The benefits of FOSS and why I contribute to LibreNMS

So I’d planned to write this up closer to the time that alerting was to be released for LibreNMS but as I’ve recently been banned from the observium irc channel which I can only assume was done because our subscription at work has now expired, it wasn’t a couple of days ago adam was attempting to play down the impact LibreNMS is having on observium so I thought I’d put the post up now.

Over the last 12 months LibreNMS has gone from strength to strength with regards to both it’s visual improvements, the bugs that have been fixed and most importantly the improvements and additions that have made it into the software. For free software which doesn’t rely on donations or kickstarter funding it’s quite simply the users and developers of the software that make this project what it is. This doesn’t just go for free software, it’s the same for anything but instead of users, it’s clients or customers. Without anyone using or buying your software then you’ve got nothing more than a hobby!

Having initially started with observium, the reasons why I moved on from it are already written in this blog although I haven’t gone into a huge amount of detail. What initially started my interest in either forking it or finding an alternative was that your contributions upstream would have the license changed and you had to basically hand over copyright, whilst I don’t seek recognition for the things I may have contributed, I certainly don’t want someone making it appear that they wrote it or having a restrictive license slapped all over it stopping others from potentially making use of it.

Anyway it’s been an interesting 12 months having to get to grips with the current code base to work out how things have been done before, what’s good about it and what’s poor. A lot of things have been tidied up to make the development a little bit easier, code formatting is being slowly updated to become more standardised, users are contributing to the Wiki and Documentation to make life easier for others. Users are passing by asking for help whether it’s on irc or via issues on the repo GitHub, some stick around to help others, contribute code or ideas whilst some disappear to hopefully enjoy the fruits of everyone’s labour – it’s this part that makes FOSS so appealing to me and others, a lot of others! It’s also done in such a way that should make people feel welcome and comfortable in popping in and asking questions [1].

Anyway, I mentioned at the start that I was going to post something like this around the time the alerting system was released into LibreNMS, now that I’ve done this earlier I think it’s still worth mentioning that an alerting system is currently being finished off. The main codebase has been developed by f0o, I’ve been testing it this week and it looks and appears to be amazing. The rule system is extremely flexible yet simple. Now I imagine that if we were to take this code, strip the license off it and make it closed source then f0o wouldn’t have written it, however due to the openness of the project then he’s been willing to contribute a substantial amount of his own time on this and in turn, made LibreNMS advance forward.

If you’re looking for an NMS then I’d highly recommend LibreNMS, it’s already a great project and with the soon to be introduced alerting system, it should hold it’s own against any other system out there.

[1] http://postman.memetic.org/pipermail/observium/2013-November/004474.html
https://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]/msg04114.html

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