monitoring Airport basestations with MRTG

Simon R has written and asked about extending the ideas raised by my how-to article, “Network Flow Rates”, published in September 2004’s Australian Macworld article,. He’d like to use MRTG to monitor a couple of Airport Express base stations. Specifically he’d like to be able to monitor his broadband usage, and Airtunes streams.

Now I don’t have any experience with the new Airport Express yet (if someone would like to donate or loan me one for a while I can certainly document my discoveries!) however I have used SNMP with the original graphite Airport and today I had a play with a couple of the latest model Airport Extreme basestations.

There is an official Airport Extreme MIB available from Apple here. It should work with any Airport basestation running v5.1 or above. (It may indeed work with earlier models as well) A MIB file provides you with easier to use nouns allowing you to request various information available from the device via SNMP – without having to use more cumbersome OIDS (object identifiers). Presently it would appear that the information available from a Airport via SNMP is about the physical ethernet interface(s), and information about each of the connected wifi clients including MAC (media access control) addresses, number of packets in and out per second, the number of errors, signal strength, and DHCP records if it is running DHCP. There’s nothing in there about AirTunes but there is a comment that they intend to provide an interface to information about the USB port, connected printers and more network details at some point in the future. It’s fair to assume that Apple will provide an interface for Airtunes as well – or someone else will figure out how to access it.