General, Linux

How To Define Nagios Contacts With Email

Shine Servers

Nagios is one of the best open source server and network monitoring solutions available.  Using the flexible nagios framework, you can monitor pretty much anything (including database and custom application). This article, using 4 simple steps, explains how to setup contact definitions who will get notification when a host or service has any issues.

1. Define Generic Contact Template in templates.cfg

Nagios installation gives a default generic contact template that can be used as a reference to build your contacts. Please note that all the directives mentioned in the generic-contact template below are mandatory. So, if you’ve decided not to use the generic-contact template definition in your contacts, you should define all these mandatory definitions inside your contacts yourself.
The following generic-contact is already available under /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/templates.cfg. Also, the templates.cfg is included in the nagios.cfg by default as shown below.
Please note that any of these directives mentioned in the templates.cfg can be overridden when you define a real contact using this generic-template.

# grep templates /usr/local/nagios/etc/nagios.cfg

Note: generic-contact is available under

define contact{
        name                            generic-contact
        service_notification_period     24x7
        host_notification_period        24x7
        service_notification_options    w,u,c,r,f,s
        host_notification_options       d,u,r,f,s
        service_notification_commands   notify-service-by-email
        host_notification_commands      notify-host-by-email
        register                        0


2. Define Individual Contacts in contacts.cfg

One you’ve confirmed that the generic-contact templates is defined properly, you can start defining individual contacts definition for all the people in your organization who would ever receive any notifications from nagios. Please note that just by defining a contact doesn’t mean that they’ll get notification. Later you have to associate this contact to either a service or host definition as shown in the later sections below. So, feel free to define all possible contacts here. (for example, Developers, DBAs, Sysadmins, IT-Manager, Customer Service Manager, Top Management etc.)

Note: Define these contacts in /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/contacts.cfg
define contact{
        contact_name                    sgupta
        use                             generic-contact
        alias                           Sanjay Gupta (Developer)
        email                           [email protected]
        pager                           [email protected]
define contact{
        contact_name                    jbourne
        use                             generic-contact
        alias                           Jason Bourne (Sysadmin)
        email                           [email protected]

3. Define Contact Groups with Multiple Contacts in contacts.cfg

Once you’ve defined the individual contacts, you can also group them together to send the appropriate notifications. For example, only DBAs needs to be notified about the database down service definition. So, a db-admins group may be required. Also, may be only Unix system administrators needs to be notified when Apache goes down. So, a unix-admins group may be required. Feel free to define as many groups as you think is required. Later you can use these groups in the individual service and host definitions.

Note: Define contact groups in /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects/contacts.cfg

define contactgroup{
contactgroup_name          db-admins
alias                      Database Administrators
members                    jsmith, jdoe, mraj

define contactgroup{
contactgroup_name          unix-admins
alias                      Linux System Administrator
members                    jbourne, dpatel, mshankar

4. Attach Contact Groups or Individual Contacts to Service and Host Definitions

Once you’ve defined the individual contacts and contact groups, it is time to start attaching them to a specific host or service definition as shown below.

Note: Following host is defined under
     This can be any host definition file.

define host{
use                     linux-server
host_name               email-server
alias                   Corporate Email Server
contact_groups          unix-admins

Note: Following is defined under
      This can be any host definition file.

define service{
use                             generic-service
host_name                       prod-db
service_description             CPU Load
contact_groups                  unix-admins
check_command                   check_nrpe!check_load

define service{
use                             generic-service
host_name                       prod-db
service_description             MySQL Database Status
contact_groups                  db-admins
check_command                   check_mysql_db

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