Higher Edu - Research dev card
Development from the higher education and research community
  • Creation or important update: 20/03/12
  • Minor correction: 20/03/12

HINTS : network on demand diagnostic tool

This software was developed (or is under development) within the higher education and research community. Its stability can vary (see fields below) and its working state is not guaranteed.


General software features

HINTS is a tool that provides quick network troubleshooting between two "probes", which are usually installed in remote geographical locations.
Although HINTS was primarily designed to diagnose potential network problems between two nodes of a grid, it is completely usable in a classical context, between two standard sites not involved in a grid infrastructure.

Historically, HINTS was born as part of the european project Enabling Grids for E-sciencE - EGEE, and continues today its evolution within the European Grid Infrastructure - EGI. HINTS is developed and maintained by CNRS, partner of France Grilles, the French National Grid Initiative and GARR, partner of the Italian Grid Initiative.

HINTS allows a user, from a centralized web interface, to initiate basic network tests between two specific agents (probes) previously deployed within local networks one want to qualify the link.

The qualification of the network between two probes is done through the following traditional system tools:

  • Ping
  • Traceroute,
  • Nmap,
  • DNS Resolution,
  • Iperf.

The main benefits of HINTS are:

  • A user may (subject to accreditation) test the quality of the network between its site and another site without involving an administrator of that other site,
  • All tests are symmetric (made in both directions between the selected probes),
  • Direct access to the probes (and thus access to the various diagnostic tools) is not possible, everything is done only via a centralized interface,
  • Fine and flexible user management (certification, delegation of rights),
  • The probes are based on those proposed by the well known PerfSONAR project.
Context in which the software is used

HINTS becomes useful when a user wants to diagnose the network between two sites without involving a network administrator and above all without disturbing the network administrator at the remote site.

If HINTS highlights some dysfunction between these two sites, network administrators will then not be disturbed for nothing.

If HINTS finds no problem, then the problems faced by users are likely not due to the network and is the reason to be searched elsewhere (application layers).

Today, HINTS is available in Scientific Linux 6.x RPM format.

Publications related to the software

  • Presentation at the EGI Technical forum, Lyon, September 2011
  • Poster for the EGI Community Forum, Munich, March 2012