Using IXP Manager’s Grapher API

We call IXP Manager’s statistics and graphing architecture Grapher. It’s a backend agnostic way to collect and present data. Out of the box, we support MRTG for standard interface graphs, sflow for peer to peer and per-protocol graphs, and Smokeping for latency/packet loss graphs. You can see some of this in action on INEX’s public statistics section.

Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) play a significant role in national internet infrastructures and IXP Manager is used in nearly 100 of these IXPs worldwide. In the last couple weeks we have got a number of queries from those IXPs asking for suggestions on how they can extract traffic data to address queries from their national Governments, regulators, media and members. We just published our own analysis of this for traffic over INEX here.

Grapher has a basic API interface (documented here) which we use to help those IXP Manager users address the queries they are getting. What we have provided to date are mostly quick rough-and-ready solutions but we will pull all these together over the weeks (and months) to come to see which of them might be useful permanent features in IXP Manager.

How to Use These Examples

The code snippets below are expected to be placed in a PHP file in the base directory of your IXP Manager installation (e.g. /srv/ixpmanager) and executed on the command line (e.g. php myscript.php).

Each of these scripts need the following header which is not included below for brevity:

<?php

require 'vendor/autoload.php';

use Carbon\Carbon;

$data = json_decode( file_get_contents( 
    'https://www.inex.ie/ixp/grapher/ixp?period=year&type=log&category=bits' 
) );

We’ve placed a working API endpoint for INEX above – change this for your own IXP / scenario.

Data Volume Growth

An IXP was asked by their largest national newspaper to provide daily statistics of traffic growth due to COVID-19. For historical reasons linked to MRTG graph images, the periods in IXP Manager for this data is such that: day is last 33.3 hours; week is last 8.33 days; month is last 33.33 days; and year is last 366 days.

This is fine within IXP Manager when comparing averages and maximums as we are always comparing like with like. But if we’re looking to sum up the data exchanged in a proper 24hr day then we need to process this differently. For that we use the following loop:

$start = new Carbon('2020-01-01 00:00:00');
$bits = 0;
$last = $data[0][0];
$startu = $start->format('U');
$end = $start->copy()->addDay()->format('U');

foreach( $data as $d ) {
  // if the row is before our start time, skip
  if( $d[0] < $startu ) { $last = $d[0]; continue; }

  if( $d[0] > $end ) {
    // if the row is for the next day break out and print the data 
    echo $start->format('Y-m-d') . ',' 
        . $bits/8 / 1024/1024/1024/1024 . "\n";

    // and reset for next day        
    $bits  = $d[1] * ($d[0] - $last);
    $startu = $start->addDay()->format('U');
    $end    = $start->copy()->addDay()->format('U');
  } else {
    $bits += $d[1] * ($d[0] - $last);
  }

  $last = $d[0];
}

The output is comma-separated (CSV) with the date and data volume exchanged in that 24 hour period (in TBs via 8/1024/1024/1024/1024). This can, for example, be pasted into Excel to create a simple graph:

The elements of the $d[] array mirror what you would expect to find in a MRTG log file (but the data unit represents the API request – e.g. bits/sec, pkts/sec, etc.):

  • d[0] – the UNIX timestamp of the data sample.
  • $d[1] and $d[2] – the average incoming and outgoing transfer rate in bits per second. This is valid for the time between the $d[0] value of the current entry and the $d[0] value of the previous entry. For an IXP where traffic is exchanged, we expect to see $d[1] roughly the same as $d[2].
  • $d[3] and $d[4] – the maximum incoming and outgoing transfer rate in bits per second for the current interval. This is calculated from all the updates which have occured in the current interval. If the current interval is 1 hour, and updates have occured every 5 minutes, it will be the biggest 5 minute transfer rate seen during the hour.

Traffic Peaks

The above snippet uses the average traffic values and the time between samples to calculate the overall volume of traffic exchanged. If you just want to know the traffic peaks in bits/sec on a daily basis, you can do something like this:

$daymax = 0;
$day    = null;

foreach( $data as $d ) {

    $c = ( new Carbon($d[0]) )->format('Y-m-d');

    if( $c !== $day ) {
        if( $day !== null ) {
            echo $day . ',' . $daymax / 1000/1000/1000 . "\n";
        }
        $day = $c;
        $daymax = $d[3];
    } else if( $d[3] > $daymax ) {
        $daymax = $d[3];
    }
}

The output is comma-separated (CSV) with the date and data volume exchanged in that 24 hour period (in Gbps via 1000/1000/1000). This can also be pasted into Excel to create a simple graph:

Import to Carbon / Graphite / Grafana

Something that is on our development list for IXP Manager is to integrate Graphite as a Grapher backend. Using this stack, we could create much more visually appealing graphs as well as time-shift comparisons. In fact this is how we created the graphs for this article on INEX’s website which includes graphs such as:

To create this, we need to get the data into Carbon (Graphite’s time-series database). Carbon accepts data via UDP so we used a script of the form:

foreach( $data as $d ) {
    echo "echo \"inex.ixp.run1 " . $d[1] . " " . $d[0] 
        . "\" | nc <carbon-ip-address> 2003\n";
}

This will output lines like the following which can be piped to sh:

echo "inex.ixp.run1 387495973600 1585649700" | nc -u 192.0.2.23 2003

The Carbon / Graphite / Grafana stack is quite complex so unless you are familiar with it, this option for graphing could prove difficult. To get up and running quickly, we used the docker-grafana-graphite Docker image. Beware that the default graphite/storage-schemas.conf in this image limits data retention to only 7 days.

2FA and User Session Management in IXP Manager

We’ve just released IXP Manager v5.3.0. The headline feature in this release is two-factor authentication (2fa) and user session management. This blog post overviews the PHP elements on how we did that.

While IXP Manager is a Laravel framework application, it uses Doctrine ORM as its database layer via the Laravel Doctrine bridge. For those curious, this really is a carry over from when IXP Manager was a Zend Framework application. For the migration, we concentrated on the controller and view elements of the MVC stack leaving the model layer on Doctrine. Over time we’ll probably migrate the model layer over to Laravel’s Eloquent.

Before reading on, it would be useful to first read the official documentation we have written aroud 2fa and user session management:

Hopefully the how we did this will be useful for anyone else in the same boat or even just trying to understand the Laravel authentication stack.

Two factor authentication (2fa) strengthens access security by
requiring two methods (also referred to as factors) to verify your
identity. Two factor authentication protects against phishing, social
engineering and password brute force attacks and secures your logins
from attackers exploiting weak or stolen credentials.

User session management allows a user to be logged in and remembered from multiple browsers / devices and to manage those sessions from within IXP Manager.

For 2fa, we used the antonioribeiro/google2fa-laravel package which is built on antonioribeiro/google2fa. If we were 100% in Laravel’s eco-system the would have been easier but because we use Doctrine, we needed to override a number of classes.

Structurally we need a database table to indicate if a user has 2fa enabled and to hold their 2fa secret – for this we created Entities\User2FA. Similarly, we have a controller to handle the UI interaction of enabling, configuring and disabling 2fa: User2FAController – this also includes generating QR codes for the typical 2fa activation process.

On the user session management side, we created Entities\UserRememberToken to hold multiple tokens per user (rather than Laravel’s default single token in a column in the user’s user database entry. For the frontend UI, UserRememberTokenController allows a user to view their active sessions and invalidate (delete) them if required.

The actual mechanism of enforcing 2fa is via middleware: IXP\Http\Middleware\Google2FA. This is added, as appropriate, to web routes via the RouteServiceProvider. This will check the user’s session and if 2fa is enabled but has not been completed, then the middleware will enforce 2fa before granting access to any routes covered by it.

Note that because we also implemented user session management via long-lived cookies and because the fact that a user has passed 2fa or not is held in the session, we need to persistently store the fact in the user’s specific remember token database entry. This is done via the Google2FALoginSucceeded listener. This is then later checked in the SessionGuard – where, if we log a user in via the long-lived cookie, we also make them as having passed 2fa if so set.

Speaking of the SessionGuard, this was one of the bigger changes we had to make – we overrode the Illuminate\Auth\SessionGuard as we needed to replace a few functions to make 2fa and user session management work. We have kept these to a minimum:

  1. The user() function – Laravel’s long lived session uses a single token but we require a token per device / browser. We also need to side-step 2fa for existing sessions as discussed above and allow for features such as allowing a user to delete other long-lived sessions and to provide functionality to allow these sessions to expire.
  2. The ensureRememberTokenIsSet() to actually create per-browser tokens (and to expire old ones).
  3. The queueRecallerCookie() so we can insert our own token rather than the default Laravel version.
  4. The cycleRememberToken() which is actually used to invalidae a token by changing it in Laravel. We override to delete the token.

Similarly we have to override the DoctrineUserProvider class to:

  1. Change retrieveByToken() to use our new database in which a user may have multiple sessions across different browsers / devices.
  2. Add addRememberToken() and purgeExpiredRememberTokens() to add and remove tokens.

We of course had to ammend the AuthServiceProvider to use our new overridden classes.

The above constitutes a bulk to the changes. Because 2fa can be enforced via middleware, it doesn’t really touch the core Laravel authentication process. The user session management was more invasive and responsible for the bulk of the changes required in the DoctrineUserProvider and SessionGuard.

What’s not mentioned above is the views – these are mainly covered in the views/user-remember-token (with a lot of inheritence from views/frontend) and the views/user/2fa directories.

While there are a lot more changes between v5.2.0 and v5.3.0 than 2fa and user session management, you can see the complete set of changes here.

Useful Git Links

A live document updated over time to collect various Git related links that I find useful.

Official Documents

My Own Documents

Third Party Documents

When Vue.js Is Too Much

While Vue.js‘ popularity continues to sky rocket, there are some alternatives when you want to keep the declarative style but Vue.js is far too much for smaller requirements.

One is Stimulus from the team at Basecamp:

Stimulus is a JavaScript framework with modest ambitions. It doesn’t seek to take over your entire front-end—in fact, it’s not concerned with rendering HTML at all. Instead, it’s designed to augment your HTML with just enough behavior to make it shine. Stimulus pairs beautifully with Turbolinks to provide a complete solution for fast, compelling applications with a minimal amount of effort.

A very recent new framework is Alpine.js which uses the tag-line think of it like Tailwind for JavaScript which, has a huge Tailwind fan, is very intriguing.

Alpine.js offers you the reactive and declarative nature of big frameworks like Vue or React at a much lower cost.

Listen to Caleb Porizo, author of Alpine.js, talk all about it on this episode of Full Stack Radio.

Kamailio v5.3 and MySQL 8

As installed on Ubuntu 19.10, Kamailio v5.3 will not work out of the box with MySQL 8 due to changes in the way in which users are created and privileges granted between MySQL 5.x and 8.

To fix this, edit /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/kamailio/kamctl/kamdbctl.mysql as follows:

# diff /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/kamailio/kamctl/kamdbctl.mysql.orig  /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/kamailio/kamctl/kamdbctl.mysql
163,164c163,166
<       sql_query "" "GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '${DBRWUSER}'@'$DBHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBRWPW';
<               GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '${DBROUSER}'@'$DBHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';"
---
>       sql_query "" "CREATE USER '$DBRWUSER'@'$DBHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBRWPW';
>                     CREATE USER '$DBROUSER'@'$DBHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';
>               GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '${DBRWUSER}'@'$DBHOST';
>               GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '${DBROUSER}'@'$DBHOST';"
172,173c174,177
<               sql_query "" "GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '$DBRWUSER'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED  BY '$DBRWPW';
<                       GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '$DBROUSER'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';"
---
>               sql_query "" "CREATE USER '$DBRWUSER'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBRWPW';
>                               CREATE USER '$DBROUSER'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';
>                       GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '$DBRWUSER'@'localhost';
>                       GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '$DBROUSER'@'localhost';"
181,182c185,188
<               sql_query "" "GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '$DBRWUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST' IDENTIFIED  BY '$DBRWPW';
<                       GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '$DBROUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';"
---
>               sql_query "" "CREATE USER '$DBRWUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBRWPW';
>                             CREATE USER '$DBROUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST' IDENTIFIED BY '$DBROPW';
>                       GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON $1.* TO '$DBRWUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST';
>                       GRANT SELECT ON $1.* TO '$DBROUSER'@'$DBACCESSHOST';"

The above worked fine for me but do note:

  • Make sure the database and users do not already exist on the database (or delete them if they do).
  • Use a different username for the read-only and read-write users.
  • MySQL 8 has a bug so issue FLUSH PRIVILEGES if you have trouble manually removing a user.