This chapter will walk you through the most common elements in the Splunk interface, and will touch upon concepts that will be covered in greater detail, in later chapters. You may want to dive right into the search section, but an overview of the user interface elements might save you some frustration later. We will cover the following topics in this chapter:
Logging in and app selection
A detailed explanation of the search interface widgets
A quick overview of the admin interface
The address will look like:
If you have installed Splunk on your local machine, the address can be some variant of
Once you determine the address, the first page you will see is the login screen. The default username is admin with the password changeme. The first time you log in, you will be prompted to change the password for the admin user. It is a good idea to change this password to prevent unwanted changes to your deployment.
By default, accounts are configured and stored within Splunk. Authentication can be configured to use another system, for instance Lightweight
Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). By default, Splunk authenticates locally. If LDAP is set up, the order is as follows:
LDAP / Local.
In earlier versions of Splunk, the Welcome tab provided two important shortcuts, Add data and the Launch search app. In version 6.2.0, the Home app is divided into distinct areas, or panes, that provide easy access to Explore Splunk Enterprise (Add Data, Splunk Apps, Splunk Docs, and Splunk Answers) as well as Apps (the App management page) Search & Reporting (the link to the Search app), and an area where you can set your default dashboard (choose a home dashboard). We'll cover apps & dashboards in later chapters of this book.
Add data: This links Add Data to the Splunk page. This interface is a great start for getting local data flowing into Splunk (making it available to Splunk users). The Preview data interface takes an enormous amount of complexity out of configuring dates and line breaking. We won't go through those interfaces here, but we will go through the configuration files that these wizards produce in Chapter 11, Configuring Splunk.
Splunk Apps: This allows you to find and install more apps from the Splunk Apps Marketplace (http://apps.splunk.com). This marketplace is a useful resource where Splunk users and employees post Splunk apps, mostly free but some premium ones as well.
Splunk Answers: This is one of your links to the wide amount of Splunk documentation available, specifically http://answers.splunk.com, where you can engage with the Splunk community on Splunkbase (https://splunkbase.splunk.com/) and learn how to get the most out of your Splunk deployment.
The Apps section shows the apps that have GUI elements on your instance of Splunk. App is an overloaded term in Splunk. An app doesn't necessarily have a GUI at all; it is simply a collection of configurations wrapped into a directory structure that means something to Splunk. We will discuss apps in a more detailed manner in Chapter 8, Working with Apps.
Search & Reporting is the link to the Splunk Search & Reporting app.
Beneath the Search & Reporting link, Splunk provides an outline which, when you hover over it, displays a Find More Apps balloon tip. Clicking on the link opens the same Browse more apps page as the Splunk Apps link mentioned earlier.
Choose a home dashboard provides an intuitive way to select an existing (simple XML) dashboard and set it as part of your Splunk Welcome or Home page. This sets you at a familiar starting point each time you enter Splunk. The following image displays the Choose Default Dashboard dialog:
Once you select an existing dashboard from the dropdown list, it will be part of your welcome screen every time you log into Splunk – until you change it. There are no dashboards installed by default after installing Splunk, except the Search & Reporting app. Once you have created additional dashboards, they can be selected as the default.
The current app is specified in the upper-left corner. The following image shows the upper-left Splunk bar when using the Search & Reporting app:
Clicking on the text takes you to the default page for that app. In most apps, the text next to the logo is simply changed, but the whole block can be customized with logos and alternate text by modifying the app's CSS. We will cover this in Chapter 8, Working with Apps.
The upper-right corner of the window, as seen in the previous image, contains action links that are almost always available:
The name of the user who is currently logged in appears first. In this case, the user is Administrator. Clicking on the username allows you to select Edit Account (which will take you to the Your account page) or to Logout (of Splunk). Logout ends the session and forces the user to login again. The following screenshot shows what the Your account page looks like:
This form presents the global preferences that a user is allowed to change. Other settings that affect users are configured through permissions on objects and settings on roles. (Note: preferences can also be configured using the CLI or by modifying specific Splunk configuration files).
Full name and Email address are stored for the administrator's convenience.
Setting the time zone only affects the time zone used to display the data. It is very important that the date is parsed properly when events are indexed. We will discuss this in detail in Chapter 2, Understanding Search.
Default app controls the starting page after login. Most users will want to change this to search.
Restart backgrounded jobs controls whether unfinished queries should run again if Splunk is restarted.
Set password allows you to change your password. This is only relevant if Splunk is configured to use internal authentication. For instance, if the system is configured to use Windows Active Directory via LDAP (a very common configuration), users must change their password in Windows.
Messages allows you to view any system-level error messages you may have pending. When there is a new message for you to review, a notification displays as a count next to the Messages menu. You can click the X to remove a message.
Downloading the example code
You can download the example code files from your account at http://www.packtpub.com for all the Packt Publishing books you have purchased. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.
The Settings link presents the user with the configuration pages for all Splunk Knowledge objects, Distributed Environment settings, System and Licensing, Data, and Users and Authentication settings. If you do not see some of these options, you do not have the permissions to view or edit them.
The Activity menu lists shortcuts to Splunk Jobs, Triggered Alerts, and System Activity views. You can click Jobs (to open the search jobs manager window, where you can view and manage currently running searches), click Triggered Alerts (to view scheduled alerts that are triggered) or click System Activity (to see dashboards about user activity and the status of the system).
Find can be used to search for objects within your Splunk Enterprise instance. For example, if you type in
error, it returns the saved objects that contain the term error. These saved objects include Reports, Dashboards, Alerts, and so on. You can also search for error in the Search & Reporting app by clicking Open error in search.
ImplementingSplunkDataGenerator.tar.gzfrom the code bundle available on the site http://www.packtpub.com/support.
Choose Manage apps… from the Apps menu.
Click on the button labeled Install app from file.
This data generator app will produce about 16 megabytes of output per day. The app can be disabled so that it stops producing data by using Manage apps…, under the App menu.
Within the Search & Reporting app, the user is presented with the Summary view, which contains information about the data which that user searches for by default. This is an important distinction—in a mature Splunk installation, not all users will always search all data by default. But at first, if this is your first trip into Search & Reporting, you'll see the following:
From the screen depicted in the previous screenshot, you can access the Splunk documentation related to What to Search and How to Search. Once you have at least some data indexed (a topic we'll discuss later in the The settings section), Splunk will provide some statistics on the available data under What to Search (remember that this reflects only the indexes that this particular user searches by default; there are other events that are indexed by Splunk, including events that Splunk indexes about itself. We will discuss indexes in Chapter 9, Building Advanced Dashboards). This is seen in the following image:
In previous versions of Splunk, panels such as the All indexed data panel provided statistics for a user's indexed data. Other panels gave a breakdown of data using three important pieces of metadata—Source, Sourcetype, and Hosts. In the current version—6.2.0—you access this information by clicking on the button labeled Data Summary, which presents the following to the user:
This dialog splits the information into three tabs—Hosts, Sources and Sourcetypes.
A host is a captured hostname for an event. In the majority of cases, the host field is set to the name of the machine where the data originated. There are cases where this is not known, so the host can also be configured arbitrarily.
A source in Splunk is a unique path or name. In a large installation, there may be thousands of machines submitting data, but all data on the same path across these machines counts as one source. When the data source is not a file, the value of the source can be arbitrary, for instance, the name of a script or network port.
A source type is an arbitrary categorization of events. There may be many sources across many hosts, in the same source type. For instance, given the sources
/var/log/access.2012-03-02.logon the hosts
wilma, you could reference all these logs with source type access or any other name that you like.
Let's move on now and discuss each of the Splunk widgets (just below the app name). The first widget is the navigation bar.
As a general rule, within Splunk, items with downward triangles are menus. Items without a downward triangle are links.
We will cover customizing the navigation bar in Chapter 8, Working with Apps.
For our first search, we will search for the word (not case specific);
error. Click in the search bar, type the word
error, and then either press Enter or click on the magnifying glass to the right of the bar.
Upon initiating the search, we are taken to the search results page.
Note that the search we just executed was across All time (by default); to change the search time, you can utilize the Splunk time picker.
Starting from the left, we have the following:
The number of events matched by the base search. Technically, this may not be the number of results pulled from disk, depending on your search. Also, if your query uses commands, this number may not match what is shown in the event listing.
Job: This opens the Search job inspector window, which provides very detailed information about the query that was run.
Pause: This causes the current search to stop locating events but keeps the job open. This is useful if you want to inspect the current results to determine whether you want to continue a long running search.
Stop: This stops the execution of the current search but keeps the results generated so far. This is useful when you have found enough and want to inspect or share the results found so far.
Share: This shares the search job. This option extends the job's lifetime to seven days and sets the read permissions to everyone.
Print: This formats the page for printing and instructs the browser to print.
Smart Mode: This controls the search experience. You can set it to speed up searches by cutting down on the event data it returns and, additionally, by reducing the number of fields that Splunk will extract by default from the data (Fast mode). You can, otherwise, set it to return as much event information as possible (Verbose mode). In Smart mode (the default setting) it toggles search behavior based on the type of search you're running.
Along with providing a quick overview of the event distribution over a period of time, the timeline is also a very useful tool for selecting sections of time. Placing the pointer over the timeline displays a pop-up for the number of events in that slice of time. Clicking on the timeline selects the events for a particular slice of time.
Clicking and dragging selects a range of time.
Once you have selected a period of time, clicking on Zoom to selection changes the time frame and reruns the search for that specific slice of time. Repeating this process is an effective way to drill down to specific events.
Zoom out changes the window of time to a larger period around the events in the current time frame
The field list contains two lists:
Above the field list are two links: Hide Fields and All Fields.
Hide Fields: Hides the field list area from view.
All Fields: Takes you to the Selected Fields window.
As you can see in the previous screenshot, at the top of this section, we have the number of events displayed. When viewing all results in their raw form, this number will match the number above the timeline. This value can be changed either by making a selection on the timeline or by using other search commands.
Next, we have the action icons (described earlier) that affect these particular results.
Patterns streamlines the event pattern detection. It displays a list of the most common patterns among the set of events returned by your search. Each of these patterns represents the number of events that share a similar structure.
Statistics populates when you run a search with transforming commands such as stats, top, chart, and so on. The previous keyword search for error does not display any results in this tab because it does not have any transforming commands.
Visualization transforms searches and also populates the Visualization tab. The results area of the Visualization tab includes a chart and the statistics table used to generate the chart. Not all searches are eligible for visualization – a concept which will be covered later in Chapter 3, Tables, Charts, and Fields.
Beneath the timeline, (starting at the left) is a row of option links that include:
List: allows you to select an output option (Raw, List, or Table) for displaying the search results
Format: provides the ability to set Result display options, such as Show row numbers, Wrap results, the Max lines (to display) and Drilldown as on or off.
NN Per Page: is where you can indicate the number of results to show per page (10, 20, or 50).
To the right are options that you can use to choose a page of results, and to change the number of events per page.
Starting at the left, we have:
Event Details: Clicking here (indicated by the right facing arrow) opens the selected event, providing specific information about the event by type, field, and value, and allows you the ability to perform specific actions on a particular event field. In addition, Splunk version 6.2.0 offers a button labeled Event Actions to access workflow actions, a few of which are always available.
Build Eventtype: Event types are a way to name events that match a certain query. We will dive into event types in Chapter 7, Extending Search.
Extract Fields: This launches an interface for creating custom field extractions. We will cover field extraction in Chapter 3, Tables, Charts, and Fields.
Show Source: This pops up a window with a simulated view of the original source.
The event number: Raw search results are always returned in the order most recent first.
Next to appear are any workflow actions that have been configured. Workflow actions let you create new searches or links to other sites, using data from an event. We will discuss workflow actions in Chapter 7, Extending Search.
Next comes the parsed date from this event, displayed in the time zone selected by the user. This is an important and often confusing distinction. In most installations, everything is in one time zone—the servers, the user, and the events. When one of these three things is not in the same time zone as the others, things can get confusing. We will discuss time in great detail in Chapter 2, Understanding Search.
Next, we see the raw event itself. This is what Splunk saw as an event. With no help, Splunk can do a good job finding the date and breaking lines appropriately, but as we will see later, with a little help, event parsing can be more reliable and more efficient.
Below the event are the fields that were selected in the field picker. Clicking on the value adds the field value to the search.
Now that we've looked through all the widgets, let's use them to modify our search. First we will change our time. The default setting of All time is fine when there are few events, but when Splunk has been gathering events over a period time (perhaps for weeks or months), this is less than optimal. Let's change our search time to one hour.
If you know specifically when an event happened, you can drill down to whatever time range you want here. We will examine the other options in Chapter 2, Understanding Search.
The field picker is very useful for investigating and navigating data. Clicking on any field in the field picker pops open a panel with a wealth of information about that field in the results of your search.
Selected indicates if the field is a selected field.
Top values and Top values by time (allows referring to the Top 10 Values returned in the search) present graphs about the data in this search. This is a great way to dive into reporting and graphing. We will use this as a launching point later in Chapter 3, Tables, Charts, and Fields.
Rare Values displays the least common values of a field.
Show only Events with this field will modify the query to show only those events that have this field defined.
The Settings section, in a nutshell, is an interface for managing configuration files. The number of files and options in these configuration files is truly daunting, so the web interface concentrates on the most commonly used options across the different configuration types.
Splunk is controlled exclusively by plain text configuration files. Feel free to take a look at the configuration files that are being modified as you make changes in the admin interface. You will find them by hitting the following commands:
You may notice configuration files with the same name at different locations. We will cover in detail; the different configuration files, their purposes, and how these configurations merge together in Chapter 11, Configuring Splunk. Don't start modifying the configurations directly until you understand what they do and how they merge.
Clicking on Settings, on the top bar, takes you to the Settings page.
The options are organized into logical groupings, as follows:
Knowledge: Each of the links under Knowledge allows you to control one of the many object types that are used at search time. The following screenshot shows an example of one object type, workflow actions: Searches, reports, and alerts:
System: The options under this section control system-wide settings.
System settings covers network settings, the default location to store indexes, outbound e-mail server settings, and how much data Splunk logs about itself
Server controls contains a single page that lets you restart Splunk from the web interface
Licensing lets you add license files or configure Splunk as a slave to a Splunk license server
Forwarding and receiving: Splunk instances don't typically stand alone. Most installations consist of at least one Splunk indexer and many Splunk forwarders. Using this interface, you can configure each side of this relationship and more complicated setups (we will discuss this in more detail in Chapter 12, Advanced Deployments).
Indexes: An Index is essentially a datastore. Under the covers, it is simply a set of directories, created and managed by Splunk. For small installations, a single index is usually acceptable. For larger installations, using multiple indexes allows flexibility in security, retention, and performance tuning, as well as better use of hardware. We will discuss this further in Chapter 11, Configuring Splunk.
Report acceleration summaries: Accesses automatically-created summaries to speed up completion times for certain kinds of reports.
Distributed Environment: The three options here relate to distributed deployments (we will cover these options in detail in Chapter 12, Advanced Deployments):
Indexer clustering: Access to enabling and configuring Splunk Indexer clustering, which we will discuss later in Chapter 10, Summary Indexes and CSV Files.
Forwarder management: Access to the forwarder management UI distributes deployment apps to Splunk clients.
Distributed search: Any Splunk instance running searches can utilize itself and other Splunk instances to retrieve results. This interface allows you to configure access to other Splunk instances.
Access controls: This section is for controlling how Splunk authenticates users and what users are allowed to see and do. We will discuss this further in Chapter 11, Configuring Splunk.
In addition to the links, the Settings page also presents a panel on the left side of the page. This panel includes two icons Add Data and Distributed Management Console.
Add Data links to the Add Data page. This page presents you with three options for getting data into your Splunk Enterprise instance: Upload, Monitor, and Forward.
Distributed Management Console, where you can view detailed performance information about your Splunk Enterprise deployment.
As you have seen in this chapter, the Splunk GUI provides a rich interface for working with search results. We have really only scratched the surface and will cover more elements as we use them in later chapters.
In the next chapter, we will dive into the nuts and bolts of how search works, so that you can make efficient searches to populate the cool reports that we will make in Chapter 3, Tables, Charts, and Fields, and beyond.