The OpenNMS FAQ Maintained by Tarus Balog <tarus(at)opennms.org>, v1.0, 01 Jan 2005
The OpenNMS mailing lists have become rather successful as a channel for discussion of all aspects of the OpenNMS project and application. As is often a result with such lists, increased in the volume of traffic has prompted users to call for a FAQ to help maintain the signal-to-noise ratio. If you would like any help from the OpenNMS mailing list, this is the place to start!
I borrowed the format and a large amount of text for this document from the Triangle Linux Users Group FAQ (http://www.trilug.org/faq/TriLUG-faq.txt) written by Tanner Lovelace.
About the Document
This document is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the OpenNMS Project. It is mainly intended as a helpful reference point for the OpenNMS mailing lists, though it is a good starting point for anyone interested in OpenNMS in general.
If you have any suggestions, additions, or corrections for this document, please contact Tarus Balog (tarus(at)opennms.org).
OpenNMS in General
These are general questions about OpenNMS.
What is OpenNMS?
OpenNMS is an enterprise-grade network management platform built using the open-source development model. This means that the software code is available at no cost, and it is developed by a large, geographically diverse group of people. Unlike other open-source management tools, OpenNMS was designed from the beginning to scale to tens of thousands of devices (hence the term "enterprise-grade") and the goal is to have virtually unlimited scalability.
What does OpenNMS do?
Currently, OpenNMS focuses on three main things:
1) Service Monitoring: it monitors network services like web servers, databases, DNS servers, etc.
2) Data Collection: Using SNMP, OpenNMS will collect performance data about the network.
3) Event Management and Notifications: OpenNMS includes a robust event management and notification system.
How much does OpenNMS cost?
The OpenNMS software is, and always will be, published under the GNU General Public License (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html#TOCGPL) which qualifies it as "free" (as in freedom) software.
Who is OpenNMS?
OpenNMS is a community of programmers and network management professionals who are tired of the status quo with respect to commercial enterprise-grade network management solutions. Too expensive and too hard to maintain, they are dedicated to providing an alternative using open-source.
The OpenNMS community is best defined by the project mailing lists (https://sourceforge.net/mail/?group_id=4141), the website and the IRC channel (#opennms on irc.freenode.net).
The OpenNMS trademark is owned by The OpenNMS Group, Inc. (see 2.6 below).
What is opennms.org?
The opennms.org domain is the home of the OpenNMS project. The website http://www.opennms.org is a Wiki, a collaborative publishing tool that is maintained by the community to help promote the OpenNMS application. If you have specific questions about OpenNMS, be sure to check out FAQ section of the Wiki.
In addition, the mailing lists (discussed in section 3 below) are the best resource for a newcomer to ask questions and learn about the application. Like many projects, the documentation could be better (many contributors would rather spend time working on the application versus writing documents) but please check out the documentation on Sourceforge before asking any questions to the lists.
What is opennms.com?
The OpenNMS Group (http://www.opennms.com) is a company dedicated to promoting and supporting the OpenNMS project. They provide commercial services and support for OpenNMS, and can help reduce the network management costs of almost any organization.
Who "runs" OpenNMS?
Inasmuch as OpenNMS can be "run", it is maintained by a number of people, most of whom can be found on the main OpenNMS page on Sourceforge (https://sourceforge.net/projects/opennms/).
Please note that no one gets paid to work on OpenNMS. Even the most fanatical of OpenNMS maintainers, those from The OpenNMS Group, get paid to support their paying customers and not to provide free support. That said, almost all of those people who keep OpenNMS going spend a large amount of time on the mailing lists and on the IRC channel providing help.
OpenNMS Mailing Lists
Questions and "Netiquette" for the mailing lists.
What are the OpenNMS lists?
Currently, there are several OpenNMS lists. Information about most of them can be found at https://sourceforge.net/mail/?group_id=4141.
There are four main lists:
o the main OpenNMS discuss list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-discuss)
This list is for general OpenNMS discussion and can include almost any topic, including non-OpenNMS content related to network management.
o the OpenNMS announce list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-announce)
A very low traffic list for OpenNMS announcements, such a new releases. The OpenNMS discuss list is copied on all posts to this forum, so you don't need to subscribe to both unless you want to make it easier to sort.
o the OpenNMS install list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-install)
This list is for "newbies" and for people having trouble installing OpenNMS.
o the OpenNMS developers list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-devel)
For more hard-core users of OpenNMS and for those wishing to contribute code and/or fix bugs. This list can get quite technical and should not be used for general help questions.
In addition, there are a number of other lists:
o the OpenNMS CVS list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-cvs)
When a change is made to the main OpenNMS CVS repository on Sourceforge, a notice gets sent to this list. Useful mainly for developers.
o the OpenNMS maps list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-maps)
Maps and network management has the religious fervor of abortion, drug laws and gun control. This is a very quiet list for those who want to work on one for OpenNMS
Also, the scope of OpenNMS is to be used worldwide (a number of commercial OpenNMS customers reside outside the US). Internationalization is planned, and we encourage the creation local users groups. Currently we have only one. If you are interested in creating one, let us know (and we may even be able to scare up some swag).
o the Tokyo OpenNMS Users Group (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-ug-tokyo)
This list is to provide a community for OpenNMS users in Japan.
What is "appropriate content" for each of the OpenNMS lists?
The rules for "appropriate content" on the OpenNMS lists are simple:
o Be courteous to others in your postings (no personal attacks on the list please and no profanity)
o Try to stay on topic, or at least post items that are of interest to the group
o No advertising, and no spam (although the OpenNMS Group may post the very rare announcement about commercial services, mainly to alert people that they exist).
In addition, the following guidelines are also a good starting point:
o As stated above, the main OpenNMS discussion list (http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/opennms-discuss) is for the discussion of all topics related to OpenNMS and network management. Please feel free to join the list and ask any questions you may have as either an OpenNMS beginner, intermediate, or expert. We currently have all levels of experience subscribed and you are likely to find someone who can either help out with answers or point you towards further help.
o When posting a "It Does Not Work" message, be sure to include the Operating System you are using, your version of OpenNMS, and how you installed it. For example, recently there was a problem that was the result of a Debian user installing the .deb files from Sourceforge versus using "apt-get" as described in the installation guide. Not that one way is better than the other, but it did make a difference. In follow-ups, you may want to include this information again in summary just in case.
o You are likely to get help from someone with "@opennms.org" in their e-mail address. Please remember that no one gets paid to answer questions on the list, and you should view the help you get in that context. Unless instructed to by the list member, please do *not* write that person directly for personal one-to-one help, and don't cross-post to the list and to their personal e-mail address. Unlike private e-mail, questions posted to the list can help others and help make the community stronger.
The folks who make OpenNMS the success it is do so because they believe in the product and the community, and they will help you if they have time. Really. They will.
o Occasionally the list will drift slightly off-topic, it happens. This is a community. The best thing to do in those occasions is to just wait and let the thread die. Past experience has shown that attempts to squelch a particular topic usually result in a flame war that dwarfs the off-topic thread. Before you respond with a'THIS IS OFF TOPIC' sit back and read your response. Does it contribute? Is it merely prolonging a thread that would otherwise have died? Will it cause the list to errupt in flames (most likely)? If so, don't post it.
Finally, before asking a question on the list, it might help to read How To Ask Questions The Smart Way (http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html) by Eric Raymond.
If the lists aren't moderated, how can there be any rules?
In practice we have had very few problems with off-topic posts, flames, and other list annoyances. If they do become a more serious problem, the steering committee will first remind the offenders. If the problems persist, various defenses including moderation and banning of abusers may be implemented. We hope that it won't be necessary.
In the years that OpenNMS has been around, only one person has been banned from the list. It was for posting the same question, over and over again, every five minutes for two hours on a Saturday (US Eastern Time) morning.
Why wasn't my question answered?
There can be a number of reasons. Usually it is because there was not enough information. Remember to include the O/S, OpenNMS version and how it was installed. OpenNMS has a very "chatty" log system, and those logs can often identify the problem quickly. Locate the OpenNMS logs directory (usually /var/log/opennms) and run "grep ERROR *" and "grep FATAL *" to see if there are any severe log messages, and you may want to include them in your post.
Another reason why you might not receive an answer to your question might be that your question displays a "certain expectation". Most of the people on the mailing list are volunteers and they do reply and contribute either in their free time or in a few minutes they might be able to spare while actually working for somebody else. In both cases, it's precious time and in most cases it's sort of "expensive" time as well. So before posting a question to the mailing list, please read the FAQ. And while you are reading the FAQ, try to understand which function of OpenNMS might provide what you are looking for. Once you have found out that, search for the term on this wiki. You can try google as well. Or any other search engine you like - sometimes people put OpenNMS-hints on their own blogs.
As said before, if you want somebody to do that work for you, consider commercial support.
This should however not discourage you - if you have looked at the examples and the documentation and still can't get it to work, share. We do like to help people and we want to see OpenNMS working for you, so we will certainly try to help. That might (see again, above) mean that we say at one point: Please look for commercial support.
Can I repost my question?
Certainly, but please wait a decent amount of time (several days to a week). If you need more rapid response, please consider commercial support.
I am a member of the list, but I get an e-mail saying that posting is limited to list members. What's happening?
For spam control, the lists check the "From" field of e-mails sent to them to make sure they match a registered member. While case insensitive, the match must be exact. So if you send mail from "firstname.lastname@example.org" but subscribed as "email@example.com", it will block your posts.
I don't want to play anymore. Can you unsubscribe me?
There are hundreds of people on many of the OpenNMS lists, so the list maintainers love taking time out of their day to manage your list subscriptions (grin). At the bottom of every post is a link to the Sourceforge list site where you can change your subscription options.
Yes, it does require a password, and you may not have set one or your may have forgotten it. Do not panic - there is a "Forgotten Your Password" button that will mail it to you.
I went on vacation, and now I don't get any OpenNMS mail. Why?
Vacation e-mail auto-responders are the bane of list maintainers everywhere. Please, please, please, do not use one of these things and subscribe to an OpenNMS list - unless you have taken the time to configure your auto-responder to ignore list posts.
In the header of every OpenNMS list e-mail is a line like:
List-Id: General OpenNMS Discussion <opennms-discuss.lists.sourceforge.net>
So you should be able to use that to filter out mailing list posts. If you use an auto-responder, your account will be marked "no mail" and you will have to change your mailing list options on the list web site to turn it back on.
Information about this FAQ
o Tarus Balog is the current maintainer. (tarus(at)opennms.org)
o Tanner Lovelace <lovelace(at)wayfarer.org> and Ed Hill <edhill(at)eh3.com> wrote the TriLUG FAQ, on which this was based.
o Mon Jan 03 2005 - Tarus Balog - created the first version of this FAQ.