Nagios acknowledge through email


Nagios is a widely used alerting system


Sometimes you’re out to dinner and get an alert that is not immediately actionable until you finish desert


Can you ack the alert without having to patch in and ack through the nagios UI?


Yes! You can ack alerts with a simple email reply with the words “ACK”

Avleen Vig wrote a great python script to poll the nagios inbox, parse the alert info and acknowledge the problem if ACK is in the message


  1. Install Nagios
  2. The base nagios install does not include a home directory and login for the nagios user, so create it manually
    mkdir /home/nagios
  3. Create IMAP inbox for nagios to use (for both sending and receiving). This can be done through Gmail or any other IMAP server you have access to
  4. Copy Avleen’s script from Github to /home/nagios/
  5. chmod the script to be executable
    chmod 760
  6. Edit to match the nagios CMD file that is in your environment
    40 CMD_FILE = '/usr/local/nagios/var/rw/nagios.cmd'


    40 CMD_FILE=/etc/nagios/var/rw/nagios.cmd'
  7. Put in your IMAP information into the script
     42 # IMAP server, username and password
     43 IMAP_SERVER = ''
     44 IMAP_USER = ''
     45 IMAP_PASS = "imap_password"
  8. If your host names in Nagios are longer than ~15 characters, then Gmail (and potentially others) will automatically make a new line to account for that, even though the Subject line is 1 line. Get around this by adding the ability to handle new lines within the script with \n at the end of ACK
    152 if alert_class == 'Host':
    153 msg = '[%s] ACKNOWLEDGE_HOST_PROBLEM;%s;1;1;1;%s;ACK\n' % \
    154 (now, server, fromaddr)
    155 elif alert_class == 'Service':
    156 msg = '[%s] ACKNOWLEDGE_SVC_PROBLEM;%s;%s;1;1;1;%s;ACK\n' % \
    157 (now, server, service, fromaddr)
    158 open(CMD_FILE, 'w').write(msg)
    159'ACKed alert: From: %s, Host: %s, Service: %s\n' % \
    160 (fromaddr, server, service))
  9. Cron the script to run every minute to search for new acknowledgements
    crontab -e
    * * * * * /usr/bin/python $HOME/ >> /var/log/nagios/email_ack.log 2>&1
  10. Test by purposefully getting nagios to alert, and then respond with an email with just the contents “ACK”. Look in /var/log/nagios/email_ack.log. Make sure the information is getting parsed correctly. You should see something like this:
    Service,, hostname, disk_usage, ack

One-liner for largest files/folders

Do you ever find yourself wanting to know what the deuce is taking up all your space? Here’s a simple one-liner to figure out the top 20 folders eating your disk:

du -ha <folder_location*> | sort -h | tail -n20

du is the disk usage utility that teamed with sort and tail can be very valuable. Usually you would want to make the <folder_location> be at the root of the volume (/) but maybe you have areas you don’t want searched. Just include the exclude!

du -ha /* --exclude "/home/" | sort -h | tail -n20

This will work for Linux, but if you’re on OSX you will likely not have the sort command. First you’ll need to install brew, which is a package manager for OSX:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
Here’s the official Brew site with context on the install
Once you’ve got Brew, you can install the GNU core utilities
brew install coreutils

You can now use gsort -g on OSX in place of sort -h on Linux with the same results