Building a Network Monitor with Raspberry Pi and Nagios



What is Network Monitoring and Why is it Important?

Network monitoring is the continuous observation and management of a computer network. It helps in identifying any issues or anomalies that may affect the network's performance, security, and reliability. Without proper network monitoring, businesses may experience downtime, security breaches, or data loss, leading to financial losses and damage to reputation.

Introducing Raspberry Pi and Nagios: A Perfect Match for Network Monitoring

When it comes to network monitoring solutions, the market is filled with expensive and complex tools. However, for small to medium-sized networks, you don't have to break the bank to set up an effective monitoring system. Enter Raspberry Pi and Nagios.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, energy-efficient single-board computer that has gained significant popularity among hobbyists and professionals alike. Its versatility and robust community support make it a perfect candidate for various computing needs, including network monitoring.


Nagios is an open-source software tool designed for monitoring systems, networks, and infrastructure. It's known for its extensibility through plugins and supports a wide variety of operating systems and networking protocols. Being open-source, it offers the freedom to customize it according to your specific requirements.

What Will This Blog Cover?

This blog aims to guide you through setting up a Raspberry Pi-powered network monitoring system using Nagios. From installation and configuration to customization and management, we'll walk you through the entire process to help you create a robust, cost-effective network monitoring solution.

By the end of this guide, you'll have a functional network monitor that not only alerts you of any network issues but also helps you preemptively address them, thereby minimizing network downtime and enhancing performance.

Why Raspberry Pi?

When it comes to network monitoring, finding the right hardware can be a critical decision. Raspberry Pi stands out for several reasons that make it an excellent choice for this task.

Low Cost

One of the most appealing aspects of the Raspberry Pi is its affordability. With models starting at around $35, you can set up a network monitoring system without a significant financial investment. This makes it a cost-effective solution for small businesses, educational institutions, or even home networks that are operating on a budget.

Energy Efficient

Another advantage of using a Raspberry Pi is its low power consumption. A typical Raspberry Pi consumes only about 2.7 watts of power, making it an energy-efficient option for running 24/7. In the long run, this can result in substantial cost savings on your electricity bill, especially when compared to running a full-fledged server for network monitoring.

Versatility and Community Support

Raspberry Pi is incredibly versatile. Whether you are a novice just starting with tech projects or an expert in the field, Raspberry Pi offers a level of flexibility that is hard to match. You can use it for a wide array of computing tasks beyond network monitoring, such as hosting a web server, setting up a VPN, or even as a media center.

In addition to its versatility, Raspberry Pi has a robust community of users and developers, which means you have access to a plethora of online resources, tutorials, and forums to help you with your project. Whether you run into issues or are looking for ways to enhance your network monitoring capabilities, chances are someone in the community has a solution or advice to offer.

In summary, the low cost, energy efficiency, and versatility of Raspberry Pi make it a compelling choice for setting up a network monitoring system. Its active community support further ensures that you have all the resources you need to make your project a success.

Why Nagios?

While Raspberry Pi provides the hardware foundation for your network monitoring system, Nagios brings the software capabilities that make the setup complete and robust. Below are some compelling reasons why Nagios is a great choice for your network monitoring needs.

Open-Source Software

One of the key advantages of Nagios is that it is open-source. This means that you have complete control over the software, with the freedom to modify it according to your specific needs. Being open-source also implies that there is no upfront cost involved, making it a budget-friendly option. Additionally, the open-source nature of Nagios fosters a community of users and developers who contribute to its continuous improvement.

Extensible Through Plugins

Nagios is designed to be highly extensible through plugins. This means you can easily add new features and functionalities as per your monitoring needs. The community has developed a wide range of plugins for almost every conceivable use-case, whether it’s to monitor the temperature of a server room, check the availability of a website, or ensure the integrity of your files. This makes Nagios not just a monitoring tool but a comprehensive monitoring solution that can adapt as your network grows and changes.

Supports a Variety of OS and Networking Protocols

In today’s diverse IT landscape, a network can consist of a wide variety of devices running different operating systems and using different networking protocols. Nagios excels in this regard by offering support for multiple operating systems and networking protocols, such as TCP/IP, SNMP, and HTTP, among others. This flexibility ensures that you can monitor virtually any device on your network without worrying about compatibility issues.


Nagios brings a lot to the table when it comes to network monitoring. Its open-source nature, extensibility through plugins, and wide-ranging compatibility make it a versatile and powerful tool. When combined with the Raspberry Pi, you get a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and fully customizable network monitoring solution that can meet the challenges of modern network management.


Before diving into the steps for building a network monitor with Raspberry Pi and Nagios, there are some prerequisites that you should be aware of. Ensuring that you meet these prerequisites will help you follow along with the tutorial more easily and avoid potential roadblocks.

Basic Understanding of Networking

For this project, a basic understanding of networking concepts is beneficial. Familiarity with terms like IP addresses, subnets, and protocols will help you grasp the ins and outs of network monitoring more efficiently. If you're new to networking, there are numerous resources available online to bring you up to speed.

Raspberry Pi with Raspbian Installed

You will need a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian, the official operating system, already installed. Any model should work, although newer models may offer better performance. If you're new to Raspberry Pi, you can find plenty of tutorials online to guide you through the Raspbian installation process.

Internet Connectivity

Internet access is necessary for downloading software packages and updates. Make sure that your Raspberry Pi is connected to the internet, either through Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity will also enable you to remotely access the Nagios dashboard for monitoring once the setup is complete.


Meeting these prerequisites ensures a smoother experience as you work through setting up your network monitoring system. With a basic understanding of networking, a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian installed, and internet connectivity, you'll be well-prepared to follow along with the subsequent sections of this blog.

Setting Up the Raspberry Pi

Before you can start monitoring your network with Nagios, you'll need to set up your Raspberry Pi. This section will guide you through the hardware and software requirements, as well as provide step-by-step instructions for the initial setup.

Hardware Requirements

To get started, you'll need the following hardware components:

  1. Raspberry Pi: Any model will work, but a Raspberry Pi 4 or newer is recommended for better performance.
  2. MicroSD Card: Minimum 16GB, Class 10 for optimal performance.
  3. Power Supply: 5V and at least 2.5A.
  4. Ethernet Cable: For connecting to your network.
  5. HDMI Cable and Monitor: For initial setup (optional if you're comfortable with headless setup).
  6. USB Keyboard and Mouse: For initial setup (also optional for headless setup).

Software Requirements

Here is a list of software you'll need:

  1. Raspbian OS: The official Raspberry Pi operating system.
  2. Etcher: Software for flashing Raspbian onto the MicroSD card.
  3. SSH Client: Like PuTTY or Terminal, for remote access (optional).
  4. Text Editor: Like nano or Vim, for editing configuration files.

Initial Setup

Follow these step-by-step instructions to set up your Raspberry Pi:

Step 1: Flash Raspbian onto the MicroSD Card

  1. Download the latest version of Raspbian from the official website.
  2. Insert your MicroSD card into your computer.
  3. Open Etcher, select the downloaded Raspbian image, and choose the MicroSD card as the target. Click "Flash" to start the process.

Step 2: Initial Boot and Configuration

  1. Insert the flashed MicroSD card into the Raspberry Pi.
  2. Connect the power supply, Ethernet cable, and other peripherals.
  3. Power up the Raspberry Pi.
  4. On first boot, you'll be taken to the Raspbian setup wizard. Follow the prompts to configure your system settings such as language, timezone, and Wi-Fi.

Step 3: Enable SSH (Optional)

  1. Open the Raspberry Pi configuration settings: sudo raspi-config
  2. Navigate to "Interfacing Options" and enable SSH.
  3. Restart the Raspberry Pi for the changes to take effect.

Step 4: Update Software Packages

  1. Open the terminal and run the following commands to update your system:
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

By following these steps, you will have set up your Raspberry Pi with Raspbian and prepared it for the installation of Nagios. With the hardware and software ready, you can now move on to installing and configuring Nagios for network monitoring.

Installing Nagios on Raspberry Pi

Once your Raspberry Pi is set up, the next step is to install Nagios. This section will guide you through installing the necessary dependencies and the Nagios software itself.

Installing Dependencies

Before you can install Nagios, there are some dependencies that need to be installed first. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the terminal on your Raspberry Pi and update the package list by running:
sudo apt update
  1. Install the required packages by executing the following commands:
sudo apt install -y build-essential apache2 php openssl perl make php-gd libgd2-xpm-dev libapache2-mod-php libperl-dev libssl-dev daemon wget

This will install various packages like compilers, Apache server, PHP, and other libraries required by Nagios.

Downloading and Installing Nagios

Now that the dependencies are taken care of, you can proceed to install Nagios.

Step 1: Download Nagios Core

  1. Navigate to the folder where you want to download Nagios by using cd. For instance, to navigate to the home directory, you would type:
cd ~
  1. Download Nagios Core from the official website using wget:
  1. Extract the downloaded tarball with the following command:
tar xzf nagios-4.x.tar.gz

Step 2: Install Nagios Core

  1. Navigate to the Nagios directory that was created when you extracted the tarball:
cd nagioscore-nagios-4.x
  1. **Compile and install Nagios **by running these commands:
make all
sudo make install
sudo make install-init
sudo make install-config
sudo make install-commandmode

This will configure, compile, and install Nagios and its required files on your Raspberry Pi.

  1. Optional: If you wish to install the Nagios web interface, run:
sudo make install-webconf

By following these steps, you will have successfully installed Nagios Core on your Raspberry Pi. The next part of the guide will walk you through configuring Nagios to monitor your network.

Configuring Nagios for Network Monitoring

After installing Nagios, the next crucial step is configuring it to monitor your network. This section aims to guide you through some basic configuration settings, adding hosts and services, and understanding the difference between passive and active checks.

Basic Configuration

Overview of Nagios Configuration Files

Nagios configuration files are primarily located in /usr/local/nagios/etc. The main configuration file is nagios.cfg, which points to other files where the actual settings are stored. Some of the important configuration files include:

  • nagios.cfg: The main Nagios configuration file.
  • objects/commands.cfg: Defines the commands Nagios runs for various checks.
  • objects/contacts.cfg: Defines who gets notified in case of an event.
  • objects/templates.cfg: Provides templates for hosts and services.

Basic Settings to Get Started

To get started, you may want to edit the contact details to ensure you receive notifications. Open the contacts.cfg file with a text editor like nano:

sudo nano /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/contacts.cfg

Look for the email attribute under the Nagios admin section and change it to your email.

Adding Hosts and Services

How to Add Devices in Your Network to Be Monitored

To monitor a network device like a router, switch, or another computer, you'll need to define it as a host in one of Nagios' configuration files. You can create a new configuration file or add to an existing one, such as localhost.cfg:

sudo nano /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/localhost.cfg

Add a new host definition in this file. Here is an example:

define host{
    use                     generic-host
    host_name               MyRouter
    alias                   My Router

Similarly, you can add services to be checked for this host. For example, to monitor the ping response time, you could add:

define service{
    use                     generic-service
    host_name               MyRouter
    service_description     Ping
    check_command           check_ping!100.0,20%!500.0,60%

Explanation of Passive and Active Checks

  • Active Checks: These are checks initiated by the Nagios process itself. Nagios will run a command to check the status of a host or service and process the results. Active checks are scheduled at regular intervals.
  • Passive Checks: These are checks where the external application or service sends the status information to Nagios. Passive checks are useful for monitoring services that are behind a firewall and cannot be accessed directly by the Nagios server.

To enable passive checks, you will need to modify the service definition by setting the passive_checks_enabled directive to 1.

define service{
    passive_checks_enabled  1
    ; ...other options...


By understanding the basics of Nagios' configuration files and how to add hosts and services, you are well on your way to setting up a comprehensive network monitoring system. Passive and active checks offer flexibility for a variety of network setups, ensuring that Nagios can adapt to your specific needs.

Customizing Nagios

Once you have Nagios up and running, you might want to extend its capabilities or tailor it to better suit your specific requirements. This section will discuss how you can add plugins and configure alerts and notifications to make your Nagios setup more robust and responsive.

Plugins and Add-Ons

Popular Plugins to Extend Functionality Nagios has a vibrant community that contributes plugins and add-ons to extend its functionality. Here are some popular plugins you might find useful:

  • check_http: Monitors the HTTP servers.
  • check_ssh: Checks the SSH server status.
  • check_disk: Monitors disk space usage.

You can install these plugins via the package manager or download them from the Nagios Plugins website.

To install plugins through the package manager, run:

sudo apt install nagios-plugins

To add a plugin, you'll need to update your Nagios configuration files to include commands for the plugin. For instance, to add check_http, you'd add something like this to commands.cfgv:

define command{
    command_name check_http
    command_line /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_http -I $HOSTADDRESS$

Alerts and Notifications

How to Set Up Email or SMS Alerts

Nagios can notify you via email, SMS, or even a custom script when it detects an issue. Below are steps to set up email alerts:

  1. Edit Contacts: Open contacts.cfg to edit the contact definitions:
sudo nano /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/contacts.cfg

Change the email field to your email address.

  1. Configure Email Service: Make sure your Raspberry Pi is configured to send emails. You can use utilities like ssmtp or postfix.
  2. Test the Alert: You can manually set a service to a 'Critical' state from the Nagios web interface to ensure that the email alert is sent.

For SMS, you might use a service like Twilio. You would then create a script that uses the Twilio API to send an SMS and set that script as the command_line in a new command definition within commands.cfg.

define command{
    command_name    notify-by-sms
    command_line    /usr/local/nagios/libexec/ $CONTACTPAGER$ "Nagios - $NOTIFICATIONTYPE$ : Host=$HOSTNAME$ : Service=$SERVICEDESC$ : Status=$SERVICESTATE$"

In the above example, would be a shell script that uses Twilio's API to send an SMS to the number specified in $CONTACTPAGER$.


Customizing Nagios with plugins and alerts allows you to create a more effective and personalized monitoring system. Plugins can add a multitude of checks beyond the built-in capabilities of Nagios, while alerts ensure that you're notified promptly when something requires your attention.

Running and Managing Nagios

After setting up and customizing Nagios, it's important to understand how to manage the Nagios service and navigate its monitoring dashboard. This section will guide you through starting, stopping, and restarting the Nagios service as well as how to interpret the information displayed on the Nagios dashboard.

Starting, Stopping, and Restarting

System Commands for Managing the Nagios Service Managing the Nagios service is straightforward and similar to managing other Linux services. Here are some common commands you will use:

  • Start Nagios: To start the Nagios service, use the following command:
sudo systemctl start nagios
  • Stop Nagios: If you need to stop the Nagios service, you can do so with:
sudo systemctl stop nagios
  • Restart Nagios: Whenever you make changes to the configuration files, you should restart the service for changes to take effect:
sudo systemctl restart nagios
  • Check Status: To check whether Nagios is running, you can use:
sudo systemctl status nagios

Monitoring Dashboard

How to Access and Interpret the Nagios Dashboard

Once Nagios is running, you can access its web interface for monitoring your network. The dashboard is usually accessible via a web browser at:


You will be prompted to enter a username and password. The default username is usually nagiosadmin. The password would be what you set during the installation.

Dashboard Sections

  • Current Status: This section shows the current status of all hosts and services that Nagios is monitoring. You can see if a service or host is in an OK, WARNING, CRITICAL, or UNKNOWN state.
  • Problems: Lists hosts and services that are currently in non-OK states. This is where you will typically focus your attention during troubleshooting. Reports and Graphs: Here, you can generate various types of reports and performance graphs to get a historical view of your network’s performance.
  • Configuration: This is where you can do a quick review of your configuration settings, although it's generally recommended to edit configuration files directly for more advanced settings.

Interpreting States

  • OK: The service or host is operating normally.
  • WARNING: The service or host has something that requires attention.
  • CRITICAL: There is a severe problem that requires immediate action.
  • UNKNOWN: The status of the service or host could not be determined.


Running and managing Nagios effectively involves understanding how to control the service and how to interpret the monitoring dashboard. By familiarizing yourself with the various commands and sections of the dashboard, you'll be well-equipped to keep your network running smoothly.


As we wrap up this comprehensive guide on building a network monitor with Raspberry Pi and Nagios, it's worth summarizing what we've covered and discussing why this setup could be a game-changer for your network monitoring needs.

Summary of What We've Covered

  • Introduction: Discussed the significance of network monitoring and introduced Raspberry Pi and Nagios as cost-effective, powerful tools for the task.
  • Why Raspberry Pi: Highlighted the low-cost, energy-efficient nature of Raspberry Pi and its versatility for network monitoring tasks.
  • Why Nagios: Emphasized Nagios' open-source nature, extensibility through plugins, and its broad compatibility with various operating systems and network protocols.
  • Prerequisites and Setup: Outlined the basic requirements and the step-by-step instructions for setting up your Raspberry Pi and Nagios.
  • Customizing Nagios: Explored how to extend Nagios' functionalities through plugins and setting up alerts and notifications.
  • Running and Managing Nagios: Learned how to control the Nagios service and interpret the monitoring dashboard effectively.

Advantages and Potential Use-Cases for a Raspberry Pi Nagios Setup

  • Affordable: The combined cost of a Raspberry Pi and Nagios is a fraction of what most enterprise-level solutions would cost.
  • Low Power Consumption: Ideal for 24/7 monitoring without worrying about the electricity bill.
  • Flexible: The setup can monitor everything from small home networks to larger enterprise environments.
  • Educational: It's an excellent learning experience for those looking to delve into networking, Linux administration, and systems monitoring.

Resources to Learn More

By taking the time to set up and configure Nagios on a Raspberry Pi, you’re investing in a highly customizable and low-cost solution for network monitoring. Whether you're overseeing a small home network or a larger infrastructure, the skills and tools you've gained through this guide should serve you well.