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How To Build a Simple Open Source Server Monitoring Solution With Mobile Support

timothy posted about a year ago | from the be-here-now-or-at-least-check-in dept.

Software 58

reifman writes "Nothing sucks more than finding an 'Error establishing database connection' on your blog hours after the fact, but it's not easy to find inexpensive, simple monitoring solutions which support smartphone notifications. I wrote MonitorApp, a free, open source software applet which sends notifications to your iPhone (or Android) if anything goes wrong with your web site or services. This tutorial describes how to install and configure MonitorApp for your own purposes. The only cost is a $4.99 mobile application called Pushover — which links MonitorApp to your phone. Pushover also links with Nagios, a more complex open source option — but ironically, Nagios' website was down when I looked for it last month."

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Try Zabbix, it's free (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513395)

Why reinvent the wheel (and charge for it!) if you can get a more mature and complete solution for free?
http://www.zabbix.com/

Mobile integration:
http://www.zabbix.com/third_party_tools.php

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44514417)

to expand on this, zabbix has built-in email, gsm modem and jabber/xmpp support. of course, it can just run your script to do all kind of magic, too :)

disclaimer - i'm working on zabbix for a few years now :)

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44514445)

oh, forgot, there's also built-in support for a commercial messaging provider in north america, eztexting

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44516869)

zabbix blows goats.

I tried using zabbix (I do snmp/nms stuff for a living) and zabbix was so non-snmp based and non-snmp friendly, I gave up and didn't look back. no native snmp support or trap support and you have to use old contrib code (not supported) to patch the existing product to get it to be snmp-ready. even then it sucks badly.

sorry to burst your bubble, but zabbix is just not worth much if you do any snmp-based monitoring. if your nms can't support snmp natively, something is horribly wrong in its design.

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#44517833)

It seems Zabbix isn't well suited for the use cases you care about. That's fine, but it should be noted that your preference for SNMP-based offerings is far from universal. I've dealt with environments where thousands of systems across several continents were constantly monitored without SNMP, and things worked very well.

You seem quite interested in forcibly proclaiming your preference for certain modes of monitoring. Are you equally prepared to discuss the security implications [wikipedia.org] of those choices? Are all devices under your control operating exclusively over trusted networks and exclusively utilizing SNMPv3? If you're going to speak forcefully about these things, let's go ahead and have a frank conversation that includes different considerations and use cases.

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (2)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44517943)

i'm wondering which version that must have been, as zabbix has natively supported snmp since... i might be off by a couple of years here, but 2001 or so.
snmp trap support was improved with 2.0, which came out more than a year ago.

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | about a year ago | (#44514833)

I'll support your suggestion too, I've been installing Zabbix for a lot of my customers, especially since version 2.0 came out it's a really strong product that does everything you could want from a monitoring solution.

I use SiteUptime.com (2)

CrudPuppy (33870) | about a year ago | (#44515763)

They are cheap, they support content recognition, are globally disperse, and they have good notification.

We wrote a simple page that does a DB query and returns "OK" if everything succeeds. Point SiteUptime to that sub-URL and monitor the content for "OK"

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

lactose99 (71132) | about a year ago | (#44515269)

Seconded, Zabbix with the ZAX Android client works very well in my setup here (sometimes too well, I hate getting alerts at 3am).

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44515511)

Zabbix has a lot of complexity to its configuration process. You also seem to need a paid iOS app to do notifications. http://www.skinkers.com/2010/12/08/zabbix-push-notifications-for-iphone/ [skinkers.com]

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (3, Informative)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44515577)

you absolutely do not need any paid component to do notifications. actually, one of the biggest things about zabbix is that it's true opensource - no "open core" or other bullshit, it's all open source. of course, anybody is free to put out some proprietary application, but anything zabbix team does is opensource.

as for notifications, you can do email, sms, jabber/xmpp and eztexting using the built-in methods, and you can easily extend this without paying for any application

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44515543)

It's easy to find other solutions but most require some paid level of service that quickly escalate if you want notifications or multiple servers: ScoutApp, Pingdom, Copperegg ... Nagios & Zabbix are quite sophisticated but also have a lot of complexity. I built MonitorApp because it's quite simple to monitor any number of servers in an integrated with my iPhone. Compare the screenshots of MonitorApp in this tutorial to Zabbix - http://www.zabbix.com/screenshots.php [zabbix.com]

Re:Try Zabbix, it's free (1)

jon3k (691256) | about a year ago | (#44527657)

Is zabbix really any good? What's the deal with the paid version, is it just support? I'd like some experience from actual users.

I'm desperately looking for a new NMS. We're using What's Up Gold now and I can't stomach paying them another cent. We've fiddled with Zenoss and OpenNMS and pretty much anything else we can get our hands on.

Looking for:
Truly open source
SNMP performance graphing
TCP/UDP service monitoring
ICMP polling
Interface status monitoring (up/down)

That's really pretty much all I need.

Far cheaper answer (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44513405)

The much cheaper and better option is to just have nagios send something to your phone. This can be done via email, email to sms gateway, jabber, or loads of other simple methods.

Re:Far cheaper answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513729)

The much cheaper and better option is to just have nagios send something to your phone. This can be done via email, email to sms gateway, jabber, or loads of other simple methods.

This. I am tempted to find out how this pushover app's author is connected to either slashdot or the original submitter, but I won't bother. Its a nice app if you find yourself managing a TON of diverse alerting sources, or if you are trapped in some sort of SMTP black hole, but if not (like this hypothetical case) just have it generate an email instead of taking the time to bother with "yet another app". SMTP is there for you, it's already on your phone, and it works really well (unlike push systems which in my experience tend to be pretty brittle).

Re:Far cheaper answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513999)

The much cheaper and better option is to just have nagios send something to your phone. This can be done via email, email to sms gateway, jabber, or loads of other simple methods.

This. I am tempted to find out how this pushover app's author is connected to either slashdot or the original submitter, but I won't bother. Its a nice app if you find yourself managing a TON of diverse alerting sources, or if you are trapped in some sort of SMTP black hole, but if not (like this hypothetical case) just have it generate an email instead of taking the time to bother with "yet another app". SMTP is there for you, it's already on your phone, and it works really well (unlike push systems which in my experience tend to be pretty brittle).

Exactly this. Of course, you could always just have an instance of Nagios monitoring it, in case it DOES go down.

Re:Far cheaper answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44518081)

I was wondering why the author didn't just do this, I wouldn't bother with setting up a push client when I can have Nagios use email, SMS via an online provider or SMS via a phone plugged in to the server. Seems like a solution for a non existent problem.

Re:Far cheaper answer (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44516891)

or even hobbit (er, I mean xymon).

xymon is not ultra complex to configure or change (its all simple C code underneath) and we've had good luck using xymon for alerting via email/sms.

the display is mostly 'idiot lights' that change color, but for monitoring, it gets the job done even though its not sexy.

Xymon and sms support... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513415)

Xymon has had support to send messages to cellphones for years through a carriers email to sms gateway.
Not sure what's the advantage of having notification. Its also possible to create a separate web output that is more condensed for mobiles.

Thanks for the ad (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513441)

I will be sure to drop $5 on this pushover app, since certainly "Nothing sucks more than finding an 'Error establishing database connection' on your blog hours after the fact". Yep, not breaking my arm, or getting a speeding ticket, or having to watch my son cry uncontrollably as he get his shots at the doctor. None of those things compares to the thought that my blog was inaccessible for all of its millions of nonexistent readers. Thanks again, SlashNOT.

Re: Thanks for the ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513503)

Mod parent up

Re: Thanks for the ad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513673)

Mod publisher down

Re: Thanks for the ad (2)

dantotheman (2887483) | about a year ago | (#44515571)

Just because he has a kid that crys over needles, doesn't mean he deserves a +1.

Ohhhh, you meant the other kind of "parent"....

Re:Thanks for the ad (4, Funny)

SwedishCoward (1838398) | about a year ago | (#44513707)

Or as Bill Gates would put it, "When you're dying of malaria, nothing sucks more than finding an 'Error establishing database connection' on your blog hours after the fact".

Re:Thanks for the ad (0)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44516821)

Thanks for taking me entirely literally!

Re:Thanks for the ad (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year ago | (#44529007)

This "story" is still a crappy ad.

News for nerds? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44513765)

Since last century had been using mobile alerts from nagios and other monitoring systems. How this is something new? And if it requires a running app in your phone, plenty of nagios clients had been available for free for years. If this is a marketing ploy to sell Pushover, is not the brightest one.

Nothing sucks more ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513785)

... than people advertizing their paid products and services in Slashdot posts.

Re: Nothing sucks more ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513863)

The author says at the bottom of the post that he has no affiliation with Pushover.

Re: Nothing sucks more ... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#44514313)

Good thing no one ever lies.

Re:Nothing sucks more ... (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44515903)

"... than people advertizing their paid products and services in Slashdot posts." ...and taking Slashdot people for idiots.

"it's not easy to find inexpensive, simple monitoring solutions which support smartphone notifications"

Are you kidding? It's stupidly easy. Nagios, Icinga, Zabbix, Pandora, Ganglia, Zenoss and dozens of others I forgot about can do that. Heck, monitoring is probably one of the biggest categories in open source devlopment and using a gateway to whatever is trivially easy in all of them.

Better solution (1)

Aethedor (973725) | about a year ago | (#44513837)

It's called Prowl. http://www.prowlapp.com/ [prowlapp.com] Simply send an e-mail to a special e-mail address and you'll get a notification on your iPhone. And it's even cheaper than 5 bucks. Topic can be closed.

Re:Better solution (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44515949)

"Simply send an e-mail to a special e-mail address and you'll get a notification on your iPhone."

What about "simply send an e-mail to *your* e-mail address and you'll get a notification on your mail client, be it desktop, laptop, iPhone, Android or whatever"?

Re:Better solution (1)

DrHappyAngry (1373205) | about a year ago | (#44516181)

The reason for this, is a lot of us want a tiered response level. Email should be something that can wait until you're in the office again. Text and phone calls are for immediate attention 24x7. I've been doing this forever with nagios. You can use service and host escalations so that only critical and down alarms go to your pager address, whereas all notifications go to email.

Re:Better solution (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44516299)

"The reason for this, is a lot of us want a tiered response level."

Me too.

"Email should be something that can wait until you're in the office again. Text and phone calls are for immediate attention 24x7"

Because?

No, seriously, because?

It can be argued that SMS/pager *when done properly* and, of course, on fully owned hardware, can be more resilient than email but other than that, it's stupid to say "email should be something that can wait till tomorrow, text is for immediate" action". Please, think a bit about it and you'll see how stupid is.

Now: immediate attention 24x7 information I want ASAP, information that can wait I want clearly known as that. *THIS* makes sense, not the gateway such information happens, to come to you through.

I've been doing the Nagios thing for ages too and I tiered information to syslog, email, SMS, database, to first, second, third support/management levels... you name it.

But there's no problem in having the CRITICAL messages for high priority services to be delivered to a specific maildir folder that happens to be the one that I subscribe on my mobile's email client and that makes an alert tone ring upon reception.

jWatchdog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513871)

Check out jWatchdog on Google Code.
Comes with an Android client.

Re: jWatchdog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514019)

https://www.e-contract.be/sites/jwatchdog/

Not completely free (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513883)

Your solution is not completely free and open if Pushover, which is a key component of the solution, is closed and commercial. Could you arrange an open and free component to replace Pushover?

Nagios.org is not down (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | about a year ago | (#44514025)

OP should check http://www.nagios.org/ [nagios.org] now. It's up.

Or use Unagi (1)

Y2K is bogus (7647) | about a year ago | (#44514575)

I have Unagi on my phone and it makes it simple. Yeah it's a bandwidth hog, but a simple and helpful interface.

BTW the paid product placement is lame.

Icinga (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44514997)

Icinga [icinga.org] is the community-oriented fork of nagios. My experience was: write a c patch for nagios core to fix an annoying behavior (re: alerting correctness), put it up on the nagios list, get no response, a week later get a mail from the icinga dev team saying that the patch is really great and would it be OK if they used it in icinga (not required by license, they were just being polite).

After maintaining my own private branch of nagios for a while, now I get icinga from rpmforge with the patch already integrated. It's pretty much the bog standard open source stereotype.

Re:Icinga (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44515521)

It's pretty much the bog standard open source stereotype.

You really should stop using saying that you utterly fail to understand the meaning of, it just makes you look ignorant.

Re:Icinga (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44515589)

You really should stop using saying that you utterly fail to understand the meaning of, it just makes you look ignorant.

What ever are you talking about?

You faiL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44515257)

Become an u8wanted 7heorists -

Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44515509)

Seriously?

How to build blah blah blah ...

Down load the zabbix or nagios virtual machine, run it, done.

Why do you have articles about shit that wasn't difficult or new when slashdot fucking started?

Instead you're just posting stupid slashvertisements from people because you're too ignorant to know the difference between common knowledge and a challenge.

You need to spend less time worrying about those stupid fucking pointless videos you do and more time understanding that technology is more than a way for your dumb ass to milk some paychecks out of this tired old website

Oh, wait, Taco quit ... that is all you do now isn't it?

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44516735)

You sound very frustrated. Seriously, write up the steps for installing Nagios with iOS/Android integration and let's compare solutions. If Nagios can't keep it's own site up, maybe it's not the best solution for people running a blog or just a few sites.

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44516911)

nagios and the rest of the so-called free NMS's fall down horribly in terms of features unless you buy the commercial version.

I hate that!

our company did an eval of most of the free NMS tools and avoided most of them since the freebie version was mostly just a way to get you to buy the paid-for version. the paid-for versions all look good but we did not want to have to buy stuff.

we took xymon, added our own poller, trap receiver engine and some other goodies and it did not take too much effort to do that. the infrastructure is not too bad and being written in C made things pretty easy to change.

if you want to buy, be my guest; but I prefer to be able to change things at the source level and the paid-for versions usually don't give source with the license.

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44516963)

I'd much rather pay $5 for an iOS app then break out my C compiler ;)

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44518335)

I'd much rather pay $5 for an iOS app then break out my C compiler ;)

I'd rather pay 20 cents for a bullet than read your stupid posts.

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44517815)

Am I the only person in the world that runs OpenNMS and thinks its great?

Re:Timothy needs to be fucking fired. (1)

richlv (778496) | about a year ago | (#44527293)

nagios and the rest of the so-called free NMS's fall down horribly in terms of features unless you buy the commercial version.

I hate that!

oh, i'd hate as well... but to shamelessly plug zabbix again, it is true opensource - no closed components, plugins, enterprise versions, "pro" addons... what you get on sourceforge is what everybody else gets.

not that zabbix wouldn't benefit from more built-in features, but at least it's not an attempt at the "first shot is free" business model :)

It's about balancing complexity & simplicity (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44516771)

I think people missed my point partly - for people that only run a blog or a few web sites, Nagios is complete overkill and it would take a long time to set up, figure out how to use and the steps I've seen for iOS integration are not simple. Ditto for Zabbix. I think if you really write out the steps for installing and configuring these tools to meet this scenario, your solution is way more cumbersome than this one. MonitorApp is a pretty simple solution with an app that can be easily customized (it's PHP) and it's free. It supports email notifications - and you can hook those into any notification provider you want. I chose the Pushover API because I want to get notified on my phone with alerts - it's simple and elegant. Plus, what's with all the negativity? If you don't like a post, skip it and read on - there's more coming.

still requires a 3rd party server, right? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44518291)

Why would nagios or zabbix be overkill if your product still requires a 3rd party server to set stuff up? I'm sure you could find some service that would monitor your blog (or whatever publicly accessible service) and alert you if it's broken on the internet. Come to think of it, by sending you an ad in the alert message, you may even set up a business making this "free" for the user of the service. It's probably done already, if not, feel free to use the idea.

Re:It's about balancing complexity & simplicit (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44518919)

If you're just running a blog, a simple cron script polling your blog with ping and wget or curl would be cheaper. Notify yourself via SMS or email. No cost.

Re:It's about balancing complexity & simplicit (1)

reifman (786887) | about a year ago | (#44521659)

that's what this is - it's just more robust than a 5 line script ... and therefore allows you to monitor any number of pages and sites. and honestly - $5 = no cost to me. It's when you start talking about $18/mo fees for this that I start to say, what?

Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44517057)

Why is your cursor in the url testbox? Readers, visit a website and see what happens to the focus on the page. Are we smearing the competition?

SMS is free(ish) (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44518837)

Why not just use nagios or other monitor program and set up SMS notifications? If you're already paying for texting, then no need for some silly $5 app. You can use nagios' features from your phone's browser after connecting to your VPN.

bouh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44519189)

Advertising on /.
That is a shame.
This once great site, the first weblog out here, is no more

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