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Peter Andersson
peter@it-slav.net

I've already got a female to worry about. Her name is the Enterprise.
-- Kirk, "The Corbomite Maneuver", stardate 1514.0
11
May

A new project called Icinga has been created and alot of fuzz in the Nagios community has been created.

Andreas Ericson one of the members of the Nagios steering board has written this to his blog:

Some of you might know that a fork of Nagios has appeared recently. If you don’t, go read about it in the nagios-devel mailing list archives. They’re available on sourceforge somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to look for them right now.

Working for a company that makes a living out of supporting and writing addons for Nagios, I must say I’m a bit sad. Being an enthusiastic and optimistic guy, I must say I’m thrilled.

A couple of facts before we set off:

  • The fork was instigated largely by german members of the community. It appears to have been spearheaded by a german company (though I don’t know this for sure) that makes its living selling customized Nagios solutions and/or support. I don’t know this for sure, but it sure looks as if that’s what’s happened.
  • The german company have unlawfully used the Nagios trademark after being asked not to do so. It has also registered Nagios as a trademark in Germany, to which is a huge slap in the face of an opensource project. They are naturally not on the best of terms with Nagios’ founding father, Ethan, at the moment.
  • Ethan has been absent working with the aforementioned lawsuit (or whatever it is a trademark violation results in when friendly talk is no longer enough), and also trying to put together a new webbased user interface for Nagios.
  • Patches from all levels of the community have been erratically ignored during Ethan’s absence. Some were picked up, but as many or more slipped between the cracks.
  • Ethan has always been the single person with commit access to the Nagios CVS (yuk) repository.
  • The fork uses git to track their patches.

The community developers have voiced a complaint that they cite as the primary reason for the fork:

Nagios is not being developed fast and openly enough.

I agree with this, and I’m currently discussing with Ethan about expanding the developer-base. Unfortunately, the scarce resource “trust” is even scarcer for those developers who joined the fork, which leaves the available candidates rather few. Happily, I count myself among them, and apparently so does Ethan. He emailed me away from public channels asking if I’d be willing to become a core developer, and op5 has graciously given a tentative promise to devote one to two days per week to Nagios development / patch management. Nothing’s settled yet, but development has to continue even if the core maintainer takes a leave of absence, so one way or another, we’ll make sure this happens.

In a perfect world (ie, one where I get to decide everything ;)), here’s what will happen:

  • Nagios incorporates the good changes that the fork produces.
  • The benevolent but previously frustrated developers from the fork hop back to working on Nagios when they see it’s once again moving forward. They could actually do that by keeping on working on their fork, although that would set them apart from the Nagios community a bit rather than make them members of it.
  • Nagios development picks up its pace and a new GUI is added to it which fulfills everyones wildest dreams.
  • Nagios development moves to using git instead of CVS. Since git actually invites people to fork the code but makes it incredibly simple to merge those changes back to the pre-fork project again, there could be any number of forks and Nagios would be the grand total of the best of all of them. Who would win on that? Well, the Nagios users for a start, and Nagios itself, and Ethan, and every company making a living off of Nagios one way or another. So that’d be a win-win-win-win-win situation? I like it.

For those who wonder where I’m standing in all this, I’ll be working with Ethan to make the community developers happy while at the same time trying to prevent the community users from living through the confusion that a long-lived fork means. In the end, I hope Nagios becomes a better product with a stronger and better community backing it, which seems rather inevitable now that more people than ever are working frantically at making it so. Hopefully it results in a happy community where The Right People(tm) are part of a Nagios steering committee or some such.

Time will tell. It always does 😉


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