Q&A with Nagios Developer John Frickson

John Frickson, Nagios’ Senior C Developer, sat down to chat about the latest Nagios releases, including Nagios Core, NDOUtils, and Nagios Plugins. John has been a developer for over 37 years.

Alex Syse: What is the greatest improvement in the latest Nagios Core release? How will it help organizations that use Nagios Core?

John Frickson: I don’t think I could highlight any single improvement; there are too many. The fixes for security vulnerabilities are pretty big: fixes to the status maps, increasing socket queue length for listen(), a fix for “Core Worker seems to be choked” errors, fixing UTF-8 problems in the UI, and lots of other things. Core users will find it more secure, a little more responsive, more stable, and a little bit better UI.

AS: What future plans do you have for Nagios Core?

JF: I have quite a few things planned, some to be done soon, some later. Distributed workers (similar to mod-gearman) is a significant one that Bryan Heden, another Nagios developer, is currently working on. I’d like to improve HTML handling in check results, messages, and alerts, have recurring scheduled downtimes, and have an out-of-the-box high availability configuration. The whole object relationships/inheritance/dependency/contacts/escalations, etc. system needs to be somewhat improved, which will most likely be a big task. I want Nagios Core to configure, compile, and install without problems on most systems, including Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, and OS/X, like I recently did for NRPE and NDOUtils. Get the bug backlog cleaned up.

AS: Why is the NDOUtils release important?

JF: The most important piece is the fix for the problem that would cause the queue to grow and ndo2db to not respond anymore, often leading to a crash. That had been a problem for a small group of users for a long time. The fix has been in test since shortly after I started, so the release finally makes that official. Also, NDOUtils has much better cross-platform usability on a wide variety of systems. Config, compile, and install work much better on the less-used platforms.

AS: What were some of the best enhancements and fixes in the Nagios Plugins release?

We have added support for SNMPv3 and IPv6 to check_snmp, fixed SSL options and chunked encoding in check_http, added the -v option to check_disk to get more detailed information about a problematic partition, made check_ldap accept LDAP URIs, added performance data to check_file_age, made check_jabber work with Openfire servers, increased the size of the RegEx buffer, fixed resource leaks, stopped cutting off the output of ‘ps’, and many other changes.

AS: How has Nagios Core changed since you arrived?

JF: It’s bigger, fresher, more exciting, kills 99% of germs, washes the dishes, diapers the baby, and gives foot rubs. Seriously, though, a lot of the changes aren’t really visible to the majority of users. Mostly, I’m getting the bug backlog reduced so we can be more responsive to bugs and feature requests and get into a position where I can spend time on some bigger changes.

AS: Are there any plans for an interface update?

JF: Nothing earth-shattering, but yes, I’m working on some updates. I need to get the interface updated to at least the early 21st century. Some things need to be added, and it needs to be reorganized. Hopefully, it will be even easier to use, have more useful information, and look better.

AS: Do you have any side projects that you are currently working on?

JF: I have an idea for something that could have a huge impact and possibly be worth millions of dollars. If it works the way I’m hoping, it probably won’t, but you have to dream. And no, I can’t tell you what it is.

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