As I’ve related in depth, I’ve been dealing with a problem of reliability and it is looking like its a memory issue. Now there are lots and lots of ways to monitor memory usage on a cluster of machines. I don’t think I could even enumerate them if I tried. However I’m a software engineer and I’m specifically not the kind of guy who has a dashboard and systems monitoring tools like HP OpenView, etc. I’ve also been using Unix since 1986 and I fundamentally believe in the core Unix model of tiny tools so here’s how I did it.

What I Wanted

Getting control of a bad ops situation with servers is often about representing data in a way that you can understand and process it. All I wanted was a command in a terminal that I could run periodically which would show me free memory on all machines. Here’s an example of what I put together:

ficrawlerbig | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 5103412

fiweb1 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 55826760

ficrawler3 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 9196424

ficrawler4 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 7576948

ficrawler5 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 8054688

ficrawler6 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 10718960

ficrawler7 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 8730928

ficrawler8 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 13203552

ficrawler9 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 7196620

ficrawler10 | SUCCESS | rc=0 » 5102220

That’s all I want and I wasn’t going to setup some kind of elaborate tool to get that. I was going to use Ansible to execute a command on a batch of machines. All I needed was that command.

The Command

There are all kinds of ways to get memory stats on unix and I wasn’t about to make this hard. And you have to remember that at my core I’m a Ruby guy. And while I mastered awk in 1990 or so, I haven’t written a line of awk since about 1996 when my own implementation of awk, HyperAwk (see below), disappeared from this world. I’m also not a shell guy; I struggle with bash / zsh. So I wanted a ruby solution. And I came up with this:

output = %x(free)
puts  output.split(" ")[9]

Which I’m pretty sure I shamelessly stole from a Stack Overflow post somewhere. I think I closed the tab in a browser crash. Sorry.

The Ansible Side of things - An Ad Hoc Routine:

ansible all -i inventories/production2 -u ubuntu -a "/var/www/apps/banks/current/script/free_memory.rb"

Sidebar: HyperAwk

Ever wonder would would happen if you took an Awk implementation