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Open-source working as advertised: ICINGA forks Nagios

ICINGA has spun off Nagios, which is either a sign of the popular open-source network monitoring tool's strength, or disease.

Brian Behlendorf of Apache fame once declared the freedom to fork the cardinal rule of open source. He is right, though it's a freedom that is rarely exercised, and even less rarely exercised to good effect.

But on Wednesday a group of developers announced ICINGA, a fork of Nagios, the popular open-source network monitoring tool.

While it's too early to tell whether the fork will succeed, the action already demonstrates both the health and disease of the Nagios community.

Health, because a fork or spin-off of the original project, demonstrates that there is an active community of users and developers that cares enough about the project to ensure it's done "right" (i.e., according to their preferences).

Disease, because clearly the core Nagios developers weren't serving the broad Nagios community well enough. In fact, the ICINGA developers write:

This independent project strives to be more responsive to user requests and faster in software development through the support of a broader developer community.

While there have been few successful forks, ICINGA can learn from those few. Joomla!, for example, has done marvelously well outside the Mambo project, and Openbravo (Disclosure: I am an advisor to Openbravo) and Adempiere have both thrived beyond Compiere. So, it can be done.

I tend to view forks as a sign of strength, because they suggest a broad-based community that cares passionately about the project. With this in mind, I wish both that Nagios and ICINGA projects the best of luck. (And I hope ICINGA will stop capitalizing all of its letters.)

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.