My name is Sancho and I am the person who started developing Pandora FMS in 2004. I want to tell you why Pandora FMS Open Source exists and why the community is so important to me.
We tell you why Pandora FMS Open Source exists
I always liked computers, I started with a ZX Spectrum and my first game was a hacked one.
I had to teach myself how to peel a cable to plug the RCA video output into my father’s little TV. In fact, I think I’ve spent more time learning how to solder cables, copy games, and trick them than playing them themselves.
In the 80s, technical knowledge was what someone could teach you, there was no Internet. And, as a child, I also didn’t have the resources to talk to expert adults.
When the BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) arrived in Europe I was 14 years old. I still remember, with pristine clarity, the article from a computer magazine that filled my head with wonders:
“Thousands of apps and games, access to information around the globe, messaging with users around the world…”
I could learn anything!
And there were even many softwares that I could use without having to hack them!
When I connected to Fidonet in 1990 a world of possibilities opened up.
I started talking to university students, set up a Fidonet node at home and had the need to do my first programs for my own BBS. It used RemoteAccess and FrontDoor, applications to give access to users and to connect to Fidonet through a modem over the telephone line.
I learned TurboPascal by reading documentation online and with photocopied books in English that other users lent me.
A student at the University of Zaragoza lent me his credentials and I accessed the Internet for the first time through a RAS built on an HP-UX.
I didn’t know what Unix was, but I had some commands written down to download things through FTP and then through Kermit to my computer.
Along the way I had to stick with the AT commands and run head-on with the problem of being a 15-year-old boy who hires two phone lines for a BBS in a room of five square meters.
Thanks to other users I learned how to connect with the pair of tests in the phonebox of my house to call the US for free and download the McAfee antivirus updates, which I made available to everyone.
I later learned how to connect to the internet through Compuserve using trial accounts that lasted 15 days.
In short, I had an insatiable craving for knowledge.
I loved to try, combine and dig.
I used a lot of software that is now forgotten, such as Desqview or OS/2 Warp, to try to make my PC, made with second-hand parts, have the power to work in what became one of the largest BBS in Madrid (Edison BBS).
All the software I developed (online games, time banks and things like that) I shared with other BBS Sysop, although my code was terrible.
*Although no one cared much about the code because everything was to be done and the important thing was that it worked.
Most of the programs I used had to be compiled by other people with more powerful PCs, my machine took days to compile and link the binaries.
Open Source Software Time
When I was in college, the Internet and ADSL came, as well as stacks of photocopied books.
I tried programming video games and then my first job came.
There I discovered that the Internet was a much, much bigger world than I had thought. Where there were servers and networks full of computers that people plugged into the web without notifying anyone, and lots of other stuff that appeared little by little…
That’s when I discovered that it was necessary to bring order to so much chaos.
I needed to know what was happening around me and monitor it.
In each new work, that sense of chaos and lack of control grew.
There did not seem to be a universal system to collect information and unify it, each had its applications, incompatible with the rest. Unlike the world of Star Trek where everything was compatible and universal.
That craving for knowledge and that habit of sharing at that time was not circumscribed to a philosophy, it did not have a name. It was a pure necessity: to share, learn, test, copy and modify.
Some years later I discovered what the term Open Source meant.
But it was just a name, the habit has been in me since I copied my first Game of Spectrum.
*I once met in an interview an English developer older than me who had programmed one of those games, but that’s another story.
I spent many years learning thanks to others.
Now I have to give back everything I have learned since my childhood.
For me Open Source is not a license, it is not a political doctrine, it is not a fashion, it is a way of understanding life.
Sharing knowledge makes us better as individuals, as a society, and as professionals.
That is why Pandora FMS Open Source is not a “limited” version of the Enterprise version, no, the Open Source version has infinite documentation, in several languages, a changing documentation that includes everything, without secrets.
The Open Source version not only has code, it has people who answer questions, guides and tutorials and has no limitations.
It is made for that purpose, to bring order to chaos and allow anyone, programmer or not, to expand and improve it. Without having to share what you do, just let them use it however they want and for whatever they see fit.
There are many users, and companies, that like me when I was younger, cannot afford what an Enterprise license costs.
I encourage them to use the Open Source version of Pandora FMS, not because it is free, but because you can learn without limit and can make Pandora FMS go far beyond what you think.
Moreover, if they want, they can share their knowledge back and improve Pandora FMS.
A code patch has the same value as a collection of icons or a Russian translation.
Where do we get the money?
Easy, not everyone has that craving for knowledge, to learn, to share.
There are people who have their focus on managing problems, quickly and with professional help.
They prefer an out-of-the-box tool that solves problems in hypercomplex and very specific environments.
They still really want to learn and try, but they don’t have the time. Literally, their time is worth much more to their companies than Pandora FMS’s Enterprise license.
Some Pandora FMS tools, such as policies, can be easily implemented using additional tools (or even your own scripts), but it takes time and knowledge.
In the Enterprise version it is solved with a couple of mouse clicks.
The same goes for scalability.
In the Enterprise version we support an active/passive HA system based on MySQL, any user can implement the same system as us, they can also build a Galley cluster to have almost infinite scalability, without the need to mount a Metaconsole (Enterprise).
In fact we have some users who have been using Pandora FMS for many years with much larger environments than most of our Enterprise customers.
I encourage you to see for yourself that the free spirit is still there!
Call it OpenSource, free software, enter the license (GPL2), but above all:
Learn, share and enjoy the process!
Sancho is the one who created and founded Pandora FMS. Among his many hobbies, besides technology and the internet in general, is reading, playing the guitar and sports like fencing or boxing. In his personal blog he dares to write about business and technology issues when he has the time, which is almost never the case.