Book Review: Learning Nagios 3.0

Learning Nagios 3.0

I received a copy of Learning Nagios 3.0 for review. The book was written by Wojciech Kocjan. As I’m a Nagios users for years now (started around 2000 if I’m right), I was interested in learning more about the new 3.0 features.

IMHO, Nagios is one of the most powerful open source monitoring platform ever! But often “power” also means increased “complexity” and the maintenance of a Nagios configuration with thousands of hosts and services to monitor can quickly become a real nightmare!

Even if Nagios is a complete stand-alone solution, today, it has been successfully integrated into several monitoring and reporting suites like Groundwork or OSSIM. Other add-ons greatly simplified the management tasks (using web interfaces). Anyway, it’s always good to go back to the basics and learn how the product is working.

The book successfully addresses both audiences: the Nagios newbies and the advanced administrators. However, for the newbies, a good UNIX knowledge is highly required. The author describes the installation of a Nagios server from scratch (starting with the compilation). This is indeed the best way to learn!

Chapter one covers the benefits of a good monitoring tool for companies. Major Nagios concepts are quickly presented and the new features of Nagios 3.0 are reviewed. [The most interesting part for me]

In chapters two and three, the author covers a step by step installation and the configuration of the key elements: hosts, services, contacts, time periods and notifications. Then the user(web) interface is analyzed. Chapter four covers the Nagios plugins and basic checks that can be performed.

Starting from the next chapter, things will become much more interesting and cover a lot of “hot” topics: advanced configuration (chapter five), notifications and events (chapter six), passive checks (chapter seven), remote hosts monitoring (chapter height), SNMP (chapter nine), advanced monitoring – like Windows hosts (chapter ten). Finally, the last chapter will give some nice ways to extend your Nagios.

In all chapters, the new features of Nagios 3.0 are described (what’s new, what changed, etc). The author gives also nice tips to manage complex environment (the organization of config files on disk, how to notify in a efficient way, …)

The book is a must read for all system or network administrators who are involved in Nagios projets. It can help them to have a good overview of the Nagios features and avoid classic mistakes when a monitoring project is started inside an organization (which often lead to a total loss of credibility in the product). Even if you already experience with Nagios, read the book, it will at least give you some nice idea to better manage your environment!