You are here: Home > Publications > RIPE Labs > Daniel Karrenberg > RIPE Atlas Now on Five Continents

RIPE Atlas Now on Five Continents

Daniel Karrenberg — 30 Nov 2010
RIPE Atlas probes are now active on five continents. After the big run on the measurement probes during the recent RIPE Meeting, the deployment is a little slower than expected; but there is a steady stream of probes coming online. We expect to make our initial goal of 300 active probes well before the end of 2010. Probe hosts can win an iPad by keeping their probes up during December.

10 Days After the RIPE Meeting

10 days after the RIPE meeting we have about 300 RIPE Atlas probes distributed and 150 active and measuring: 

The number of requests exceeded our expectations by a fair margin and we distributed all the 240 probes we brought to Rome. However, the number of active probes today is slightly less than we expected at the RIPE meeting: RIPE Meeting Expectations
The slower deployment curve is of course a reality check for our enthusiastic optimism. On the other hand it is also a consequence of aiming for a wide geographic and topological spread. We have consciously given probes to hosts from afar rather than just from northern Europe. This map shows that we are doing quite well in terms of geographic spread and that indeed we have reached five of the six continents, or 6 of the 7 if you prefer separate Americas: RIPE Atlas World Map Up/Down 30NOV2010
And zooming into the RIPE NCC service region:
Asking around has revealed that some probe hosts have just not gotten home yet, or have not yet visited the sites at which they intend to deploy the probes. We have not heard about any significant problems with installing the probes or with taking measurements. So we expect the green curve to continue steadily upwards. 
You can visit to view the zoomable map which is updated hourly. Note that most of the probes that are shown as "Down" on the map are in fact happily taking measurements. We are working to eradicate some bugs and improve the accuracy of reporting and the maps. 

100 More Probes

We will shortly distribute 100 more probes to hosts who pre-registered earlier. Although requests are highly concentrated we will aim for an even distribution again: RIPE Atlas Preregistration World Map 30NOV2010


1000 More Probes

We are currently working with our hardware manufacturer to obtain 1000 or more additional probes in order to satisfy demand. Stay tuned if you have requested a probe. 

1 iPad For You ?!! 

And if you already have a probe, please keep your promise and get it online. As promised by us, all hosts of a probe that is taking measurements in December 2010 will have a chance to win an iPad. The drawing will be in January and your chances are proportional to the up-time of your probes.


Anonymous says:
01 Dec, 2010 09:02 PM
Just to share some experiences getting probes installed: I pre-registered for two probes (one for home, one for the office), and picked them up in Rome, no problem. Getting them installed turned out to be a little more subtle than expected, though!

The probe at home was the first one I got working. The challenge here was hardware: The ISP my gateway provides simply has no ethernet ports! (It offers only 802.11.) Luckily, I had a spare DD-WRT enabled router handy, so I was able to configure it "backwards", using 802.11 as an uplink, NATted to the ethernet ports as downlink. Once I got that set up, I plugged the USB end of the ATLAS probe into an iPhone charger block and ran an ethernet cable to the DD-WRT, and the probe showed as "Up" on within a few minutes. In summary:

The issue at the office was more one of policy. Corporate IT policy forbids any devices that don't come through official channels from being connected to the internal network, and IT wasn't willing to set up an external LAN with it's own DHCP server just to run a single probe. It was a couple of weeks before I realized that we also have an external-facing visitor network (with DHCP); the probe is now wired in there and happily measuring away.

So at least for now, I've got two green triangles on the map!
Anonymous says:
22 Dec, 2010 01:12 PM
My experience on the uptime measurements is a bit strange.
I pluged my probe directly into my router, a Draytek Vigor 2130n, and left it alone untill now.
While my router says the uptime is 25 days, when I look at my probe on the atlas site, it has had a dozen disconnects allready.
My router's log does not show any disconnects, nor does my own monitoring system.
I assume some of them were caused by firmware upgrades by RIPE, others because of perhaps config changes as I saw a new controler has been deployed early December, but I cannot explain the other disconnects. So the measurements are not as stable as my own measurements.
And offcourse I want to win the Ipad :-)
Anonymous says:
16 Aug, 2011 12:07 PM
Hi Antoin,

there are indeed some instabilities with some of probes. We do not
know the reasons for these yet. In your case we suspect that the Draytec
Vigor somehow blocks our traceroute measurements. We have seen this
with other probes behind these routers as well. Of course this should not make the probe flap, but it does. We are investigating. In addition we had other problems as reported in the message to the ripe-atlas mailing list before:

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 14:57:46 +0100
From: Daniel Karrenberg
To: Robert Kisteleki
Cc: Harald Firing Karlsen, ripe-atlas
Subject: Re: [atlas]Probe flapping

Intermediate update to keep those interested informed.
I am writing this to keep the engineers free to work
the problem. I do not know nitty gritty details, so
this is a general overview.

No conclusions yet.


After registering with the RIPE Atlas network the probes are connected
to "controllers" that handle requests to/from the probes. The
architecture allows probes to use any controller in the system. Probes
are distributed among controllers according to geographic and load
balancing heuristics at the moment. We have four controllers at the

1 in Germany on a dedicated server: jonin
1 in the US on a dedicated server: carson
2 in NL on RIPE NCC VMs: caldwell and zelenka

You can see the number of probes associated with each controller and
some other details on

This page is updated hourly.

What happened:

This morning zelenka was in standby and ronin started disassociating
probes in a massive way. We do not know the root cause of this.
The most likely cause so far is a connectivity problem but we are
investigating with an open mind.

The system reacted as designed and the probes dropped by ronin started
to register with caldwell. Unfortunately caldwell became overloaded by
this both because of its physical limitations and because of an
unfortunate database configuration error.

Probes associated to carson were not affected.

What we are doing:

We brought up Zelenka but as Murphy dictates the RIPE NCC firewall
prevented probes from reaching it. This has been fixed and zelenka is
now picking up probes.

We are working hard to fix a lot of minor problems uncovered by this and to get all probes re-connected and their data backlog processed.

What we have learned so far:

We need a larger safety margin in the capacity of the controllers vs the
number of deployed probes. We will start moving caldwell and zelenka
onto physical machines outside of firewalls and other complications.

We also need to exercise moving probes among controllers and verify that
the safety margin exists in reality.

Personally I regard all this as normal teething problems in a
distributed computing deployment. So far the architecture is holding up
well. Just the implementation has some flaws. Please bear with us.

If anyone has suggestions for high quality hosting of controllers in the
RIPE region, please drop me and Robert a private mail.

Add comment

You can add a comment by filling out the form below. Comments are moderated so they won't appear immediately. If you have a RIPE NCC Access account, we would like you to log in.