2 Oct 2007 apgarcia   » (Journeyer)

i've been looking at some floss network monitoring systems lately. here are some quick notes.

Criteria (not necessarily in this order)

  1. LDAP authentication
  2. Web interface / User friendliness / Operator retraining
  3. Distributed monitoring
  4. Redundancy
  5. Documentation
  6. Community support, mailing lists
  7. Flexibility -- how easy is it to create custom monitors?
  8. LDAP integration? (computer groups, contacts)


  1. OpenNMS
  2. Zabbix
  3. Zenoss
  4. Nagios/GroundWork

1. OpenNMS

OpenNMS aims to be 100% Java, uses Tomcat, GWT, AJAX, XML, PostgreSQL, intends to implement SOA


  • complex, error-prone installation -- could not get to work on RHEL5; downgraded to RHEL4.
  • not configurable through web interface
  • xml config files are really more complex than they need to be
  • possibly unstable? coworker was able to generate an exception after playing w/ it for 5 minutes
  • custom plugins are relatively difficult to write, and they discourage using any language besides java.
  • documentation is rather poor: not well written, and had to gather info from different parts of web site and wiki


  • good use of SNMP
  • can use nagios plugins with nrpe monitor

2. Zenoss

Zenoss is written in python, using the zope framework and MySQL


  • can distribute collection agents, but does not support distributed servers in the same way Zabbix does
  • I am not really familiar with python or zope


  • very easy to install using rpm. also can check for its own updates online.
  • everything configurable through web interface
  • excellent use of SNMP and WMI; no need to install separate agent on linux or windows
  • can make use of nagios plugins, and custom plugins are easy to write in any language
  • clean, object oriented design
  • ui is pretty!

3. Zabbix

Zabbix has a PHP front end, can use MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, or SQLite


  • not hard to install, but have to compile it yourself
  • has its own agent that must be compiled for each type of host to be monitored (RHEL4-5, Solaris 8-10, Windows) -- maintenance nightmare


  • does distributed monitoring
  • most things configurable through web interface
  • nice looking ui

4. GroundWork -- haven't tried yet, but based on nagios, which I have used...


  • seems somewhat naive, like snmp was an afterthought rather than a central part of the design from the start?
  • vanilla nagios ui is kind of ugly. maybe GroundWork is better.


  • decent oo design (again referring to system abstractions rather than code)

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