Tracking network latency with SmokePing

I recently moved house, and since then my internets have been… flaky, at best. Ringing their customer service (yes, Virgin Media, you) is masochism at its purest, and I was repeatedly told that it was fine, no problems at all. (You do get to choose the hold music though!).

I decided to get some stats, and see how bad it really was. A quick bit of duckduckgo-ing revealed a few options: PingPlotter & MRTG, for example. But I went with SmokePing in the end.

Installation is as easy as:

sudo apt-get install smokeping

Which installs both the daemon that gathers the stats, and a website to look at pretty graphs. I found this handy dandy article about configuration, although a few things have changed in the latest version.

The config files can be found in /etc/smokeping/config.d. I updated the Targets file, and added a few hosts:

menu = Top
title = Network Latency Grapher
remark = Welcome to the SmokePing website of 'Graham\'s laptop. F*ck Virgin Media.\'

+ Local

menu = Local
title = Local Network

++ LocalMachine

menu = Local Machine
title = This host
host = localhost

+ UK

menu = UK
title = UK

++ BBC

menu = BBC
title = BBC
host =

++ Google

menu = Google
title = Google
host =

+ DotCom

menu = DotCom
title = DotCom

++ Google

menu = Google
title = Google
host =

++ Virgin

menu = Virgin
title = Virgin
host =

And bounced the daemon. Then it’s just a matter of going to: http://localhost/cgi-bin/smokeping.cgi, and waiting for the graphs to fill out a bit.

Graph of network latency

The bad news? All those spikes. Apparently it’s a “high utilisation” problem, and won’t be fixed for a while :(

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