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APC PowerChute or Network UPS Tools? 7 April 2007

Posted by Mark in VMware Server.

I spent most of yesterday struggling with APC PowerChute Business Edition (PBE). I downloaded the free 7.0.5 version from APC’s website (Linux and Windows–registration probably required), plugged in the USB cable provided with my 2U SmartUPS 1500, and started with the install.

The PBE install requires an agent to run on each computer connected to the UPS. These agents contact a server (only available for Windows platforms), which amalgamates information from several UPSes and communicates it to a PBE client program (also Windows) for management. I was about to qualify the first sentence by saying that the agent must run on each computer with a data connection, rather than a power connection. But then I realized that I am still fuzzy about how a signal to shutdown would be communicated from the computer with the USB connection to the SmartUPS to the other computers in the rack, or even to the virtual computers running within the host with the physical USB connection. After all, if the UPS is about to shutdown, I would like the separate media PC in the rack to shutdown gracefully. Likewise, all of the virtual servers on my host running SAMBA, LDAP, or other services should also go down gently.

As I plugged the USB connector into my CentOS host, I got the following in /var/log/messages:

Apr 6 15:31:22 bellerophon kernel: hiddev97: USB HID v1.10 Device [American Power Conversion Smart-UPS 1500 RM FW:617.3.D USB FW:8] on usb-0000:00:1d.0-1

I checked /dev for devices created in the last day and saw:

[user@server ~]$ ls -l /dev | grep "Apr 6"
crw------- 1 root root 180, 97 Apr 6 18:39 hiddev1
crw-rw-rw- 1 root tty 5, 2 Apr 6 18:42 ptmx
crw-rw-rw- 1 root root 5, 0 Apr 6 18:40 tty

This confused me somewhat about whether the UPS should be addressed as /dev/hiddev97 or /dev/hiddev1.  I tried each in turn and although PBE could discover the agent, when I tried adding it to my device list, I got a message, “Failed to  apply the configuration profile to [IP address]”.  That sent me scurrying off to google for documentation on hid, hotplug and RedHat USB devices in general. Before I could satisfy my theoretical curiosity, though, I found something that sent me on another tangent.

One of my google searches turned up a page claiming that USB cables didn’t work with APC devices under Linux.  Another response  suggested using NUT.

So here’s my plan for the day:

  1. Try the second cable that came with the SmartUPS (a DB9 with the code 940-1524D on it) to see if I can get the PBE software running.
  2. Evaluate whether PBE can send other computers a shutdown signal the way I would like.
  3. See whether the Linux PBE agent leaves messages in a system log so I can parse it for LogWatch or Big Brother.
  4. At signs of trouble, switch over to NUT and see how they do with 2 or 3–being OpenSource, I expect them to be easier to modify.


1. markscorner - 7 April 2007

The NUT page led me to this executive overview of UPS on Linux, which pointed out that a third major option available is apcupsd.

The apcupsd manual has a section on UPS configurations that should help me clarify my expectations.

Hope to consolidate this research into a later post…

2. UPS Monitoring Matrix « Mark’s Corner - 10 April 2007

[…] packages have a good executive overview of power management configuration.  As I suspected in my comment to Saturday’s post, these are useful reading to plan your power management conceptually before getting tangled in the […]

3. markscorner - 19 April 2007

This might have helped with the USB cable. I haven’t tried it, but link to it in case you, dear reader, arrived at this page googling for ideas on how to get your !@#$ UPS working.

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