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OpenNMS Celebrates 10 Years

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the aged-in-oak-barrels dept.

Open Source 37

mjhuot writes "Quite often is it claimed that pure open source projects can't survive, much less grow and create robust code. One counter example of this is OpenNMS, the world's first enterprise-grade network management application platform developed under the open source model. Registered on 30 March 2000 as project 4141 on Sourceforge, today the gang threw a little party, with members virtually attending from around the world. With the right business savvy and a great community, it is possible to both remain 100% free and open source while creating enough value to make a good living at it."

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i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (0)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#31679594)

Quite often is it claimed that pure open source projects can't survive, much less grow and create robust code

Who, exactly, claims this?

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31679766)

Basically everyone who has seen the hundreds of thousands of dead open source projects at Freshmeat, Sourceforge and Google Code.

There are a very small number of truly successful open source projects. Most projects, regardless of whether they're open source or not, don't succeed. To think otherwise is foolish.

Depends upon your definition of success (1, Insightful)

laing (303349) | more than 4 years ago | (#31679942)

All of those projects have code in them that solves specific problems. The 'dead' projects are still a valuable resource for anyone who is developing GPL code since they can freely use the 'dead' code in their project.

Re:Depends upon your definition of success (3, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31681880)

Mmmm, soylent source. Now with 15% more dead code.

Re:Depends upon your definition of success (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31689532)

All of those projects have code in them that solves specific problems.

No, seriously.

Most of those projects have little or no code in them and died before they were ever useful to anyone. Many of them have some or even lots of code and were still never useful. And some of them have enough code that was good enough to solve a problem that was better solved by another project.

Very few of them are 'successful' in the classic sense of the term - meaning useful for an extended period of time to a reasonable number of folks.

More than a few were 'successful' in scratching an itch someone had. And while that is one measure of success, I don't think it is what the GP meant.

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (2, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31679946)

You don't have to be successful to survive.

I have a few "projects" out on Mathwork's site. [mathworks.com] I wouldn't call them full fledged "projects" but snippets of functionality that saved myself a ton of time and now they're hopefully saving other people time.

BSD licensed, anyone can do with the code what they want, if I die tomorrow the code will still survive without me. (Hline and Vline are probably the two functions that should be built in, but they were uploaded and last updated in 2001.)

I've found a ton of nifty projects at github that maybe didn't do what I wanted, but had pieces of code I used. It's what motivated me to get one myself. Until github goes under, anyone who wants to see how I've implemented my bashrc scripts can. Just like I borrowed code from someone else's bashrc project. Sounds 'survived' to me.

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680114)

The summary made it clear (at least to me) that by "survive" they meant "make money". "Survive" doesn't mean "out there on the internet to download", at least not in this context.

In short, creating a business around a pure open source project is hard.

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (3, Insightful)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680472)

By a parallel argument, I could point at the vast litany of failed dot-com enterprises and conclude that "Internet entrepreneurial ventures can't survive, much less grow and create successful websites."

The point is We're not really concerned with the average outcome here. If the bottom 99% of FOSS projects are failures and the top 1% are unmitigated successes, we can't really characterize FOSS as 99% fail.

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31685282)

More on the same level, I'd like to see data on the number of proprietary projects that get started and never make it to market.

Re:i had no idea my GNU tools were so rinkadink (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 4 years ago | (#31690414)

Or,for that matter, the number of in-house development or integration projects that fall short of delivering on requirements.

But this illustrates the point made above. It's characteristic that most projects, regardless of whether they're open source or not, don't succeed. We just can't know about all of them as readily as we can the open source ones.

10 years? (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31679962)

So by traditional open source versioning... they should be... almost to 1.0 by now?

Re:10 years? (1)

agrif (960591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31681082)

I do understand where this confusion comes from, I really do, but is it so hard for people to wrap their minds around the idea of arbitrary version numbers? Because that's what they always are. Version numbers are arbitrarily chosen. Most commercial software will bump it up at meaningless times to get more money because 2.0 is better somehow than 1.0. Bigger numbers mean better, right? If software A is version 2.1, and software B is version 3.3, then B must be better, right? RIGHT?

(Of course, this would mean that emacs, at a lofty 23.1, is the best damned text editor/IDE/operating system/kitchen sink in the world. No arguments here! :P )

Most open source software follows this versioning scheme, or a variation of it, that actually makes sense and provides information: x.y.z. The same x means the two versions are fundamentally the same: there has been no rewrites or major restructuring. 0 usually is a special case, and means the structure isn't set in stone yet and could change before 1.0.0. y usually indicates different major releases, with new features and such. A lot of projects follow the Linux kernel here, where even numbers are stable releases while odd numbers are unstable. z usually only changes for bugfixes, and no new features.

The advantage to this system is that it's easy to tell the likely amount of change between two versions. The downside is that projects can stay in 0.y.z land for ages, and a 2.2.0 can have many more features than 2.0.0, even though it may not seem obvious to the uninformed. Also, 2.12.0 is a later version than 2.2.0, because 12 > 2, though this conflicts with intuitive decimal orderings... but really, who ever saw a number with two decimal places?

The system is weird and unintuitive to outsiders, but historically traditional and informative to those in the know. Everyone should just get over it and know that version numbers are arbitrary and should not be taken as a sign of quality.

Re:10 years? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31682074)

I do understand where this confusion comes from, I really do, but is it so hard for people to wrap their minds around the idea of arbitrary version numbers? ... Bigger numbers mean better, right?

Let me introduce you to the basic concept of 11 [youtube.com] . Yes, bigger numbers are better (unless they're your /. ID, and then smaller numbers are better).

Re:10 years? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31683018)

Actually, Emacs is technically 1.23.1. They dropped the leading 1 back in the 80s as they figured they would never need a second major version.

Re:10 years? (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31684832)

I do understand where this confusion comes from, I really do, but is it so hard for people to wrap their minds around the idea of arbitrary version numbers? Because that's what they always are. Version numbers are arbitrarily chosen. Most commercial software will bump it up at meaningless times to get more money because 2.0 is better somehow than 1.0. Bigger numbers mean better, right? If software A is version 2.1, and software B is version 3.3, then B must be better, right? RIGHT?

(Of course, this would mean that emacs, at a lofty 23.1, is the best damned text editor/IDE/operating system/kitchen sink in the world. No arguments here! :P )

Most open source software follows this versioning scheme, or a variation of it, that actually makes sense and provides information: x.y.z. The same x means the two versions are fundamentally the same: there has been no rewrites or major restructuring. 0 usually is a special case, and means the structure isn't set in stone yet and could change before 1.0.0. y usually indicates different major releases, with new features and such. A lot of projects follow the Linux kernel here, where even numbers are stable releases while odd numbers are unstable. z usually only changes for bugfixes, and no new features.

The advantage to this system is that it's easy to tell the likely amount of change between two versions. The downside is that projects can stay in 0.y.z land for ages, and a 2.2.0 can have many more features than 2.0.0, even though it may not seem obvious to the uninformed. Also, 2.12.0 is a later version than 2.2.0, because 12 > 2, though this conflicts with intuitive decimal orderings... but really, who ever saw a number with two decimal places?

The system is weird and unintuitive to outsiders, but historically traditional and informative to those in the know. Everyone should just get over it and know that version numbers are arbitrary and should not be taken as a sign of quality.

Then the best pager is obviously less ----

less --version

less 394
Copyright (C) 1984-2005 Mark Nudelman

less comes with NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
For information about the terms of redistribution,
see the file named README in the less distribution.
Homepage: http://www.greenwoodsoftware.com/less [greenwoodsoftware.com]

Re:10 years? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31687330)

People mix up versioning schemes quite often, because they think that there are only three version number levels. When really there are four, and most projects choose to compress them to three. (Often not at the exact level boundaries.)

Everybody knows the major and minor version. And most also know the patch level. E.g. 1.10.753.
But there is one level that is bigger than the major version. It is the same one, that is the number in “SomeMovie 2” or “Doom 3“. One could call it the “generation”. It’s a level that shows the number of events that a comparable to complete rewrites. (And every project without exception needs those, after some time. Or it will end up like Windows ME.)

So this 1.0 after 10 years, is more like this complete rewrite thing. Where you start completely over with your thoughts and goals.
One could say that many 1.0 closed source projects are very comparable to 0.1 or maybe 0.33 in open source projects. They are certainly not on the same completeness level as 1.0 open source projects. Which is logical, with them having to be only good enough to make money. Which developers in open source projects want to get it done right and make it perfect. (In their own eyes / ideals.)

Well.. (4, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680240)

OpenNMS never really seemed "enterprise-grade" to me. Yeah, it does a lot, but it takes a lot to get it to do so. New code is not always up to par, and you get a bunch of caveats with almost every feature of the application. If you've got a nerd-in-the-basement type who you can dedicate to building and maintaining the NMS, then you might be fine, but you won't have any account manager at the other end to yell at when things cease to function. Personally I believe that the NMS should exist to lessen the load of network upkeep, not introduce even more upkeep.

Re:Well.. (4, Informative)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680494)

(Disclaimer: I'm one of the OpenNMS developers.)

Depends on what you do in your enterprise. OpenNMS does a lot of useful stuff out of the box, but is a platform first, and an application second. OpenNMS's biggest strength is the breadth of ways to integrate it with other tools, and huge scalability (we have installations collecting millions of data points every 5 minutes, and monitoring devices with 50k interfaces each without breaking a sweat, replacing failing OpenView installations in large telcos). New features are new features, and we're pretty conservative in the scope of features that get put into the even (stable) releases. If you're running unstable, well, they're new features, and sometimes there are bugs... All a part of developing in the fish bowl.

And you don't need an account manager at the other end to yell at when you can get immediate support from someone with intimate knowledge of the system, that's how we've survived as a company while remaining true to being 100% open source software. No BS, just support which is all "level 3." Not that we typically have things that just cease to function without provocation, but without a bug report it's hard to answer that particular comment. ;)

Re:Well.. (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31683918)

The summary claims "... while creating enough value to make a good living at it." As there is no article to read, I gather that the making a good living comes from the services offered at http://www.opennms.com/ [opennms.com] ? Does the group publish any revenue numbers, or just "we're doing well"? The pricing page certainly has some healthy prices, that's for sure!

Re:Well.. (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 4 years ago | (#31692842)

I don't do the books, so I don't know the revenue numbers, but I know we're profitable, and so far profit is always turned around into more growth -- generally developers or support.

As for our prices, we don't charge for software licenses at all, so we're infinitely less expensive than the big guys in that regard. ;)

When it comes to support, ours is insanely cheap compared to HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, or any of the other big players we compete with, especially when you scale up. Of course, you can't comparison shop because HP and IBM and their like hide their (per-node) licensing and support prices behind channel partners and "have a salesperson call you," generally billing small customers with no clout a multiple per license what they charge for large customers for "volume discounts," despite the fact that it doesn't matter to the software itself how many nodes there are.

If you don't need support, OpenNMS is free, and always will be. Many people don't need it; there's a healthy community who can help. But the people who work for the .com side of things have been in network management for years, and if you want help on how to solve a particular monitoring problem, or want someone to call for help if something goes wrong, that's how we continue to be able to pay people full-time to make OpenNMS better.

Re:Well.. (2, Insightful)

jgehlbach (1072156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680590)

Network management is hard. It's a part of the design that the effort is front-loaded: if you plan ahead and organize what gets monitored and collected according to rules, then the effort involved in adding nodes down the road approaches zero. It's an approach that doesn't make sense for everybody's environment, and you should absolutely use what works for you. All kinds of people find that OpenNMS works for them; a few who have written up their stories are listed here: http://www.opennms.org/wiki/OBP [opennms.org] As for having somebody "to yell at", The OpenNMS Group sponsors the project and provides support, consulting, training, and custom development for OpenNMS; check opennms.com for details (disclosure: I'm an employee). We make two promises about OpenNMS: 1. It will never suck 2. It will always be Free (as in Freedom)

Re:Well.. (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680702)

Jinx!

Re:Well.. (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31683568)

I knew it! A three digit slashdot ID. They really do exist!

Re:Well.. (1)

martin (1336) | more than 4 years ago | (#31684354)

only 4 digit ones are worth anything :-)

Re:Well.. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31685648)

Damn, that's my 5-digit one undercut.
Are there any 6-digit, or even 7-digit /. IDs out there to overwhelm us?

Re:Well.. (3, Insightful)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31680868)

Yeah, it does a lot, but it takes a lot to get it to do so.

Sounds exactly like "enterprise-grade" to me.

New code is not always up to par

What? You mean in the development branch?

Re:Well.. (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31681510)

And how exactly does this differ from commercial network monitoring programs? Other than not costing an obscene amount of money of course.

Re:Well.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31682394)

It doesn't suck :-)

Re:Well.. (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31684660)

And how exactly does this differ from commercial network monitoring programs? Other than not costing an obscene amount of money of course.

It isn't GPL licensed. We all know that when it comes to software, there's only really one thing that matters. Right, Comrades? ;)

Customization (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31690390)

As a user of OpenNMS currently, I can give you a major item. Customization. Many commercial packages allow customized polls and traps receivers, but you have to pay to get them done. I can create customized checks using wmi, snmp, jmx, snmp traps, or using clients like Nagios' nrpe without needing the manufacturer to do anything. I monitor everything from applications (Java and web apps), environmental, network devices, and system resource stats all from the same instance of OpenNMS. Helps to keep alerts all int he same place and graphs all in the same place.

10 years on Sourceforge (2, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 4 years ago | (#31681242)

It was around a few years before it moved to Sourceforge. If memory serves correct, at least 1998, if not older.

Re:10 years on Sourceforge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31681420)

Time to invest in ECC mem.

from TFA:

"As I have often mentioned, I didn’t start OpenNMS, so it was nice to have Brian Weaver, the original architect of the product, come out for the day. He told me that the project started on 1 July 1999, so it is actually several months older, but as we have a firm date on Sourceforge I figured we’d stick with that."

Re:10 years on Sourceforge (1)

Sortova (922179) | more than 4 years ago | (#31681902)

Click through to the blog post. One of the founders, Brian Weaver, was at the party. He puts the official date around 1 July 1999.

Congratulations, but ... (0)

hubertf (124995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31684016)

... what exactly is it? I've missed some striking reason to dig deeper on the webpage. Some showcase with examples, screenshots etc. may be in order to get people look into it. Also, an answer to the question how it relates to Nagios may be nice.

Keep up the good work!

  - Hubert

Re:Congratulations, but ... (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31684666)

I couldn't agree more. I went to the web page to see what it was and what it was capable of, and was met with a Wiki full of links. Just a few paragraphs of introduction would go a long way.

Re:Congratulations, but ... (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31693630)

The first section beneath the welcome section reads like this:

"New To OpenNMS? Start Here."
http://demo.opennms.org/opennms/ [opennms.org]
        * username: demo
        * password: demo

Much faster than reading marketing fluff.

"It is often claimed" (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31687176)

Quite often is it claimed that pure open source projects can't survive, much less grow and create robust code.

By who?

Wait, let me try that too:

Quite often is it claimed that mjhuot can’t get women, much less grow and sustain a robust boner.

Yay, I can make up every bullshit I like!!
Maybe I am the next “story” writer?

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