Modifying Big Brother's Behavior

Much of the behavior of Big Brother is controlled by the options and settings available in the etc\bbdef.cfg file. The bbdef.cfg file itself has examples and more information for many of these settings.

Note. Changes to bbdef.cfg take effect only after the Big Brother server has been stopped and restarted. Any variable not set in bbdef.cfg uses its default value.




Are the status logs reported by the clients in a Fully Qualified Domain Name format? If FQDN is set to TRUE, then hosts will be displayed as otherwise they will be displayed as www. If you set FQDN to FALSE, make sure that no two clients share the same host name (for example,  www). If FQDN is TRUE,make sure your hostnames in the bb-hosts.cfg file are also in an FQDN format.

In almost all circumstances, FQDN should be TRUE. Set it to FALSE only if you have a specific reason to do so.


The interval, in seconds, to wait before recreating the main Big Brother HTML pages: bb.html and bb2.html.


Runtime options:

ENABLE_DISABLE:  Allow enable and disable message types.

DATAMSG: Allow data message type.

NOTESMSG: Allow notes message type.

DONTCLEANSTRING: Allow `$;|&\ characters in a status log (UNIX/Linux only).

NOTAMP: If DONTCLEANSTRING is not defined, allow the & character (UNIX/Linux only).

PERF: Save incoming trending data

TRAP: Accept incoming SNMP traps

SAVE_IN_DB: Save data in a database (also needs etc/bbdb.cfg to be configured)

SAVE_IN_FILES: Save data in flat files (default)

USEDB:  Use the data in a database for processing (implies SAVE_IN_DB)

USEFILES: Use the data from the flat files (implies SAVE_IN_FILE and is default value)



Maximum size of status log to be received. (it should not be greater than 24K)


The directory where acknowledgement toggle files are located.


The directory where the enable/disable feature toggle files are located.


The directory where raw historical data is saved.


The directory where the historical status logs are saved.


The directory where temporary files are saved.


The directory where incoming status logs are located.


The directory where files for data messages are saved.


Which skin (theme) to use with this Big Brother installation. You can change the look of Big Brother by creating your own skin.


The portion of your Big Brother installation URL. Add the port number if you use a non-standard port for your web server:

The format of BBWEBHOST must match the FQDN setting (see above), which usually means it should be a fully-qualified domain name.


This is the directory path of the URL of your BB installation. It is used in conjunction with the BBWEBHOST variable to create the complete URL of your Big Brother installation.


URL location of the cgi-bin directory used by Big Brother. This value can be changed to a global cgi-bin directory. If you do change it, please copy the Big Brother cgi-bin programs to that directory.


If set to STATIC, status logs are converted immediately into HTML pages. If set to DYNAMIC, the status logs are rendered into HTML only when you click a colored dot. This is useful when you have many hosts and want to minimize the resources used by the BBNTD program.


The default color(s) that trigger a notification.


Determines if the historical view of a status log is created as an HTML page or a simple text page.


If this is TRUE, each color change for a status log is saved so you can view its previous log contents.


The delay, in minutes, before a status log is declared outdated. If a status log hasn't been updated after PURPLEDELAY minutes, the status changes to a purple dot. This in turn may generate a notification depending on the value of PAGELEVELS.


The percentage at which the reporting feature returns red or yellow.  Reporting returns green for 100% availability, yellow if less than 100% and greater than BBREPWARN, and red below BBREPWARN.


The interval the BBNET server waits between each iteration of the network tests.


The number of concurrent tests the BBNET server can execute. You can increase the value until you notice a degradation in system and Big Brother resources. A thread is based on a bb-hosts.cfg host line.


The valid TCP-based protocol tests supported by Big Brother. They must be the exact spelling as found in the bb-hosts.cfg file.  Any new network TCP-based protocol test to be handled by Big Brother must be present here.


Specifies the number of columns in the "Pages hosted locally" table in bb.html . It also applies this value to the subpages table ("Subpages hosted locally").


Timeout for connectivity test in seconds


The number of packets to send during the connectivity test.


How many failed packets are needed to turn red.


How many failed packets are needed to turn yellow.


The maximum number of entries displayed in the list of past events on the condensed page (bb2.html). Only entries from the last BB2EVENTSMIN minutes will be displayed.


On the condensed page (bb2.html), display the events that occurred in the last BB2EVENTMINS minutes. Only the last BB2NUMEVENTS events will be displayed.


On the condensed page (bb2.html), display the acknowledgement messages received in the last BB2ACKMINS minutes. Only the last BB2NUMAKCS messages will be displayed.


The maximum number of ack messages to display on the condensed page (bb2.html). Only entries from the last BB2ACKMINS minutes will be displayed.


Include the ack message in the list of acknowledgements.


If BB2SHOWACKMSG is TRUE, the number of characters to display from  the message. Keep it short as some messages entered may be long.


Send the "merged" status log to other BBDISPLAYs/BBPAGERs


Settings related to multi-location feature (received same named status log from more than one location)


Top-level URL when display zones feature is specified.


Name of top-level zone when using the display zones feature.  The other zones are named in the bb-hosts.cfg file


Timeout for http/https connection in seconds


Timeout for the whole http/https test in seconds





Assign to each variable the numeric return codes of the HTTP test that will set the test to that color.  Note that if a numeric code is not defined in any color, it will be assigned to HTTPYELLOW.





You can associate a generic message by color  that will display next to the URL in the status log





A specific message can be displayed if it matches the code and color result of the http test.  Replace the XXX value with the appropriate numeric code.


By default, Big Brother uses port 1984 for client-server communications. You can change this by setting BBPORT to the port you want. If you change the port, you must change it on the server and on all clients sending information to the server.