As many of you know, a recent fork of Nagios has been announced, accompanied with a flurry of activity in both the community and press. An email thread titled “Nagios is dead! Long live Icinga!” began last week on the nagios-devel mailing list to kick this off.
What are my thoughts on this announcement? I think its one of the best things to ever happen to Nagios.
Why? The announcement of the fork, along with the community’s reaction to it has brought to light several things:
- Community interest in furthering Nagios is at an all-time high
- Community developers want to get more directly involved in the future project direction
- Nagios development has been slowed by some bottlenecks
- When the community perceives a problem, the community reacts
- Communication within the community needs to be improved
This entire event has seen some ugly misconceptions and half-truths lobbed in the direction of Nagios Enterprises, the Nagios Project, the Nagios Community, and myself as an individual. That’s unfortunate.
I am disappointed that no one from the Icinga project contacted me directly about this before the decision to fork was made. One of the reasons that was stated for the fork was lack of communication on my part. The unexpected announcement of this fork clearly demonstrates that there are communication problems on both sides of the issue.
Many of the individual developers in the Icinga project did what they felt was best in the situation they believed to be true. They appreciated Nagios, wanted to see it succeed, and wanted to play a direct role in its evolution. Many of them have been very active in the Nagios project and community over the years. Their efforts have been much appreciated by both myself and the community as a whole. To those individuals, I pose this question – If what you wanted to do was help create “the” new Nagios interface and be materially involved in the future development of Nagios, why didn’t you just ask? It’s apparent that we all need to improve our communication and demonstrate better understanding of each other.
In the course of discussions about this fork within the Nagios community, many concerns have been raised, including: the future of Nagios, the Nagios trademark policy, and the commercialization of Nagios.
In an effort to begin to address these concerns, I have penned some of my thoughts in the following write-ups:
- Using a fork – Don’t forget the spoon and knife
- Nagios, forks, and trademarks
- The Nagios trademark policy – Why it’s necessary
- The commercialization of Nagios and OSS – Can good things come?
- The Future of Nagios – Where do we go from here?
Open Source communities are not a panacea. The sky is not always blue. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely delusional. Community can be great, and community can be frustrating. Ask anyone with long-term involvement in an Open Source project.
It’s interesting to watch how individuals and companies react to situations of distress and change. Challenges can bring out the best and worst in all of us. True intentions, motivations, and personal character are often brought to light. I’m sure that the result of all of this will be a stronger Nagios project and community that endures far into the future.
To those of you who would complain about the state of things now or in the future, the time has come to “put up or shut up”. If you see the need for change, you must be willing to materially involve yourself and commit your time, effort, and resources to affect that change. Don’t assume that someone else will do things for you, and don’t complain if they don’t.
As things move forward, I can almost certainly guarantee you that you will not always get what you want and things will not always be done the way you want them to. Neither I, nor anyone else involved in the Nagios project, will attempt to please everyone. That is neither possible, nor beneficial to the overall effort.
I would suggest that we need one more fork for Nagios. That being a mental fork – a change in mindset – rather than a code fork. Lets all work together to improve the way we think, communicate, and affect the direction of Nagios for the better.
Are changes necessary? Yes. Will changes happen? Yes. Is Nagios dead? Hardly.