Why is there no Zabbix in Debian Wheezy?

Many fans of the Zabbix monitoring software wonder why the Debian "wheezy" release from May 2012 does not contain Zabbix any more. This became a frequently asked question so I decided to put this article up.

Dmitry Smirnov and I – well mainly him recently – are maintaining the Zabbix packages in Debian. We frequently uploaded new versions and the 1.8.2 version was included in Debian Squeeze that was released in February 2011. After the release several security-related issues were found and reported. It was our duty to fix the security problems in the 1.8.2 version. Many software developers kindly publish which part of the code was causing the security problem and provide a minimal fix. Unfortunately the Zabbix developers didn't have such a nice policy. Instead they just released new versions and basically said: "Just upgrade – the new version does not have that security issue." So we tried hard to find how to fix the problem without upgrading but failed in many cases. The Zabbix developers didn't help us either. So the Zabbix packages in Debian had an increasing number of security bugs.

Then the preparations of the "wheezy" release began right before we uploaded the first 2.0.x packages to Debian. We honestly told the Debian security and release teams of our problems and hoped to find a way to keep Zabbix in Debian. And we told them that the known security problems were indeed fixed by the 2.0.x packages. But of course we were all scared to see history repeating and ship a vulnerable software with "wheezy". And the 2.0.x package was so brand new und not well tested that the release team didn't like to put it into the new release yet.

So in the end we all decided to remove Zabbix from "wheezy" but keep uploading new versions to the "testing" branch. Dmitry took great care that the package can be backported to the stable release. So we intend to upload backports that you can use as a "wheezy" user. At the time of writing (May 2013) the backports branch was not yet online. But you should be able to find them later at packages.debian.org. Maybe when the release policy of the Zabbix developers changes and they help packagers backport the security fixes we will include Zabbix back in the next release.

Apparently the Zabbix people also now provide their own set of DEB packages. We can't say much about the quality. But we continue to provide DSFG-compliant packages for Debian.

Hope that answers it. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Why is there no Zabbix in Debian Wheezy?

  • 2013-07-12 at 14:55
    Permalink

    You are the right person to ask: which DEB packages we should use for agent and for server as well?

    The one from Zabbix itself, or the one provided by wheezy-backports?

    Thank you for your honest answer.

    Ondrej

    Reply
    • 2013-07-12 at 15:19
      Permalink

      I haven't used the zabbix.com Debian packages in production yet. I just took a quick look at them. Their package wouldn't suit the DFSG (Debian free software guideline) in some regards (e.g. the clock Flash applet) and the software hasn't been split up into that many packages the way that we did. If you don't care about that you can use the zabbix.com packages.

      I would personally recommend to use wheezy-backports because I believe in the high quality and they are working very well and make use of the Debian package building toolchain (e.g. automatic upgrade of configuration files).

      If you asked the zabbix.com developers they may recommend their packages. So it's your decision. 🙂

      Reply
      • 2013-08-08 at 07:32
        Permalink

        Thank you for your reply. We decided to go with your Debian packages. So far it works great, however when restarting server and/or agent, no output is given.

        # /etc/init.d/zabbix-agent restart
        # /etc/init.d/zabbix-server restart
        #

        Although agent and server are restarted well. Is empty output desirable?

        Reply

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