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High-Capacity Bandwidth Testing Software? 32

An anonymous reader asks: "I work for an ISP which specializes in high bandwidth (100+ megabit) fiber-based delivery solutions. As with any other ISP we sometimes have to perform troubleshooting with customers who are reporting slow throughput. We currently have a home-grown bandwidth testing server in order to point-to-point test the throughput across our own network. Unfortunately (fortunately), customers have begun purchasing amounts of bandwidth that are capable of exceeding our testing capacity. Given a multi-gigabit network infrastructure and an on-net server with a gigabit Ethernet port, what software packages are available which can reliably test throughput approaching one gigabit? Cross-browser compatibility and 'click-here-to-test' usability should be considerations."
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High-Capacity Bandwidth Testing Software?

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  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:37AM (#18896557)
    Given a multi-gigabit network infrastructure and an on-net server with a gigabit Ethernet port, what software packages are available which can reliably test throughput approaching one gigabit?

    You need a fast computer with a large hard-disk and a gigabit ethernet card, tcpdump, a shell, and 12000 monkeys to read the logs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You should be using a dedicated test set. Using a PC running what ever software isn't going to produce accurate results due to several factors:

      1) Process speed
      2) I/O reads and writes
      3) OS (swapping)

      Look towards a dedicate unit (test head) with remote capabilities.

      DISCLAIMER: I work in the Telecom Industry.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:41AM (#18896591) Homepage Journal
    But I'd start with something like pchar, which will tell you the effective bandwidth at each hop on the network. That will tell you how severe the blockage is and, more importantly, where. It's not the "best" tool out there, but it's reasonably non-intrusive (unlike most stress-testing tools) and I've not seen any obvious problems with it at gig speeds. It does need patching for Linux, though. I sent a patch to the maintainer who has sworn he'll someday get around to including it. NetBSD has a faster network stack, though, and is more suitable for such tests. Which I hate, as I prefer Linux, but facts don't change themselves to suit a like.
    • by Blimbo ( 528076 )
      Totally OT, but hey, I enjoyed your great line, and assuming this quote is public domain *crouch*, I plan to use it frequently both here and at home.

      This one:
      "but facts don't change themselves to suit a like"

      I could not find "a Goggle" for it, so thanx for a great line.
  • Really easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by ceroklis ( 1083863 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:56AM (#18896717)
    Put a stash of porn at one end of your network and a slashdotter at the other. That should max out the link.
  • by freebase ( 83667 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:59AM (#18896737)
    The End to End Performance Initiative has a knoppix live CD image you can download that includes test tools that may help. I'm in the process of deploying these tools around my network now.

    I've not tried to push a full gig with them (yet), but they seem to work better than anything else I've found so far...

    http://e2epi.internet2.edu/network-performance-too lkit.html [internet2.edu] is the URL.
  • Cross-browser compatibility and 'click-here-to-test' usability should be considerations.

    Clicking on an infected email attachment should saturate the bandwidth and test the infrastructure thoroughly. Cleaning up the post-testing mess can be painful.
  • TPTest (Score:5, Informative)

    by EyyySvenne ( 999534 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @02:16AM (#18896833)
    TPTest http://sourceforge.net/projects/tptest/ [sourceforge.net], an open source test suite from "Post och Telestyrelsen" http://www.pts.se/ [www.pts.se], a division of the Swedish goverment. Even a 200 MHz Pentium MMX running Linux could test a 100MBit/s fiber reliably.
  • You want .. Iperf (Score:3, Informative)

    by RobiOne ( 226066 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @02:19AM (#18896861) Homepage Journal

    http://dast.nlanr.net/Projects/Iperf/ [nlanr.net]
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/Iperf/ [sourceforge.net]

    Very configurable, and if u want GUI or network tuning.. read the FAQ, they give suggestions.
  • TPTest works nicely (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The swedish consumer agency has coded a test for bandwidth testing. It works as far as I know up with 1GB connection, but could probably work with much higher speeds. The project is open source.

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/tptest/ [sourceforge.net]

    It's a great tool that many of the ISP's in Sweden asks there customers to use before reporting in bad *DSL bandwidth.
  • by quarrel ( 194077 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @02:44AM (#18896989)
    If you're serious about it, you basically need to give in and spend serious $.

    The main game in town is Spirent [spirentcom.com].

    In the IPS & firewall testing world, they're what everyone uses, but even in lots of load balancing applications etc they're what people use.

    There are a few software solutions around that do an ok job, but very few that can do much at decent speed (ie > 400Mbit). I have a pretty crack team of devs, and using hand tuned open source, and home-spun apps, we got by for a few years, but should have given in years earlier and just got a set of Spirent gear. You'll save time.

    Their Smartbits line are basically hardware based packet generators, able to blast away for a variety of scenarios.

    Their Avalanche line are hardware based full session generators, so you can re-create a web server being hammered by thousands of clients. I just signed a cheque for > $100k for a single pair of avalanche boxes however, so bring your cash box...

    You'll probably find Spirent's hw based solutions frustrating, but if you work with others doing similar work they're very widely used, and you can exchange scripts etc..

    There is an Irish company that was moving in to this space, and had an ok product, but it was a bit immature when I last tried it. Sorry, but their name escapes me- google should know.

    • by krist0 ( 313699 )
      I've used some Ixia gear in the past, not to shabby but cost lots of green

      http://www.ixiacom.com/ [ixiacom.com]
    • You have the crack team of devs -- how hard was it to create a packet-cranking FPGA layout on a Xilinx board with an RJ45 connector? Are these FPGA boards simply not fast enough to dump the data (assuming you're creating data-link layer packets) needed to saturate your network?
    • by g-san ( 93038 )
      Products from Ixia and Spirent and Agilent for that matter can fill up a 10Gb Ethernet connection. Keep in mind this is stateless traffic, there are no ACKs to SYNs or anything like that, but you can definitely saturate the pipes with fairly realistic traffic.

      Most of those vendors also offer some sort of portable unit and one-way latency tests. One-way latency is hard, to measure latency you need a transmit time and a receive time so you need the same timing reference at two locations. The vendors accomplis
  • Hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by rhythmx ( 744978 ) * on Friday April 27, 2007 @03:21AM (#18897173) Homepage Journal
    BreakingPoint Systems [bpointsys.com] makes network test hardware that can go way beyond 1 Gbps simulations. You can also capture and recreate traffic at high speeds to better simulate a specific users load.

  • Ping!

  • Slashdot (Score:3, Funny)

    by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:51AM (#18898135) Homepage
    If you had included a link to one of your web sites with your submission, then you'd already be done.
  • Half Life! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Res3000 ( 890937 )
    (Found somewhere on bash.org)
    Oy! Maybe my job does rock.
    Da Fluke network tester (a $6000 Gameboy wannabe) was broken today since someone took the lithium batteries out of it and neglected to put them back in the case.
    We had to test out the connection between floors 2&4, going through floor 3 in the process.
    so I tell da b0ss that the Network tester is dead... And I need to generate network traffic so I can see the stats on the switches and routers, make sure no packets are being killed prematurely.
  • and i bet most PCs aren't capable of it either.

    your best bet IMO if you don't want to give the customers any special kit is to host a largeish file on a powerfull server with a good server class PCI-X or PCI-E gigabit ethernet card. Then get them to download it from multiple machines at once. You can then measure the traffic going out of the server (either with software on the server or with your existing infrastructure equipment).

  • Just a couple of weeks ago I needed something to just check LAN speeds, not going out on to the Internet at all. I downloaded a free (not open source, though) bandwidth speed test from http://www.ixiacom.com/ [ixiacom.com] called Qtest. For free, I thought it was awesome. I don't know if it will do gigabit speeds, but if this software is reflective of the rest of the company's products, it may be a company that can help you.

    What Qtest does is let you set up a test server at each end of a pipe. Then you can run tests betw
  • Netperf (Score:4, Informative)

    by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @09:28AM (#18899323)
    For testing bandwidth I use Netperf. [netperf.org] It's free, extremely customizable in the type of data sent (TCP/UDP streams, packet size, IPv4/IPv6, etc), and quite accurate. The program has no trouble generating enough traffic for a 1Gb link, and it's worked well over 10Gb links too. There's no GUI to it, but setting up a script to start it and report the results is pretty trivial.
  • Performance measurement of large capacity lines is a difficult problem, and a subject of ongoing academic research. Performance is not constant over time and any sensible guarantee or statement of performance implicitly includes some kind of statistical averaging. Unfortunately, I can't offer you any tools for instant measurements, but can give you some background on the problem, as it applies to a commercial enterprise.

    As a start, read this paper:

    The Spectrum of Internet Performance
    http://en.scientifi [scientificcommons.org]

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel