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Answers From a Successful Free Software Project Leader

Roblimo posted more than 11 years ago | from the software-development-HOWTO dept.

Programming 170

It's time to crank up the Slashdot Interviews for 2003, starting with answers to your questions for Nagios developer Ethan Galstad. He went far beyond and above the call of duty here to give you what amounts to a veritable "Free Software Project Leader's FAQ" that anyone who has ever thought about starting his or her own project ought to read. Thanks, Ethan!1. Marketing & publicity

By mrblah

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?

That's a good question. However, I can't say much about this, since I really haven't had to deal with it. Nagios is targeted towards sysadmins, so they hear about it by word-of-mouth, Freshmeat, Google, etc. Most OSS project operate with no ($$$) budget, so traditional marketing methods are probably out of the question. Having a project included in a popular OS/application distro would be ideal, although this would require that the project first become popular "enough" (whatever that means to the distro producers) through word-of-mouth, web search ranking, etc.

2. Direction

By FreeLinux

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?

The basic features of Nagios were modeled after things found in other similar projects (mon, Angel, spong, etc.), with my own twists to satisfy what I thought was missing from those projects. Many of the features that have been added over the past few years have come about because of suggestions/complaints from users. Other features (like flap detection) have been thrown in "stay ahead of the competition", as well as provide something useful.

I've only had a cursory look at TNG and OpenView, but I think its safe to say that they will always do more than Nagios. That's okay though - they'll cost you a bit more than Nagios will too. I have no intention of trying to make Nagios a "one app for everything" type of project. The focus of Nagios is on monitoring and alerting and it always will be. And while many might assume that everything that can be done in regards to monitoring has already been done, I don't think that's the case (at least in free software). The lack of good failure prediction (using AI) in regards to asynchronous events like host/services failures is a huge feature that's missing from most (if not all) free network monitoring software. That's one of the things that I'll be attempting to tackle and integrate with Nagios down the road. Other things like expanded reporting capabilities, increased scalability and efficiency are top priorities as well.

I guess the direction Nagios is going is towards being an "enterprise" application, however you might define that. When I first started Nagios/NetSaint, I assumed it would only be used on small LANs. Over the years its been adopted by ISPs (local and global) and Fortune 500 companies with substantial networks. Making Nagios work well in these larger environments has been the big challenge, but that's were the development is leading me.

3. Predefined alerts vs. dynamic events

By an Anonymous Coward

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 notification.

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

What someone determines as "better" is up for debate, but yes, Nagios supports both active and passive checks. Active checks are performed by the monitoring process and allow the admin to centralize check configuration/execution, while passive checks are submitted by third-party scripts and allow flexibility in integrating Nagios with custom/proprietary sources of monitoring information.

Implementing a monitoring app that relies solely on event-based data passed from external sources is an extremely poor design choice, IMHO. What happens when the remote host or process (whatever reports those events) dies a horrible death? Nothing - unless you have some logic in the central monitoring process (which Nagios does) that accounts for these types of problems. There are also issues of whether or not the event data sent from a remote source is credible or not. That is to say, can it be trusted? This is a security issue, as well as one of data integrity. These issues have hopefully been addressed in Nagios by using several different mechanisms: requiring that services (for which event data is submitted) are configured on the central monitoring server, security restrictions on the external command interface (restricting which local users/processes can submit data to Nagios), and the NSCA addon which uses encryption to ensure that data received from remote hosts can be trusted (i.e. it is from a "blessed" user/process).

4. Mass-appeal software

By feldsteins

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?

This is similar in nature to question 1. Basically, my answer is "I don't know - I haven't had to deal with that". :-)

5. Feedback

By greechneb

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?

I guess the most common feedback I get would be "Nagios rocks", which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There are a lot of different people/organizations that use Nagios for a variety of purposes. One of the most unusual was someone who used NetSaint (Nagios), joyd, and some hardware hacks to monitor on/off air time at a radio station as mentioned here. Another one that gave me a few laughs is someone who configured Nagios to generate audible alerts over the company's PA system when things went awry. Turns out things went bad and Nagios started "talking" over the PA when they were in the NOC alone one night, which scared the bejeezus out of them. Hehe.

6. Free software

By Natchswing

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

Not for more than a few seconds when I imagined myself moving down to the Virgin Islands on a permanent vacation. :-) No, Nagios will always be free (as in beer and speech). I have considered developing additional (software) addons and tutorial-type material which would be for sale, but I keep putting these off to spend time on Nagios itself. Working on this project isn't really about money, or I would have stopped working on it a long time ago.

7. Propriety...

By bhsx

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:

  1. give them a relicensed version that allows them to do whatever they want to it.
  2. incorporate any changes they may want on your own and make sure the changes make their way to the GPL codebase.
  3. tell them to get bent.
  4. make proprietary changes that you leave out of the GPL codebase in order to sell those changes yourself or to other potential clients
  5. Some combination of the above.
  6. 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 i-tree.org's Secure iXplorer, which has a GPL "lite" version which only supports ssh/scp and a "full" version that also supports sftp. OpenOffice.org 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.

I would be willing to do work for a company that wanted unpublished changes made to Nagios if the final product was marketed in a way that didn't violate the GPL. An ASP that might use the modified app to sell a service rather than the actual software itself would be a good example of this.

I have been contacted by three or four companies in the past two years that wanted me to do this type of work for them. I turned them all down. Why? Two big reasons:

  1. The wanted me to sign NDAs
  2. Potential conflicts of interest

I hate NDAs. I can understand why companies feel the need for them, but since I didn't need the work, I decided to pass. Also, the changes they wanted me to make were closely related to things that I wanted to include in future releases of NetSaint/Nagios. If I made custom mods for them under an NDA (or even without), I might be locked out of making similar changes to Nagios under the GPL (with work for hire copyright issues, etc.).

I guess I'd rather spend my time developing additional software/documentation to sell on my own rather than screw myself and this project in the long run by doing this type of work for a company (i.e. competitor).

8. How did it start?

By SupahVee

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.

I actually started to work on Nagios because a friend and I had talked about starting a part-time business to provide monitoring services to local businesses. I didn't like what I saw in the other monitoring apps, so I decided to write my own. Nagios was originally intended to be used to monitor small LANs - 20 or 30 servers max. Ironic that I initially started an OSS project to start a business and now I'm so busy with it that I don't have any time to actually do it. :-) Perhaps in the future.

Nagios didn't start as a set of scripts or a cronjob - it was designed from the beginning as a standalone app that relied on external apps/scripts to do the specifics of monitoring. It has come a long way in the past 4 years, but the basic logic is still the same. Much of the work that has been done is the result of trying to make Nagios scale well to larger environments.

9. How is a project like this supported?

By sys$manager

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?

Money talks. If there's no money, people might not talk. Reports like this are not uncommon, so I put together this list of companies and individuals who have indicated that they provide consulting services and support contracts for Nagios. Spend a few (or more) of the corporation's dollars and see if you can hire someone to help get Nagios up and running. Otherwise you are at the mercy of the generosity and availability of the people on the mailing lists.

10. Prioritization

By 10-20-JT

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've never received donations in return for a particular feature being added, but bribery wouldn't hurt I guess. Its hard to say how I prioritize feature requests. Sometimes its the squeaky wheel. Othertimes I'll get a suggestion from a lone user and I'll implement that feature because I see it has good potential.

Another factor is whether or not people contribute code for implementing the feature. Most people just make sugestions because they're not coders, and I'm left to implement that suggestion. That's usually fine by me, except when I'm short on time and either don't see it as being of great value or if I don't think I'll be able to implement that feature in a "reasonable" time frame. "Reasonable time frame" can range from 1 day to 1 year depending on how important I think that feature is.

11. Nagios event handling

By FreeLinux

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?

Nagios is designed to handle monitored hosts and services in a very abstract way. It relies on individual plugins (check_disk, check_ping, etc.) or external apps (swatch, nmap, portsentry, etc.) to determine what is important as far as monitoring is concerned. If you remove that layer of abstraction, you can generally do more as far as monitoring is concerned, but you're also limited as to what custom data/services/devices you can monitor. As I see it, there is no real need to break that layer of abstraction.

As a site note (and more to the point of your question), event handlers can be designed to react not only to the state of a monitored service, but also on the output that was generated by the service check (i.e. the plugin). This would allow you to craft an event handler that reacted differently based on what message appeared in an event log.

12. People issues?

By dmuth

Have you ever had to deal with any developers who um, had issues? For example, someone who refused to comment their code, or someone who would volunteer to implement a feature and then "not get around to it" which forced the project as a whole to suffer?

If so, how did you deal with those people? Did you ever find yourself forced to burn any bridges as a result of dealing with such people?

As far as contributing to the core Nagios application, everything has to come through me. If someone doesn't contribute code for a feature, I will (if I have time and think its worthy). Since I rarely (if ever) apply a patch directly, I have a chance to look every line of code over before I integrate it with the main codebase. I tend to over-comment my code and have my own coding style, so I generally re-comment/reformat patches to fit my whim. Doing this also gives me a chance to make sure their patch doesn't have any unintended side effects. If someone submits a patch that I can't understand (or learn) and I don't hear back from them, the patch doesn't get applied. I think thats a reasonable approach considering the fact that they may not be around in 6 months and I'll have to maintain the code for who knows how long. All that being said, I really haven't had too many problems along this line.

13. What it is

By Tet

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?

Nagios was initially designed for smaller environments where reporting might not be as big of an issue as it is elsewhere. Also, I wanted most all data to be available via a web browser, as that is a fairly ubiquitous access tool. Better reporting will be coming in the future, but I make no guarantees as to when. I haven't really had any reporting code contributed by users, so if you want better reporting soon, step up and contribute. That's how OSS projects work.

14. Versus other commercial apps

By Thinko

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?

I haven't looked at MOM or ManageWise, so I can't say how they compare. Monitoring apps produced by OS vendors always have an edge when it comes to monitoring their particular OS(es), but they can't always be easily integrated into a heterogeneous environment. Tracking super-events basically involves event correlation. Since event correlation is a necessary part of decent failure prediction, I'll probably be adding this to Nagios in the future.

XML will be used for current status data and configuration information, as well as archived log data. Hopefully that will make it easy for other apps to process the data for reporting purposes, custom interfaces, etc. I doubt this data will be stored natively in XML by the application. Instead, scripts will be provided to convert the native data format into XML.

15. Why the name change?

By sgtron

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

I changed the name to protect myself against future legal hassles. It seems that "NetSaint" was thought by some lawyers to be a potentially confusing term in relation to "Saint", which was trademarked. They way things shook out, I wouldn't have had to change the name, but I decided to anyway. I didn't want to wake up one morning and find that the netsaint.org domain was yanked from me in the name of trademark protection. This is also the reason why I filed for a trademark for Nagios® in the first place.

16. Raking in the coders...

By Brendan Byrd

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?

For me it happened a few months after the project got started. Feature requests were coming in faster than I could handle on my own. Luckily people stepped up and contributed code for the core app and plugins. I suppose this was due to the fact that Nagios is targeted at sysadmins - people who are probably more likely to be coders than your average Joe. Without help from others, there's no way Nagios would be where it is right now.

17. Finding developers that stick

By CountJoe

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?

I got very lucky, plain and simple. A number of people have popped up to contribute code over the past four years, but most do not stick around for a lengthy period of time. Thankfully I have two developers who maintain the plugins, which allows me to concentrate on Nagios itself. Karl DeBisschop and Subhendu Ghosh are the main plugin developers/maintainers and have been critical to the advancement and survival of Nagios. Karl has actually been around since the project started, so he's been able to contribute a lot in terms of the main application, as well as the plugins.

18. Plug-in vs. monolithic work?

By jenkin sear

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.

There isn't necessarily any correlation between people who submit patches for the plugins versus the main codebase. Each patch is judged on its own merits, regardless of the contributor's previous involvement in either project. Patches for the plugins go through Karl and Subhendu, while patches to the main codebase go through me. Plugins generally get more patches than the main code - probably due to the fact that they're smaller and easier to understand for most people. From that standpoint, it would make sense that people start out making smaller/easier patches for the plugins rather than larger/more extensive patches for the main code.

19. Did the brown stuff ever hit the cooling thing?

By del_ctrl_alt

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

This question was modded fairly low, but I felt it was a good question to answer, so I did. Maybe my experiences will help others...

Yes, there were at least two times when I seriously considered dumping the whole project for good. One came when my personal life was going through some rough spots and the other came when the trademark mess popped up. Both times I ended up deciding to continue the project, but only after several months of "downtime". I felt that I had invested too much time in the project to simply let it die off. I enjoy working on Nagios and think I would have felt a sense of personal failure had I decided to quit when things got rough. There have been a number of other times when I've thought about ditching the project, but I've come to realize that they are just part of my natural development cycle and will pass with time. I've found that my normal cycle works something like this:

  1. Spend time mulling over and planning new features
  2. Code, debug, document
  3. Detest everything about this project and do nothing at all
  4. Rinse and repeat...

When I feel I've had enough and can't stand the project anymore, I just stop answering email, stop coding, and stop thinking about the project. This can last for a week or four months. When I've had enough time away from everything, I can get started again. This period of disgust is also a time when I start formulating ideas on what needs to be changed or added. I've come to accept and expect this period of downtime and, as a result, am now much happier with the project. Anyway, if you're thinking about starting an OSS project of your own, its something to think about.

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Hey! (-1, Offtopic)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048117)

He forgot the XHTML 1.0 complaint answers! :-)

frosty preace (-1, Troll)

cheeseSource (605209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048122)

it's a slow day...

Re:frosty preace (2, Interesting)

notque (636838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048185)

That was definately a good interview. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside to know that somewhere in the distance are a group of people, probably gnomes, who work on software projects and don't require payment. Just the love of the game.

(Excuse me, I'm on lunch, and all i've heard for my break is that X and Y need to be completed. I'm drifting in and out conscience.)

Re:frosty preace (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048311)

That was definately a good interview. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside to know that somewhere in the distance are a group of people, probably gnomes, who work on software projects and don't require payment. Just the love of the game.

If only I could find someone to do this in real life for my house. Cooking, cleaning up, etc. I tried to get someone to do it once but the cops eventually broke it up and said slavery is illegal. Nobody WANTS to do that shit I guess, even my wife.

There is no such thing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048142)

There is no such thing as a sucessful free software leader (unless you define sucess as homosexual orgies every night with RMS and his goat).

Re:There is no such thing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048162)

Yesssss!

You missed an obvious question . . . (1, Funny)

Pike65 (454932) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048152)

"What is your favourite dip?"

Oh, Nagios !

Sorry, I was reading that wrong . . .

The top 10 FAILIRES of open source (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048159)

10) PCI modem support (why dosent my modem work mom?)
09) Tux kart (Worst. game. ever)
08) Nautilius (bloated and slow, konqueror and 'ls' beat it with their eyes shut)
07) Openbsd (one remote hole in seven years, and the openbsd server runs on solaris)
06) Gstreamer (Who needs anything else but mplayer these days)
05) GNOME (everyone uses kde these days, this is just a waste of time
04) Slashcode (Phpnuke beats it with a cluestick!)
03) Mozilla (MSHTML FOR WIN32, KHTML for lin32, webcore for bsd/osx, who needs gecko)
02) Debian (an utter JOKE)

and the number one!

GNU HURD (still no ps/2 mice support, after 12 years of development)

GNOME (OT) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048194)

That's were your wrong,
Lots of companies use the Gnome libraries, because, and this is a cracker. There LGPL not GPL, you have to pay to use QT for non GPL software.

KDE is more GNU than Gnome (or at least QT is)

Re:GNOME (OT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048581)

That's were your wrong

And THAT's where you're wrong.

It's always nice (2, Funny)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048174)

... to hear from a programmer who still has a job!

Re:It's always nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048514)

Text example of brown nosing below:

[i]By FreeLinux

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, ...[/i]

Sarcasm (5, Funny)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048184)

--
6. Free software
By Natchswing

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

Actually, that was meant to be a sarcastic joke aimed at making a few people laugh, not a serious question that actually got sent.

Successful free software... charge money for it...

*sigh*

Re:Sarcasm (1)

notque (636838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048205)

Was it? Was it really?

I think in some way, you knew he had thought about it, and you wanted to expose him, expose him I say. .... If it's any consolation, I didn't get the joke either.

The top 10 Open source failres of 2002 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048190)

Its flamebait but you KNOW ITS TRUE

10) PCI modem support (why dosent my modem work mom?)
09) Tux kart (Worst. game. ever)
08) Nautilius (bloated and slow, konqueror and 'ls' beat it with their eyes shut)
07) Openbsd (one remote hole in seven years, and the openbsd server runs on solaris)
06) Gstreamer (Who needs anything else but mplayer these days)
05) GNOME (everyone uses kde these days, this is just a waste of time
04) Slashcode (Phpnuke beats it with a cluestick!)
03) Mozilla (MSHTML FOR WIN32, KHTML for lin32, webcore for bsd/osx, who needs gecko)
02) Debian (an utter JOKE)

and the number one!

GNU HURD (still no ps/2 mice support, after 12 years of development)

Awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048300)

This is a great list! If I had mod points, I would mod you up Mr. Troll.

Re:The top 10 Open source failres(sic) of 2002 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048381)

Feeding the trolls on their own turf!

10) PCI modem support is fine, they all use Hayes codes. PCI winmodem support is awful, because they're just a DSP on a card. Geez, don't you people know anything? :)

09) Never played Tux Kart.

08) Nautilus is actually a lot better than it used to be. I liked it before but it was slow as the brown stuff that hits cooling things. Now it's actually okay. Try Nautilus 2.x.

07) Thank you, come back when you've decided to make some sense. Perhaps you'd like to read my favorite overtly gay webcomic [keenspace.com] first.

06) Never used it.

05) Pssh. Remind me why you're not using Windows again? :)

04) Never dealt with BBS systems.

03) I'm using Phoenix right now. Besides, by your argument I'll have to use SOMETHING on my 64-bit systems, right???

02) Debian is actually really good if you use the testing distribution, which has recent packages for everything. Hell, they finally even have 2.4.18 as the kernel in 3.0 stable. Why? What do you think is better, Mandrake? Dammit, LFS all the way!

01) Well, the twelve years of development was trying to twist Mach into something that works :P

Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049025)

I dont understand why they flame you. Yes, there are failures in Open source. I agree 100% on HURD. RMS should just admit it and shut up.

I agree on most of the above except GNOME which is kinda fun.

00) "SuSE8.1 Personal".

Nice to see he converted (2, Interesting)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048198)

... over from the Dark Side of Microsoft products!

Read one of his Usenet posts [google.com] about printing difficulties with Windows 98 machines.

Who knows, maybe it was that very problem that brought him over to start writing software for us Free/OpenSource folks!

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048307)

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Yay!

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048792)

What were you and I discussing about trolls and flames with OS bias?

*grin*

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049070)

What were you and I discussing about trolls and flames with OS bias?

Aw, c'mon. It was a joke. It's funny, laugh =)

[BTW, sorry for not following through with our other conversation. I completely forgot and I you just reminded me of it. If you want we can continue in your journal or something]

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048334)

Yeah, I've never had any printing difficulties under linux. /SARCASM

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048347)

Yeah, I never had any printing issues with linux.



I'm being sarcastic, btw.


Re:Nice to see he converted (0)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048370)

WTF is with /. today? "Plain Old Text" formats as HTML, the Preview button posts? You are TeH SuCK

Re:Nice to see he converted (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048762)

I've setup Linux to run off of a printer on samba share (an HP laserjet), an officejet at home, and a lexmark z53 that I have on my desk.

I found it just as easy to set up as on Windows.

I won't say that my experience will be everyone's, but 3/3 ain't bad.

No.. Pegasus Mail's Printing is hosed (5, Informative)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048508)

Read one of his Usenet posts [google.com] about printing difficulties with Windows 98 machines.

Being a big fan of Pegasus Mail myself, and on the mailing list on and off for about 7 years, I can say that I've seen this question ask MANY times. Pegasus Mail likes to load the printer driver to view an email. Don't ask my why, but it does. In Netware, this works just fine. It also works just fine if you capture //server/printer to LPT1. But, if you do a straight map to //server/printer, sometimes Pegasus Mail just doesn't want to display the message.

I have come across this a few times in my Netware environment (which, IMHO, Pegsasus Mail was MADE for), but only when also using funky MS Networking and UNC printer mapping.

So no, it's not REALLY a Win98 issue, it's a Pegasus Mail issue.

Re:Nice to see he converted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049067)

Second post in the article.

Also about unemployed programmers who starve and give stuff to us freebie folks.

What's your theory?

OPEN SOURCE MISCONCEPTIONS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048212)

OPEN SOURCE MISCONCEPTIONS
By Serial Troller [slashdot.org]

Myth: Open Source is written by heterosexuals.

Fact: All Open Source development is done by raging homosexuals. The more flaming examples include Anal Cox, Linus Turdballs, Eric Ass-Reaming Raymond, and the entire Slashdot crew. The ringleader of the slashdotters, a man named CmdrTaco, engages in a practice known as Taco-snotting, along with his faggot-buddies Jeff Homos Bates and CowBoiKneel.

Myth: Open Source is written for heterosexuals.

Fact: Using Open Source software can cause suppressed homosexual fantasies to surface, leading to all out flaming faggotry within 6-8 weeks. Anecdotes of otherwise hetero men turning queer are far too numerous to count, but a few examples stand out. In one case, a man was arrested loitering outside an elementary school and making sexual overtures to several children: he quickly confessed that shortly after installing the Mozilla browser on his computer, he began to have uncontrollable urges to, to put it simply, have his cock sucked off by little boys. He soon met several other like-minded men through discussions on the Bugger Zilla mailing list (all already homosexuals), who together kidnapped a total of seven children whom they brought back to their apartment and sodomized. The other two men are still at large and believed to still be using Mozilla.

Myth: Open Source is multicultural.

Fact: Open Source is openly racist [slashdot.org] .

Myth: Open Source is democratic.

Fact: Open Source is controlled by a few narrow-minded zealots (mentioned throughout this post), most of whom are either Communists, Stalinists, Nazis, or Fascists. Additionally, Open Source supports terrorism.

Myth: Open Source is tolerant of religious preferences.

Fact: Open Source developers regularly engage in holy wars over the superiority of various Open Source projects, such as the Emacs program (preferred by Christians) versus vi (used mostly by neo-pagans and Satanists); or the KDE desktop (a favorite among Muslims) versus the GNOME project (particularly favored by Jews). Posts initiating crusades or jihads against other developers can be found regularly throughout the newsgroups and mailing lists.

Myth: Open Source is tolerant of sexual preference.

Fact: See above. Either you are a homo, you become a homo, or you never visit Richard Stallman alone in his office and hope to God you never meet him on the street at night.

Myth: Open Source is tolerant of political differences.

Fact: Open Source is an anarcho-communist philosophy bent on the destruction of capitalism. The very same Richard Stallman, a man whose name is disturbingly reminiscent of Stalin, has stated several times in public that his vision includes the subjugation of all who own intellectual properties under the jackboot of the GPL. The GPL is a pernicious piece of literature lifted straight from Karl Marxs Communist Manifesto, and is fortunately banned in many democratic nations.

* * * * * UPDATE * * * * *

Myth: Open Source programming is a harlmess, healthy activity.

Fact: Open Source programming has been known to lead to massive obesity [cowboyneal.org] , violent tendencies with an obsession with handguns [tuxedo.org] , paranoid-delusional ranting [slashdot.org] , and in severe cases, complete insanity [slashdot.org] . If anyone you know is thinking about going Open Source, stop them before its too late!

Perhaps a question posed to E. Galstad (0)

Real World Stuff (561780) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048218)

Q: If offered enough money, by a Giant corporation , would you consider selling this product and abondon the Free (beer/speech)fundamentals behind it? A: I consider the freedom of this project to be paramount. When talking about finacial incentives, I have to look at the greater good. Yes, I would sell the rights to any particular project if the procedes support another OSS Project. Consider what small amount of money would put GNOME on par with KDE. It is about resource needs, and GNOPME exhibits this need. I would also look closely at Tropic Paradise properties :) .

private island? (0)

FourDegreez (546211) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048411)

Like this one? [ebay.com]

Successful?? (0, Insightful)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048240)

Most people consider money a part of success. Looking at this project from a financial standpoint, I would hardly call it successful.

These guys don't make any money from it, they're basically working for free, and giving away their product for free. If you have something else going on like a job or studies, then that's great, but Free Software is not a good solution if you're trying to make money directly off of it.

Until I see the DoomIV as Free Software, I can't consider this movement a success.

Re:Successful?? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048297)

As has been said, it's good for everyone but the developer.

It's good for aministrators, it's good for people who sell 'how to' books, it's good for consultants and vendors, it's good for big corps like IBM to cut development costs.

But the developers work for free. Even linus has to take a job at Transmeta to make ends meet.

Re:Successful?? (2)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048332)

erm.. i think Linus could say something about getting that job because of his little Free Software project.. But maybe I'm wrong :-)

Re:Successful?? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048388)

True, but it'd still be the exception and not the rule.

Re:Successful?? (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048777)

Well, it seems to me that most OSS folks just do it for the fun, but even the 50 man company I work for contracts out someone because of his OSS experience. Contracting out someone for support AND development is quite beneficial, if the project is useful. And if someone is spending their free time on it, it's likely to be useful to at least some folks.

Don't underestimate the power of OSS. =)

Re:Successful?? (5, Insightful)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048327)

I think you are missing an important point. Most open source (succesful) projects do not make money from selling the software but instead by consultation for that product. So if you consider DoomIV, what kind of consultation are ou going to offer? How to get to level 5 in 10 minutes? You are relating two entirely diffrent genres of software products.

Businees world thrives on consulting. On an average a reputed consultant can charge you anywhere between 250-500/hr. even if you sell the product for say $50, you still can make tons by providing consultation. Let me throw another example - my univ recently adopted SAP. It spent close to 25 million on getting it set up. You know how much it cost just to buy it? close to 2 million, that means 23 million went for consultation!!!

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048789)

250 to 500/hr ???? Where do you live? Around here (NYC area) we pay UPTO 125 and that is for guys from MIT. Wow man.

Re:Successful?? (1)

resonance (106398) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048362)

I would think that a good measure for success in a free software development project would be moreso how well the team was coordinated and what was actually completed. Free software isn't usually created for financial reasons, so using money as a metric seems irrelevant.

Re:Successful?? (not $) (2)

gosand (234100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048382)

Most people consider money a part of success.

Many people don't. In fact, I think that most smart people don't, truly in their hearts.

Re:Successful?? (5, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048395)

> Most people consider money a part of success.

Speak for yourself.

Success is contributing to the world. Making money is what _should_ happen if you contribute, but anybody who believes you get paid commisserate to your level of contribution to society is as blind to reality as those who claim communism could work. Neither system is perfect, and judging people's achievements by their success in cashing in is a piss poor way to judge people.

It ain't a 'just world', friend. Some people make the mad dough for nothing, others never get paid until its too late (see Vincent van Gogh).

We use Netsaint, and its great. Lots of other people use it too. Nobody made any money on apache, and yet, its the dominant web server! So is apache unsuccessful? Or can we all agree that creating something which is used by many people inidicates a success (ie, a functional, useful innovation.) Whether or not you make money on it is at the discretion of the author of the work ... and nothing pisses creators off more than folks evaluating the weight of their contribution by the coin they were able to amass off of it.

Another example might be Jay Leno. He gives all the money he makes from the Tonight Show to charity. So the Tonight Show never made him money. Is he a failure? A sucker? Or just smart enough to know that contributing is more important than amassing wealth once you're living at a means you're content with?

Re:Successful?? (2)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048739)

Uh Jay Leno has a HUGE car collection. Massively large. So he isn't giving it ALL away.

Secondly, Money may be a piss poor way to judge people but its the best we currently have.

Remember, in the grand scheme of things open source doesn't matter. But how much money you make does. Those who were rich while they were alive get into Heaven or Hell MUCH faster than everyone else.

Re:Successful??-Extinction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048987)

"Secondly, Money may be a piss poor way to judge people but its the best we currently have."

Speaks highly of some of humanity, that their greatest invention is a yardstick made of money.

"Remember, in the grand scheme of things open source doesn't matter. But how much money you make does. Those who were rich while they were alive get into Heaven or Hell MUCH faster than everyone else."

Maybe because worrying about all that money (making it, keeping it, what to do with it,losing it) leads to an early grave.

And considering how some people get and maintain their money. I wouldn't place any bets on getting past the pearly gates.

Re:Successful?? (2)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048779)

Another example might be Jay Leno. He gives all the money he makes from the Tonight Show to charity. So the Tonight Show never made him money. Is he a failure? A sucker? Or just smart enough to know that contributing is more important than amassing wealth once you're living at a means you're content with?

I don't think this is true. He donates all the profits from the Headlines books to charity, but I've never heard that he doesn't make any money from the Tonight Show.

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048873)

The story I've heard is that he lives day-to-day on the money he makes as a comedian... and he saves the money he makes as the tonight show host.

Anyway, I think the statement that he gives all his earnings on the tonight show away are bullshit.. so its just a matter of how he spends the money he makes.

Kick the trolls (5, Insightful)

Outland Traveller (12138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048410)

Until I see the DoomIV as Free Software, I can't consider this movement a success.


Better get coding then, or start nagging ID. Let us know how it works out for you.

Thankfully, your expert opinion of Free Software will not prevent me from using Mozilla and OpenOffice on Linux, along with the thousands of other open source tools and applications many companies and individuals depend on.

Re:Successful?? (5, Funny)

PunchMonkey (261983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048420)

Most people consider money a part of success.

Oh my god.... I've never realized it, but that explains a lot. You see, for the past 10 years, I've been investing thousands upon thousands of dollars into these two kids. They're cute and all, but the little buggers have never made me a *dime*.

I think it's time I ditch this project, because from a financial standpoint, it certainly isn't successful.

If you hear a story about the bodies of a 6 year old girl and 9 year old boy being found in the woods of Northern Maine, just do me a favour and keep quiet, ok? The "man" still thinks that there's more to kids than financial reward. Pffft.

Re:Successful?? (5, Funny)

Dannon (142147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048602)

for the past 10 years

There's your problem! Your investment hasn't reached maturity yet! Kids are proven to be a net loss investment over 10- or 20-year periods. If your investment is self-sustaining in less than 25 years, you're doing good. By the time this investment reaches the 40- or 50-year mark, and you're ready to retire, it should be able to support you comfortably. ;-)

Re:Successful?? (1)

voudras (105736) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048439)

Fool, your use of the word successful doesn't include its criteria.

This project created a "Successful Program", it *program* is not attempting to be a "Successful Company".

You need to think of programs as poems, there are both good and bad poems. The objective of these poems is to deliver a particular message or concept (functionality), and if the poem does this, and does it well - it is a success. The best poems known to humanity made very little money (for the writer).

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048949)

The distinction is that poems aren't functional - code is. As much as the designers at BMW may think they're product is 'art', it's still a damn machine. And they get paid for their work. Why? because people NEED cars, just like people NEED code.

Poetry and art are nice and all, but when a business is trying to get off its feet I don't think the first thing they talk about is what wall decorations they're going to buy [unless they're really retail oriented]

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048511)

He has a job as a fucking administrator you dolt.

Re:Successful?? (2)

theghost (156240) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048513)

I think using money as a significant metric of success is shallow and short-sighted, but if that's what curls your toes then here's your answer:

What about the amount of money that has been saved by companies and individuals who are using this? Would anyone care to guess at how much that would add up to? Thousands of dollars? Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Maybe even one meeellion dolars?

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048866)

You're the one who's being short-sighted here. Where is this 'saved money' going? Granted, it's not going into the pockets of Microsoft, but it's not being distributed into the public pockets. It's held within the company itself. If it's a good company that's saving money, so be it... but if it's another one of these godless corporations that engages in dehumanizing business practices, would you consider yourself 'successful' if you saved them a million dollars just so they have an added weapon of capital against their competitors?

Like - would you want to save Wal-Mart millions of dollars? A company that thrives on eliminating local variety? Putting Ma and Pop shops out of business?

Giving away free software is like blindly giving away guns... you're not changing the world for better or worse. You're just throwing some tool out there that has the potential to change it period.

I think it's ridiculous that you free software developers don't use your skills for your own benefits. You're all bitching about being unemployed now, but it's really your own faults. If you produce software that a company would pay you to write, and make it available for free, what motivation do they have for hiring you? Maybe it's not an issue for you. MAYBE money isn't important to you.That's fine, but you're fucking it up for the rest of us who NEED money to SURVIVE. For every developer on an open source project there is another developer who could be getting paid for the same thing.

Spare me this moralistic "I do what I love and make the world a better place" bullshit. The money that should be going back into the development community is being stuffed into the pockets of CEOs and MBA idiots. You're inadvertantly empowering these shallow business morons over us.

It's a shame that this community doesn't know what power it has over world. If we unionized in some form or another, we could carry some serious sway in the way things are run in the marketplace, our country, and the world. But no, we're all too fucking geeky to even desire such things. Not having got what we wanted, we convince ourselves that we no longer have the desire. Rather than going out and picking up picking up the prime grade women, we sit in our caves writing "free software", the profits of which go into the pocket of some corporate stiff... who rolls up to the bar in a Mercedes and gets first dibs on these chicks, and looks down on us like a high school jock would a chess club member. Meanwhile, we've PUT him in this position!

Call me a troll, whatever. I just think that this "free software" is some sort of voluntary martyrdom when it really doesn't have to be. If you do good work, don't be ashamed to profit from it, and don't be ashamed to ask for money for it. After all, if the money is going to end up in someone's pocket, wouldn't you rather it be your own?

Re:Successful?? (2)

jefftp (35835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048750)

Fame is also considered success.

Even though I no longer run NetSaint/Nagios because it doesn't fit in with the goals of my company's network monitoring goals, I deeply admire the software and especially the creator: Ethan Galstad.

I still visit nagios.org to see what he's doing with the project.

I wouldn't have bothered to read the article but saw Ethan's name and was immediately interested.

In a nutshell, Ethan and Nagios are very successful. Ethan is very well-thought of in the sysadmin community as is his software Nagios. His attitude towards keeping Nagios free makes him even more of a hero.

Re:Successful?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049022)

d00d, but does it get him l41d?

Jeeze (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048269)

"Successful Free Software Project Leader"
How hard can it be to give something away...unless it is REALLY crappy?!?!?!?!?!?

Re:Jeeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048803)

like anything you created...

I love you 14 year old morons that havent a clue...

Come on puss-face... Let's see what you can do other than yank your own crank.

Ninnle is free! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048276)

Think free sex, not free software!

Try Ninnle today!

Wow (1)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048279)

That was a great response. Very interesting. Ethan put a fair amount of work into his responses. Kudos to him and thank you for the interview.

Re:Wow-Development model. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048475)

Here's a question.

Does OSS favour a plugin/modular approach to capabilaties, because of the transatory nature of it's development/developers (programmers leaving, new developers coming in)/(interest ebbing-flowing)?

Re:Wow-Development model. (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048869)

My opinion:

Yes, and I think you've hit on something that's much more important than most folks may realize. OSS has the philosophy that anyone can hack a project to make it better. When you have a standardized plugin interface, such as with Gaim [slashdot.org] , you make it easier for people to contribute. You can get some really innovative plugins from random joe who wants to make their own IM experience better.

A massive code structure is often a hinderance to any project, open or otherwise, but modular code bases lend themselves to OSS particularly well.

cycle of productivity (5, Interesting)

urbazewski (554143) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048302)

1. Spend time mulling over and planning new features
2. Code, debug, document
3. Detest everything about this project and do nothing at all
4. Rinse and repeat...

Ha! That's a familiar cycle to me, not just for coding, but for lots of projects that involve intense concentration. Fine if you work on your own, or in an environment where you have substantial control over your own time like academia --- harder to manage in a more structured environment. Maybe this is one reason for the success of open source, it readily accomodates this kind of nonlinear effort and progress.

The trick is knowing when to give it a rest or pass it on to someone else, and when to give yourself a kick in the butt to get back to work.

annmariabell.com [annmariabell.com]

Re:cycle of productivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048542)

No doubt!

Re:cycle of productivity (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048583)

If he could just replace step 4 with "Profit!", he'd be set!

Re:cycle of productivity (2)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048850)

Sometimes you can find companies who can work with you on this cycle - sure you have to do some maintenance in the downtime, but if you have 3 or 4 projects in the pipe, taking time off from 1 of them isn't always a problem.

Nagios is my favorite (0)

as400as2 (560825) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048333)

network monitor and I always recommend it to all my clients. Well as soon as I convince them to use Linux that is... I have been able to roll-out 32 sucessful implementations of Netsaint/Nagios in the past 3 years, and I will continue to do so. Thanks go to Ethan for doing such a wonderful job. The only thing that I see a lot of people have problems with is getting those dang vrmls to work right!

Hey, when you are done slashdotting, check out our part of the web Pajonet.com [pajonet.com] !

definition of "success" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048335)

If I open up a hotel, reasonably clean, and let my guests stay in it for Free, is it a success if my hotel is full most of the year?

Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (1)

(nil) (140773) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048356)

Hopefully I got the attributions right.

bhsx:

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.

Ethan Galstad:

I would be willing to do work for a company that wanted unpublished changes made to Nagios if the final product was marketed in a way that didn't violate the GPL. An ASP that might use the modified app to sell a service rather than the actual software itself would be a good example of this.

I'm no GPL expert, but doesn't the GPL legally disallow proprietary changes to GPL'ed code? And I thought that there was an upcoming GPL change that was going to address the "ASP using GPL code for profit" thing? Anything happen with that?

-(())

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (2)

Roblimo (357) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048468)

"Redistribute" is the key word. If you make changes to GPL software and only use those changes inhouse, you have no obligation to share them with anyone. It is only when you start to *distribute* the modified software that you are obligated to provide source code, not just binaries.

- Robin

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (1)

Xiarcel (451958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048478)

I'm pretty sure that since he is the original author (and copyright holder), he is free to release an alternate version with any license he sees fit...

It is derivative works, I believe, that are covered by copyleft.

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (3, Informative)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048504)

The GPL does not disallow proprietary changes to software. It merely requires those changes to be distributed in the form of source code IF the company distributes the binaries.

If a company does not distribute their GPLed binaries, they're under no obligation to distribute the changed source code either.

Thus, an ASP would be fine - they're selling temporary use of the program, not the actual binaries, and thus they do not need to share the source.

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048600)

To my understanding, he can choose to do custom work for a specific person for money, and put that code under the GPL. He then transfers it to that other person, along with the source code. He simply doesn't transfer that version to anyone else, thus keeping that code branch private.

That entity must provide all the code to anyone they sell the product to, but if they just USE the product, either internally or to provide a service to others, they are not obligated to distribute the custom source code to anyone.

Almost all current GPL licensing says "you may use GPL version 2 or, at your option, any later version", so anti-ASP clauses added to the GPL won't apply to the bulk of existing code.

Personally, I don't see what the ASP issue is... yes, people are using GPL code to roll out a custom solution to something, but they're selling the solution, not the source code. I regard this as a form of support, which is supposedly how one makes money with GPL software. The ASP is selling the expertise to roll everything together into one coherent system.

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (2)

Lucas Membrane (524640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048913)

they are not obligated to distribute the custom source code to anyone

The drawback to use of GPL'd code like this in business is that if a firm pays a large sum to acquire custom (but GPL'd) source code, and if, through means unknown, a competitor happens to come to possess a copy of the same GPL'd code, the GPL apparently makes all copies legal, wherever they came from. Perhaps the company that paid for the code can sue or prosecute someone for distributing the code, but if they can't identify the person or can't produce sufficient evidence of the misappropriation, what recourse could they have under GPL? None (AFAIK). And they must live with having paid-for custom code in general circulation regardless. After all, whoever has received it, 2nd, 3rd, or nth hand, received it with a valid license (GPL) attached.

Re:Doesn't the GPL prohibit proprietary changes? (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049026)

AFAIK the copyright owner can always rerelease a work under different terms. He owns the copyright after all.

But as he said he's not doing it because of potential conflicts of interest. If he writes a feature for a private release and later wants to put a similar feature in the GPL release there could be problems.

Even if he rewrites the thing from scratch things can get nasty. They don't have to believe you, plus if he rewrites a similar feature, it's bound to look very similar unless he did a bad job the first time round.

And having to rewrite the thing from scratch is also a pain, especially if you've figured out a pretty good way to do stuff already.

Just implemented (5, Interesting)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048359)

And it was a SLAM DUNK!!!

As an admin for a large engineering campus in a mutli-billion dollar company, I - with 3 other people - help oversee a mixed Unix and Windows environment representing about two dozen servers with several hundred clients.

I set up Nagios at the end of last year on an unused dual PII 266. I configured monitoring on 17 severs, both Unix and Windows. I was a little nervous about the "third-party" Windows service, but it's pleasantly been the best part of the system, since it ties up all the client-side stuff in one "script." In all, I currently have 50 services being monitored.

The corporate Windows group has had a $250,000 project on the books to buy some sort of all-in-all monitoring software for the 100 or so servers they have. This has been pushed back for 4 years because of budget issues. I suggested they try this. I have heard nothing.

The corporate Unix group recently put in a quarter million dollar system (which I was told would take 3 months to setup when I was in the group), but it's primarily running batch jobs for the Oracle system. The Unix admins haven't used it for anything.

In features, Nagios rivals what both groups are still just TALKING about doing, because I didn't have to wrangle $250,000 out of the non-existant IT budget for the project. Plus, it only took me 3 weeks to get everything configured. (Compiling the client-side tools on AIX and Solaris took a lot of work. I ended up just downloading pre-compiled versions for Solaris.)

Not only that, but the true value of OPEN SOURCE software finally dawned on me. I took the FlexLM monitoring script, hacked it up into a PHP web page, and now the admins and users at this campus can see who has a license tied up on 19(!) different software packages we use.

My boss and co-workers both really like the system. It cost me nothing but a man-month of time (including hacking up the web page). It's been ROCK SOLID. It's been giving us appropriate alerts when something goes wrong. It's easy to set up the web site like you want. (You might have to recompile the CGI's to make some tweaks, but this isn't hard.)

Going forward, I plan to try automating some problem resolution steps on the one service that routinely gets wonky (guess which platform THAT one's on...). Also, I'm thinking about putting a modem in the machine, and trying some of the packages out there that would allow me to send a page over a phone line in case the network goes down.

Overall, I can say nothing - absolutely nothing - bad about Nagios. I haven't even read the interview yet because I was so excited at the opportunity to share my experience, but I know that Ethan MUST be a very fine person! ;-) Awesome stuff, and I am SO thankful that he open-sourced it.

Re:Just implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048575)

1 person for six servers? That is some wasted money right there. That company should get ris of two of you. One competant person would be enough, but you have to account for oncall, vacation etc. You must suck ass at the sysadmin-ing.

Re:Just implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048853)

one thing you need to remember... EVERY time the other groups mention what they want to do, say "Oh like I've had running for months now? Why would you pay that kind of cash for something like that?"

Re:Just implemented (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048931)

Very informative. =) Thanks

Maybe you should go make a page at http://osi.org/switch/ =P

Obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048431)

In Soviet Russia, computer systems monitor you! ...oh, wait, that's true in America too. :/

success (4, Interesting)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048433)

a Successful Free Software Project Leader

I wonder what makes a Free Software Poject successful. And given such a definition what percentage of Free Software Projects are succuessful?

A question (3, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048451)

Money talks. If there's no money, people might not talk. [...] Otherwise you are at the mercy of the generosity and availability of the people on the mailing lists.

Now here's one of the things I've never been able to figure out. How can it make sense to build good, solid, complex software that's supposed to be free (beer, speech, whatever) and then say "here it is, it's free. But if you want to figure out how to use it, pay up". You can download it, see the source, modify it, redistribute it, dress it in polka dots, etc. But if you can't elucidate out how to actually be productive with it, well, tough cookies. I'm not bitching about the fact that I have to spend money to figure out Nagios or whatever. After all, nothing is really free. But I find it hard to grok the logic behind it all.

How is that better than selling the software and including the support as part of the package? Because it's "more moral"? How does this model make open source a viable alternative to commercial software?

It seems to me most open source/free software is essentially an ego trip for the developer (and to be honest, as one, I can understand the motivations so I'm not saying that to be insulting or derisive). But software like this that is potentially extremely useful but just sits there and does nothing because only four people in the world understand it is not particularly useful. How many open source projects are in this situation and thus basically stuck because of it? Do the end user(s) always have to be just an afterthought?

Re:A question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048744)

Look at it this way...

Let's say you design a solar powered vehicle that rivals gasoline powered in speed and torque. You then decide to release the plans on the internet and setup a mailing list so that people can exchange ideas and ask/provide each other with assistance in building one. If someone posts a message that says "Bungi, my car won't work, can you come and fix it for me?" would you be willing to do this on your own time at no charge? Should we expect you or anyone else to do so?

BINGO (0, Troll)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048807)

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. While you went out your way to not insult anyone, allow me to go right ahead.

Open Source is primarily about egos. Who's the best h4x0r, l33t c0d3r..etc. The problem with these egos is they are rarely justified. This whole OSS shebang began when the Ultimate of Egos, Richard Stallman discovered from his hairy unwashed haze that it was finally time to graduate and go out into the real world...ie...time to get a job. What he discovered to his absolute horror was that his fellow students had all snagged jobs at companies that produced proprietary software. Up until this point, RMS had been wallowing in the free for all environment of the university lab where no one had to pay for anything. He of course thought the entire world either would be or should be like this.

Enraged that his fellow students had "sold out" he sought to create a new world. A world where investment in intellectual property is no longer respected. Where substandard free software is promoted in the place of damn good proprietary software all in the name of "principles". A world where a software license is used that actually restricts a developers freedom rather than increases it. A world where he from his bully pulpit sees it fit to cast wide and deep guilt trips among all those who do not adhere to the purity of the cause.

Its a whole GNU World out there. And Stallman's doing his best to bring it to you whether you like it or not!

Re:A question (5, Insightful)

extra88 (1003) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048816)

OSS developers are not saints. They write their code for fun, prestiege, practice, whatever. It's very uncommon for programmers to like doing that and doing things like writing clear documentation, especially for people who lack any skills which would make figuring them out on their own possible. So why should OSS developers spend a lot of time (and if it's really going to be good, it'll probably take about as long as writing the code does) if they don't like it?

When no intrinsic benefit can be found, resort to an extrinsic benefit, money.

In the particular case of Nagios, he repeatedly states that it's designed for sysadmins. Anyone who deserves the moniker of "sysadmin" should be able to figure it out based on the provided information [sourceforge.net] . There are many people who have the title of "sysadmin" but do not have the accompanying skills. That could be why someone can't implement Nagios using the providing information but it's also a problem which goes well beyond the scope of anything those involved with Nagios can solve.

What OSS developers *could* do is seek out people who *do* enjoy creating FAQs, HOWTOs, tutorials, documentation, etc. (such people do exist, I sort of am one). In general it seems such things come about either because someone comes to the project and just decides to do it or does it to benefit their own organization then makes publicly available. How often do developers solicit such help? What are the best venues for doing so?

Not being personally involved with any OSS project myself, I am to a degree talking out of my ass. I welcome anyone with more personal experience to say so and provide evidence :)

Re:A question (2)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048990)

I understand what you're saying here but Nagios is billed as a replacement for a product like Unicenter TNG, with which I'm familiar. CA goes to great lengths to ensure that even the most technically impaired data center operator can use it. Ergo, Nagios is really no competition unless you already have the expertise and you're going for it to save the money, which also makes sense, of course. But that's not the point.

Re:A question (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048922)

How many open source projects are in this situation and thus basically stuck because of it? Do the end user(s) always have to be just an afterthought?


I'm posting AC for a reason, as this happened very recently to me...

you are 100% right... but not always...

I was looking for a nice router package to help a non-profit company use some resources I am donating to them. I first went to LRP... oops they died, all I find are tombstones.. but coyote linux is a repackaged LRP that still has some maintaince base.

The developers of coyote linux are pure jerks and egomaniacs. asking simple questions get's you insults and asking why the documentation is not easily found get's the main developer into a anger frenzy as he must hate with a passion the people that wrote the docs and FAQ, and other irrational behaivoir that reminded me of a 8 year old boy having a hissy-fit.

The other side... freesco.org a seperate linux-router group that bent over backwards to help. reading the posts in the forums show that all the freesco people want to help in any way and love suggestions complaints, etc...

so the problem is with jerks running a project like coyote linux or true professionals with skill like freesco linux.

the netsaint group are just like the freesco people.. awesome! but in some cases you cant get an answer... so having someone to pay to figure it out for you is a good alternative.

It seems to me most open source/free software is essentially an ego trip for the developer but there are many that are NOT.. and those are the projects you need to support.

Me? I will tell everyone I know to AVOID coyote linux and to use freesco. and when asked why, I responded with, "freesco is from professionals, coyote is not."

if you feel professional to your users, you become professional. if you act like jerks, well... you get the picture.

Re:A question (3, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049041)

I'm posting AC for a reason, as this happened very recently to me...

No you didn't =)

if you feel professional to your users, you become professional. if you act like jerks, well... you get the picture.

I can't disagree with you here. I've been using Linux for a few years on and off and I've run into the worst and best out there while looking for information about things like drivers, APIs, etc.

But I think for the most part the folks that work in open source projects are, if nothing else, very smart and mostly helpful. The situation you describe here (at least in my experience) is definitely a bit extreme.

Re:A question (2)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048958)

It's simple. I get to decide what I provide for free. If you want control over what I do, you have to pay me.

On my projects, I always try to be clear - so that people don't _have_ to ask questions. However, since it's my time, if I don't have enough time or patience to answer your question, that's my decision. If you want to pay me, I'll answer even when I don't feel like it.

Most software (including NetSaint) is easily understandable, and comes with good documentation. However, if for whatever reason, you don't understand the documentation, you can ask a question, but to get an answer for sure you pay for the time someone spends answering you.

I don't see how this is anything but reasonable.

Why it's better (2)

Synn (6288) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049002)

1> With proprietary software you can only get real support from the company that made it. If MS doesn't want to fix a bug in Windows that's killing your business, tough shit, you're screwed.

2> With OSS any professional coders/firms can offer support, because they have source code access and the rights to modify it.

It's about being free from a vendor tie-in, which is a good thing because vendors are unrealiable. Even if your vendor is good today, it can turn to crap tomorrow.

Re:A question (4, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049004)

Now here's one of the things I've never been able to figure out. How can it make sense to build good, solid, complex software that's supposed to be free (beer, speech, whatever) and then say "here it is, it's free. But if you want to figure out how to use it, pay up".

I don't know of any open source projects that do that, do you?

In fact, Nagios provides documentation. What you're talking about is support, ie somebody who will spend however long it takes working with you to get your problem sorted out. Pro level support is very different from writing documentation, and asking people to pay for it isn't unreasonable, it's what Red Hat do for instance.

No, not all open source projects have quality docs. If they don't, then write some! I've done that [mozilla.org] , took me about 40 minutes, plus a few emails to correct mistakes and get it uploaded. Nothing to it. Every little bit counts you know.

It seems to me most open source/free software is essentially an ego trip for the developer

Oh hardly, most open source software is written to be useful. It's a charitable contribution remember, if it didn't exist you'd still have to pay for commercial equivalents. If you don't find it useful for whatever reason, you can help make it useful, or you can go elsewhere. Complaining about it doesn't write docs though.

Free Software, not free lunch (2)

Confused (34234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049034)



The Bungi wrote:

Now here's one of the things I've never been able to figure out. How can it make sense to build good, solid, complex software that's supposed to be free (beer, speech, whatever) and then say "here it is, it's free. But if you want to figure out how to use it, pay up".


Usally with any software development, the first challenge is to create something that does what it should. This can take a lot of time and resources, usually at the beginning of a project.

Once the the product is more or less done, users (for commercial software: customers) start trying to use it and the second after it start complaining and crying for changes, manuals, training materials etc.

Most developers like part one, but hate part two.

For commercial software, the developer has a contract with the customer, which he needs to fullfill. This entail usually listening to whiny users, providing detailed guides on how to wipe the backside to inept users etc.

With free software, the user gets the stuff as it is. If the user's happy, fine - if not it's fine too - if the user breaks it, he owns both halves of it. There's no obligation at all from the developer to the user. This is the big luxury free software developer have by not charging for their software.

If some user want more help than provided by the develppers generosity, he should go out and pay someone to care, a consultant or an independent software developer.

Re:A question (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049051)

Jeebus man, pay a little more attention to what you're doing. =P

Most open source stuff is not difficult at all if you read the free docs. And yes, most of them have them. I'd know; guess what I work with all day?

And that's besides the point. To answer what you're asking about, OSS is open so that developers who are interested and have the time to ADD to the project can ADD to it for free. In that situation, it benefits everyone -- some developer gets a free source-base to begin from without having to start from scratch, and the OSS project manager gets the ideas and help from the new coder. The project manager puts more into it in the long run, but these are the folks who have a real passion for what they're doing. I can personally attest to that.

In the long run, for people who don't want to put the effort in to learn what can be, but often isn't, a complex system on their own, they have to pay. If, on the other hand, they could find a closed source project that was easy to understand, the situation is even. This situation just allows for people to add features and hack things for free, which in the end, often grows the developer-base to one much larger than a corporation would have, one which doesn't care about a bottom line and thus does things right.

If you think I'm blowing smoke up your arse, I seriously hope you get a chance to meet some serious OSS developers.

Reply. I want to hear what you think. Take this point by point, if you have the time. =)

He's comparing it to Unicenter TNG? (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048484)

CA released Unicenter 3.0 [ca.com] in August 2001. You shouldn't compare a project in development to a product that has already been superseded.

Re:He's comparing it to Unicenter TNG? (2)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049055)

Good gosh, I hate Unicenter. I used it at EDS and it was absolutely terrible. I wish they would have had the sense to use NetSaint.

admirable quote (2, Insightful)

EZmagz (538905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048592)

I actually started to work on Nagios because a friend and I had talked about starting a part-time business to provide monitoring services to local businesses. I didn't like what I saw in the other monitoring apps, so I decided to write my own.

Quotes like this give a pessimist(sp.) like me a bit of hope in the world. The guy saw something that he liked, but noticed several flaws (read: expensive, propriatary, etc.) in the product, so decided to build his own from scratch! I mean, come on...this is admirable. People (at least around here) tend to bitch a LOT about things in the world around them, yet offer no alternative or solution. Granted, sometimes it's so macroscopic that you can't do something that helps the world out significantly (think traffic, politics, etc.). However, it's nice to see that there's still a few people in the world who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty because they don't like how something works.

Kinda makes me wish I had that one thing...shit, what's it called? Motivation? Yeah, that's it. Maybe they have it at Target.

/me runs down the street to Target

Reminder to read this story (0, Offtopic)

stienman (51024) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048594)

Ignore me. I'm just marking this story so I can come back to it later, when it's off the front page and I don't feel like searching for it.

If you must, mod me down. Offtopic is the most likely candidate.

CMDRTACO, please consider a marking feature, something like a link on each story summary "Mark for later reading" or "Place in personal library", etc.

-Adam

Re:Reminder to read this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048859)

i like this idea, that way we dont have to search in a few months when i'm looking for a reference to that widget story i read a while ago.

Nagios (4, Informative)

ISPTech (76854) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048659)

Nagios is really nice. I've used it at 2 ISP's now and it is amazing how fast you can deploy it and how reliable you can make it. The plugin design makes it expandable beyond belief, and you can fine tune it to where it is much more reliable and quicker than a tech support phone call at 3 AM (...something is broke. We don't know what...but...)

Ethan has always been cool about responding to feature requests and reasonable questions about nagios from what I've seen.

For the people who mailed the mailing list and didn't get a reply though, standard mailing list rules apply:

1. No one is required to help you. (this program is free)

2. If you don't submit enough information to help you, the list doesn't have to ask you to clarify. (silence may be your indication)

3. Did you read the documentation? Did you reread it? Did you understand it? If the answer to any of those is no, you might not get a reply.

4. Are you asking something that is truely unique to your situation? Most times this means it is something you are tasked to come up with. The list isn't required to do your job for you. If the request is from out in left field and doesn't affect a mass group, your chances of getting a reply are slim.

For the last one in particular I would like to add that our job as sysadmins (even if you are not paid for it) is to come up with (read: create) solutions. Don't get frustrated if someone else doesn't hand you a solution on a silver platter. You signed up for the job.

moron answers about having your source forged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5048723)

if va.lairy's payper goes pottIE, does fuddles get all the sacred kode?

Marketing (5, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5048877)

That's a good question. However, I can't say much about this, since I really haven't had to deal with it. Nagios is targeted towards sysadmins, so they hear about it by word-of-mouth, Freshmeat, Google, etc. Most OSS project operate with no ($$$) budget, so traditional marketing methods are probably out of the question.

This makes sense, but often open source projects don't need marketing as such. Marketing was originally used in the commercial world to get ahead of the competition - by actively telling people, even people who might not be interested about your product, you could get mindshare. Then everybody started doing it to catch up, and now marketing is regarded as essential.

That's sort of a shame, but there's no reason why 99% of open source projects actually need to market themselves - they don't need to make money, so it makes sense for people to actively search them out, for the users to find them rather than the other way around in effect. Of course there is still word of mouth, which is a bit different, in that people are asked for recommendations and give them.

You might be thinking that's a bit hypocritical coming from me, considering that I've been advertising my project in my sig for a while now. I do that not because I want everyone to use my software (though that'd be nice one day) but because it's a flipping huge task that needs to get solved soon (imho) for desktop Linux to make any progress. So I need developers. The text advert in my sig has helped enormously here, 3 out of the 5 volunteers currently on the project came here via Slashdot, and we get a lot of interest/emails from people who find it this way. We're making great progress now, more than I'd be capable of working on my own, or with one person who found it by accident.

On the other hand, I'd consider this to be a special case. If I was writing a sysadmin utility, or an MP3 player, or a media streaming framework, or pretty much any other piece of software in fact, I'd have deliberately decided not to advertise in such a way. It's slightly obnoxious for starters, advertising is invasive (and i try to make my sig stand out) and often irritating. I'd just post it to freshmeat, and tell my friends about it. If it was good enough, it'd spread by word of mouse. But in this case I decided it was important enough to justify it......

Of course Ethan was talking about advertising to users, which I still maintain isn't really needed for free software, and I don't intend on advertising to users at any point. If they come across .package files and like them, they'll find the project in that way, or via recommendation, or via articles people write about it, or one of the countless ways in which people can discover new things.

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