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Talk To a Successful Free Software Project Leader

Roblimo posted more than 11 years ago | from the making-netadmin's-lives-easier-all-over-the-world dept.

Programming 150

Nagios (formerly known as NetSaint) is a GPL network monitor software project that's been getting a lot of buzz lately among *Nix sysadmins. Nagios is unquestionably a free software success story even if it's not as high profile as Apache or Linux. Ethan Galstad leads the project. Perhaps he can tell us why Nagios has done so well, so that other free software projects can enjoy similar success. Usual Slashdot interview rules; post your question below, we'll email 10 of the highest-moderated questions to Ethan about 24 hours after this post appears, and publish his answers soon after he gets them back to us.

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I'd like to know (2, Interesting)

CrazyDwarf (529428) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945057)

What would you say the biggest challenge you have faced is, and how did you handle it?

Re:I'd like to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945199)

My biggest challenge was to go outside. But I couldn't handle it. All these ladies passing by, I creamed my pants. Not to mention all the bullies laughing at my pasty pale face. I chickened out, I had to run inside crying like a little girl. Watch out fellow nerds! The outside world is nothing like you've seen in StarTrek!

Re:I'd like to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945649)

This is FUNNY! Just goes to show you, pasty faced GPL (opps) GNU/GPL nut-cases 1.) make no money 2.) do not drive nice cars 3.) have no life AND 4.) NO SENSE OF HUMOR!!!!!!

Why do you like giving head? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945062)

And why haven't you called me?
And first post?


Failure Guy (627040) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945082)

This is not a first post! You have FAILED! She (or possibly he) hasnt called you because you are a FAILURE!


PS. Merry Christmas!

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945066)

In Soviet Russia, software leads you!

what it is (from the official site) (3, Funny)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945111)

Nagios® is a host and service monitor designed to inform you of network problems before your clients, end-users or managers do. It has been designed to run under the Linux operating system, but works fine under most *NIX variants as well. The monitoring daemon runs intermittent checks on hosts and services you specify using external "plugins" which return status information to Nagios. When problems are encountered, the daemon can send notifications out to administrative contacts in a variety of different ways (email, instant message, SMS, etc.). Current status information, historical logs, and reports can all be accessed via a web browser.

Does that mean it can predict when a Windows system tries to use my network before the enduser gets a bluescreen? Woah; that's impressive.

Re:what it is (from the official site) (4, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945244)

Current status information, historical logs, and reports can all be accessed via a web browser.

That's great for interactive use, but Nagios (along with Big Brother, and most other monitoring packages) doesn't seem to cater well to automating report generation from outside of a web browser. We need to generate weekly reports on the number of outages, etc., and would like to be able to schedule a cron job every Sunday night to say "get me the uptime stats for abc services, so I can put them into xyz reporting package". We need to take the raw data and calculate rolling averages, etc, to give to customers (we're contractully obliged to do so). I.e., the sort of reports we need are typically more complex than is reasonable to expect Nagios to do internally. Was the interactive bias a deliberate decision, or did it just evolve that way. More importantly, are there any plans to improve things in this area?

I was working on something like that (3, Interesting)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945372)

at my summer job.

There are several free services that do that. As for writing a report, just modify one of the cgi scripts to include your company name and junk and add a wget command to the cron script.

use it like this:
%wget -O report.html
=> `report.html'
Resolving flame... done.
Connecting to flame[]:3128... connected.
Proxy request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: unspecified [text/html] 45.34M/s

12:36:22 (45.34 MB/s) - `report.html' saved [47540]

I have a proxy server, and downloaded the startpage for my site, but the usage will be similar for your script. I also had to remove 'junk characters'; damn you lameness filter! Be sure to stream output to null so your daemon doesn't email you weekly.

I might be writing some php scripts to monitor uptime; email me if you would like a copy when they are complete.

Re:what it is (from the official site) (2)

mbogosian (537034) | more than 11 years ago | (#4946095)

Nagios...doesn't seem to cater well to automating report generation from outside of a web browser.

Out of the box (binary distrobutions), you're right, it doesn't. However, Nagios has an extension to store its logging information in a relational database (MySQL or PostgreSQL). It requires you to run configure and build from the sources. However, once done, this should make it a heckuva lot easier to generate reports using Perl DBI or PHP or something to extract the data from the rows. Here's the skinny on how to do this [] (from the "Advanced Topics" section of the Nagios Documentation [] ).

Re:what it is (from the official site) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945351)

Uhm no,
Read it again.

"Nagios® is a host and service monitor designed to inform you of network problems before your clients, end-users or managers do."

ie. You know about the problem before your phone rings.

Reading comprehension ... it's not just for the SAT.

Look at what the Parrot project does (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945112)

and do the opposite.

Re:Look at what the Parrot project does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945578)

and do the opposite.

Parrot project leadership is an antipattern!

Your Computer is Infected with "Melissa" Virus (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945132)

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In your opinion.. (2, Interesting)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945148)

what's the WORST security practice/vunerability/annoyance that's come out in the pasy year?

Re:In your opinion.. (2)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945183)

heh heh "Use the Preview Button!"

That should have been...

"In your opinion what's the WORST security practice/vunerability/annoyance that's come out in the past year?


Re:In your opinion.. (3, Informative)

sys$manager (25156) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945375)

You know that Netsaint/Nagios and SAINT/SATAN are not the same thing, don't you? Apparantly not. Netsaint/Nagios is a host monitoring system, SAINT/SATAN is a vulnerability scanner.

Versus other commercial apps (2, Interesting)

Sh0t (607838) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945156)

How does your product compare with similar commercial solutions?

Re:Versus other commercial apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945256)

That's a trivial question. He doesn't get paid. Thanks for asking!

Re:Versus other commercial apps (4, Interesting)

Thinko (615319) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945261)

In Specific, How does Nagios compare to recent commercial offerings like Microsoft's MOM and Novell's ManageWise / ZenWorks, Will Nagios have the Depth of Intelligence when it comes to Reporting, and tracking similar (or related) events as a single more-critical super-event?

Other items of note for comparison are issues like XML Output, I see that XML status data is planned for Version 3, what depth of information will be able to be queried/reported with XML?

Re:Versus other commercial apps (1)

Thinko (615319) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945470)

A couple more thoughts I had, were:

What future features for products like MOM will be implemented in Nagios, do you see any specific roles currently covered by SMS/MOM/OpenView/etc. that will eventually be done in Nagios?

Re:Versus other commercial apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4946115)

Um, for the record, as a long time user of nagios/netsaint, I do NOT have any use for xml status output. XML is, IMO, a VERY, VERY poor choice for a continuously updated info pipe like a status log. Using XML would entail a HUGE amount of continous overhead by comparison to using a file that isn't "self-documenting". Ie use of a very compact format is much preferable in this case to use of xml.

New paradigms for sucess metrics in an OSS world (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945173)

Thie headline: Talk To a Successful Free Software Project Leader made me wonder? What kind of metrics exist to analyze a free software project and determine whether or not it is successful? Certianly not sales, because the software is free..

I've thought of a couple of possibilities but, like everything, they have pros and cons:

First, we could measure the number of downloads or, perhaps more accurately, the amount of bandwith spent on downloads. This would be kind of a negative performance metric, in that more mney spent (and therefore lost, since no money is being paid for the software) is actually a metric of success! That boggles the mind in that the more money a free software project loses, the more successful it is! I don't think that will take off as a widely accepted metric however, fo obvious reasons. I also don't think it works, since many people may download open source software, fail to get it to perform properly, and simply never use it again, so the metrics would suffer from variance.

So, my second idea is to create a small piece of open source code that could be embedded in all open source software, perhaps as a part of GPL requirements - sort of an EULA, if you will. This code could then connect to a master server owned by a corporation who's job it is to track all OSS usage and report monthly metrics. Perhaps it should be a government organization, since a company might not want to take such a thankless task.

Re:New paradigms for sucess metrics in an OSS worl (1)

DaveOnNet (636006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945675)

SourceForge provides lots of statistics about the projects it hosts. Since everyone has their own idea of success, it would probably be pretty pointless to assign a single metric as the definitive measure of success. Nagios has had over 7000 downloads per month since last June. SourceForge page views on the project recently rose logarithmically from 3500 during 10/01 to over 50,000 during 10/02. Dave.

Free Software Project Leaders are great.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945178)

for me to POOP on.

*bows*---"Thanks Ill be here all Week"

Hi! You are a bitch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945191)

Yes you are

You know you want it!!

So just shut up grab your ankles and beg me to fuck your hot dirty ass!!!

You know you want it!!!

Marketing & Publicity (5, Interesting)

mrblah (229865) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945194)

It seems that most open source projects rely heavily on word-of-mouth and perhaps a few announcement sites, like Freshmeat, that have geek-appeal. But with open source trying to break into the mainstream, what do you think open source projects should do to effectively market themselves to non-geeks?

Re:Marketing & Publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945277)

Well my mum likes tuxracer, and shes not a geek, so thats a start.

Re:Marketing & Publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945308)

Sorry, I should have mentionned that non-geeks exclude retarded people.

Re:Marketing & Publicity (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945290)

They should take a shower once in a while. That would be a huge step forward to market themselves to non-geeks.

Re:Marketing & Publicity (1)

Sh0t (607838) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945304)

Wow that's quite the solution you present! All you need now is a consulting firm that has a website with a nifty flash intro and you'll be getting tons of business to give geeks advice on shower gels and sponges.

lose cool names (2)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945385)

Goodbye NetSaint! We'll miss you!

why the name change? (4, Interesting)

sgtron (35704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945200)

NetSaint was such a cool name.. why change it to Nagios.. just doesn't have the same ring.

Re:why the name change? (1)

Thinko (615319) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945324)

I'm assuming it has something to do with this:

NetSaint is not affiliated with World Wide Digital Security, Inc. (WWDSI); Richard S. Carson and Associates, Inc; and the marks WEB SAINT, SAINT, SAINTWRITER, SAINTEXPRESS, and SAINTBASIC owned by Richard S. Carson and Associates, Inc.

Looks like SAINT is a little too close to some security-related trademarks, that probably threatened the group when they saw the name.

Re:why the name change? (1)

Sh0t (607838) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945325)

Ya know I was thinking the same thing. Especially for a program that does what it does in helping site integrity, NetSaint seems like the perfect name.

Re:why the name change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945545)

I suspect it is due to the fact that "NetSaint" is offensive to those of us that are atheists. "Nagios" might not have the same ring, but at least it is religiously-neutral. I work at a federally-funded government facility and we could not install NetSaint on our network for fear of lawsuits (i.e., from the ACLU.) However, none of those issues exist now that the name has been changed to Nagios.

It's one of the niftiest pieces of software (free or otherwise) that I've ever worked with. Kudos to Ethan and the whole team.

My insightful question!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945209)

Does Rob swallow? Katz said he was a spitter!
Do you find it disturbing that so many slashdotters like anal?

What would you propose to solve this?

thank you in advance for your honest response!

Huh? (0, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945218)

*Nix? WTF is *Nix?

You know, the time that one had to avoid using the trademarked term UNIX has long passed. You won't be getting a note from AT&T's lawyers if you do. I promise.

Oh, and I hear some linux nerd in the crowd shouting, "*Nix" means "any unix-like operating system!". No, it doesn't. Using the term doesn't make you look sophisticated and cool, either.

Re:Huh? (1)

spanky1 (635767) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945258)

What I want to know is if people who use God instead of G*d get a cease-and-desist or burn-in-hell letter from the Holy Lawyer. And is Holy Lawyer an oxymoron?

The cease and desist comes in the form. . . (2)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945357)

of a "click through" EULA.Simply becoming aware of the existence of the contract brings it into full force. A full audit is performed at the end of the contract period to determine compliance.

Holy Lawyer may well, in a humorous fashion, be considered an oxymoron. In reality such things exist. Who do you think prosocuted the accused during the inquisition? The more socially acceptable "Unholy" lawyer is a real entity as well. The term "Devil's Advocate" is no metaphorical construct as most people seem to believe. This is the official term applied to the
"defense counsul" of the church accused.


Re:Huh? (1)

xirus (584691) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945267)

Oh, and I hear some linux nerd in the crowd shouting, "*Nix" means "any unix-like operating system!". No, it doesn't.
yes it does... they mean all unix-like operating systems (*bsd's, linux, hurd, solaris,...) you must see the * as a wildcard, wich can be replace by either "u" or "lin"... whoever modded your score up should be spanked...

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945310)

Assuming that you are correct, and the * gets replaced with either lin or a u, then how does one get *bsd out of unix or linux?

Re:Huh? (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945329)

With a very clever regular expression :)
Really though, it should have been *ix, for O/S developed from the Posix standard. Or some other humourous global moniker. Another ask slaskdot post!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945371)

"you must see the * as a wildcard, wich can be replace by either "u" or "lin""

Ok then what the fuck is linnix? You are not as smart as you would think.

Re:Huh? (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945294)

"Oh, and I hear some linux nerd in the crowd shouting, "*Nix" means "any unix-like operating system!". No, it doesn't."

erm... yeah it does :)

Unix, Minix, Multics, Linux, AIX, IRIX, BSD, Solaris(!)... loads of people I know use the term, and i think it's a great way of referring to anything based on the Posix standard....

Re:Huh? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945885)

NO, NO, a thousand times NO. Wrong. That is not where "*nix" comes from. Not in the least. That is where johnnie-come-latelies think it is.

Re:Huh? (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 11 years ago | (#4946075)

soooo.... tell us where it does come from!!!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4946099)


Just another dipshit posting about how he knows the "one true answer". Funny that you don't mention where you *think* "*nix" comes from.

Dipshit. (a quick review of your past posts makes this something more like dipshit^9271 )

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945301)

O brother ... a jargon troll.
Did you know what he meant? I did.
Do you have some better means for quickly casting a net that includes admins for Irix, Solaris, Linux, *BSD, etc., etc.?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945468)


*** BREAKING NEWS *** (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945221)

The GNU/Hurd team have made a MAJOR MILE STONE in their 12 year old operating system. They have managed to get ALPHA support for EGA graphics! With this, you can stop using 80x25 text mode and step into color, 640x350x16! At long last, after 12 years of hard work, they finally reverse engineered the EGA protacal, allowing you to have a COLOR 120x40 console and serial mouse support for emacs. VGA support is currently being researched, but you can now download the EGAd server []
But remember, its alpha, so if you get a BSOD (a black screen of death, we havent figured out how to do blue yet) then send an email to with the report from the emacs-bug-reporter tool.

Also successful but low profile (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945226)

I nominate "ls", "cat" and "date".

My question... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945232)

I had what I thought was a rash on my buttocks.
I have since developed scabs an pusy sores
Is it time I go to a doctor or should I try a holistic approch to my problem?

Direction (5, Interesting)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945236)

Nagios is an outstanding project, not only in terms of its success but, also in terms of its power and broad scope. Looking at Nagios today it is increasingly apparent that its functionality is starting to approach that of HP OpenView and CA Unicenter TNG.

My twofold question is, what has determined Nagios direction thus far? Was it modeled after OpenView and TNG or something else? Also, where is Nagios going in the future, will it continue to develop the features of OpenView and TNG or is it going somewhere else?

How do set success criteria? (3, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945245)

That is how do you know your're doing the right thing and how do you know you're doing it the right way to the right conclusion?

I want to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945250)

Why would you evven bother bein associated in any way with Slapdash?

This site has prven that it is a festering pool of linucks zealots and M$ fanboy trolls


keep your dignity and walk away!

Predefined alerts vs dynamic events (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945253)

Your monitor appears to use a model where it
polls a pre-defined list of conditions. In other
words, if there are 28 things that could go
wrong, there are 28 pre-defined items that
change color from green to yellow, to red.

In my experience, an event based model, where
monitors determine the problem and severity,
works better. The central event manager would
just receive the events and handle display and

Can your product handle this sort of model ?
For example, could I write a monitor that watched
a database log file, and have it send events
like this ?

severity category host message
high database myhost database memory shortage
medium os myhost fs /db1 is over 90% full

Re:Predefined alerts vs dynamic events (2)

skuenzli (169327) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945547)

This was clearly a design decision and if you prefer this style of monitoring, then I'd suggest Big Brother. For my environment, Nagios made the correct choice. If you are monitoring many applications (many > 100), then with a model that pushes events to the monitoring system, you will (probably) end up with a distributed configuration nightmare.

That said, I think you could probably hack a Nagios setup to do what you want with its distributed monitoring features. I.e., you could write your custom monitoring app to implement the interface that Nagios uses for satellite monitoring instances and then configure Nagios to use your custom monitoring app as a satellite. But I have not tried/done this, so I could be wrong, wrong, wrong.


Re:Predefined alerts vs dynamic events (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945592)

Right, it's a design decision, each one
with it's advantages and disadvantages.

Usually, the "configuration nightmare" is
mitigated by a strong central administration
point where monitors are configured and
pushed out.

Commercially, IT/Operations ( the OpenView
event monitor), Netcool Omnibus, and Unicenter
tend to use a mix of both models.

I was curious what Ethan's thoughts were
on the matter.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945257)

What's it like being the only successful Free Software project leader on Earth?

mass-appeal software (5, Insightful)

feldsteins (313201) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945265)

How can the sucess of geeky sysadmin software be translated into open source projects aimed at a wider audience? Put simply, can the open source model work beyond nerdy sysadmin widgets and spill into the world of mass-appeal software?

Re:mass-appeal software (1)

Sh0t (607838) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945374)

OpenOffice []

Re:mass-appeal software (2)

feldsteins (313201) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945563)

Meaning what, exactly? That OpenOffice has the same level of sucess that Nagios has? I really don't see it that way.

Slashdotters want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945279)

How do I know when my cat or dog is in heat?

It is much easier to get my pets to submit whhen they are in heat.. But I want to know when this is possible


Did the brown stuff ever hit the cooling thing? (2, Interesting)

del_ctrl_alt (602455) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945289)

Was there a make or break moment when it could have all ended? If so what pulled the project back on track?

my question (5, Interesting)

greechneb (574646) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945292)

I'm sure people often send you feedback about your software. What I would like to know is if you have any feedback that stands out. Mainly what is the most unusual/unique use someone has had for netsaint that you have heard of?

How do i become a 1137 H40R (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945306)

I want to be 1337 like everyone else here!!

I have no friends but i got Mad 5k1llz

Also, will you be my 1337 freind?


Free Software (5, Interesting)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945309)

Since your software is so successful, have you thought about charging money for it?

Everybodies favourite question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945314)

Do you call it Linux or gnu/Linux?

I call it Linux.

Great product, silly new name (2)

puzzled (12525) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945327)

I've been using Netsaint for a couple of years now and its a really nice monitor package - pretty easy learning curve with the well commented config files, easy to extend if you want to write a little perl or C, and best of all it understands hierarchy - if you lose a major link in your network instead of complaining about all of the hosts on the other side of the outage, it just reports the link failure and warns that the other nodes are unreachable.

I have to agree with the others that have posted - why drop a perfectly good (and recognized) name like Netsaint for something we can't even pronounce?

Re:Great product, silly new name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4946060)

Because there was a legal problem with the name.

Read down the article.

Re:Great product, silly new name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4946119)

Someone should mod the reply up. Most people who have used NetSaint before and during the name change to Nagios (agios means saint (greek)... N(et)-agios) are familiar, or at least aware of the "story" behind the threat of legal action.

I want to know if Roblimo.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945330)

has tried to teach you that "SUck your own cock" trick that he is famous for?

If so, will you give up women now that you are the best lover that you have ever had?

how did yall do it?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945331)

when I go to that site with my galeon 1.2.0 browser (on solaris) it crashes it every single time.. Pretty slick..

Nagios alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945350)

Nagios is well-made software. However it's difficult to set up. I'm using Zabbix [] for network and system monitoring at work. The software keeps under control more than 400 Unix servers, mostly Linux boxes. It has very clean design and works perfectly. What functionality do you plan to introduce in future versions of Nagios to make it more attractive for those who currently uses other Open Source alternatives?

Not so bad (3, Interesting)

delcielo (217760) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945913)

Nagios' new stanza-style config files makes the product much easier to set up and maintain than the previous approach; and the documentation is great. It does a good job of warning you about the difficulty of getting your first Nagios instance up and going.

My question for Ethan is this:

Network Monitoring is one of those projects that management considers "vitally important" but for which it allocates no human resources. So you end up with $100K Tivoli setups that sit dormant because nobody has time to pay attention to them or configure them properly.

What is your suggestion for getting past this problem, and how would you sell the PHB's on Nagios along the way?

I want to know if.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945364)

I send you $ 25 and a self addresed envelope
Will you send Me a pair of your dirty underwear...

Make sure thy are dirty enough so that I can make tea with them!!

propriety... (5, Interesting)

bhsx (458600) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945380)

If a company came along and asked to market a version of Nagios that includes unpublished changes to the codebase, what would your response be? For example, would you:
A. give them a relicensed version that allows them to do whatever they want to it.
B. incorporate any changes they may want on your own and make sure the changes make their way to the GPL codebase.
C. tell them to get bent.
D. make proprietary changes that you leave out of the GPL codebase in order to sell those changes yourself or to other potential clients
E. Some combination of the above.
F. Some other direction I didn't think of

I feel that making proprietary changes to GPL code that you keep (at least temporarily) proprietary is a great business model for certain projects, possibly the best model for certain things. Some projects that come to mind are things like's Secure iXplorer, which has a GPL "lite" version which only supports ssh/scp and a "full" version that also supports sftp. and Star Office seem to be of the same ilk... If you need the extra functionallity of Star Office, such as the better .doc filters and database functions, then you pay for that.
I'm also curious if you have been approached by anyone for this sort of thing.

How did it start? (5, Interesting)

SupahVee (146778) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945383)

Did Netsaint/Nagios start small, i.e. just a small shell script that was doing some minimal network testing, or was it designed from the ground up as a massive network tester to replace such overpriced products as NP OpenView, etc?

I know there was a serious code revision between Netsaint 0.0.7 and Nagios 1.0, which was phenomenal, btw, great job. But after using Netsaint (I still call it that, old habits die hard) for almost 2 full years now, I've always been very impressed with how well everything runs and scales.

How is a project like this supported? (5, Interesting)

sys$manager (25156) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945388)

I an running Nagios and having a major problem with one of the plugins that is severe enough to make me throw out the software if I can't get it working.

I've asked on the two nagios mailing lists and received no answer. How do I, working for a major corporation, promote this software package if there's nobody that can help me fix it? Where do I look for support for a free product?

Re:How is a project like this supported? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945477)

The answer to this will be useful in general. E.G."Hire us as consultants!" would make sense to me, but I'm not a business guru, so I don't know if it would make business sense.

Re:How is a project like this supported? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945574)

working for a major corporation ... Where do I look for support for a free product?

Presumably you have computer people on staff, no? I'm not at a "major" corporation, but even we have IT people.

IT people ought to be able to fix a program they have the source code for. It's a heck of a lot more than we get most of the time. ("Help, my Word won't print!")

Re:How is a project like this supported? (3, Insightful)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945783)

IT people ought to be able to fix a program they have the source code for

Uh... riiiight.

I'm sure he has the authority to tell a programmer to shelf whatever they're working on and fix this bug... presuming it is a bug and not just a config error or something. Since the programmer has absolutely zero familiarity with the source, and probably none with the program at all, it's going to take some time to figure the bug out. Even given an above average coder who is familiar with all the necessary tools, it would take at least a couple weeks to figure out the code and fix.

Presuming that said above-average-coder is being paid only $80k, two weeks of their time is worth $3k in salary... which means about $5k once you add in benefits. And you've just delayed some other project -- one that is actually related to your core business -- by 2 weeks or more (probably more - it takes time to gearshift). That delay could cost the company an unknown amount of money - anything from $0 to millions, depending on the importance of the project.

Oh, and lets not kid ourselves. Programmers in large corps (and most small corps) don't work in a vacuum. Most have teams that interact with one another as well as other groups. Pull this senior programmer out of that and you're going to delay all of them too.

Now, how exactly do you justify this to management? Versus just buying an off-the-shelf solution, which -- even at $50-100k may -- be cheaper than tasking a coder to something that's tertiary to your core business.

To some extent this is a worse-case-scenario. To some extent its not. But having the code available doesn't mean jack shit in the real world, because it still costs huge amounts of money to get it fixed. Most successful (as in adopted by businesses) open source projects realize this and provide paid-for support -- because most companies know it's worth the time to pay for support rather than spend their own resources fixing it when something goes wrong.

Re:How is a project like this supported? (1)

AndrewNelson (171986) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945888)

IT person != programmer

The FS/OSS world will do a lot better commercially when it finally comes to finally, wholehartedly accept that not All The World's A Programmer.

My company's sysadmin is very good at maintaining the network, but he's not a developer, nor should he be. Why do people insist on parroting the "you have the source, fix it yourself!" mentality?

As an actual, successful free software guy, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945402)

do you ever look beneath you -- at all the hebephrenics, Comic Book Guys, teenage dragon slayers, wise-ass do-nothings and antisocial militants -- and shed a bitter tear over how 90% of the free software movement gives the other 10% a really bad name?

I've always been curious about this.

Prioritization (5, Interesting)

10-20-JT (628170) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945410)

I assume there is a long list of "features" which your users and program staff have come up with for desired future components. How do you prioritize those in the development queue? Is there any method at all? Squeaky wheel? Most requests? Interest of particular developers? Donations with particular requests?

I'd like to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945435)

when your going to do something interesting,

I meen realy macOS and Windows does all the stuff I want and doesn't have all the lamers to go with it including you

So go out get laid jump off a cliff and we'll all be fine just tell us when you do so we can miss you.

Nagios event handling. (5, Interesting)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945505)

Nagios' present event handling performs a prescribed action based on a state change in a monitored service, this is an excellent feature that pushes Nagios beyond a simple monitoring application into a true management application. In CA Unicenter, event handling goes a step further, allowing you to configure any action based on ANY message that appears in the event log. This in my opinion, is one of Unicenter's strongest features, though there are many.

Will Nagios be implementing similar event handling functionality or will using utilities such as Swatch remain necessary? And if Nagios will not gain this flexibility, why would you feel that this functionality is unnecessary?

Funding (3, Interesting)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945525)

We often see jokes posted on here such as:

1) License product under GPL
2) ???
3) Profit!

What is #2 for you, or more generally, how do you support your project financially? What do you see as the most sustainable model for supporting Free Software?

Does this scale (2)

treat (84622) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945544)

This isn't really a question for the author so please don't mod this up.

Does this software scale to monitoring thousands of servers? The only other reasonably mature open monitoring solution I investigated is mon, and it wasn't close to scaling to an environment of any size.

Open Source for the rest of us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945564)

I'm an Architect (Buildings, not software), and while I would love to get an open-source project started for my fellow Archiects to offer a AEC CAD package, none of my fellow Architects are programmers.

Most of the successful open-source projects seem to be things that programmers and geeks need; i.e. a Browser, a Web Server, a Net monitor. Because some geeks know how to code, they are able to build these tools for themselves and share them with thier community.

But how can a group of people who's knowlege is NOT in computers hope to have a successful open-source project? I, and none of my peers, know how to program. We could learn, mind you, but most of us don't have the time. However, as poor Architects, we would benifit greatly if there was an open source package available; and we would be able to contribute much in content and knowlege- just not programming.

So how does one solve this catch-22; we Architects are into making an open-source tool for our industry, and even can invision how it should function; but we don't program and most of us are too busy to program much. How can we hit that 'critical mass' that's so important for a open-source project to have?


Re:Open Source for the rest of us... (2)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 11 years ago | (#4946062)

The solution to your quandry would be to fund the development of your project and then release the software under an open source license. However, there are already a few CAD packages that may meet your needs, though the best ones are not open source, just inexpensive.

FREEdraft [] Free GPL

LinuxCAD [] $99
ARCAD [] $900 ($80 Student)
OCTree [] Free for non-commercial use.
VariCAD [] $400

Why Nagios? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4945582)

There are many Open Source alternatives around. Big Brother [] , MRTG [] , Zabbix [] comes to mind.
What makes Nagios unique? Thanks.

Raking in the coders... (4, Interesting)

Brendan Byrd (105387) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945702)

One of the biggest problems with GNU projects is getting other people to help you out with your code. The code may be freely available, but that doesn't that people will freely code your project. At what point does a GNU project turn from one person coding his/her work, to several/many people working regularly on the project?

New Features (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945703)

When developing a non-trivial software it's hard to resist the temptation to add a lot of features that will take time to implement and are not necessary central to the software you're building. Given that you do not have the budget limitations of a commercial software ("we won't do this because not enough customers ask for it so it's not worth doing"), how do you decide on which features to include? Is it to do with the popularity of the feature request? Or with the time it takes to implement? Or how central it is? Or something else?


Similarities and differences (1)

agby (303294) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945782)

It's clear that there are different driving forces behind Open Source projects and paid commercial projects.

Open Source projects are driven by people who enjoy coding in their spare time, people who want to contribute something to the community or by people who have a need for a particular piece of software of functionality.

Commercial projects are driven by the need to produce a product on-time and under-budget in order to sell it to make profit.

In your expierience, how similar is managing an Open Source project to a commerical one? What sort of challenges would you face in an Open Source project that you wouldn't come across in a commercial one? Where do the skill sets required for each differ?

Arm-chair project leads (3, Interesting)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945818)

What are your thoughts on arm-chair project leads? How do you deal with maintaining the hierarchy when such a person starts challenging your decisions?

Finding developers that stick (4, Interesting)

CountJoe (466631) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945851)

I am a project manager for several open source projects and have had a great deal of trouble finding developers that will actually help with development. How do you find reliable developers that make a real contribution to your project?

Web Application Interoperability (2, Interesting)

RevDigger (4288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4945854)

My intranet hosts a number of web applications for internal use. Netsaint is one of those, and it has been a fantastic asset for us.

Other handy web apps we love include Mantis (bug tracker), CVSWeb and Chora, phpMyAdmin, phpPgAdmin, SquirrelMail and so on. There are lots of great web apps out there these days that can provide web based access to some cool functionality.

One major hassle, though, is that every one of them handles authentication and authorization differently. Setting up one login, or hacking them together into some sort of common framework is a giant hassle. Do you have any thoughts on how to get web applications to work well together?

- H

Plug-in vs. monolithic work? (4, Interesting)

jenkin sear (28765) | more than 11 years ago | (#4946092)

Nagios depends on a wide variety of plugins to do its job (in a way, like nessus). To what degree do you find outside developers contributing patches to the main codebase, vs. contributing plugins? Is there a path where developers add plugins, and then "graduate" to core patches? I think I see a similar path in both Linux and Apache, where one might write modules and then get involved in some of the deeper magic- and I wonder if that architectural decision may be a key to the project's long-term success.
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