Best Linux Network Monitoring Tools

There are a lot of great network monitoring tools available on the market. However, after reading through all of the sales details, you get to the point of wanting to buy and then find out that the software will only run on Windows or Windows Server. If you only have Linux servers and don’t want to mix the environment by adding on a Windows Server, then you have wasted time reading through a description of network monitors that you can’t install.

If you just want to keep your environment all Linux, you have three options when looking for a network monitor:

  • A Linux-based network monitoring system
  • A SaaS, cloud-located network monitoring system
  • A network monitoring system that includes an operating system

In this review, we will pick examples from all three of these categories. However, most of the network monitoring tools on our list will install on a Linux server.

Here is our list of the eight best Linux Network Monitoring Tools:

  1. N-able N-central EDITOR’S CHOICE An excellent choice for IT departments and managed service providers. This network monitor comes with a modified version of CentOS bundled into in and installs on a bare metal server. Start a 30-day free trial.
  2. Site24x7 Network Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based network management service that can monitor onsite wired and wireless networks, cloud resources, and remote networks. Access a 30-day free trial.
  3. Paessler PRTG (FREE TRIAL) The cloud service version of this very popular infrastructure monitoring system. It watches over networks, servers, and applications. Access a 30-day free trial.
  4. ManageEngine OpManager It is available for Linux and Windows Server and this network performance monitor uses SNMP procedures to keep the network running smoothly.
  5. Datadog Network Performance Manager A SaaS network management service that is accessed through any standard browser. It can manage multiple sites and check internet connection quality.
  6. Nagios XI An on-premises network monitoring system that installs on Linux and covers all aspects of network performance.
  7. Zabbix A free infrastructure monitoring system that is available for installation on Linux, Unix, macOS, and Windows. It can monitor onsite wired and wireless networks, cloud servers, remote sites, and internet performance.
  8. Icinga 2 This Linux-based network monitoring package is a fork of Nagios Core and can integrate Nagios plugins.

You can read more about each of these options in the following sections.

What is Linux network monitoring?

Linux is an operating system for computers: endpoints or servers. Most network devices have their own firmware. So, when people talk about Linux network monitoring, they either mean monitoring a network where some or all of the connected computers run the Linux operating system or they mean running network monitoring software on a Linux host.

Networks are run on protocols that are operating system-independent. The most common form of a network system in the world is TCP/IP. This interfaces very easily with internet connections because the IP part of TCP/IP stands for Internet Protocol.

The majority of network monitoring systems use the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for their operating procedures. SNMP is not reliant on one particular operating system. All network devices already have one part of the SNMP system pre-installed on them when you buy them. This is the SNMP device agent. The only element missing from the monitoring system is the SNMP manager. So, network monitoring tools provide that the SNMP manager function. This enables them to gather all of the device statistics and traffic information that the device agents compile.

Top network monitoring tools interpret those device agent reports into time-series graphs and easy-to-read charts. Data collected on device statuses can be stored to produce performance analysis. This helps network managers plan capacity.

Another great feature of these SNMP-based network monitoring tools is that the device agent will send out a warning if they detect problems. These warnings, called traps, can be interpreted into alerts in the network monitoring tool. Alerts enable the IT support team to leave the monitor to watch over the network and assume that everything is OK unless notification to the contrary arises.

The only distinctive feature of a Linux network monitoring tool is that it can be run on or accessed from a Linux computer.

The best Linux network monitoring tools

Pay attention to the descriptions of these tools that we recommend because not all of them require an installation on a Linux computer.

Cloud computing is becoming very popular, so we have included a couple of SaaS network monitoring tools for those who don’t want to fill up your own server space with a network monitoring tool’s resource demands.

There is also an option that has a Linux operating system bundled into it, so you can install it on a new bare metal server without having to go through the process of installing Linux separately first.

The Best Linux Network Monitoring Tools

Our methodology for selecting a Linux network monitoring tool 

We reviewed the market for network monitoring systems for Linux and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:

  • Network device status checking
  • Autodiscovery of connected devices
  • Network topology mapping
  • Network traffic tracking
  • Virtualization monitoring
  • A free trial or a demo system for a risk-free assessment opportunity
  • Value for money from a monitoring tool that can run on or monitor Linux systems at a fair price

With these selection criteria in mind, we have identified reliable systems for Linux that will monitor networks constantly. We considered software that can be installed on Linux and also those offered from cloud platforms.

1. N-able N-central EDITOR’S CHOICE

N-able N-central

N-able N-central runs on a modified version of CentOS Linux. However, there is no need to install the operating system before adding on N-central because the software package has the operating system bundled into it, so it needs to be installed on a bare-metal server.

N-central is suitable for small and middle-sized businesses and it can also be used by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) when supporting the networks of clients. The service can manage remote sites and allow the management of several sites through the same interface. It can also monitor cloud resources and internet connections to them.

Key Features:

  • Monitors networks and endpoints
  • Includes mobile device management
  • Autodiscovery and topology mapping
  • Patch management and backups
  • Task automation

As well as monitoring the network, N-central can monitor endpoints and servers. Monitored devices can be running Linux, macOS, Windows, or Windows Server. It is also possible to manage mobile devices through the N-central system. The Mobile Manager enables mass configurations of mobile devices, rapid onboarding, device location tracking, and remote locking and wiping.

The system starts its service by exploring the network and logging all of the devices connected to it. This autodiscovery feature compiles a device inventory and will also draw up a network topology map automatically. The inventory and map are constantly updated and will change to reflect any alterations in the network. In the dashboard, the topology view of the network has a device summary list next to it with the status of each device displayed in traffic light colors for rapid problem recognition.

The security tools included with N-central include a patch manager and a backup manager. Network security in the bundle gives a firewall, web protection access management, disk encryption, and intrusion detection. There are also endpoint detection and response agents to protect each computer on the network.

Pros:

  • Designed for medium to enterprise networks
  • Offers numerous multi-tenant features (great for MSPs)
  • Automatically discovers new assets and updates the network map
  • Offers robust automation features with easy to use templates

Cons:

  • N-central is designed for sysadmin and requires technical knowledge to fully benefit from

There is also an Automation Manager included in N-central that allows network managers to set automatic responses to detected problems. N-able offers a 30-day free trial of N-central.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

N-able N-central is our top pick for Linux network monitoring because it has the CentOS Linux operating system built into it. The service can monitor Linux servers and endpoints as well as devices running firmware, Windows, and macOS. The network management bundle extends to mobile devices and the whole network infrastructure, whether local, remote, cloud-based, or hybrid gets protected by security monitoring as well.

Get a 30-day free trial: n-able.com/products/n-central/trial

OS: Bare-metal server

2. Site24x7 Network Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

Site24x7 Internet Monitor

Site24x7 is a cloud-based network monitoring system. Its creators are the same people behind OpManager – both Site24x7 and ManageEngine are divisions of Zoho Corp. This service uses SNMP to monitor the health of network devices. As a cloud service, it doesn’t matter where those devices are, so the system can manage multiple sites and link them together as one WAN monitoring service. The tool can also monitor wireless networks and include cloud services in the network.

Key Features:

  • Delivered from the cloud
  • Network discovery and topology mapping
  • SNMP-based
  • Alerts for performance problems

The main detection system discovers all devices connected to the monitored network and logs them. This list of devices is available for examination in the dashboard of the service. It is also the foundation of a network topology map, which gets drawn up automatically. The network inventory and map are kept up to date with any changes in the network.

Among the systems that the monitor will check on are VPNs, firewalls, UPSs, printers, load balancers, switches, routers, endpoints, servers, and storage devices.

The monitor converts SNMP traps into alerts, which will appear in the dashboard and can also be delivered by email and SMS. Technicians can access the dashboard through any standard browser or a mobile app.

Pros:

  • Flexible cloud-based monitoring option
  • Offers a host of out-of-box monitoring options and dashboard templates for SQL server
  • Allows administrators to view dependencies within the application stack, good for building SLAs and optimizing uptime
  • Offers root cause analysis enhanced by AI to fix technical issues faster
  • Can unify SQL monitoring across multi-cloud environments

Cons:

  • Site24x7 is a feature-rich platform with options that extended beyond databases management, may require time to learn all options and features

Site24x7 is charged for by a subscription. The charging structure is quite complicated with a base fee levied per year and then a series of feature add-ons. You can get a 30-day free trial of Site24x7 Network Monitoring.

Site24x7 Start 30-day FREE Trial

3. Paessler PRTG (FREE TRIAL)

Paessler Hosted PRTG Dashboard

Paessler PRTG is one of the leading infrastructure monitoring systems but it is written for Windows Server. If all of your environment is Linux, you can still use PRTG in its SaaS form. Paessler offers a hosted PRTG, which eliminates the need to install the software on your own servers.

Key Features:

  • Cloud based
  • Multi-site monitoring
  • Uses SNMP

PRTG monitors networks, servers, and applications. However, the system is composed of a series of monitoring services and the user can decide which of these to activate, thus tailoring the service. So, it is possible to limit the system to just network monitoring.

The network monitor in PRTG has a range of options. The main service is based on SNMP and it includes an autodiscovery service. This creates a device inventory and draws up a network topology map. The PRTG system is also very good for monitoring virtualizations because it watches the dynamic allocation of VMs to servers.

Other network monitoring methods available in the PRTG package include Ping, Traceroute, NetFlow, sFlow, and J-Flow. These options provide traffic statistics while the SNMP service watch device health.

Pros:

  • Uses flexible sensors to monitor different aspects of your Linux servers and infrastructure
  • You can use 100 sensors for free (great for small businesses)
  • Simple widgets makes dashboard customization intuitive
  • Pricing is based per sensor and allows both large and small businesses to scale within the PRTG ecosystem

Cons:

  • Feature-rich, and takes time to learn all of the features and functionality the platform offers

The price for PRTG is charged for by subscription with a rate per month depending on how many sensors can be activated. Options are for 500, 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, and 10,000. You can register for an unlimited 30-day free trial to asses your network requirements.

Paessler PRTG Start 30-day FREE Trial

4. ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager Linux Network Monitoring

OpManager is an SNMP-based network monitor and the central tool in a suite of infrastructure management systems produced by ManageEngine. This software can be installed on Linux and Windows Server.

Key Features:

  • Network and endpoint monitoring
  • Runs on Linux
  • Device health tracking

The tool includes an autodiscovery feature that identifies all devices connected on the network and logs them in an asset inventory. The inventory database forms the basis for a topology map. Both the topology map and the inventory are updated live in line with any changes to the network.

The monitor is able to observe wireless networks as well as on-site LANs. It can include coverage of Cloud services and remote networks as well. OpManager can also monitor hypervisor implementations of VMWare, Hyper-V, and Citrix Xen.

The system watches over network activity, so department technicians can work on other priorities. OpManager raises an alert when problems arise. These alarms appear in the system dashboard and can optionally be sent out to key staff members by email or SMS. It is possible to access the system dashboard through a mobile app, so technicians out on call don’t need to dash back to the office to see what’s wrong.

Pros:

  • Uses both SNMP and NetFlow for monitoring giving it more coverage options than other tools
  • Supports both Linux and Windows environments
  • Utilizes automatic network discovery to create live inventories and network maps for administrators to track assets and network size
  • Freeware and paid versions allow for both small and large size networks to effectively use this tool

Cons:

  • OpManager is dense with features, integrations, and settings, and may take time to fully master

OpManager is free to use to monitor up to three devices. ManageEngine offers the full system on a 30-day free trial.

5. Datadog Network Performance Manager

Datadog Kubernetes monitoring dashboard

Datadog is a cloud-based network monitor so it can be accessed from any operating system through a standard browser. This service requires an agent to be installed on the monitored network and it can cover remote sites and cloud services as well as your home network.

Key Features:

  • SaaS package
  • Traffic flow monitoring
  • Capacity planning support

This is an SNMP-based network monitor, so it includes alerts, derived from trap messages. The Datadog Network Monitoring service explores your network, documents all devices, and draws up a topology map. Both the inventory and the map get updated automatically when devices are added, moved, or removed.

The dashboard shows summary data of live performance metrics, which can all be drilled down to detailed views of each device. The screens also include attractive graphs and charts. Those metrics get stored for historical analysis.

The network monitor also tracks traffic volumes and it can map hypervisor implementations and record all container activity.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based SaaS product allows monitoring with no server deployments or onboarding costs
  • Can monitor both internally and externally giving network admins a holistic view of network performance and accessibility
  • Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps on the fly
  • Changes made to the network are reflected in near real-time
  • Allows businesses to scale their monitoring efforts reliably through flexible pricing options

Cons:

  • Would like to see a longer trial period for testing

The online monitoring system is charged for by subscription with a charge per host per month. You can get a free trial to examine the system without obligation.

6. Nagios XI

Nagios XI screenshot

Nagios XI is a full infrastructure monitoring system and it runs on CentOS or RHEL Linux. The system is based on a free, open-source project, called Nagios Core. There is a very large user community for Nagios and many other users produce extensions for the system, called plugins. Third-party software producers have also created plugins to enable their products to integrate with Nagios. So, this network monitor is very flexible – there are thousands of plugins for it.

Key Features:

  • Runs on Linux
  • Network, server, and application monitoring
  • Extensible with free plug-ins

The monitoring tool will cover networks, servers, and applications. The network monitor has its own communications protocol, so it doesn’t use SNMP. However, there is an SNMP plugin available. The dashboard shows live device statuses and system alerts. The service also monitors bandwidth usage and event log messages.

Pros:

  • Plugins keep the base installation light, while still offering option features for those who want it
  • Uses autodiscover to help save time and eliminate the need for manually hunting devices down
  • Designed for Linux environments
  • Generous 60-day trial

Cons:

  • Requires virtualization to run in a Windows operating system

Nagios XI is available in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. Extra features in the Enterprise edition include capacity planning and auditing. You can get a 30-day free trial of Nagios XI.

7. Zabbix

Zabbix screenshot

Zabbix is a free infrastructure monitoring system that can be installed on Linux. It is also available for Windows, macOS, and Unix. Despite being free, the Zabbix dashboard has a very professional look and feel. The screens are well laid out and feature attractive data visualizations.

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Runs on Linux
  • Monitors multiple sites and cloud resources

Zabbix can monitor LANs, wireless networks, Cloud-based resources, and remote sites. Communications with remote data collectors are encrypted. The service starts its monitoring by tracking down all devices connected to the network and listing them in an inventory. This is a continuous process so all changes to the device inventory are detected immediately.

This is an SNMP-based system, so it also features alerts. Status alerts are shown in the dashboard and can also be set up to be sent through email, SMS, or chat app. Alerts can be customized and task automation features can be triggered by an alert. Other non-critical tasks can also be set to run on a schedule.

Pros:

  • Open-source transparent tool
  • Uses both SNMP and ICMP for broader monitoring ranges
  • Offers useful templates for quick insights
  • Supports multiple distros of nix

Cons:

  • No paid support option – not ideal for large enterprise environments

8. Icinga 2

Icinga screenshot

Icinga 2 was developed from a fork of Nagios Core. This enables Icinga users to benefit from the library of plugins available to Nagios. The service is a network, server, and application monitoring tool. The tool is able to communicate over the internet to include remote sites and cloud resources into the monitored system. All communications over the internet are protected by Transport Layer Security.

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Runs on Linux
  • SNMP-based device monitoring

The software for Icinga installs on Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian, RHEL, CentOS, open SUSE, and SLES. It is free to use, as it is an open-source project.

The network monitoring system of Icinga is based on SNMP, which includes the trap mechanism of alerting. Alerts appear in the dashboard and can also be sent to users as emails and SMS messages. The dashboard of Icinga is a very attractive web interface, which users access through a browser. The interface system has to be hosted by the using company – it isn’t a cloud service.

Pros:

  • Can be configured via GUI or DSL, making it a good choice for admins who enjoy CLI tools
  • Supports built-in visual reporting
  • Modules allow for different functionality, keeping the base installation sleek and lightweight

Cons:

  • Better suited for smaller environments

Linux network Monitoring FAQs

How do I monitor network traffic in Linux?

The easiest way to monitor network traffic from the command line in Linux is to use the netstat utility. Unfortunately, this system doesn’t automatically relaunch itself, so you should either write your own batch job to exploit this tool or buy a pre-written Linux-based network monitoring tool.

Is a command-line tool used for monitoring networks?

There are a number of network management tools built into the Linux operating system. However, all of them give you statistics on demand and not on an ongoing basis. You can’t sit and relaunch command line utilities all day, so monitoring the network in this way is impractical.

Is Wireshark a network monitoring tool?

Wireshark is in a category of network monitor that is called a traffic analyzer. This is one of the types of monitoring systems that you will need for your network. However, this is more appropriate for creating throughput analysis queries rather than system availability monitoring.

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