Customizing the Big Brother Display

If you want, you can have a little more control over the general appearance of the Big Brother status pages. This topic is a quick reference as to what you can change and how.

Note. In addition to the changes described here, you can split the Big Brother display into separate tables and/or separate HTML pages by using directives in the bb-hosts.cfg file. See Defining Big Brother Servers for directions.


Where Do Big Brother Pages Come From?

Big Brother pages are generated by the bbntd process. By default, the summary pages--bb.html and bb2.html--are created every five minutes; you can change this interval by changing the BBSLEEP value in etc\bbdef.cfg. The appearance of the pages is controlled by the etc\bbskin-<skin>.cfg file and files in the www\skins directory. Individual system reports are also generated by the bbntd process and placed in the www\html directory. The main and summary screens are saved in the www directory. Do not edit any of the generated HTML files as your changes will be removed the next time the files are generated.

To change the look, we recommend you create a new "skin" for Big Brother and tell Big Brother to use it., though you can also modify the default skin. To create and use a new skin:


Decide on a name for the new skin. This determines the name of the etc\bbskin-<skin>.cfg file and the subdirectory you will create for the www\skins directory.


Create the etc\bbskin-<skin>.cfg file for the new skin by copying one from an existing skin.


Create the www\skins\<skin> directory. Copy all of the subfolders and files from an existing skin directory to it.


Modify the settings in etc\bbskin-<skin>.cfg as desired. See below for details.


Modify the files in www\skins\<skin> as desired. See below for details.


Set  the BBSKIN variable in bbdef.cfg to the name of the new skin.


Controlling Fonts

You can change the font of the BB display pages by modifying the CSS files located in www\skins\images.  The bb-global.css file contains most settings for the display of the BB pages.  The bb-<color>.css files contains settings that a particular to a background color scheme.  The entries in the CSS files can be found in the source of the HTML pages by looking for the "class=" identifier.


Controlling Titles

Variables in the bbskin-<skin>.cfg file are simply tags to the titles in  parts of  the bb.html (main display), bb2.html (condensed display), and HTML versions of the status logs. This is a partial list of the variables you can set::

Refer to the etc\bbskin-<skin>.cfg file for all configurable options.

Note. You will need to stop and restart Big Brother for these changes to take effect.


Using New Images

You can use your own images by replacing the .gif files in the  www\skins\<skin>\images folder for your new skin.  Remember, you must have the same directory structure with the same filenames as in the default skin.


Changing Headers and Footers

The header and footer files used for page generation are located in the www\skins\<skin>\headfoot directory. These files are named according to the files they control:

File Names



Big Brother main display page (bb.html)


Big Brother condensed view (bb2.html)


Individual status pages


History pages


Historical status info


Acknowledgement result


Overall uptime reports


Single event uptime report



Enable/Disable management page


Enable/Disable processing page


You can also create custom headers and footers for pages and subpagesby creating entries in the www\skins\<skin>\headfoot directory by naming a header or header file file the actual page or subpage name.  For a page, the filename format is page_header while for a subpage, use the page_subpage_header. Use the same naming format for a footer file.  For example, a page entry in etc/bb-hosts.cfg such as:

page page1  This is Page #1

requires a custom header named page1_header if you do not want to use the default header.


Within these files, you may want to define your own stylesheets, insert images, move images around, or modify text. You can use these special tags in the files:

External Tests

If you create your own tests for Big Brother, every time a status log is received, an HTML version of the status log is created (either statically in www\html or dynamically using the hostsvc.exe CGI) by prefixing the status with the header file and suffixing with the footer file. You can include the following tags in your status report to display the colored dots in your status log:







These tags are replaced with a corresponding image source tag for the HTML version.


Background images

You can change the background images by replacing the bkg-<color>.jpg files that are located in the www/skins/images directory.  You can create new background images or use images from four sets of images that are shipped with the product.  


Hiding entries in the generated HTML pages

You can hide complete entries defined in etc/bb-hosts.cfg from the display or you can just hide certain columns for an entry.  This is achieved by specifying the nodisp token in the line entry.  If you specify nodisp, the complete entry will be removed from the generated page while if you use the same token with column specifiers, the given columns current status will not be displayed.  For example,: # ftp smtp nodisp


the will not be displayed in the BB generated pages.


for hiding column values for an entry, try: # ftp smtp nodisp:ftp:smtp


This line  will be displayed but the ftp and smtp test results will not show up for this line entry.