Nagios Interview questions

Nagios Interview questions

Q.What is Nagios and how it Works ?.
Ans:Nagios is an open source System and Network Monitoring application.Nagios runs on a server, usually as a daemon or service. Nagios periodically run plugins residing (usually) on the same server, they contact (PING etc.) hosts and servers on your network or on the Internet. You can also have information sent to Nagios. You then view the status information using the web interface. You can also receive email or SMS notifications if something happens. Event Handlers can also be configured to "act" if something happens.
The Nagios daemon behaves like a scheduler that runs certain scripts at certain moments. It stores the results of those scripts and will run other scripts if these results change. All these scripts are, of course, the scripts from the Nagios plug-in project or are scripts that you have created.

Q.Explain Main Configuration file and its location?
Ans:1.Resource File : It is used to store sensitive information like username,passwords with out making them available to the CGIs.
2.Object Definition Files: It is the location were you define all you want to monitor and how you want to monitor. It is used to Define hosts,services, hostgroups, contacts, contact groups, commands, etc
3.CGI Configuration File  : The CGI configuration file contains a number of directives that affect the operation of the CGIs. It also contains a reference the main configuration file, so the CGIs know how you've configured Nagios and where your object definitions are stored.

Q.Explain Ngaios files and its location?
The main configuration file is usually named nagios.cfg and located in the /usr/local/nagios/etc/ directory.

2.Object Configuration File :This directive is used to specify an object configuration file containing object definitions that Nagios should use for monitoring.

3.Object Configuration Directory :This directive is used to specify a directory which contains object configuration files that Nagios should use for monitoring.

4.Object Cache File :This directive is used to specify a file in which a cached copy of object definitions should be stored.

5.Precached Object File: precached_object_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/objects.precache
    This is used to specify an optional resource file that can contain $USERn$ macro definitions. $USERn$ macros are useful for storing usernames, passwords, and items commonly used in command definitions (like directory paths). The CGIs will not attempt to read resource files, so you can set restrictive permissions (600 or 660) on them to protect sensitive information. You can include multiple resource files by adding multiple resource_file statements to the main config file - Nagios will process them all.

6.Temp File :temp_path=/tmp
 This is a directory that Nagios can use as scratch space for creating temporary files used during the monitoring process. You should run tmpwatch, or a similiar utility, on this directory occasionally to delete files older than 24 hours.

7.Status File :status_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/status.dat
 This is the file that Nagios uses to store the current status, comment, and downtime information. This file is used by the CGIs so that current monitoring status can be reported via a web interface. The CGIs must have read access to this file in order to function properly. This file is deleted every time Nagios stops and recreated when it starts.

8.Log Archive Path :log_archive_path=/usr/local/nagios/var/archives/
This is the directory where Nagios should place log files that have been rotated. This option is ignored if you choose to not use the log rotation functionality.

9.External Command File :command_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/rw/nagios.cmd
This is the file that Nagios will check for external commands to process. The command CGI writes commands to this file. The external command file is implemented as a named pipe (FIFO), which is created when Nagios starts and removed when it shuts down. If the file exists when Nagios starts, the Nagios process will terminate with an error message

10.Lock File :lock_file=/tmp/nagios.lock
This option specifies the location of the lock file that Nagios should create when it runs as a daemon (when started with the -d command line argument). This file contains the process id (PID) number of the running Nagios process.

11.State Retention File: state_retention_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/retention.dat
This is the file that Nagios will use for storing status, downtime, and comment information before it shuts down. When Nagios is restarted it will use the information stored in this file for setting the initial states of services and hosts before it starts monitoring anything. In order to make Nagios retain state information between program restarts, you must enable the retain_state_information option.

12.Check Result Path :check_result_path=/var/spool/nagios/checkresults
This options determines which directory Nagios will use to temporarily store host and service check results before they are processed. This directory should not be used to store any other files, as Nagios will periodically clean this directory of old file (see the max_check_result_file_age option for more information).

13.Host Performance Data File :host_perfdata_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/host-perfdata.da.
This option allows you to specify a file to which host performance data will be written after every host check. Data will be written to the performance file as specified by the host_perfdata_file_template option. Performance data is only written to this file if the process_performance_data option is enabled globally and if the process_perf_data directive in the host definition is enabled.

14.Service Performance Data File:service_perfdata_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/service-perfdata.dat
This option allows you to specify a file to which service performance data will be written after every service check. Data will be written to the performance file as specified by the service_perfdata_file_template option. Performance data is only written to this file if the process_performance_data option is enabled globally and if the process_perf_data directive in the service definition is enabled

13.Debug File :debug_file=/usr/local/nagios/var/nagios.debug
This option determines where Nagios should write debugging information. What (if any) information is written is determined by the debug_level and debug_verbosity options. You can have Nagios automatically rotate the debug file when it reaches a certain size by using the max_debug_file_size option.

Q. Explain Host and Service Check Execution Option?
Ans:This option determines whether or not Nagios will execute Host/service checks when it initially (re)starts. If this option is disabled, Nagios will not actively execute any service checks and will remain in a sort of "sleep" mode (it can still accept passive checks unless you've disabled them). This option is most often used when configuring backup monitoring servers or when setting up a distributed monitoring environment. Note: If you have state retention enabled, Nagios will ignore this setting when it (re)starts and use the last known setting for this option (as stored in the state retention file), unless you disable the use_retained_program_state option. If you want to change this option when state retention is active (and the use_retained_program_state is enabled), you'll have to use the appropriate external command or change it via the web interface. Values are as follows:
0 = Don't execute host/service checks
1 = Execute host/service checks (default)

Q. Explain active and Passive check in Nagios?
Ans:Nagios will monitor host and services in tow ways actively and passively.Active checks are the most common method for monitoring hosts and services. The main features of actives checks as as follows:Active checks are initiated by the Nagios process

A. Active checks:
1.Active checks are run on a regularly scheduled basis
2.Active checks are initiated by the check logic in the Nagios daemon.
When Nagios needs to check the status of a host or service it will execute a plugin and pass it information about what needs to be checked. The plugin will then check the operational state of the host or service and report the results back to the Nagios daemon. Nagios will process the results of the host or service check and take appropriate action as necessary (e.g. send notifications, run event handlers, etc).
Active check are executed At regular intervals, as defined by the check_interval and retry_interval options in your host and service definitions
On-demand as needed.Regularly scheduled checks occur at intervals equaling either the check_interval or the retry_interval in your host or service definitions, depending on what type of state the host or service is in. If a host or service is in a HARD state, it will be actively checked at intervals equal to the check_interval option. If it is in a SOFT state, it will be checked at intervals equal to the retry_interval option.
On-demand checks are performed whenever Nagios sees a need to obtain the latest status information about a particular host or service. For example, when Nagios is determining the reach ability of a host, it will often perform on-demand checks of parent and child hosts to accurately determine the status of a particular network segment. On-demand checks also occur in the predictive dependency check logic in order to ensure Nagios has the most accurate status information.

b.Passive checks:
They key features of passive checks are as follows:
    1.Passive checks are initiated and performed external applications/processes
    2.Passive check results are submitted to Nagios for processing
The major difference between active and passive checks is that active checks are initiated and performed by Nagios, while passive checks are performed by external applications.
Passive checks are useful for monitoring services that are:
Asynchronous in nature and cannot be monitored effectively by polling their status on a regularly scheduled basis
Located behind a firewall and cannot be checked actively from the monitoring host
Examples of asynchronous services that lend themselves to being monitored passively include SNMP traps and security alerts. You never know how many (if any) traps or alerts you'll receive in a given time frame, so it's not feasible to just monitor their status every few minutes.Passive checks are also used when configuring distributed or redundant monitoring installations.
Here's how passive checks work in more detail...
1.An external application checks the status of a host or service.
2.The external application writes the results of the check to the external command file.
3.The next time Nagios reads the external command file it will place the results of all passive checks into a queue for later processing. The same queue that is used for storing results from active checks is also used to store the results from passive checks.
4.Nagios will periodically execute a check result reaper event and scan the check result queue. Each service check result that is found in the queue is processed in the same manner - regardless of whether the check was active or passive. Nagios may send out notifications, log alerts, etc. depending on the check result information.

Q.What Are Objects in Nagios?
Ans:Objects are all the elements that are involved in the monitoring and notification logic. Types of objects include:

Services :are one of the central objects in the monitoring logic. Services are associated with hosts Attributes of a host (CPU load, disk usage, uptime, etc.)
Service Groups :are groups of one or more services. Service groups can make it easier to (1) view the status of related services in the Nagios web interface and (2) simplify your configuration through the use of object tricks.

Hosts :are one of the central objects in the monitoring logic.Hosts are usually physical devices on your network (servers, workstations, routers, switches, printers, etc).
Host Groups :are groups of one or more hosts. Host groups can make it easier to (1) view the status of related hosts in the Nagios web interface and (2) simplify your configuration through the use of object tricks

Contacts :Conact information of  people involved in the notification process
Contact Groups :are groups of one or more contacts. Contact groups can make it easier to define all the people who get notified when certain host or service problems occur.

Commands :are used to tell Nagios what programs, scripts, etc. it should execute to perform ,Host and service checks and when Notifications should send etc.
Time Periods: are are used to control ,When hosts and services can be monitored
Notification Escalations :Use for escalating the notification

Q.What Are Plugins in Nagios?
Ans:Plugins are compiled executable or scripts (Perl scripts, shell scripts, etc.) that can be run from a command line to check the status or a host or service. Nagios uses the results from plugins to determine the current status of hosts and services on your network.
Nagios will execute a plugin whenever there is a need to check the status of a service or host. The plugin does something (notice the very general term) to perform the check and then simply returns the results to Nagios. Nagios will process the results that it receives from the plugin and take any necessary actions (running event handlers, sending out notifications, etc).

Q.How Do I Use Plugin X in Nagios?
Ans:Most all plugins will display basic usage information when you execute them using '-h' or '--help' on the command line. For example, if you want to know how the check_http plugin works or what options it accepts, you should try executing the following command:
./check_http --help

Q.Explain External Commands in Nagios ?
 Ans:Nagios can process commands from external applications (including the CGIs) and alter various aspects of its monitoring functions based on the commands it receives. External applications can submit commands by writing to the command file, which is periodically processed by the Nagios daemon.External commands can be used to accomplish a variety of things while Nagios is running. Example of what can be done include temporarily disabling notifications for services and hosts, temporarily disabling service checks, forcing immediate service checks, adding comments to hosts and services, etc

Q.When Does Nagios Check For External Commands?
Ans:At regular intervals specified by the command_check_interval option in the main configuration file
Immediately after event handlers are executed. This is in addition to the regular cycle of external command checks and is done to provide immediate action if an event handler submits commands to Nagios.
External commands that are written to the command file have the following format
[time] command_id;command_arguments
where time is the time (in time_t format) that the external application submitted the external command to the command file. The values for the command_id and command_arguments arguments will depend on what command is being submitted to Nagios.

Q.Explain Nagios State Types?
Ans:The current state of monitored services and hosts is determined by two components:
The status of the service or host (i.e. OK, WARNING, UP, DOWN, etc.)
Tye type of state the service or host is in
There are two state types in Nagios - SOFT states and HARD states. These state types are a crucial part of the monitoring logic, as they are used to determine when event handlers are executed and when notifications are initially sent out.

a.Soft States:
When a service or host check results in a non-OK or non-UP state and the service check has not yet been (re)checked the number of times specified by the max_check_attempts directive in the service or host definition. This is called a soft error.
When a service or host recovers from a soft error. This is considered a soft recovery.
The following things occur when hosts or services experience SOFT state changes:
The SOFT state is logged. Event handlers are executed to handle the SOFT state. SOFT states are only logged if you enabled the log_service_retries or log_host_retries options in your main configuration file.
The only important thing that really happens during a soft state is the execution of event handlers. Using event handlers can be particularly useful if you want to try and proactively fix a problem before it turns into a HARD state. The $HOSTSTATETYPE$ or $SERVICESTATETYPE$ macros will have a value of "SOFT" when event handlers are executed, which allows your event handler scripts to know when they should take corrective action.

b.Hard states :occur for hosts and services in the following situations:
When a host or service check results in a non-UP or non-OK state and it has been (re)checked the number of times specified by the max_check_attempts option in the host or service definition. This is a hard error state.
When a host or service transitions from one hard error state to another error state (e.g. WARNING to CRITICAL).
When a service check results in a non-OK state and its corresponding host is either DOWN or UNREACHABLE.
When a host or service recovers from a hard error state. This is considered to be a hard recovery.
When a passive host check is received. Passive host checks are treated as HARD unless the passive_host_checks_are_soft option is enabled.
The following things occur when hosts or services experience HARD state changes:
The HARD state is logged.
Event handlers are executed to handle the HARD state.
Contacts are notifified of the host or service problem or recovery.
The $HOSTSTATETYPE$ or $SERVICESTATETYPE$ macros will have a value of "HARD" when event handlers are executed, which allows your event handler scripts to know when they should take corrective action.

Q.What is State Stalking?
Ans:Stalking is purely for logging purposes.When stalking is enabled for a particular host or service, Nagios will watch that host or service very carefully and log any changes it sees in the output of check results. As you'll see, it can be very helpful to you in later analysis of the log files. Under normal circumstances, the result of a host or service check is only logged if the host or service has changed state since it was last checked. There are a few exceptions to this, but for the most part, that's the rule.

If you enable stalking for one or more states of a particular host or service, Nagios will log the results of the host or service check if the output from the check differs from the output from the previous check.

Q.Explain how  Flap Detection works in Nagios?
Ans:Nagios supports optional detection of hosts and services that are "flapping". Flapping occurs when a service or host changes state too frequently, resulting in a storm of problem and recovery notifications. Flapping can be indicative of configuration problems (i.e. thresholds set too low), troublesome services, or real network problems.
Whenever Nagios checks the status of a host or service, it will check to see if it has started or stopped flapping. It does this by:

a.Storing the results of the last 21 checks of the host or ser vice
b.Analyzing the historical check results and determine where state changes/transitions occur
c.Using the state transitions to determine a percent state change value (a measure of change) for the host or service
d.Comparing the percent state change value against low and high flapping thresholds
e.A host or service is determined to have started flapping when its percent state change first exceeds a high flapping threshold.

A host or service is determined to have stopped flapping when its percent state goes below a low flapping threshold (assuming that is was previously flapping).
The historical service check results are examined to determine where state changes/transitions occur. State changes occur when an archived state is different from the archived state that immediately precedes it chronologically. Since we keep the results of the last 21 service checks in the array, there is a possibility of having at most 20 state changes. In this example there are 7 state changes, indicated by blue arrows in the image above.

The flap detection logic uses the state changes to determine an overall percent state change for the service. This is a measure of volatility/change for the service. Services that never change state will have a 0% state change value, while services that change state each time they're checked will have 100% state change. Most services will have a percent state change somewhere in between.

Q.Explain Distributed Monitoring ?
Ans:Nagios can be configured to support distributed monitoring of network services and resources.
When setting up a distributed monitoring environment with Nagios, there are differences in the way the central and distributed servers are configured.

 The function of a distributed server is to actively perform checks all the services you define for a "cluster" of hosts. it basically just mean an arbitrary group of hosts on your network. Depending on your network layout, you may have several cluters at one physical location, or each cluster may be separated by a WAN, its own firewall, etc. There is one distributed server that runs Nagios and monitors the services on the hosts in each cluster. A distributed server is usually a bare-bones installation of Nagios. It doesn't have to have the web interface installed, send out notifications, run event handler scripts, or do anything other than execute service checks if you don't want it to.

The purpose of the central server is to simply listen for service check results from one or more distributed servers. Even though services are occasionally actively checked from the central server, the active checks are only performed in dire circumstances,

Q.What is NRPE in Nagios ?
Ans: The NRPE addon is designed to allow you to execute Nagios plugins on remote Linux/Unix machines. The main
reason for doing this is to allow Nagios to monitor "local" resources (like CPU load, memory usage, etc.) on remote machines. Since these public resources are not usually exposed to external machines, an agent like NRPE must be installed on the remote Linux/Unix machines.
The NRPE addon consists of two pieces:
– The check_nrpe plugin, which resides on the local monitoring machine
– The NRPE daemon, which runs on the remote Linux/Unix machine
When Nagios needs to monitor a resource of service from a remote Linux/Unix machine:
– Nagios will execute the check_nrpe plugin and tell it what service needs to be checked
– The check_nrpe plugin contacts the NRPE daemon on the remote host over an (optionally) SSL-protected
– The NRPE daemon runs the appropriate Nagios plugin to check the service or resource
– The results from the service check are passed from the NRPE daemon back to the check_nrpe plugin, which
then returns the check results to the Nagios process.

Ans:The NDOUTILS addon is designed to store all configuration and event data from Nagios in a database. Storing information from Nagios in a database will allow for quicker retrieval and processing of that data and will help serve as a foundation for the development of a new PHP-based web interface in Nagios 3.0.
MySQL databases are currently supported by the addon and PostgreSQL support is in development.
The NDOUTILS addon was designed to work for users who have:
– Single Nagios installations
– Multiple standalone or "vanilla" Nagios installations
– Multiple Nagios installations in distributed, redundant, and/or failover environments.

Each Nagios process, whether it is a standalong monitoring server, or part of a distributed, redundant, or failover monitoring setup, is referred to as an "instance". In order to maintain the integrity of stored data, each Nagios instance must be labeled with a unique identifier or name.

Q.What are the components that make up the NDO utilities ?
Ans:There are four main components that make up the NDO utilities:

1. NDOMOD Event Broker Module :The NDO utilities includes a Nagios event broker module (NDOMOD.O) that exports data from the Nagios daemon.Once the module has been loaded by the Nagios daemon, itcan access all of the data and logic present in the running Nagios process.The NDOMOD module has been designed to export configuration data, as well as information about various runtime events that occur in the monitoring process, from the Nagios daemon. The module can send this data to a standard file, a Unix domain socket, or a TCP socket.

2. LOG2NDO Utility :The LOG2NDO utility has been designed to allow you to import historical Nagios and NetSaint log files into a database via the NDO2DB daemon (described later). The utility works by sending historical log file data to a standard file, a Unix domain socket, or a TCP socket in a format the NDO2DB daemon understands. The NDO2DB daemon can then be used to process that output and store the historical logfile  information in a database.

3. FILE2SOCK Utility :The FILE2SOCK utility is quite simple. Its reads input from a standard file (or STDIN) and writes all of that data to either a Unix domain socket or TCP socket. The data that is read is not processed in any way before it is sent to the socket.

4. NDO2DB Daemon:The NDO2DB utility is designed to take the data output from the NDOMOD and LOG2NDO components and store it in a MySQL or PostgreSQL database.When it starts, the NDO2DB daemon creates either a TCP or Unix domain socket and waits for clients to connect. NDO2DB can run either as a standalone, multi-process daemon or under INETD (if using a TCP socket).Multiple clients can connect to the NDO2DB daemon's socket and transmit data simultaneously. A seperate NDO2DB process is spawned to handle each new client that connects. Data is read from each client and stored in a user-specified database for later retrieval and processing.


Source :