blinkenlights man page

blinkenlights — DNSSEC-Tools rollerd GUI


blinkenlights <rollrec-file>


blinkenlights is a GUI tool for use with monitoring and controlling the DNSSEC-Tools rollerd program. It displays information on the current state of the zones rollerd is managing. The user may control some aspects of rollerd's execution using blinkenlights menu commands.

blinkenlights creates a window in which to display information about each zone rollerd is managing. (These zones are those in rollerd's current rollrec file.) As a zone's rollover status changes, blinkenlights will update its display for that zone. Skipped zones, zones listed in the rollrec file but which are not in rollover or normal operation, are displayed but have very little useful information to display.

The user may also select a set of zones to hide from the display. These zones, if in the rolling state, will continue to roll; however, their zone information will not be displayed. Display state for each zone will persist across blinkenlights executions.

Menu commands are available for controlling rollerd. The commands which operate on a single zone may be executed by keyboard shortcuts. The zone may be selected either by clicking in its "zone stripe" or by choosing from a dialog box. Display and execution options for blinkenlights are also available through menu commands. More information about the menu commands is available in the Menu Commands section.

blinkenlights is only intended to be started by rollerd, not directly by a user. There are two ways to have rollerd start blinkenlights. First, rollctl may be given the -display option. Second, the -display option may be given on rollerd's command line.


blinkenlights takes the following options:

Tells rollerd to execute blinkenlights as a child process.
Tells blinkenlights how many zones to display.
Displays the version information for blinkenlights and the DNSSEC-Tools package.
Displays a usage message and exits.

Screen Layout

The blinkenlights window is laid out as a series of "stripes". The top stripe contains status information about rollerd, the second stripe contains column headers, and the bulk of the window consists of zone stripes. The list below provides more detail on the contents of each stripe.

See the Window Colors section for a discussion of the colors used for the zone stripes.

rollerd information stripe

The information stripe contains five pieces of information: rollerd's current rollrec file, the count of rolling zones, the count of skipped zones, the count of zones to be displayed, and the amount of time rollerd waits between processing its queue. Coincidentally, that last datum is also the amount of time between blinkenlights screen updates.
column headers stripe

This stripe contains the column headers for the columns of each zone stripe.
zone stripes

Each zone managed by rollerd (i.e., every zone in the current rollrec file) will have a zone stripe which describes that zone's current state. The stripe is divided into three sections: zone identification, the current rollover state, and the zone's DNSSEC keys.

The zone identification section contains the name of the zone, the name of the zone's rollrec entry, and the zone's zonegroup.

The rollover state section contains the rollover phase number, a text explanation of the phase, and the amount of time remaining in that rollover phase. The phase explanation is "normal operation" when the zone isn't currently in rollover.

The DNSSEC key section contains two subsections, one for the zone's ZSK keys and another for the zone's KSK keys. Each subsection contains the names of the signing sets active for the zone. The ZSK subsection lists the Current, Published, and New ZSK keys; the KSK subsection lists the Current and Published.

See the Window Colors section for a discussion of the colors used for the zone stripes.

Window Colors

The default blinkenlights configuration uses window coloring to provide visual cues and to aid in easily distinguishing zone information. The default window coloring behavior gives each zone stripe has its own color and the rollover state section of each zone stripe is shaded to show the zone's phase. Window coloring can be turned off (and on) with configuration options and menu commands.

Color Usage

The two window coloring behaviors are discussed more fully below:

zone stripe colors

Each rolling zone's stripe is given one of three colors: blue, red, or green. The color is assigned on a top-down basis and the colors wrap if there are more than three zones. So, the first zone is always blue, the second zone red, the third zone green, the fourth zone blue, etc.

The colors do not stay with a particular zone. If a rolling zone becomes a skipped zone, the zone stripes will be reassigned new colors to account for that skipped zone.

Skipped zones are not colored with these three colors. Stripes for skipped zones are colored either grey or a color set in the configuration file. If you choose to use a non-standard color for skipped zones your should ensure that it is not one of the colors used for rolling zones' stripes. Modifying the skipcolor configuration field allows the skipped-zone color to be changing.

The colors configuration field can be used to turn on or off the use of colors for zone stripes. If stripe coloring is turned off, then every stripe will be displayed using the skipcolor color.
rollover-state shading

The only portion of a zone stripe that changes color is the status column; the color of the rest of the zone stripe stays constant. Before a zone enters rollover, the status column is the same color as the rest of the stripe. When the zone enters rollover, the status column's color is changed to a very light shade of the stripe's normal color. As the rollover phases progress towards rollover completion, the status column's shade darkens. Once rollover completes, the status column returns again to the same shade as the rest of that stripe.

The shading configuration field can be used to turn on or off the use of shading in the rollover-state column. If shading is turned off, then the zone stripe will be a solid color.

See the Configuration File section for information on setting the configuration fields.

Colors Used

The color names are taken from the X11 rgb.txt file (X11 1.1.3 - XFree86 4.4.0 for MacOS X.) If these aren't available in your rgb.txt file, similar names should be selected. The actual red/green/blue values used are given below to assist in finding suitable replacements. These values were taken from the rgb.txt file.

Blue Shades:

blue                0   0 255
lightblue2        178 223 238
darkslategray1    151 255 255
skyblue1          135 206 255
steelblue1         99 184 255
turquoise1          0 245 255
cornflower blue   100 149 237
dodger blue        30 144 255

Red Shades:

red               255   0   0
pink              255 192 203
lightsalmon1      255 160 122
tomato            255  99  71
indianred         205  92  92
violetred1        255  62 150
orangered1        255  69   0
firebrick1        255  48  48

Green Shades:

green               0 255   0
darkseagreen1     193 255 193
darkolivegreen1   202 255 112
lightgreen        144 238 144
seagreen1          84 255 159
spring green        0 255 127
greenyellow       173 255  47
lawngreen         124 252   0

Configuration File

Several aspects of blinkenlights' behavior may be controlled from configuration files. Configuration value may be specified in the DNSSEC Tools configuration file or in a more specific rc.blinkenlights. The system-wide blinkenlights configuration file is in the DNSSEC-Tools configuration directory and is named blinkenlights.conf. Multiple rc.blinkenlights files may exist on a system, but only the one in the directory in which blinkenlights is executed is used.

The following are the available configuration values:

colors      Turn on/off use of colors on zone stripes.
fontsize    The size of the font in the output window.
maxzones    The number of zones to display.
modify      Turn on/off execution of rollerd modification commands.
noshow      Turn off display of particular columns.
shading     Turn on/off shading of the status columns.
showskip    Turn on/off display of skipped zones.
skipcolor   The background color used for skipped zones.

The rc.blinkenlights file is only searched for in the directory in which blinkenlights is executed. The potential problems inherent in this may cause these blinkenlights-specific configuration files to be removed in the future.

This file is in the "field value" format, where field specifies the output aspect and value defines the value for that field. The following are the recognized fields:

Empty lines and comments are ignored. Comment lines are lines that start with an octothorpe ('#').

Spaces are not allowed in the configuration values.

Choose your skipcolors carefully. The only foreground color used is black, so your background colors must work well with black.

The noshow command controls display of the various data columns. The command valid values are:

rollrecs    Turn off display of the rollrec names column.
            This value may not be used with "noshow zonenames".
zonenames   Turn off display of the zonenames column.
            This value may not be used with "noshow rollrecs".
zonegroups  Turn off display of the zonegroups column.
kskset      Turn off display of the KSK signing set columns.
zskset      Turn off display of the ZSK signing set columns.
keysets     Turn off display of the KSK and ZSK signing set columns.


blinkenlights is implemented in Perl/Tk, so both Perl and Perl/Tk must be installed on your system.


blinkenlights has several potential problems that must be taken into account.

development environment
blinkenlights was developed and tested on a single-user system running X11 using a relatively small number of zones. While it works fine in this environment, it has not been run on a system with many users or in a situation where the system console hasn't been in use by the blinkenlights user.
long-term performance issues
In early tests, the longer blinkenlights runs, the slower the updates become. This is probably a result of the Tk implementation or the way Tk interfaces with X11. This is pure supposition, though.

This performance impact is affected by a number of things, such as the number of zones managed by rollerd and the length of rollerd's sleep interval. Large numbers of zones or very short sleep intervals will increase the possibility of blinkenlights' performance degrading.

This appears to have been resolved by periodically performing a complete rebuild of the screen. blinkenlights keeps track of the number of screen updates it makes and rebuilds the screen when this count exceeds a threshold. The threshold is built into blinkenlights and stored in the $paintmax variable. This threshold may be adjusted if there are too many screen rebuilds or if blinkenlights' performance slows too much. Raising the number will reduce the screen rebuilds; lowering the number will (may) increase performance.
display irregularities
If the user modifies the number of zones to be displayed, then sometimes the blinkenlights window is left in an irregular state. The requested number of zones are displayed, but there is a large grey void above and below the zone display. This is an occasional problem and will be fixed as time allows.


Wayne Morrison, tewok@tislabs.com

See Also

bubbles(8), rollctl(8), rollerd(8), zonesigner(8)


Net::DNS::SEC::Tools::keyrec(5), Net::DNS::SEC::Tools::rollrec(5),