Technical information, documentation ...
Network Traffic Accounting Daemon


The application is used for accounting of the network traffic passing through
your router/gateway. It is based on the libpcap library and functions as a
userspace daemon. Options for dividing the network traffic into 4 categories:
- international
- peering
- direct
- local
The traffic accounts are saved in a database, and for the time being MySQL
and Oracle are supported. As libpcap is used for gathering the network data
(for the moment) the application runs on the following operating systems:
- Linux
- FreeBSD
- OpenBSD
- Solaris
For more detailed information regarding a particular OS, please read the
FAQ file.

How it works:

Netacct functions by analogy with sniffer, i.e. it keeps track of all the
traffic passing through the network interfaces assigned by the configuration
file. Data are stored in the memory and periodically saved in the database.
The default data save period is 300 seconds (see option "flush" in the config


The best configuration for network traffic accounting is the accounting
software to work on your router. The software has 2 configuration files.
Please find below a description of the more important options:


sniff - can have a value of 0 or 1
0 - the network interfaces are not set in a promiscuous mode
1 - the network interfaces are set in a promiscuous mode

database - values mysql or oracle
mysql - work with MySQL database (specific mysql options are following):
mysql_user - user name for connection with the database
mysql_pass - password for the database
mysql_host - usually localhost but can work with a remote database
mysql_port - if the MySQL is on the same computer, it is recommendable the
to be equal to 0, which means that the connection will be made through a
mysql_database - the name of the database in which the data will be stored

oracle - work with ORACLE database
oracle_connect - user/host@database
oracle_home - /path/to/oracle/client/dir

compactnet - this option describes the networks on which you want the traffic
to be registered.
The assigning format is: compactnet network_address netmask
(example: compactnet The option can be
described in the configuration file more than once.

ournet - this option is used for local traffic accounting, or - in other
words - traffic between 2 interfaces of the router. In most cases ournet
coincides with the compactnet options. You can find more detailed information
in the configuration examples described below.

direct_peer - (network_address netmask) - you can use this option if an
additional local connection to another supplier is available, e. g.
backup line or if you have a local ftp whose traffic you would like to
register separately. However this is used in very rare cases.
Note: the option should be present at least once in the configuration
file. If you do not want to register such type of traffic, write down,
for example:

flush - the interval at which the data are saved in the database (in seconds)

device - network interface which will collect the traffic data.
It can be present for more than once in the configuration file.
Examples (Linux):
device eth1
device eth2
Examples (*BSD):
device rtk0
device sk0

ignorenet - (network_address netmask) - if you want to ignore traffic from
a particular network, use this option. The option can be present
for more than once in the configuration file.

(Only for advanced users)

pidfile - /path/to/ file. It gives you an opportunity to start
two or more processes of the program on one and the same computer.

errdelay - (times) this option allows you to configure the delaytime of the
writing attempt into the database when an error occurs. If an error occurs
when attempting to write into the database then netacct waits for
flush * errdelay time before the next writing attempt, i. e. if flush = 300
and errdelay = 3 then, in case of error, the next attempt will be in 900


The networks for the so-called peering are separated in a different file for
the sake of convenience as the networks can be refreshed periodically through
an Internet site or pulled out of BGP. killall -HUP nacctd will reload this
file in the memory.
The format is:




Please find some examples of a configuration file of the most common
network configurations:


eth0 - netmask
eth1 -
eth2 -
eth2:0 -

i. e. eth0 is the default gateway of eth1 - this is one network of IP addresses,
and eth2 - these are 2 networks. We want to register the traffic of network only, with mask
Note 1: here the example includes only the basic configuration things,
all the rest remains the same
Note 2: the IP addresses I use as examples are taken from private networks
but you should regard them just as networks and can replace them by any other
real networks. The important thing is for you to understand the location of
the networks by the interfaces and the way they are described in the config

device eth2

As you can see, we have 3 times the ournet option so that the traffic between: <-> <->
to be taken an account of as a local one for device eth2 as this is a physical
interface, libpcap registers the whole traffic having passed through it so that
the alias interfaces are not our concern. As I already said we do not want to
register direct_peer traffic but in order that the variable does not remain
uninitialized, we describe the IP and finally we ignore the whole
traffic towards the lo (loopback) interface.

the configuration is as in EXAMPLE 1 but we want to register the whole traffic
to private networks. Here is how the configuration changes:

device eth1
device eth2

As you can see, two more compactnet lines and one device line have been added
as is located on another network interface.


eth0 - netmask
eth1 -
eth1:0 -
eth2 -
eth2:0 -

i. e. eth0 is the default gateway on eth1 we have 2 networks of IPs and on
eth2 we have 2 networks. We want to register the whole traffic except on the network, on which we have put several local servers: - ftp server - game server 1 - game server 2 - game server 3
these are examples, the idea is that the traffic to these servers is only for
local clients and is not paid for or, for example, is paid for a very low fee.
we just want to register the free traffic. This is useful for sorting out the
clients which make much local traffic and (almost) no real traffic. Here is
the configuration:

device eth1
device eth2

As you can see, the only difference is that the network with the game servers
is in direct_peer and the traffic to it will be accounted in the direct traffic
column. The network is NOT present in compactnet because traffic will be
registered _FROM_ IP addresses in compactnet _TO_ IP addresses in direct_peer.


Configuration when a proxy server is used
IMPORTANT: the software will read correctly ONLY if the proxy is adjusted to
run as a TRANSPARENT proxy. Otherwise, as the whole traffic passes through it
(adjustments of the client's browser have been made) always, either source ip
or destination ip is the proxy server, there is no way the type of traffic to
be recognized. The traffic is not properly registered again but all of it will
fall either into the international, or the peering, or the direct. Therefore,
the best decision is no adjustments to be made to the user, and the traffic to
be redirected with iptables (ipf,pf) to the IP address and port of the proxy

eth0 - netmask
eth1 -

the proxy server works on the same computer on port 3128

# iptables configuration
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -s -d 0/0 -p tcp -m multiport --dport 80,21,8080 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3128
# pf configuration
rdr on fxp0 inet proto tcp to port 80 -> port 8080

device eth1

As you can see, the configuration is simple.

Technical details:

The summed-up values for the last hour for each IP are recorded in the
database, i.e. if the interval for recording is 300 seconds, netacct checks
whether there is a record for the current hour and date for this IP in the
database. If not, it will INSERT a new field in the database with the
currently gathered information about the traffic, and if there is already
such a record, it will add the gathered information up to the current moment,
and will save it into the database.

The records for a particular IP address in the database look like this:

hour international peering direct local
in out in out in out in out
|08:00| 5,164,960 498,371 | 824,024 240,049 | 125,155 76,058 |260,853 0 |
|09:00| 8,794,618 710,045 |1,354,427 413,418| 1,488 1,033 |326,594 0 |
|10:00| 1,324,960 434,371 | 824,024 240,049 | 125,155 76,058 |260,853 0 |
|11:00| 2,164,960 128,344 | 434,323 233,144 | 231,225 67,831 |120,742 0 |
|12:00| 111,141 122,222 | 846,111 988,865 | 235,001 43,433 |311,143 0 | +-----+-------------------+-----------------+----------------+----------+

The only restriction for the traffic quantity is the following:
the traffic quantity account for the period of recording (let's say 300 seconds)
should not exceed 4 GB. If you experience such a HUGE network load
(I suppose it's possible with 10Gbit networks), it is recommendable for you to
decrease the flush value.

Usage (for advanced users):

You can control netacct by sending control signals with the command "kill".
Basically you will need to use 3 signals:

HUP - reloads the nacctpeering file. Useful when frequently changing the
peering networks
TSTP - does not allow the traffic to be recorded in the database
CONT - allows the traffic to be recorded in the database

TSTP and CONT are useful with upgrading or automatic archiving of the SQL bases


killall -TSTP nacctd
here_make archives_of what_is to_be_archived_or_upgraded
killall -CONT nacctd

Updating the peering file (for Bulgaria):

lynx -dump > /tmp/bgn
cat /tmp/bgn |grep -v "/AS"|grep -v "255.255"|grep "]AS"|awk '{print $2}' > /usr/local/etc/nacctpeering
rm -f /tmp/bgn
killall -HUP nacctd

In the contrib/ directory you can find lists of networks for particular
countries which most probably are outdated. If the networks for your country
are not available there, you can send them to me so that they are added.

More detailed technical information:

This is how the software checks which type of traffic each packet falls into:

0. checks if src_ip or dst_ip of the packet coincides with any of the
networks in the compactnet, if not - this packet is ignored
1. checks if src_ip or dst_ip of the packet coincides with any of the
networks in the ournet, if yes - then the packet is recorded as local
and the check continues with the next packet
2. checks if src_ip or dst_ip of the packet coincides with any of the
networks in the direct_peer .., if yes - then the packet is recorded as
direct and the check continues with the next packet
3. checks if src_ip or dst_ip of the packet coincides with any of the
networks in the nacctpeering file .., if yes - then the packet is recorded
as peering and the check continues with the next packet
4. if the packet has not fallen in any of the categories from 1 to 3,
it is recorded as international

Do not end the application with the kill-9 signal because you will lose the
data account since the latest record in the database till the kill moment.
It is recommendable that you end it with the TERM signal. In this case the
latest data account will be automatically recorded in the database before
the application ends.

Nikolay Hristov