults
  11. Total Number of Processes
  12. Total Number of Threads
  13. Total Number of Pipes
  14. Total Swap Activity (Major Page Faults)
  15. Total Open Sockets

Per User Charts

All the above charts, are also grouped by username, using the effective uid of each process.

Per Group Charts

All the above charts, are also grouped by group name, using the effective gid of each process.

CPU Usage

apps.plugin is a complex software piece and has a lot of work to do (actually this plugin requires more CPU resources that the netdata daemon). For each process running, apps.plugin reads several /proc files to get CPU usage, memory allocated, I/O usage, open file descriptors, etc. Doing this work per-second, especially on hosts with several thousands of processes, may increase the CPU resources consumed by the plugin.

In such cases, you many need to lower its data collection frequency. To do this, edit /etc/netdata/netdata.conf and find this section:

    # update every = 1
    # command options = 

Uncomment the line update every and set it to a higher number. If you just set it to 2, its CPU resources will be cut in half, and data collection will be once every 2 seconds.


The configuration file is /etc/netdata/apps_groups.conf (the default is here).

The configuration file works accepts multiple lines, each having this format:

group: process1 process2 ...

Process names should be given as they appear when running ps -e. The program will actually match the process names in the /proc/PID/status file. So, to be sure the name is right for a process running with PID X, do this:

cat /proc/X/status

The first line on the output is Name: xxxxx. This is the process name apps.plugin sees.

The order of the lines in the file is important only if you include the same process name to multiple groups.

Apps plugin is missing information

apps.plugin requires additional privileges to collect all the information it needs. The problem is described in issue #157.

When netdata is installed, apps.plugin is given the capabilities cap_dac_read_search,cap_sys_ptrace+ep. If that is not possible (i.e. setcap fails), apps.plugin is setuid to root.

linux capabilities in containers

There are a few cases, like docker and virtuozzo containers, where setcap succeeds, but the capabilities are silently ignored (in lxc containers setcap fails).

In these cases that setcap succeeds by capabilities do not work, you will have to setuid to root apps.plugin by running these commands:

chown root:netdata /usr/libexec/netdata/plugins.d/apps.plugin
chmod 4755 /usr/libexec/netdata/plugins.d/apps.plugin

You will have to run these, every time you update netdata.

Is is safe to give apps.plugin these privileges?

apps.plugin performs a hard-coded function of building the process tree in memory, iterating forever, collecting metrics for each running process and sending them to netdata. This is a one-way communication, from apps.plugin to netdata.

So, since apps.plugin cannot be instructed by netdata for the actions it performs, we think it is pretty safe to allow it have these increased privileges.

Keep in mind that apps.plugin will still run without these permissions, but it will not be able to collect all the data for every process.