Installing Graphite for use with NAV on Debian

This is a short how-to guide for installing and configuring a simple Graphite installation, dedicated to NAV, on a Debian 9 (Stretch) server.


Do not start NAV until you have properly configured your carbon-cache’s storage schemas with NAV’s provided storage schema config, or you will have issues with blank areas in your graphs, which you will need to resolve manually after-the-fact.

Getting Graphite

A full Graphite setup consists of the Carbon backend server, which receives metrics over TCP or UDP, and a Graphite web frontend, which enables browsing and retrievial/rendering of the stored metrics. NAV will collect metrics and send to the former, while utilizing the latter to retrieve metrics and render graphs.

Assuming you will be running Graphite on the same Debian server as you are running NAV, all you need to do to install Graphite is:

apt-get install python-psycopg2 graphite-carbon \
  python-whisper/stretch-backports graphite-web/stretch-backports

Configuring Carbon

Carbon, the metric-receiving backend of Graphite, must be configured before it can be used with NAV. We will only be covering the simple case of using a single carbon-cache process. Most of this information is adapted from the Integrating Graphite with NAV section of the generic installation documentation.

Edit /etc/carbon/carbon.conf to ensure these options are set in the [cache] section:


The first line ensures that Carbon will not delay creating Whisper backend files for the metrics NAV sends it. The default setting is a maximum of 50 creates per minute (the setting exists to limit I/O strain on huge setups), which means that when bootstrapping a NAV installation, hours to days can pass before all its metrics are being actually stored in Graphite.

The second line ensures that Carbon accepts metrics on a UDP socket, which is required by NAV.

Carbon also needs to know the resolution at which to store your time-series data, for how long to store it, and how to roll up data from high resolution data archives to lower resolution archives. These are the storage schemas and aggregation methods. NAV provides its own config examples for this; on a Graphite backend dedicated to NAV, you can simply symlink these config files from NAV:

cd /etc/carbon/
mv storage-schemas.conf storage-schemas.conf.bak
mv storage-aggregation.conf storage-aggregation.conf.bak
ln -s /etc/nav/graphite/*.conf /etc/carbon/

Finally, restart the carbon-cache daemon:

systemctl restart carbon-cache

Configuring the Graphite web interface

To enable the web interface, you need to do two things:

  • Configure and create the database it will use for storing graph definitions.
  • Configure Apache to serve the web interface.

Creating the graphite database

Graphite will by default use a SQLite database, but this is not recommended in a production setting, as it will cause issues with multiple simultaneous users. You already have a PostgreSQL installation because of NAV, so we recommend using this.

Make a graphite PostgreSQL user and give it a password (make note of the password), then create a database owned by that user:

sudo -u postgres createuser --pwprompt --no-createrole --no-superuser --no-createdb --login graphite
sudo -u postgres createdb --owner=graphite graphite

The Graphite web app’s configuration file is located in /etc/graphite/ There are mainly three settings you will need to adjust: SECRET_KEY, TIME_ZONE and DATABASES. The SECRET_KEY is used for cryptographic purposes when working with cookies and session data (just as the SECRET_KEY setting from nav.conf). It should be a random string of characters; we can suggest using the makepasswd command to generate such a string:

$ makepasswd --chars 51

Then edit /etc/graphite/ (do not, under any circumstances, re-use the actual example value of SECRET_KEY here!) and make to set these three settings:

SECRET_KEY = 'iLNScMiUpNy5hditWAp9e2dyHGTFoX44UKsbhj91f9xL4fdJSDY'
TIME_ZONE = 'Europe/Oslo' # This should correspond to your actual timezone, also as in nav.conf
    'default': {
        'NAME': 'graphite',
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
        'USER': 'graphite',
        'PASSWORD': 'the password you made note of above',
        'HOST': 'localhost',
        'PORT': '5432'

Now make graphite-web initialize its database schema:

sudo -u _graphite graphite-manage migrate auth --noinput
sudo -u _graphite graphite-manage migrate --run-syncdb --noinput

Configure Apache to serve the Graphite web app

In principle, you can use any web server that supports the WSGI interface, but you already have Apache because of NAV, so lets use that. Graphite-web will need its own virtualhost, so let’s add a new site config for Apache in /etc/apache2/sites-available/graphite-web.conf (this example is inspired by the one supplied by the graphite-web package in /usr/share/graphite-web/apache2-graphite.conf):

Listen 8000
<VirtualHost *:8000>

        WSGIDaemonProcess _graphite processes=1 threads=1 display-name='%{GROUP}' inactivity-timeout=120 user=_graphite group=_graphite
        WSGIProcessGroup _graphite
        WSGIImportScript /usr/share/graphite-web/graphite.wsgi process-group=_graphite application-group=%{GLOBAL}
        WSGIScriptAlias / /usr/share/graphite-web/graphite.wsgi

        Alias /content/ /usr/share/graphite-web/static/
        <Location "/content/">
                SetHandler None

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/graphite-web_error.log

        # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
        # alert, emerg.
        LogLevel warn

        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/graphite-web_access.log combined


This defines a virtual host that will serve the Graphite web app on port 8000. Adding SSL encryption is left as an excercise for the reader.


All graphite statistics will become browseable for anyone who can access your server on port 8000. You will probably want to restrict access to this port, either by using iptables or ACLs in your routers. Or, if you do not care about browsing the web app yourself, change the Listen statement into Listen, so that only the NAV installation on localhost will be able to access it.

Now, enable the new site on port 8000:

a2ensite graphite-web
systemctl restart apache2

Congratulations, you should now be ready to start NAV!