Nagios and SSL in Debian

I was doing some work on NRPE (the Nagios Remote Plugin Executor) and I noticed bug report #547092 [1] which concerns the fact that the default configuration uses the same SSL certificate for all Debian servers and provides a patch to fix the problem. After building the patched package I followed the advice of the article on creating self-signed SSL certificates [2].


Then I added the above lines to /etc/nagios/nrpe.cfg to instruct the nrpe to use the certificates.

For the Nagios server I had the problem that most of the systems I monitor run old versions of NRPE while only a few are recent Debian systems that allow me to easily install a new SSL checking nrpe. So I installed the following script as /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_nrpe to run either the old or the new check_nrpe:

#!/bin/sh -e
if echo $2 | egrep -q server0\|server2\|mail ; then
  /usr/local/sbin/check_nrpe -C /etc/cert/cert.pem -k /etc/cert/key.pem -r /etc/cert/cacert.pem $*
  /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_nrpe.orig $*

The reason I started working on Nagios was to try and solve bug #560002 [3] which I filed. The bug concerns the fact that applications such as mailq which are run as part of Nagios checks were inheriting a TCP socket file handle from the nrpe. SE Linux prevents such file handles from being inherited, but it does mean that I get audit messages (and this is not a good case for a dontaudit rule).

One thing I forgot to mention is that the SSL key checking requires that the server common name used in the SSL certificate of the nrpe system matches the name that is used by the check_nrpe program. So if you check by IP address then you need to use the IP address in the certificate name – which is rather ugly. So I have moved to putting the hostname of each server in /etc/hosts on the NAGIOS system and using the hostname in the SSL certificate. This required using $HOSTNAME$ instead of $HOSTADDRESS$ in the NAGIOS configuration (thanks to John Slee for a tip in that regard).

I removed some printf debugging from the script. It seems that I included a pre-production version of the script in the first version of this blog post.

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