Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Using a raspberry-pi as a UPS server with nut

In this post we will try to install the Network UPS tools on a Raspberry-Pi device, attach a USB connected UPS and use it as a UPS server that will allow all machines sharing the same UPS to shut-down correctly when the UPS runs out of power. Our server will look after two clients; one running EL5 and the other openSUSE 11.4.

At the end of the post we will demonstrate how easy it is to set up your clients once the server is up and running and provide additional instructions for setting up the client software on Fedora 18 and EL6.

Update 2014-02-02: Meanwhile things here at the office have changed. The openSUSE machine is now gone and has been replaced by one running Debian 7. I have now revised the client setup guides for Fedora and EL5, 6 and I also have added one for Debian. The openSUSE "howto" is left as is but I can no longer verify if it works or not :) ..

Server Setup

Before we begin I would like to confess that my first attempt to install a no-name made in China UPS resulted to total failure, so eventually I got an expensive APC BackUPS Pro, that worked without any problems from the beginning, so unless your UPS is one supported by the UPS network tools project drivers, don't even try to follow the tutorial.

A second remark, is that if you are following the tutorial as the standard pi user you will need to prefix almost all commands with sudo. To become root on a standard Raspbian and follow along, you will need to issue sudo su-. (Thanks Derek for pointing it out)

root@raspbx:~# apt-get install nut-client nut-server
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
Suggested packages:
  nut-cgi nut-snmp nut-dev nut-xml
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libupsclient1 nut-client nut-server
0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 1,583 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3,217 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
Get:1 wheezy/main libupsclient1 armhf 2.6.4-2.3 [106 kB]
Get:2 wheezy/main nut-client armhf 2.6.4-2.3 [191 kB]
Get:3 wheezy/main nut-server armhf 2.6.4-2.3 [1,286 kB]
Fetched 1,583 kB in 2s (562 kB/s)     
debconf: delaying package configuration, since apt-utils is not installed
Selecting previously unselected package libupsclient1.
(Reading database ... 37855 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libupsclient1 (from .../libupsclient1_2.6.4-2.3_armhf.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package nut-client.
Unpacking nut-client (from .../nut-client_2.6.4-2.3_armhf.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package nut-server.
Unpacking nut-server (from .../nut-server_2.6.4-2.3_armhf.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up libupsclient1 (2.6.4-2.3) ...
Setting up nut-client (2.6.4-2.3) ...
[info] nut-client disabled, please adjust the configuration to your needs.
[info] Then set MODE to a suitable value in /etc/nut/nut.conf to enable it.
Setting up nut-server (2.6.4-2.3) ...
[info] nut-server disabled, please adjust the configuration to your needs.
[info] Then set MODE to a suitable value in /etc/nut/nut.conf to enable it.

Don't worry about the nut-server information we shall deal with it later on. Now an optional step that will allow us to to use the lsusb utility will be to install the usbutils package, assuming that it is not already there. So:

root@raspbx:~# apt-get install usbutils

.. and then -- blame me for my Windows habits, I firmly suggest a reboot. When the system is back on, we will make sure that out USB device is nιcely plugged in...

root@raspbx:~# lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0424:9512 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0424:ec00 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 051d:0002 American Power Conversion Uninterruptible Power Supply

Our UPS is there so let's set up the driver for the nut server. Open file /etc/nut/ups.conf and append the following lines at the end.

        driver = usbhid-ups
        port = auto
        desc = "APC Back UPS Pro 1200VA supporting the two network servers"

You can name your ups anything you like, as far as the driver is concerned my advice is to browse through the official Network UPS Tools drivers list.

Setting up the UPS name and driver is not enough. I have not tested this on any other Debian box, but on raspberry-pi we need an extra step in order to create the /var/run/nut folder and set correct permissions to it.

root@raspbx:~# mkdir /var/run/nut
root@raspbx:~# chown root.nut /var/run/nut/
root@raspbx:~# chmod 770 /var/run/nut/

Now we are ready to test the UPS driver.

root@raspbx:~# upsdrvctl start
Network UPS Tools - UPS driver controller 2.6.4
Network UPS Tools - Generic HID driver 0.37 (2.6.4)
USB communication driver 0.31
Using subdriver: APC HID 0.95

Our next step will be to configure upsd and upsmon. The network UPS tools design dictates that upsd communicates with the UPS driver that we just started and upsmon communicates with upsd and actually shuts down the machine in the event of a power failure. By providing this extra level of indirection, nut allows for multiple instances of upsmon to run on different machines. That way they can allow share the same physical UPS and this is what we said that we are going to demonstrate in this posting.

So to enable accessing the upsd via the network, edit the file /etc/nut/upsd.conf and place the following LISTEN directives.

LISTEN 3493, is my pi's IP address -- replace that with your own. Next, we will need to add some kind of security and the next file that we will need to tamper with will be the /etc/nut/upsd.users. Edit it with your text editor and set up the following users

        password = myadmpass
        actions = SET
        instcmds = ALL

# --- Configuring for a user who can execute tests only
        password  = pass  
        instcmds  = test.battery.start
        instcmds  = test.battery.stop

# --- Configuring for upsmon
# To add a user for your upsmon, use this example:
        password  = local_pass
        upsmon master
        password  = remote_pass
        upsmon slave

Finally the local UPS monitor daemon will need to specify the UPS to monitor and the user credentials from upsd.users file. Open the /etc/nut/upsmon.conf file, locate the monitor section and add the following line:

MONITOR apc1200@localhost 1 upsmon_local local_pass master 

The number 1 after the ups name and host is the power value. The man page for upsd states clearly that:

The "current overall power value" is the sum of all UPSes that are currently able to supply power to the system hosting upsmon. Any UPS that is either on line or just on battery contributes to this number. If a UPS is critical (on battery and low battery) or has been put into "forced shutdown" mode, it no longer contributes.
A "power value" on a MONITOR line in the config file is the number of power supplies that the UPS runs on the current system.

Final steps: Open the /etc/nut/nut.conf file and change the value of Mode to netserver -- making sure that there are no spaces between each side of the = sign. (See NOTE at end of file) and issue the following commands:

root@raspbx:/etc/nut# service nut-server start
[ ok ] Starting NUT - power devices information server and drivers:  driver(s). upsd.
root@raspbx:/etc/nut# service nut-client start
[ ok ] Starting NUT - power device monitor and shutdown controller: nut-client.

As a last check, verify that both services will start automatically on system (using the update-rc.d command) reboot and yes, our server is ready! ...

root@raspbx:~# ps -ef | grep ups
nut       3275     1  0 Apr09 ?        00:08:24 /lib/nut/usbhid-ups -a apc1200
nut       3278     1  0 Apr09 ?        00:00:19 /sbin/upsd
root      3312     1  0 Apr09 ?        00:00:00 /sbin/upsmon
nut       3314  3312  0 Apr09 ?        00:00:09 /sbin/upsmon
root      4721  4711  0 18:44 pts/1    00:00:00 grep ups


Client setup requires more or less three things: One will be to edit the nut.conf file and set the mode variable value to netclient. Next will be to place the correct MONITOR line in the upsmon.conf file and the third will be to start the upsmon daemon.


Our first client is an openSUSE 11.4 machine that I keep saying that I must upgrade. To install nut on openSUSE we need to issue the following command as root.

zypper install nut

openSUSE nut stores the configuration files /etc/ups. By the way the file /usr/share/doc/packages/nut/README.SUSE offer excellent detailed and precise information on how to do things right. So to get things started:

  • Add the line MODE=netclient at the end of the /etc/ups/nut.conf file
  • Add MONITOR apc1200@asterisk "UPS supporting the main Servers" to /etc/hosts.conf
  • Comment out any reference to any UPS at the end of /etc/ups/ups.conf
  • Add MONITOR apc1200@asterisk 1 upsom_remote remote_pass slave
  • Start the service with etc/init.d/upsd start. (The reload option can be used to reread updated configuration files
  • Finally change the system config so that the service starts every time you start your system using the following command: chkconfig upsd on

Reboot and verify :

atlas:~ # ps -ef | grep ups
root      2958     1  0 18:06 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/cupsd -C /etc/cups/cupsd.conf
root      3374     1  0 18:06 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/upsmon
upsd      3376  3374  0 18:06 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/upsmon
root      4776  4732  0 18:13 pts/0    00:00:00 grep ups

You might probably want to test the configuration and whether the upsmon daemon can shut-down your server, so go ahead and ...

atlas:~ # upsmon -c fsd
Network UPS Tools upsmon 2.6.0
Broadcast Message from upsd@atlas                                              
        (somewhere) at 13:57 ...                                               
Executing automatic power-fail shutdown                                        

Broadcast message from root@atlas (Wed Apr 10 13:57:06 2013):

The system is going down for system halt NOW!


Perhaps the easiest setup is on a Debian system. You only need four steps:

  1. Install just the client: sudo apt-get install nut-client.
  2. Edit the file/etc/nut/nut.conf and set the mode to netclient. MODE=netclient (mind that there must be no spaces around the equals sign).
  3. Add the monitor MONITOR apc900@xena 1 upsom_remote remote_pass slave command in the /etc/nut/upsmon.conf.
  4. Restart the nut-client service
    service nut-client restart
  5. Update the system to start the service automatically update-rc.d nut-client defaults

Fedora and CentOS versions 5 & 6

Fedora also stores the nut related data in /etc/ups. Again here we need to perform the three steps we mentioned before, but this time we will need to start the upsmon daemon by hand. So to set up our fedora box as a network client:

  • Install the software using yum install nut-client
  • Add MONITOR apc1200@asterisk 1 upsom_remote remote_pass slave
  • Add /usr/sbin/upsmon start in /etc/rc.d/rc.local to verify that the monitor program will start again after reboot.
    Note: On my Fedora 20 system the file was not present so I had to create it, turn it into a shell script by adding !/bin/sh at the first line and make it executable.


[thanassis@skymnos ~]$ ps -ef | grep upsmon
root      1898     1  0 17:37 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/upsmon start
nut       1900  1898  0 17:37 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/upsmon start
500       2142  2118  0 17:38 pts/0    00:00:00 grep upsmon

NUT Monitor

A very good GUI based tool to help test the ups servers. It can be easily installed using the package manager of your distribution -- just search for the nut-monitor package and after you install and run it, it looks like this:


Winnut is a Windows client, that runs as a 32bit service on Windows 7. The project has not been updated since February 24, 2011. I did install the software on a Windows machine but have not been able to do any serious testing. The program's configuration follows the same rules as the Linux clients. The only thing you have to is click the edit configuration file button

and then add the correct MONITOR Line in the upsmon.conf file that will appear loaded into notepad. On 64bit systems you will also need to change the line

NOTIFYCMD "\"c:\\Program Files\\WinNUT\\alertPopup.exe\""


NOTIFYCMD "\"c:\\Program Files (x86)\\WinNUT\\alertPopup.exe\""