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Nikifor Solovyov
Nikifor Solovyov

Nagios: System and Network Monitoring - The Best Practices for Monitoring Performance and Availability



Nagios: System and Network Monitoring




If you are looking for a powerful and reliable tool to monitor your systems, networks, and infrastructure, you might want to consider Nagios. Nagios is a free and open-source software application that can help you detect and resolve problems before they affect your business operations. In this article, we will introduce you to Nagios, its features, benefits, installation, configuration, monitoring, and data analysis. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what Nagios can do for you and how to use it effectively.




Nagios: System and Network Monitoring books pdf file



What is Nagios and why use it?




Nagios is a type of tool that is used as a monitoring tool for monitoring the network in several ways. The tool is able to provide all the system-related information to the user and also used to real-time monitoring of network and application. The tool is capable of monitoring the server and find the performance bottlenecks.


Nagios runs on Linux and most *nix variants, and can be configured to continuously monitor network services such as SMTP, POP3, HTTP, NNTP, SSH, FTP, etc. It can also supervise host resources (processor load, disk and memory usage, running processes, log files, etc) and environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity.


Nagios offers monitoring and alerting services for servers, switches, applications, services, network protocols, systems metrics, network infrastructure. Hundreds of third-party addons provide for monitoring of virtually all in-house and external applications, services, and systems.


Nagios is widely used by thousands of organizations around the world - ranging from Fortune 500s to small businesses - because it provides them with many benefits such as:


Nagios features and capabilities





  • Agentless monitoring: Nagios can monitor devices without installing any software on them. This reduces the overhead and complexity of managing agents on multiple devices.



  • Determine unresponsive machine and alert staff immediately: Nagios can quickly detect network outages or protocol failures that cause machines to become unreachable or unresponsive. It can then notify the appropriate staff via email, SMS, phone call, etc.



  • Increased server, services, and application availability: Nagios can monitor the availability, uptime, response time of every node on the network. It can also check the status of services or applications running on those nodes. This helps ensure that everything is working as expected and avoid downtime or performance issues.



  • Fast detection of network outages and protocol failures: Nagios can monitor the health of network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, etc. It can also monitor the traffic flow between devices using protocols such as SNMP or NetFlow. This helps identify any problems that may affect the network performance or connectivity.



  • Comparing Network Monitoring Solutions? Download our free guide: Nagios provides a comprehensive guide for comparing different network monitoring solutions and choosing the best one for your needs. You can download it for free from their website.



Nagios benefits and advantages





  • Free and open-source: Nagios is licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means you can use it for free and modify it as you wish. You can also access the source code and contribute to the development of Nagios.



  • Flexible and scalable: Nagios can monitor any type of device, service, or application using various methods and protocols. You can also extend its functionality with hundreds of plugins and addons that are available from the Nagios community. Nagios can handle thousands of devices and millions of metrics without compromising performance or reliability.



  • Easy to use and customize: Nagios has a web-based interface that allows you to view and manage your monitoring data from any browser. You can also create custom dashboards, reports, graphs, alerts, etc. to suit your preferences and needs. Nagios has a simple configuration file format that makes it easy to add or modify monitoring objects.



  • Proven and trusted: Nagios has been around since 1999 and has been used by thousands of organizations worldwide. It has won many awards and recognitions for its quality and excellence. It has a large and active community that provides support, feedback, and innovation.



How to install and configure Nagios?




Now that you know what Nagios is and why use it, let's see how to install and configure it on your system. In this section, we will cover the following topics:


Nagios system requirements




Before you install Nagios, you need to make sure that your system meets the minimum requirements for running it. These are:



  • A Linux or *nix operating system (such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, etc)



  • A web server (such as Apache or Nginx)



  • A PHP interpreter (version 5.3 or higher)



  • A database server (such as MySQL or PostgreSQL)



  • A compiler (such as GCC or Clang)



  • A mail server (such as Postfix or Sendmail)



  • A network connection (for downloading packages and communicating with devices)



You can check the availability of these components on your system using the following commands:


which httpd which php which mysql which gcc which postfix ping www.nagios.org


If any of these commands returns an error or nothing, you need to install the missing component using your system's package manager (such as apt, yum, dnf, etc).


Nagios installation steps




Once you have all the required components on your system, you can proceed with the installation of Nagios. The installation steps are:



  • Download the latest version of Nagios Core from the official website: https://www.nagios.org/downloads/nagios-core/



  • Extract the downloaded archive to a temporary directory: tar xzf nagios-*.tar.gz



  • Change to the extracted directory: cd nagios-*



  • Run the configure script with the appropriate options: ./configure --with-command-group=nagcmd --with-httpd-conf=/etc/httpd/conf.d



  • Compile the source code: make all



  • Install the binaries, init script, sample config files, etc: make install



  • Create a nagios user and group: make install-groups-users



  • Add apache user to nagcmd group: usermod -a -G nagcmd apache



  • Install the web interface files: make install-webconf



  • Create a nagiosadmin account for accessing the web interface: htpasswd -c /usr/local/nagios/etc/htpasswd.users nagiosadmin



  • Restart the web server: systemctl restart httpd



  • Install the service or daemon files: make install-daemoninit



  • Start the nagios service: systemctl start nagios



  • Enable the nagios service to start on boot: systemctl enable nagios



Congratulations! You have successfully installed Nagios on your system. You can now access the web interface by visiting http://your-server-ip/nagios and entering the nagiosadmin username and password you created earlier.


Nagios configuration steps




After you have installed Nagios, you need to configure it to monitor your systems and networks. The configuration steps are:



  • Edit the main configuration file: /usr/local/nagios/etc/nagios.cfg. This file contains global settings for Nagios, such as log file location, check interval, notification options, etc. You can change these settings according to your preferences and needs.



  • Edit the resource file: /usr/local/nagios/etc/resource.cfg. This file contains macros that can be used in other configuration files, such as user names, passwords, paths, etc. You can define your own macros here or modify the existing ones.



  • Edit the object configuration files: /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/*.cfg. These files contain definitions of monitoring objects, such as hosts, services, commands, contacts, groups, etc. You can add or modify these objects to specify what and how to monitor with Nagios. You can also create your own object configuration files and include them in the main configuration file.



  • Verify the configuration files: /usr/local/nagios/bin/nagios -v /usr/local/nagios/etc/nagios.cfg. This command will check the syntax and validity of your configuration files and report any errors or warnings. You should fix any issues before proceeding to the next step.



  • Restart the nagios service: systemctl restart nagios. This command will apply the changes you made to the configuration files and reload the monitoring data.



Congratulations! You have successfully configured Nagios on your system. You can now view and manage your monitoring data from the web interface.


How to monitor systems and networks with Nagios?




Now that you have installed and configured Nagios, let's see how to monitor your systems and networks with it. In this section, we will cover the following topics:


Nagios monitoring concepts and terminology




Nagios uses some basic concepts and terminology to describe its monitoring process. These are:



  • Host: A host is any device that can be monitored by Nagios, such as a server, a switch, a router, a printer, etc. A host can have one or more services associated with it.



  • Service: A service is any process or function that runs on a host or a network, such as HTTP, SSH, CPU load, disk usage, etc. A service can have one of four possible states: OK, WARNING, CRITICAL, or UNKNOWN.



  • Check: A check is an action that Nagios performs to determine the status of a host or a service. A check can be either active or passive. An active check is initiated by Nagios at regular intervals. A passive check is submitted by an external source to Nagios.



  • Command: A command is a script or a program that Nagios executes to perform a check. A command can be either built-in or custom. A built-in command is provided by Nagios or its plugins. A custom command is defined by the user.



  • Plugin: A plugin is a script or a program that performs a specific check and returns the result to Nagios. Plugins are usually written in Perl, Python, Bash, C, etc. There are hundreds of plugins available for Nagios that can monitor various aspects of systems and networks.



  • Addon: An addon is a script or a program that extends the functionality of Nagios in some way. Addons can provide additional features such as data visualization, notification methods, authentication mechanisms, etc.



  • Contact: A contact is a person or a group that can be notified by Nagios when a host or a service changes its state. A contact can have one or more notification methods associated with it, such as email, SMS, phone call, etc. A contact can have different notification options for different states and times.



  • Group: A group is a collection of hosts, services, or contacts that share some common characteristics or attributes. A group can be used to simplify the configuration and management of monitoring objects.



  • Time period: A time period is a predefined or custom range of time that can be used to specify when to perform checks, send notifications, generate reports, etc. A time period can have one or more entries that define the days and hours of the time range.



Nagios monitoring methods and protocols




Nagios can monitor systems and networks using various methods and protocols. These are:



  • SNMP: SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol. It is a standard protocol for collecting and organizing information about managed devices on a network. Nagios can use SNMP to monitor network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, etc. and retrieve metrics such as bandwidth usage, interface status, CPU load, memory usage, etc.



  • HTTP: HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is a protocol for transferring data between web servers and clients. Nagios can use HTTP to monitor web servers and applications and check metrics such as response time, content availability, SSL certificates, etc.



  • SSH: SSH stands for Secure Shell. It is a protocol for secure remote login and command execution. Nagios can use SSH to monitor remote Linux or Unix servers and execute commands or scripts on them.



  • FTP: FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a protocol for transferring files between hosts on a network. Nagios can use FTP to monitor file servers and check metrics such as file availability, file size, file permissions, etc.



  • Other protocols: Nagios can also monitor other network protocols such as SMTP, POP3, IMAP, DNS, LDAP, ICMP, DHCP, IPMI, etc. These protocols are used for various purposes such as email delivery, domain name resolution, directory services, ping tests, dynamic IP allocation, hardware management, etc.



Nagios monitoring plugins and addons




Nagios can use plugins and addons to extend its monitoring capabilities and features. These are:



  • Plugins: Plugins are scripts or programs that perform specific checks and return the result to Nagios. Plugins are usually written in Perl, Python, Bash, C, etc. There are hundreds of plugins available for Nagios that can monitor various aspects of systems and networks. You can also write your own plugins using the plugin development guidelines.



  • Addons: Addons are scripts or programs that extend the functionality of Nagios in some way. Addons can provide additional features such as data visualization, notification methods, authentication mechanisms, etc. There are many addons available for Nagios that can enhance its capabilities and integration. You can also write your own addons using the addon development guidelines.



Nagios monitoring wizards and tools




Nagios also provides some wizards and tools that can help you with the monitoring configuration and management. These are:



  • Wizards: Wizards are web-based interfaces that guide you through the process of adding or modifying monitoring objects. Wizards can simplify and automate the configuration of common devices, services, or applications. Nagios XI comes with 70+ monitoring wizards for point-and-click setup of the most commonly monitored devices. You can also create your own wizards using the wizard development guidelines.



  • Tools: Tools are web-based interfaces that provide various utilities and functions for monitoring. Tools can help you with tasks such as bulk modifications, configuration backups, log analysis, performance tuning, etc. Nagios XI comes with several tools that can improve your monitoring efficiency and productivity. You can also create your own tools using the tool development guidelines.



How to view and analyze Nagios data?




Now that you have monitored your systems and networks with Nagios, let's see how to view and analyze the data collected by Nagios. In this section, we will cover the following topics:


Nagios web interface and dashboards




Nagios provides a web-based interface that allows you to view and manage your monitoring data from any browser. The web interface consists of several pages and menus that display different types of information and options. Some of the main pages and menus are:



  • Home: This page shows an overview of your monitoring status, such as the number of hosts and services in different states, the recent alerts, the network outages, etc.



  • Current Status: This page shows the current status of all your hosts and services, as well as their performance data, check results, notifications, comments, etc.



  • Reports: This page shows various reports and graphs that summarize your monitoring data over a period of time, such as availability, trends, histograms, SLA, etc.



  • Configuration: This page shows the configuration details of all your monitoring objects, such as hosts, services, commands, contacts, groups, etc.



  • System: This page shows the system information and settings of your Nagios server, such as process status, server load, disk usage, log files, etc.



  • Help: This page shows the documentation and support resources for Nagios, such as user manuals, FAQs, forums, etc.



Nagios also allows you to create custom dashboards that display the monitoring data that is most relevant to you. You can add various widgets to your dashboards, such as status maps, gauges, pie charts, histograms, etc. You can also share your dashboards with other users or export them as PDF files.


Nagios reports and graphs




Nagios provides various reports and graphs that summarize your monitoring data over a period of time. These reports and graphs can help you with tasks such as:



  • Measuring the availability and uptime of your hosts and services.



  • Identifying the trends and patterns of your performance data.



  • Comparing the performance of different hosts or services.



  • Analyzing the distribution and frequency of your alerts and notifications.



  • Evaluating the compliance and SLA of your monitoring objectives.



Nagios allows you to customize your reports and graphs by selecting the time range, the hosts or services, the metrics, the filters, etc. You can also schedule your reports to be generated and delivered automatically via email. You can also export your reports and graphs as CSV, XML, JSON, or PDF files.


Nagios alerts and notifications




Nagios provides alerts and notifications that inform you of the status changes of your hosts and services. Alerts and notifications can help you with tasks such as:



  • Detecting and responding to problems quickly and efficiently.



  • Escalating critical issues to the appropriate staff or teams.



  • Acknowledging and commenting on problems or recoveries.



  • Keeping track of the history and details of problems or recoveries.



Nagios allows you to customize your alerts and notifications by selecting the contacts or contact groups, the notification methods, the notification options, the notification intervals, etc. You can also use various macros to include dynamic information in your alerts and notifications. You can also use plugins or addons to extend your notification methods with additional features such as SMS, phone call, instant message, etc.


Conclusion




In this article, we have introduced you to Nagios: System and Network Monitoring. We have covered the following topics:



  • What is Nagios and why use it?



  • How to install and configure Nagios?



  • How to monitor systems and networks with Nagios?



  • How to view and analyze Nagios data?



We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of what Nagios can do for you and how to use it effectively. Nagios is a powerful and reliable tool that can help you monitor your systems, networks, and infrastructure with ease and confidence. If you want to learn more about Nagios or get support from its community, you can visit its official website: https://www.nagios.org/


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Nagios:



  • What is the difference between Nagios Core and Nagios XI?



Nagios Core is the free and open-source version of Nagios that provides basic monitoring functionality. Nagios XI is the commercial version of Nagios that provides


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