Forking Nagios: Behold Icinga


One of the unique features of free software is that it can be forked. Indeed, it is one of the most powerful incentives for projects to hew close to their users. If they stray too far, someone might decide that enough is enough, and fork the project to produce something closer to their needs.

Whether that project thrives is a matter of support: if it meets a genuine need in the community, it will pick up users and coders. If it does not, it will wither.

Against that background, the following news is rather exciting:

A group of leading Nagios protagonists including members of the Nagios Community Advisory board and creators of multiple Nagios Addons have launched ICINGA - a fork of Nagios, the prevalent open source monitoring system. This independent project strives to be more responsive to user requests and faster in software development through the support of a broader developer community.

The new open source monitoring system will be fully compatible with its predecessor, retaining all the existing Nagios features while adding new features requested by the Nagios user community.

Long standing bugs will be removed and improvements will be made, especially for the database integration alongside a standardised API to simplify the integration of 3rd party addons. ICINGA will also be developed to include an improved functionality in large and complex environments.

If you were wondering about the name:

ICINGA is a Zulu word meaning ‘it looks for’, ‘it browses’, ‘it examines’. As far as we can tell, it is pronounced with one of the famous Zulu click consonants. So it should be almost impossible for Non-Zulu people to pronounce it correct. So the best answer probably is: You can pronounce it any way you like.

Fair enough – but perhaps we could drop the caps, eh?

Conscious that forking is not something to be undertaken lightly – after all, it potentially splits the devleopment community, and could even fatally wound the entire ecosystem around the code – the Icinga team has this to say on their motivation:

In recent years, Nagios’ popularity as an open source monitoring solution has seen it evolve into a quasi open source industry standard. Its extensive monitoring capabilities and high adaptability have attracted organisations of all sizes, including Amazon, BMW, Google, T-Mobile, Siemens, and many others.