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SideStream Test Status Coverage Status

Description of how SideStream works and the data that collects.

  1. Experiment components

The SideStream experiment consists of 3 components:

  • A standard webserver with sample data,
  • A daemon collecting Web100 exit statistics, and
  • A daemon collecting raw TCP packet traces (tcpdump). These components are running in the same M-Lab/Planetlab slice as NPAD, and indeed, NPAD shares the same webserver for its own use.

In addition, two other classes of components are envisioned:

  • External clients to pull emulated application data from the web servers and
  • External analysis tools to extract useful statistics from the raw TCP instrumentation. Note that the external components do not have to be uniform or even coordinated. In principle multiple pools of external clients could use the same M-Lab components in conjunction with multiple sets of analysis tools to implement slightly different experiments, all under the SideStream umbrella experiment.

1.1) Software details

NPAD is running a fairly standard Apache configuration on port 8000. The webserver is used to load the NPAD diagnostic server form, applet and final reports.

To facilitate the SideStream experiment, each NPAD server includes a directory of synthetic data /Sample/, which can be listed. In the sample data each file is named by its size, with an appropriate extension for its type. Currently the only data is (highly compressible, repeating) .txt files in powers of 2 file sizes from 512 Bytes to 1 MByte. Note that the actual http transfers will be slightly larger than the file sizes due to http overhead, etc.

If there is web caching some place in the user's access network it can be stifled by adding arguments to the client request. E.g.

  1. Collected data

2.1) Web100 stats

Web100 exit statistics are saved by the daemons into ascii files named according to one of two conventions: SideStream/yyyy/mm/dd/nodename/iso_timeZ_ALL0.web100 SideStream/yyyy/mm/dd/nodename/iso_timeZ_12.34.56.78_0.web100 or SideStream/yyyy/mm/dd/nodename/iso_timeZ_AB12:CD34:EF56:0078::::_0.web100

  • ALL indicates that this is aggregate data across all clients.
  • indicates all data from clients using the indicated local IPv4 or IPv6 address.
  • The 0 might be another small integer to guarantee that the names are unique, for example if the data collection is restarted.

Each file contains all the data collected in 1 hour.

There are two types of records.

  • Data keys start out with: K: cid PollTime LocalAddress LocalPort RemAddress RemPort .... These specify the format for the following data:
    • The cid is the connection id: a pid-like identifier unique to each connection for its duration.
    • The PollTime is the ISO timestamp when the connection was observed to already be closed (may be up to 5 seconds after the actual close).
    • LocalAddress, LocalPort, RemAddress, RemPort are the TCP 4-tuple that uniquely identifies the connection.
    • The rest of the line names all Web100 raw instruments. As of 25 Aug 2009, the keys are nominally deterministic, however this property should not be assumed. The format may change in the future, and the keys are different and non-deterministic for older data.
  • Records for exit (close) statistics start with C: and are in the format suggested by the most recent preceding K: record. In the future we might add other record types, for example "progress" statistics for long running connections. Note that in all cases these are only summary statistics: total bytes, packets, retransmissions, etc.

The connection 4-tuple itself is the only evenly remotely sensitive piece of data. (Although it has been shown in some contexts other parameters, such as transfer length, can sometimes uniquely identify content).

Since web100 does not use network namespaces nor participate in the Planetlab/MLab vserver virtual machine, the exit statistics cover all TCP connections on a given M-Lab node, including all other experiments, as well as management traffic for all experiments and Planetlab itself.

2.2) TCP traces Packet traces are collected to provide a mechanism for validating the Web100 data, or to collect statistics that are not covered by Web100. They are saved in tcpdump binary files named: SideStream/yyyy/mm/dd/nodename/iso_timeZ_ALL0.tra

  • ALL indicate that this is aggregate data across all clients.
  • In some cases the trailing 0 is replaced by a small integer to avoid overwriting existing files. (E.g. When the collection process is restarted.)

These files are normally slightly longer than an hour, running from about 50 seconds before to about 10 seconds after the hour, such that consecutive files normally overlap by 1 minute. This was done to minimize potential problems associated with analyzing packet traces that span more than one tcpdump file.

Since the Planetlab packet capture facility enforces network namespaces, it is not possible to see packets to or from other M-Lab slices. Furthermore tcpdump only captures TCP connections to local port 8000, which used by the NPAD webserver. This was done to protect it from NPAD's measurement traffic, which could quite easily overwhelm tcpdump and/or disk space.The SideStream package for logging web100 statistics from all connections


The SideStream package for logging web100 statistics from all connections






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