Simple Network Management Protocol. A protocol by which one can administrate pieces of hardware on an Ethernet. See RFC 1089.

ucd-snmp (now known as net-snmp) is a thoroughly kick ass system comprising an extensible snmp agent and various tools relating to the snmp protocol. Works on most unices and windows platforms.

Idiot guide to getting net-snmp running

1. Get the latest release of net-snmp from sourceforge
2. Install according to your platform.
eg. for most unices, get the net-snmp-x.x.tar.gz source file and do
gunzip ucd-snmp-x.x.tar.gz; tar xvf ucd-snmp-x.x.tar; cd ucd-snmp-x.x
./configure '--with-mib-modules=host'
go root and do make install
3. start the snmpd demon
/usr/local/sbin/snmpd (as root)
4. Query the snmpd demon
snmpwalk public
5. You can take lines from the output of snmpwalk and use them in snmpget, eg.
snmpget hostname public sysUpTime.0
6. To receive trap traps
as root, do
/usr/local/sbin/snmptrapd -P
7. You can use shell scripts or the command line to send traps eg.
snmptrap -v 1 sender_hostname public system receiver_hostname 6 0 '' system.sysContact s hello_world
- this will send a v1 trap saying 'hello world'

Apologies for the dull write up, but that little lot took me about a month to figure out. I am l4m3 with computers.

SNMP is a fine example of what can aptly be termed death by jargon in computer science.
While its core idea can be described as "a network browsable tree-like view of a machine configuration", its final incarnation has been wrapped in layers of acronyms whose expansion is also extremely misterious:
you "walk" a "MIB" (and what's the hell is a MIB? A Management information base, that's what! Gee, thanks.) The MIB is written in ASN, You have a "community string" (AKA password). Nodes exchange "traps" and are divided in "managers" and "agents". The names that you see are actually dotted sequences of numbers and the SNMP initiates snicker at you if you use the names and not the numbers...

You get the idea, and we're still talking V1 - it takes a few days to unravel. Almost nobody gets the core concept in less than several day's worth of reading - and even less people get the details right.

Surprisingly, and as discussed elsewhere, SNMP V1 lacks some fundamentals, security being the most glaring omission. You have to escalate to V2 and V3 if you want something of the sort while discovering that:

  1. V2 and 3 have additional layers of silly geekspeak to master;
  2. Almost nobody implements them.
Not surprisingly, SNMP is not one of the hottest protocols around, yet it does not have many structured alternatives for network management. (oh, did I mention that the S in SNMP stands for SIMPLE? Simple Network Management Protocol, indeed...)

Actually, there are a number of working alternatives to SNMP, rival management architectures that are far superior to SNMP in almost every functional aspect. Some of them are TMN (Telecommunications Management Network, designed by the ITU), CORBA-based management (developmed by the OMG) and Sun Microsystem's JMAPI.

However, none of them has gained the universal acceptance that SNMP has, except in specialized fields (TMN is actually in widespread use in Telcos). The reason: the alternatives are too complex (and yes, SNMP is simple, very simple, in comparison), which makes them difficult to implement and support. Keep in mind that a management architecture is useless if it is not extensively supported by most, if not all, of your hard- and software. This requires cooperation by a large number of independant and competing vendors, something about as easy to achieve as a military parade with cats.

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