Zabbix – Open Source Monitoring

zabbixLast spring, at a job interview – the interviewer tells me that they are considering using Zabbix to monitor their environment. I was asked what I knew about Zabbix. And unfortunately, the answer was nothing. They told me to go learn it, and come back in a week and so, I did!

The job never materialized, but nonetheless, I am grateful that I was introduced to this product, and want to share with you a little bit about how I am using it… At home!!

For those not familiar with the Product, the headline on their web page describes it as “The Enterprise-class Monitoring Solution for Everyone”. Well – I don’t know about “everyone”, but for those of us that are used to Linux and other open source projects, I think it’s definitely worth considering.

To get it up and going, I fired up a CentOS 6.4 64-bit Linux Virtual Machine. Installed the LAMP stack on top. And off to the races. The getting started guide provided by the product is pretty good, so, I won’t bother repeating it here. I will just give you a few examples of how I am using it in my home environment.


The first thing I would like a monitoring system to tell me – what are the current issues with my servers? Without doing any customization to the agents, I am able to see the current troubles…



That is a real-time view of what was going on.  But maybe this is normal?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see how your box has been performing over time?

Here are a is a graph showing CPU load on the “alpha” virtual machine over the last hour while I was generating load.


And a graph showing memory usage on alpha over the same period.


Or maybe you want to predict when your file system is going to fill up?


Or how much of the bandwidth you are buying, you are actually using?



And if you can’t install an agent on the device – maybe it’s an appliance – or locked down by the vendor. A nice easy “ping”‘ test will at least tell you it’s on the network – or more importantly – when it’s not!



Another test that I am doing – is my available? I created a “scenario” to retrieve my home page to see if is on-line – and even retrieve a 5 MB file so that I can judge how fast (or slow) my hosting provider is.




When a “problem” does show up – what can it do?  It can send you an email. Or if you have a modem attached, and are willing to pay, there is an SMS interface.



My favourite feature those are the maps. Although it takes a little bit of effort to setup, you can create a map that represents your environment that reacts to alarms real time – giving you a graphical view of your environment.


You can quickly see what elements are in trouble, and even the relationship between elements. 


Only so much I can do in my home lab. There’s other features that in time I would like to get the opportunity to play with.

  • SNMP Traps coming from devices into Zabbix.

  • IPMI Interface into the hardware. (The OS doesn’t necessarily know there is a hardware fault – IPMI gets you a view into the hardware.)


Are you using Zabbix? Doing anything cool with it?