OpenBSD Journal

OnLamp: Top Five Open Source Packages for SysAdmins

Contributed by jose on from the only-four-of-five dept.

Over the past several months, Aeleen Frisch has been listing off open source packages for system administrators worth noting. Some of them are well known, but some are not so well known. Here's the top four out of five she lists:
  • The fifth package on the list is Amanda , the backup utility. Amanda provides an easy mechanism to back up many machines to a central storage system.
  • The fourth package she lists is LDAP . LDAP provides a nice way to share lots of information, such as email addresses within an organization, and has been integrated into all sorts of mechanisms, including mail delivery and authentication.
  • Number 3 is the Grub bootloader . Grub is much nicer than many of the alternatives for dual booting your OpenBSD system (ie a desktop or laptop), and various pieces of documentation for Grub and OpenBSD , like this How-to from Geodsoft .
  • Number 2 is Nagios , a network monitoring tool. It looks much nicer than Big Brother does, and a little more feature rich.
The series never ended as best as I can tell, so I can't tell you what that number one open source system administration package was.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By chill () on

    I did a multi-boot install with Linux and OpenBSD last night and ended up having to Google for proper Grub instructions.

    The official docs claim the *BSDs can be booted directly, without the chainloader. They lie.

    It works great, but the docs are wrong.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      Well, but if you search the GRUB web page, you will even find that they have been thinking about dropping the claim of OpenBSD support. GRUB is a great Linux loader, but not an OpenBSD loader !

      Personally I think it is wrong to be a boot manager and a boot loader at the same time. There should be one program that dispatches to the desired partition/slice and maybe does some BIOS fooling about the disk. And then there should be a program waiting on that sector that knows about and loads the OS. For the first kind - the boot manager - I prefer things like

      and of course the os-bs on your favourite OpenBSD mirror. I have used/still use all of them. They have all pros and cons. And there is even much more if you start wasting time on :-)

      1. By Jedi/Sector One () on

        Is any of those able to load OpenBSD after the 8Gb/1024 cylinders limit?

        Or *BSD on an extended partition?

      2. By Anonymous Coward () on

        Yes, I would also like to know if any of them can boot OpenBSD above the 8GB limit.

        1. By Anonymous Coward () on

          First : I haven't tried myself.

          Still : I don't think it'll boot OpenBSD beyond 8GB or off an extended partition. The boot managers only grab the code at the beginning of the partition. This partition can be beyond 8GB, some also can grab the code in an extended partition. However, this code is the OpenBSD boot loader. And this piece of code may be hopelessly confused if it is beyond 8GB or in an extended partition.

          Again : they are boot MANAGERS, not boot/OS LOADERS :-)

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        I've used GAG dozens of times on different systems for myself and associates/clients... Never once been disappointed by it. GAG Rocks!

  2. By Jim () on

    Amanda can't span archives across multiple tapes:

    Which makes it pretty useless for backing up to tape, in my opinion. Too bad, it seems like it would be very useful if it were not for that limitation.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      If you want multi-volume tapes check out "bacula":

  3. By Anonymous Coward () on

    The series never ended as best as I can tell, so I can't tell you what that number one open source system administration package was.


    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      I would say so. :)

    2. By RC () on

      Considering that GRUB was on the list, don't expect anything else to make sense either.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        Where do you learn that flaming? Awesome man!!!!!!!111

  4. By joly alderman () on

    I'm not sure which series as you never gave a link but a quick google gave me the full list of aeleen's top 10 open source system admin tools as a pdf presentation:

    btw, does anyone use openbsd installs with sis? (#9 on aeleen's list)

  5. By Julien Touche () on

    nagios is very good monitoring tool
    but one problem which is not resolve is chroot for the web interface

    without it works beautifully.

  6. By TurboD () on

    I was trying to find the "Missing Number One", and as the author of the above article noted, there appears to be only four. I just completed some further research and found that the "Top Five" Author, Æleen Frisch, has only released four articles in this series.

    Number five, was the first installment with Amanda, on September 24th, 2002. Then LDAP was posted on October 17th, 2002, as number four of five. The article about GRUB was number three, of five, posted November 7th, 2002. The last article that was posted for this series was the Number Two of Five, Nagios, posted December 5th, 2002. Looks as though the number one space has not yet been hammered out.

    I would have to agree with other posters, that the OpenBSD OS is a candidate in my books, for first placement. Further analysis of these articles, however, leads me to believe that the Tools which fall into the Part Five series are all able to run relatively cross platform. Considering that OpenBSD is its own platform, I must admit that the number one spot would most likely be something else.

    I would personally like to see the other tool that is near and dear to our OpenBSD hearts, that is OpenSSH, as number one. In my humble opinion, OpenSSH has paved the way for free, secure, remote administration of just about every OS out there.

    I hope that the article for number one, is posted soon, the others are a good read.

    1. By joly alderman () on

      As a link to this was already posted I'm starting to think folks from slashdot are trolling deadly these days. So for those too lazy to google or even copy paste the link I gave above (in comment appropriately titled 'full list of top 10 opensource sysadmin tools') the synopsis is as follows.

      (not that I neccessarly agree...)
      aeleen's full top 10, with links for said lazies are:

      1. cfengine -
      2. nagios - (typo in her pdf incorrectly says
      3. grub -
      4. openLDAP -
      5. Amanda -
      6. RRDTool -
      7. Expect -
      8. Stem -
      9. SIS -
      10. Nessus -

      I am still wondering if anyone has used #9 SIS with openbsd?

        1. By Anonymous Coward () on

          It's talking about the URL text box, not the Comments. And no, it won't be enhanced to change links in the Comments section anytime soon... (that's what I was told when I asked for the same feature, anyway)

  7. By Anonymous () on

    I just finished browing the pdf that someone posted on this group. And the number one open souce tool is... Cfengine

  8. By ubiquitin () on

    All professional sysadmins I've met seem to think that buying another box is a better solution than dual boot. It's all about your uptime, not how many OS's you can pack onto a single drive. Grub is great, but I'd put rrdtool in the top five and leave out any boot loader.

    1. By knomevol () on


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