Zabbix supports many different ways of monitoring, including agentless, SNMP and IPMI. Zabbix also provides a monitoring agent, which has a great set of built-in items for monitoring diskspace, processes, memory usage and many other things.
While the list of built-in items is growing with each release, there will always be something else we will want to monitor. Luckily, Zabbix agent is very easy to extend with new items by using a feature called userparameters. Zabbix userparameters are commands that the agent runs and expects an item value to be returned.
Applications – software applications – mean a specific thing in IT. Usually, that’s a user-oriented piece of software. A web browser, word processor, game. Lately, mobile applications have somewhat lowered the bar, even down to I Am Rich applications.
And then there’s Zabbix with it’s own definition for applications. So what are applications in Zabbix?
Let’s talk bugs. The important Zabbix bugs. What are those? The ones that have the most votes in the Zabbix issue tracker.
There are currently 1308 open bugreports. When we looked at this number back in November last year, it was a hundred less. That’s a pretty huge number, is everything bad? Not really, as some might be duplicates and some might be incorrect reports. Not many, though, as there’s constant grooming going on. Most of the remaining are valid bugreports, but not too critical – some are even as minor as an offset of a few pixels in some page. Still a bug, but something we can live with, mostly. We already looked at the top-voted bugreport, now is the time to glance at others same as we did with feature requests.
The bug must be still unfixed to be important. If a new version of Zabbix comes out and the server crashes for all the users, that is the most important bug. Until it is fixed, hopefully, soon.
But there are some long-standing bugs that linger around just below the “fix-it” surface – they’re not terrible enough to be fixed right away, and somewhat complicated usually. Such bugs can be around for many years, sometimes not even being fixed, but going away because a feature gets dropped completely. We’d need a way to measure which of all those known bugs is the most important. And there is a way to find out – same as with features, users can vote on bugreports. The bugreport with the most votes is titled deadlock between server and frontend.
So you had a cluster monitored. As is common with clusters, you wanted to have some cluster-wide parameter adding. Average CPU load, number of nodes online – something not tied to a single cluster node, thus you created a special host to denote the whole cluster. Then you went to that host, clicked “Create trigger”, specified all the items on individual cluster hosts, clicked “Add”… and the trigger was not there. Mysteriously missing.
Oh, wait. That trigger actually appeared on all the cluster hosts. Is this a bug?
Returning to the events of the Open Source Monitoring Conference 2016, Avishai Ish-Shalom discussed an engineer’s approach to monitoring. David Hustace from OpenNMS told positive stories about this true-opensource monitoring tool.
Zabbix was this reliable friend, always sending you an email, SMS or both when something went down. It sometimes sent you a lot of emails, but you never got angry at Zabbix about that – it was just eager to help you, make sure you did not miss the weekly disaster. But then… last week… Zabbix did not send you an SMS. It did not send you an email. It did not telepathically inform you. But things were DOWN. Server was not RESPONDING.
Zabbix knew about this. As you review the data, sitting in a dark room, the graphs clearly show the downtime. But there was-no-alert. How is that possible? Wait, what, this is impossible. You can see on the glowing screen that the main action, a crucial piece in getting those alerts, is disabled. That just cannot be, as nobody, NOBODY would ever disable that. How, oh how. Why, oh why.
Monitoring most often deals with IT infrastructure. Sometimes it diverges a bit and starts caring about temperature and humidity, but in most cases that’s still limited to datacentre monitoring. In a talk at the Open Source Monitoring Conference 2016, Antony Stone covered some real world monitoring that goes a bit further than temperature monitoring. On a more classic-IT note, Shlomi Zadok covered system management with Foreman and security/compliance reporting by integrating with OpenSCAP. Let’s see what these fine gentlemen talked about.
We talked about the second most-voted feature request for Zabbix, an ability to create a graph containing an item for all LLD-created entities like network interfaces or filesystems. There was a teaser on using the Zabbix API to implement something like that. Now is the time to check out a simple example that shows such a functionality using a Perl module for the Zabbix API, Zabbix::Tiny.
Don’t despair if you have never used Zabbix::Tiny or even Perl before – everybody starts that way, and questions are always welcome. You might also want to review the posts that introduced Zabbix::Tiny:
We recently covered the most desirable feature request in Zabbix – ability to tell an item to collect a value right now, instead of waiting for the next polling interval. But there are many more feature requests – actually, there are almost 2000 open feature requests. Let’s look at TOP20 out of those, and let’s figure out what’s the second most desirable thing to be implemented for Zabbix.