Sparkling gems and new releases from the world of Free and Open Source Software

Network monitor


A month rarely goes by without a new CPU monitoring tool being created. But network monitoring, by comparison, suffers from a lack of decent tools for ordinary users. Ntop is a good high-level tool, and Wireshark is deep and complex, but there's very little in-between the two, and this is where pktvisor could help. Pktvisor is roughly analogous to Top, but it deals with network packets instead of CPU usage. This tool lists, categorizes, sorts, and highlights the quantity and type of packets as they're consumed or produced by various processes on your system or network. One possible negative is that its default installation is via a Docker container. This does have lots of understandable advantages when you want to install on a cloud instance, or without making local network changes, but it also makes the package opaque and difficult to analyze. That can be a tough sell when you're trusting a packet monitor with access to your data. Fortunately, it's not too difficult to build and run outside of Docker if you're prepared to go through the manual process.

There are two main elements in the package: a background daemon that collects the data and makes it available over its own REST API and a terminal GUI that makes the data readily accessible. They both have their own configuration options, and it's also relatively easy to use the REST API with your own monitoring application to extract the data you need. It's worth the effort, because, with just a single terminal view, pktvisor gives you a fantastic overview of the state of your network. The top pane shows packet rates and counts by protocol version, while the bottom pane is split into 14 top-10 lists showing details including which IPs and qualified names are being accessed the most, top QTYPES, geolocations, and server fails, all of which are easily accessible and constantly updated.

Project Website

The daemon's REST API makes it easy to import your packet telemetry into other analysis and monitoring tools.

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