in this series of articles, I will be talking in depth about power management through the NUT project, its packaging on Debian, how to use it in general and how I see it being part of the GreenIT thing.

So, let's start with an introduction:

NUT is a Free Software (GPL v2+ and 3 to be precise), originally created for power protection using UPS, from home to data-centers:

To shortly describe the main features, I would say that NUT:

NUT used to stand for Network UPS Tools. That is, a software for talking to your UPS and shutting down your systems when needed. This definition is a bit limited nowadays, since NUT supports 4 types of power device:

  • UPS, obviously, since the origin.
  • PDU (power distribution units), for 4 years. These are somehow big intelligent power switches, that you find in datacenters. These allow to switch on and off specific outlets and / or to measure power consumptions. The latter is more interesting for Green IT and PUE calculation. But this is the topic of another article ;-)
  • SCD (solar controller device), for more than 2 years. NUT only supports 1 SCD (IVT SCD series), but support for another can be very easily added.
  • PSU (power supply unit), for more than a year. This support is limited to server PSU, that are IPMI compatible.
  • meters and gensets are also new device types that are considered. Meters would provide more measurement capabilities, still mainly for PUE calculation, while gensets.

Considering this, is the name Network UPS Tools still suitable? Not really! But the acronym NUT is well known! So, for the time being, I just stick using it, and focus on other more important things, until a better opportunity (ideas and comments are welcome!).

That said, what can you do exactly with NUT? Currently, you can:

  • monitor and manage UPS(s) that protect(s) your system(s), with no redundancy limitation,
  • manage your PDU, to power on / off your systems (not servers directly!), and measure power consumptions,
  • monitor and manage your servers power supplies, power these on / off, and measure power consumption.
  • monitor all these links of the powerchain, that feed your servers.
  • discover all USB, SNMP and IPMI supported devices, locally or on the network.

All the above is available in a standardized way:

  • the manufacturer name will always be in the variable called device.mfr. The first outlet will always be outlet.1, whatever the device is (UPS or PDU here),
  • Tons of command line tools, libraries / language bindings and software are available to help in NUT integration! You can even make your own NUT client implementation very easily and quickly (experiences reports are ~ 2 hours).

Well, this is already a long and dense post, so I will stop there for today. In the next post, we will have a deeper dive into using NUT, for various use cases: submit yours if you can ;-)

cheers,
-- Arno