Top 10 free open source tools for network admins

From troubleshooting DNS queries and misbehaving network apps to keeping your configurations and passwords organized, these tools have you covered

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If you're a longtime user of Nmap but haven't kept up with Nmap news and releases, you'll want to check out the Zenmap GUI's new network topology feature, which lets you create an interactive network map based on information gathered by Nmap. The map begins with localhost at the center and displays all discovered hosts in concentric rings around it, the rings indicating the number of hops away the hosts are. From there you can shift the focus to another host or get more info by clicking a host's icon in the map. The shape of the icon refers to the type of device, and the size indicates the number of open ports.

All this makes Nmap perfect for checking on IP address usage, scanning for security vulnerabilities, and ensuring your firewalls and routers are operating properly.

Top free open source tools for network admins: Nmap

Top free open source tools for network admins: KeePass

Oh the passwords! How many passwords do we have for all the various servers, switches, routers, and other network gear we have to manage? And when we have to change a password, we must be sure to notify all of the other people who have access to that equipment. A good password management system can save valuable time and spare you a lot of hassle.

Enter KeePass, an encrypted database program to store all of your usernames, passwords, access URLs, and more. You can restrict access to the KeePass database with a password, a key file, or both. The password database is encrypted with either AES or the Twofish encryption algorithm, and not as one contiguous file but in 256-bit chunks -- decrypting a single piece of data nets a cracker little or no useful data. Plus KeePass encrypts all the data in its database, not just the passwords, so your usernames, URLs, and other notes are safe as well.

You can create groups for password records to help organize the info if you have a lot of passwords to track. Groups can have subgroups, subgroups can have subgroups, and so on. A search function helps you quickly find the password record you need.

How do you share the KeePass database with coworkers who are running Mac OS X or some other version of Unix? No problem. KeePass is ported to Windows, Mac OS X, various Linuxes, and popular mobile phone platforms, including iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Because the KeePass database is stored in a single file, it's easy to distribute among your NOC team. Did I mention that KeePass is portable, needing no installation on Windows or Mac OS X? You can carry it with you on a USB stick or download it to a computer without leaving any unwanted registry entries or library files.

Already using another password manager? KeePass can import your existing password database in formats from a variety of programs such as Password Keeper, CodeWalletPro, and Password Agent. Other file formats are supported through KeePass plug-ins.

Top free open source tools for network admins: KeePass

Top free open source tools for network admins: IPplan

We network admins must keep track of which IP addresses we have, which are in use, and which are available to be allocated to the systems administrators who always want yet another IP address for their servers. Are you tracking your IP addresses in an Excel spreadsheet? Well, stop! Get the benefits of using a real database with IPplan.

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