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Test Driving Zenoss
December 3, 2007
Zenoss is a new open source, company-backed network management system. It manages applications as well as servers and network devices--we'll explain what that means shortly. We decided it was time to give it an honest run for its money. Wait, it is free, but still we wanted to give it a real review. This article will be a light how-to focused on our experiences and first impressions with Zenoss. Next, we'll attempt to convert a real production environment's monitoring system from Nagios to Zenoss.
The Zenoss installation process is relatively painless. After installing dependencies, you need to download the Zenoss tarball and run the installer script that comes with it. The installation guides, while they do provide the necessary information, are painful to read. The Ubuntu guide, for example, suggests that we add a user named "zenoss" and set the password to "zenoss" if security isn't a concern. The entire document assumes you are new to Linux, which is also extremely annoying. One is left to assume that this was community-contributed documentation.
The official documentation itself, however, is wonderful. It does an excellent job of explaining how the entire system works, and provides some good examples. Some sections are a bit sparse, but documentation cannot cover everything. The best place to find documentation beyond the Zenoss Guide is, of course, Google, which frequently leads you back to an excellent community-contributed document on more advanced topics.
Back to the installation process: We may have praised it too hastily. The installation guides mention that you need Python 2.4 installed for the installer to run successfully. It claims that you can later switch back to 2.5, because the system itself will run just fine. This is not true at all; stick with 2.4 as the default Python on your Zenoss server. Most things work under 2.5, but you will frequently encounter Python errors spewed to the Web page unless you run it under 2.4. After the install is complete, you can browse to HTTP port 8080 on your Zenoss server.