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I am looking for a versatile tool that can write either to a MySQL db, or possibly simply even just write some image charts (that i can display on a PHP dashboard) to monitor my network health.

Is the best approach to run some type of daemon on my Debian box and somehow capture data from remote hosts via SSH? Also any CPU and process info would be useful in a tool like this. I've seen it done on routers' web interfaces, and I would like to be able to capture this data.

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It wasn't clear how 'free' you wanted this tool to be. Intermapper does this:

http://www.intermapper.com/

But it isn't free(but does run on UNIX).

As far as open source goes, Network Weather map and Weathermap4rrd can do this. Here is an example Weathermap4rrd image:

http://weathermap4rrd.tropicalex.net/images/w4_example.png

More info on Weathermap4rrd: http://weathermap4rrd.tropicalex.net/whatisw4rrd.php

Weathermap: http://netmon.grnet.gr/weathermap/

I've built displays using OpenNMS and Nagios to gather data for this. Anything that can output to rrds can be used as inputs. Some gathering tools:

OpenNMS: http://www.opennms.org/ Cacti: http://www.cacti.net/

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