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The Road Ahead...

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 3:37 pm
by dave
Although I have set a poll which nobody will ever vote on I thought I'd put forward my ideas for the current road map for FreeNATS.

I keep getting tempted with stopping with everything working (like now), releasing a stable beta and then branching off for development but this would be hassle. I also anticipate a higher load in bug fixes and minor UI requests needed once it's put onto the VMWare directory as release (rather than pre-release as it is now).

More Tests

I have working test scripts for MySQL, SMTP and IMAP (including POP3, POP3S, IMAPS) with lots of lovely options (the MySQL test for example will be able to test times and/or rows returned for connection, optional database select and optional query).

This requires quite a major change to the underlying test script to accommodate more parameters than the one-per-test currently supported. Though I originally had the mad idea of encoding a single parameter ie "host=hostname,user=XX" this would either involve a serious coding overhead (probably more than supporting multiple parameters) and a complex UI (unless the UI is also complex and supporting encoding).

Node-Side Tests

I have sort of working the first part of node gathering tests. In brief overview this will be a PHP script sitting on a (Linux) node that is either polled by FreeNATS (the node script being available via Apache) and data "pulled" in or "posted" to FreeNATS by the node itself running the script (via CRON for example).

This will include tests such as disk space, load average and network load.


The plan is to open-up FreeNATS as much as possible for easy add-on development, primarily through a data API and trigger-scripts.

The data API will accept set queries and return data formatted in XML/CSV or as JavaScript arrays (optionally calling a JavaScript function in the page once data load is complete) and will allow total third-party custom use of FreeNATS data.

The trigger scripts will be server-resident PHP scripts that can be registered to be called on specific events (such as alerts being raised). There will be an API of sorts via set incoming variables and probably the ability to do actions within FreeNATS itself.


Though I do kind of dream of SNMP it is not currently something actually planned for implementation. I think FreeNATS is at the lower end of the market to put it politely and enterprise environments using SNMP can probably be bothered to use enterprise tools.

I also have nothing I actually want to monitor which I use SNMP on. I suppose if someone sent me a load of free top-notch networking kit then I would suddenly have that need and all doubt would evaporate.


Hmm... another lofty idea. The truth is I'm not sure why the core system won't work in Win32 other than the shebang lines (you would have to php -q for each node), oh and the test-threaded but the install and upgrade scripts certainly won't.

I think the truth is, more than anything, I hate BAT, Powershell, Administration Command Prompt, Recovery Console and anything else MSy and command-line/install related.

Also I would need to test it in a variety of environments etc etc.

It seems the vast majority of people run the VM which of course itself works under Win32. On Unix it's not too much trouble to slot FreeNATS in within a working OS. You probably have PHP. If you're using a web server already it'll be Apache. If it's not Apache FreeNATS will probably just work with it as it'll appear identical to Apache.

On Win32 the last thing it would do is "just run" even if all the software/scripts themselves were updated.

So a lofty yet unlikely idea.

Everyone is please welcome to contribute to the debate and make suggestions either here or with the feedback link on the website.

Update: The Road Ahead...

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:38 pm
by dave
IMAP (including POP3 and SSL), MySQL and SMTP tests are now available (in 0.04.xx).

Unfortunately there may be a bit of a bug with early tests.

Depending on the outcome of further testing of this problem (either fixing it, bodging it or saying b******s to it) a stable release may be delayed to incorporate any solution.

Re: The Road Ahead...

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:29 pm
by Dr_Watso
Hey Dave!

Just thought I'd chime in as one of the users who would love to see a "native" win32 version, as you mention, the VM machine runs just fine under a windows environment, and the problems which result are so minor I won't even bother with them... (Though I do thank you for the update with the 4gb disk-grow ability!)

As I've already said, thanks a ton for providing this software, and even more for being so active in your support of it's users... All for free.

Re: The Road Ahead...

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:04 pm
by dave

Well that was quick and when I plug my scanner in a highly valued and sought-after original early schema will be winging it's way to you.
Dr_Watso wrote: Just thought I'd chime in as one of the users who would love to see a "native" win32 version
Ok then... Win32 native.

A few questions which are mainly what is holding me back from even looking at it properly:

What environment?
- Can I rely on users having pre-installed Apache, MySQL and PHP (as I can for *nix)?
- Will it have to work under IIS? (I believe the best you can hope for is FastCGI-based support which may be fast but isn't Apache)
- Will it have to work with (shudder) another database engine?

How do I package?
- Can you do crazy stuff like get tarballs, blow them up and then run a script inside them with BAT? More importantly can you do it, keep what is left of your sanity, and have it work when Service Pack X comes out?
- Will I have to build some sort of WAMP environment users pre-install first and runs on non-standard ports to not clash with IIS etc?

If the answer was just the PHP source needs to run under Win32, any users will already have a WAMP environment running and be able to copy the files and use the web interface to upgrade the schema then we could be away. If not then perhaps not... What do you think?

Thanks for your post and nice comments! Please do feel free to post any little foibles and glitches etc or else I'll probably carry on oblivious.

Kind Regards,


P.S. I don't know if anyone has told you but there is an... alternative to Win32 even for servers and it's... free. Just thought I'd mention it :D

Amazing Artwork

Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:13 pm
by dave
As promised Dr Watso has an original piece of high-res FreeNATS artwork winging it's way through the ether to his mailbox, trash folder and ultimately to deletion.

So far as the only non-me poster he is the only winner of such a sought-after* and highly valued prize**.

To tantalise anyone else into posting here is a low-res copy of the kind of inspirational*** artwork Dr W has been sent. This shows a piece of A4 paper in the background with the workings of a DNS query packet (flags and format) and the schemas of some tables in the foreground.


* A Lie
** False
** Not Actually True