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* Jesse Rhoads <[log in to unmask]> [2007-04-02 10:05:55 -0400]:
> I am surprised no one has recommended the original Big Brother from
> http://www.bb4.org/download.html - it's a pretty easy to set up, so 
> don't overlook it.

While BigBrother was popular years ago, I don't recommend it for anyone
nowadays. Some issues I have with it:

    Old - The system is currently five years old. This is not
    necessarily a problem, however, it reveals some insight into the
    other problems.

    Development - no new development is being done on BB.

    Reporting Accuracy/Frequency - BB is overly sensitive about some
    parameters (disk utilization) and downright inaccurate about others
    (NTP). When some thresholds are tripped, it triggers a flood of
    emails, causing a boy who cried wolf scenario wherein a large number
    of false positives causes administrators to overlook systems that
    are actually malfunctioning.

    Unexpected bugs - BB sometimes complains about services being down
    when they are not. Restarting BB usually helps, but the ultimate
    problem lies with BB itself.

    Convoluted internals - BB is composed of a tangled web of spaghetti
    coded shell scripts and environment variables. This was the biggest
    problem for me, when I wanted to extend the system or even do simple
    things like change the reporting rate.

    Scalability - BB cannot monitor large networks, performance suffers
    greatly from this.

    Cost - BB was been split into two parallel source trees, a
    commercial ("Professional") version and a free version. The free
    version has obvious licensing issues for Endai (it is only "free for
    non commercial use"), and the Professional version is quite costly:
    $2500 base, plus $100 per client = $6,600 just to monitor our
    current network as it stands.

    Furthermore:

        "The commercial. version of Big Brother is an expensive waste of
        money with poor support (Quest support in the UK don't even
        understand the product), little different to the non-commercial
        version. Their tech support were rather dismissive of feature
        requests, not that I think they understood my requirement."

    Popularity - this is not a hard and fast rule, but can be used as
    general metric to gauge the quality of a product. At this point,
    almost every who formerly used BB has switched to Nagios or some
    other system.

    Interface - The web interface as it currently stands is quite ugly,
    this also is not a necessarily problem, but an intuitive visual
    interface can greatly improve accuracy and response time to
    potential problems.


> Nagios is quite complex in comparison as far as creating a
> configuration.

For sure. Nagios is a pita to set up, but once you are done with
configuration, it runs really smoothly. If the OP wants easy setup, I'm
sure there are other modern monitoring systems out there -- but avoid
BigBrother like the plague.

Thomas