Monitoring Linux host metrics with the Node Exporter

The Prometheus Node Exporter exposes a wide variety of hardware- and kernel-related metrics.

In this guide, you will:

  • Start up a Node Exporter on localhost
  • Start up a Prometheus instance on localhost that's configured to scrape metrics from the running Node Exporter
NOTE: While the Prometheus Node Exporter is for *nix systems, there is the Windows exporter for Windows that serves an analogous purpose.

Installing and running the Node Exporter

The Prometheus Node Exporter is a single static binary that you can install via tarball. Once you've downloaded it from the Prometheus downloads page extract it, and run it:

tar xvfz node_exporter-*.*-amd64.tar.gz
cd node_exporter-*.*-amd64

You should see output like this indicating that the Node Exporter is now running and exposing metrics on port 9100:

INFO[0000] Starting node_exporter (version=0.16.0, branch=HEAD, revision=d42bd70f4363dced6b77d8fc311ea57b63387e4f)  source="node_exporter.go:82"
INFO[0000] Build context (go=go1.9.6, [email protected], date=20180515-15:53:28)  source="node_exporter.go:83"
INFO[0000] Enabled collectors:                           source="node_exporter.go:90"
INFO[0000]  - boottime                                   source="node_exporter.go:97"
INFO[0000] Listening on :9100                            source="node_exporter.go:111"

Node Exporter metrics

Once the Node Exporter is installed and running, you can verify that metrics are being exported by cURLing the /metrics endpoint:

curl http://localhost:9100/metrics

You should see output like this:

# HELP go_gc_duration_seconds A summary of the GC invocation durations.
# TYPE go_gc_duration_seconds summary
go_gc_duration_seconds{quantile="0"} 3.8996e-05
go_gc_duration_seconds{quantile="0.25"} 4.5926e-05
go_gc_duration_seconds{quantile="0.5"} 5.846e-05
# etc.

Success! The Node Exporter is now exposing metrics that Prometheus can scrape, including a wide variety of system metrics further down in the output (prefixed with node_). To view those metrics (along with help and type information):

curl http://localhost:9100/metrics | grep "node_"

Configuring your Prometheus instances

Your locally running Prometheus instance needs to be properly configured in order to access Node Exporter metrics. The following scrape_config block (in a prometheus.yml configuration file) will tell the Prometheus instance to scrape from the Node Exporter via localhost:9100:

- job_name: 'node'
  - targets: ['localhost:9100']

To install Prometheus, download the latest release for your platform and untar it:

tar xvf prometheus-*.*-amd64.tar.gz
cd prometheus-*.*

Once Prometheus is installed you can start it up, using the --config.file flag to point to the Prometheus configuration that you created above:

./prometheus --config.file=./prometheus.yml

Exploring Node Exporter metrics through the Prometheus expression browser

Now that Prometheus is scraping metrics from a running Node Exporter instance, you can explore those metrics using the Prometheus UI (aka the expression browser). Navigate to localhost:9090/graph in your browser and use the main expression bar at the top of the page to enter expressions. The expression bar looks like this:

Prometheus expressions browser

Metrics specific to the Node Exporter are prefixed with node_ and include metrics like node_cpu_seconds_total and node_exporter_build_info.

Click on the links below to see some example metrics:

Metric Meaning
rate(node_cpu_seconds_total{mode="system"}[1m]) The average amount of CPU time spent in system mode, per second, over the last minute (in seconds)
node_filesystem_avail_bytes The filesystem space available to non-root users (in bytes)
rate(node_network_receive_bytes_total[1m]) The average network traffic received, per second, over the last minute (in bytes)

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