Nagios Chicago Meetup

Join our Nagios Meetup Group for Chicago

MCS has started the official Nagios Community Meetup Group for the Chicago region. This is the official Nagios Meetup Chicago group part of a network Nagios Community Meetup Groups worldwide. We will hold events and have discussions about Nagios and monitoring in general.

Nagios Meetup Chicago

Chicago, IL
18 Members

This is a new group we created because there are so many Nagios users in Chicago and surrounding areas. It’s always great to hear the unique use-cases people have with Nagios….

Next Meetup

How to monitor virtually anything / Beyond the server room

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020, 5:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Virtual Nagios Meetup Chicago Through the End of 2020

Originally, these meetup events were meant to be held in person but obviously, that is no longer possible to do safely. We hope to hold live Nagios meetup events in late 2021. For now, our venue will be Zoom and they will be free to attend. Our goal is to hold casual presentations to bring together Nagios users of all backgrounds. Everyone from a home lab to an enterprise will be able to get useful information and insights.

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Office 365 Available Directly Through MCS

Cloud services are more important than ever and represent a critical segment in the marketplace. In the past MCS was not able to directly turn up services for Office 365 for our customers. We would recommend a plan, then customers would create their own account and pay Microsoft directly for services. Now, new and existing Microsoft Office 365 users can let MCS manage, support, and bill their services directly. The cost is the same but billing is handled through MCS.

Switching Office 365 to MCS is Easy

If you are an existing customer using Office 365 directly with Microsoft, MCS can take over servicing and billing on your account in a simple, zero-downtime change. We will take care of everything. Your data will continue to reside on the Microsoft 365 cloud infrastructure and switching can usually complete same-day.

Why Using MCS for Office 365 is a Great Idea

MCS has always been customer focused. If you have an issue with billing or service, you can get through to a rep at MCS right away. If you already have an account with us, having your cloud services billed through us just makes sense. Also, we know our clients well and can recommend a more cost effective plan or trim away unneeded services.

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Working Remotely to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 has been on all of our minds in the recent weeks. Our first priority during this time is the health of our employees and customers. At MCS we have the luxury of being able to work remotely for most of our projects. Through the aid of VPNs, VoIP, and other collaboration tools, most employees can complete their work from home if needed.

Working Remotely is Offered to ALL MCS Employees

Our employees have all been given the option to work from home if they desire for the next several weeks regardless of whether they feel ill or not. This is a precaution due to our currently limited knowledge of exactly how the COVID-19 virus is transmitted. If an MCS employee feels ill or has a fever of 100°F or more they are required to stay home until 48 hours after they are symptom free.

For our office locations in Springfield and Chicago, access is now limited to employees only. This means no visitors including customers, family, and friends. This will remain in effect until further notice.

For our IT service department, we are strongly encouraging our customers and system engineers to avoid on site service calls if at all possible. We appreciate the understanding of our customers during this time. Luckily, MCS offers remote support that, in most cases, will completely resolve the majority of issues presented. If an on site service call is required please only request this service if absolutely necessary.

COVID-19 Outlook

We believe that through smart precautions, we can protect the health of our employees and customers while still providing reliable service.The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent information specific to the COVID-19 outbreak. To decrease contact through the mail we encourage customers to signup for E-Bill for invoice delivery as well. The future is never set in stone but as long as we all make healthy and cautions choices, we can make a difference in the spread of this new threat. Remember:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet)
  • Avoid large groups
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces daily
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Chicago Board of Trade Clock

MCS Chicago Moves to the Chicago Board of Trade Building

Our Chicago office relocated to the the historic Chicago Board of Trade building. After a couple of years of adding staff we now have a more permanent home in Chicago in this renovated building in the heart of downtown Chicago. This location is ideal for staff and visitors from Chicago or the surrounding suburbs via train. Our building has excellent bus, “L” train, and Metra access. Our new amenities include 6 power feeds, access to several fiber Internet providers, on site UPS, FedEx, and USPS package services, fitness center, and state of the art conference center. In the conference center MCS can host meetings of more than 50 attendees.

Our staff can take a break at the Rooftop Deck & Game Room boasting 4,000+ square feet of indoor and outdoor space with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. We look forward to working from our new branch to recruit exciting new talent, grow our offerings, and better serve our customers in Chicago and beyond.

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Nagios Website Check

Nagios XI Free,Guide for the Windows Sysadmin

Getting Started with Nagios XI Free is Extremely Easy!

Please Note: This guide is intended for testing and evaluation only.

At MCS, we strongly feel that Nagios XI is the best IT monitoring software available and has been for quite a long time. XI is the more polished, easy to use product over the community Nagios Core software. We have seen some resistance from enterprises that are mostly Microsoft Windows shops. There is no Windows version of Nagios XI available so sysadmins have to use Linux. For some, this may seem daunting. Getting started with Nagios XI Free is actually one of the simplest Linux tasks out there. Starting from nothing, you can start monitoring in only a few steps. This guide is for the Linux and Nagios newbie so we will cover everything.

Nagios XI used to only be supported on RHEL and CentOS but is now fully supported on Oracle Linux, Debian, and Ubuntu. Right now, we like CentOS 7 Minimal as it is stable, completely open source, and tried and true for running Nagios XI.

Starting Out

  1. Download CentOS 7 Minimal (no GUI needed)
  2. Install CentOS 7. Since I am talking about Microsoft shops in this article, I will use Hyper-V. Use a Gen1 VM any don’t use dynamic memory. If you are using VMware you can get the OS+Nagios XI ready to go in an OVA. We have even run Nagios XI stably on AWS on a t2.micro instance with a few dozen checks running.
  3. Nagios has been optimized very well over the years. You only need 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, and 8GB Storage. Of course, the more resources you assign the better!
  4. After install, login as root.
  5. Now this is the really slick part. As long as your new CentOS 7 Server has internet access, you only need to run a single command to download and fully install Nagios XI.
curl | sh

The amazing engineers from Nagios keep this script up to date for you. Using this command will always get you the latest stable release of Nagios XI fresh from the factory! Grab a cup of coffee and watch a beautiful waterfall of text scroll down your screen.

Take note of the URL to access Nagios XI:

Nagios XI Installation Complete! 
You can access the Nagios XI web interface by visiting: http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

Once the install script is done, you now have a Nagios XI server of your very own. Just for best practices, you should now update your OS and software. Type:

yum update -y

Several items will update and you should reboot in case one of those updates was for the kernel.

In a browser, visit http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

If you missed the server address you can always run:

ip addr show

Now, set your nagiosadmin password and login via the web. By default, you will be using a 60 day trial of the Unlimited Enterprise Edition. If you plan to purchase Nagios, MCS can get you a key to extend your trial a little longer. If you want to use Nagios XI free, you don’t need any license at all. Just go to Admin > License Information and select free mode. This will let you monitor up to 7 different hosts with unlimited services.

Adding Hosts to Monitor

Nagios XI will monitor itself (localhost) by default. Adding common checks is easy though. Let’s say we want to keep an eye on our website.

  • Go to Configure > Configuration Wizards
  • Search for Website
  • Enter your url
  • Optionally customize your settings for your checks

In about one minute you are monitoring several critical metrics for a website. It is about as easy to monitor Windows Servers, Linux, networking gear, and just about anything with an IP address. It can actually be really fun and rewarding to finally get a real-time view into what is working and what is not.

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Windows 7 EOL

Windows 7 Support will End Jan, 2020

Microsoft’s desktop workhorse, Windows 7 is EOL (end of life) on January 14th, 2020. This a a big deal for organizations that want to stay secure and compatible with the latest software. Users can either purchase a copy of Windows 10 and perform an in-place-upgrade or look at the age of their PC and consider purchasing a brand new PC. Upgrading from Windows 7 to 10 in-place can be a long process and some applications may stop working or need to be reinstalled.

For a company, if your PCs are running Windows 7 and it is more than 6 years old, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and upgrade to a new PC with Windows 10 Pro. Users may be surprised in the speed and efficiency gained from a modern PC. They boot faster, use less energy, and speed up everyday tasks.

Lot’s of PCs Still Run Windows 7 Today

Windows 7 still has a big share of the market at about 30%. This may seem surprising given that a couple years ago Microsoft offered a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Many people didn’t see a compelling reason to upgrade at the time and declined the offer. Based just on usability, Windows 7 is still a very stable product that offers excellent compatibility. Windows 10 looks more modern but there are not any killer features that would compel most users to make the switch.

Of course, the threat of no more security patches is the biggest concern. PCs handling sensitive information would pose a security risk if they remain unpatched. In today’s world of data breaches, using an operating system that is no longer supported is a huge rad flag for blame. The legal liability alone is enough of a reason to start plans now to make the switch.

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Chicago View

Chicago Office Moves to Willis Tower

After a short time in the West Loop the MCS Chicago office has moved into the iconic Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower). The move to the loop will allow our presence in Chicago to grow. We are now staffing up our 84th floor office. Therefore, we are looking for Web Application Developers. Check out our Employment page for more information or to apply for a position. Also, our new mailing address for Chicago is:

233 S. Wacker Drive, 84th floor
Chicago, IL 60606

Renovation Project

The famous downtown building is currently undergoing a major renovation. The project should be completed by 2020 and will add shopping, restaurants, and green space. In the mean time, construction workers are visible all over the building. However, they are doing a wonderful job of keeping existing tenants operating without interruption.

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SSL Padlock

Why an SSL Certificate is Needed for any Website

In the very early days of the Internet, all sites were accessed with no security or encryption. In 1994 the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) was introduced as a way to securely access a website publicly. Even then, sites would only use this technology if they were accepting credit cards or other sensitive information. Now, it is common for all sites to use https by default. But what does SSL actually do?

SSL primarily accomplishes two goals.

  1. Encryption between your device and the web server
  2. Verification that the site you are visiting is actually the legit one


Encryption is obviously important if you are banking online or having a private conversation with someone. It means that even if your Internet line is “tapped” the data would look like garbage without the private key to decrypt it. As technology has progressed, SSL has changed and improved to support more complex encryption that is even harder to crack. This is why your web server needs to renew and re-key SSL certificates fairly regularly. Visiting a site that uses SSL does not give you complete privacy though.

Accessing a website also relies on the use of a DNS query to map the friendly name of the site to an IP address. This lookup is not encrypted and will rely on a DNS server to lookup your query. Typically, this lookup is done by your ISP, like Comcast, AT&T, etc. These companies may not be able to read the specific content of your visit, but they do know what sites you went to.

Green PadlockVerification is the other main goal of SSL. Encrypting your communication will do no good if you are giving it to a fake site. Through different methods, a hacker could setup their own server to pose as a website to collect your data. Mimicking a website is relatively easy to do. What a hacker can’t mimic though is a valid certificate issued by a trusted provider. SSL issuers that are trusted by default in most browsers will almost always verify the owner of a website before a certificate is issued. Hackers can’t easily impersonate a valid certificate from a trusted issuer. If you are visiting a site without a green padlock there is no verification that the site really is the one you wanted to visit. This is how most phishing scams work. Sites impersonate a reputable site and bait users to giving away their information freely.

Because of the relative ease and obvious benefits of SSL, browsers have started to penalize non-SSL sites as not secure. In addition, search engines may also view an insecure site more poorly and hurt their search ranking. We have been implementing https on all new sites we launch for our customers and strongly encourage older sites to adopt this security feature as well.

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