To some business owners or managers, open-source RMM software means insecure, without standards, and non-compliant systems. They prefer commercial RMM software whose vendor provides security, quality and compliance certifications to gain their customers' and partners' trust and confidence.
But many organizations still choose open-source RMM software over proprietary software. Why? The truth is most lines of code in proprietary software are open-source, and the software can still go under regardless of the effort and finances invested in it.
For instance, what if the closed RMM software you invested in is sold, bought, or stopped altogether? What if the vendor no longer provides meaningful updates, or the cost of maintaining the software outweighs the value it offers?
This article discusses the benefits and limitations of open-source software as well as the factors to consider when choosing between open-source and commercial RMM software. We also have a list of what we have established to be the best open-source RMM software available.
If you are an MSP looking for more RMM solutions beyond open source, please check our discussion of the leading RMM software for MSPs.
Control is the key reason many organizations choose open source RMM software
One critical reason many organizations seek open-source RMM software is so they can have greater control. With open-source RMM, you can utilize your internal team of developers or a software development company to create a customized solution for a quarter of the price of a proprietary RMM.
The developers can help incorporate more features to match your business’s remote monitoring and management needs. They can also review the open-sourced code for security, pull audit information and document the audit checks to ascertain the quality of your solution.
Furthermore, open-source RMM software is free. This means organizations, such as MSPs, looking to cut operational costs while reaping the benefits of an RMM can experiment with various open-source solutions to find the best fit.
However, open-source RMM has its downsides in certain circumstances, which necessitate the need for commercial RMM software.
Benefits of open-source RMM software
The most obvious benefit of open source RMM software is that it comes without the costs associated with proprietary options. This will save you a significant amount of money, but you should not forget the cost of tailoring an open source tool to fit your needs.
The specific benefits include:
Open source RMM software will save you operational costs
You don’t need to invest in buying licenses for commercial RMM software if you do not have the resources to spare.
Even when you have the money, you do not have to spend on tools that you can also get at a lesser cost to serve the same function. If you only have a few endpoints to monitor, for example, you can comfortably work with open source RMM solutions.
Open source RMM software can be customized to meet specific business needs
You can work with an experienced team of developers to add more features. They’ll tweak the software to meet your remote monitoring and management needs.
Opensource RMM source code is publicly accessible. This paves the way for code review, public critiques, knowledge sharing and collaborative bug fixes.
This is possible through shared community platforms such as Slack.
Easy to identify and address issues
You can run code review scripts on the open-sourced code to check for any backdoor passwords or vulnerabilities. This allows you to perform bug fixes for improved quality and security of the software.
Most open-source RMM solutions have been around for years. The community of users is constantly reviewing and improving the software. Hence, you can count on its stability.
The best open-source RMM software
We ranked these top open source RMM software solutions based on their unique features, coupled with user representative user views. Here’s the list
- Tactical RMM
- Pandora Flexible Monitoring Solution (FMS)
- Mesh Commander
- NMIS by FirstWave
1. Tactical RMM
Tactical RMM is a free, open-source RMM software that is built with Django, Vue and Golang. It provides management of a client machine’s entire life cycle. Although initially designed for Windows, it supports Mac and Linux agent access at a fee.
- Patch management automation: Tactical RMM allows you to define patch management policies in the automation manager. You can choose between automatic and manual patch installation based on the severity level.
- Remote endpoint management: The solution supports remote desktop control to troubleshoot a user’s machine without interrupting their activity. You can check processes and services, as well as manage files and Windows events.
- Free community support: Tactical RMM offers guided set-up and troubleshooting through Discord and GitHub tickets.
What users like about Tactical RMM
Tactical RMM’s built-in integration with Meshcentral makes troubleshooting seamless with the remote desktop connection feature.
RPort.io is an open-source, self-hosted RMM software designed for macOS, Windows and Linux operating systems. It supports remote access, inventory management, VPN replacement and script execution to help monitor IT infrastructure through a user-friendly dashboard.
- Automated inventory management: The solution allows routers, servers, desktop PCs, and IoT devices to be managed via a centralized console.
- Easy and efficient command and script execution: It supports running commands on the browser, concurrent command and script execution, storage of scripts in a library and workflow creation.
- Secure remote login: You can log into your Linux or Windows servers through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Virtual Network Computing (VNC), or Secure Shell (SSH), from anywhere without a VPN.
What users like about RPort.io
With RPort, you can execute basic commands and predefined scripts across multiple clients without chained SSH connections and VPN.
3. Pandora Flexible Monitoring Solution (FMS)
Pandora FMS is an open-source network monitoring software designed to keep track of the performance of servers, applications, databases, virtual environments and network equipment. It collects data, generates reports and graphs and raises an alarm in case of an issue.
- Real-time monitoring and alerting: When an application fails, Pandora FMS sends an SMS in real time.
- Multi-platform monitoring: Supports over 500 plugins to manage various assets from Lotus, Oracle, and SAP to Redhat, AWS, Websphere, SQL server and VMware.
- In-depth tracking: Besides collecting information from platform agents, PandoraFMS uses TCP/IP connectivity to monitor hardware systems such as switches and routers via TCP/ICMP checks.
What users like about Pandora FMS
Pandora FMS’ flexibility is invaluable. You can monitor any IT infrastructure, from virtual machines and cloud services to on-premise applications.
OpenRSM integrates open-source initiatives for remote systems monitoring and network management. It is designed to manage workstations and monitor the performance of active network elements, including embedded systems and wireless sensors.
- Scalability: The solution is lightweight. Furthermore, it has been successfully tested and proven to load up to 40,000 jobs and can process 21 jobs/second.
- Efficient management console: OpenRSM utilizes role-based ticket assignment, job scheduling, multi-language processing and automatic discovery for speedy and efficient problem resolution.
- Multi-dimensional troubleshooting: With remote control, you can implement an agent-initiated reverse connection based on RealVNC open-source tool and a proxy server. You can also utilize reusable, editable shell and process commands for remote procedure calls.
What users like about OpenRSM
OpenRSM utilizes a diverse range of integrated open-source tools to offer comprehensive functionalities while observing security measures. It is scalable and lightweight in design.
5. Mesh Commander
Mesh Commander is a free, open-source RMM software that supports Linux and Windows operating systems. It is designed to work with Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) to provide patching, asset management, backup, remote access and real-time monitoring.
- Terminal troubleshooting: Mesh Commander supports video chat and text to provide real-time problem resolution of unresponsive terminals.
- Cross-platform compatibility: It is built on web technologies and supports multi-platforms, including Linux, Windows and macOS.
- Secure remote access: Mesh Commander has a built-in remote desktop that supports IDE redirection, Serial Over LAN (SOL) terminal and KVM redirection. There is a Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption connection for secure and efficient remote control.
What users like about Mesh Commander
The remote desktop access functionality is invaluable. You can seamlessly view hardware information and system status, making it very easy to troubleshoot. This is a very important capability for MSPs.
6. NMIS by FirstWave
FirstWave’s NMIS is an open-source on-premise solution designed to help MSPs monitor Customer Premise Equipment (endpoints) and IoT remotely. It provides threshold alerting and performance graphs for configuration, performance and fault management.
- Flexible integration: NMIS integrates with Opmanteks RMM to automatically generate the event tickets of deduplication and easily configure suppression rules.
- Advanced customization: You can customize NMIS to suit your business needs with advanced features such as database integration, advanced reporting and intelligent mapping at low-cost commercial licenses.
- Official support: Besides the community support, NMIS enjoys commercial support from Opmantek, coupled with detailed documentation for deployment, configuration and troubleshooting.
What users like about FirstWave’s NMIS
Unlimited customization! FirstWave’s commercial modules make the solution worthwhile. It offers unlimited process automation, from automated troubleshooting and remediation to automated network discovery. All at competitive pricing.
ITarian RMM is designed to monitor and control client endpoints, computers and networks via a centralized console. It supports patch management, network assessment, payment management and auto-discovery for ITSM service providers.
- Real-time monitoring and alerting: Itarian RMM oversees the network and connected devices with capabilities to evaluate, remediate and update endpoints. It provides real-time updates about the status of the network and software updates for connected devices.
- Rapid deployment and configuration: The solution integrates Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) with Active Directory. With the integration, you can import the list of devices, users and endpoints for easy deployment and configuration.
- Real-time customer interaction: Besides providing support for the latest update releases, ITarian supports real-time customer interaction for enhanced experience.
What users like about ITarian RMM
ITarian is praised for its endpoint management capabilities. It’s very efficient in monitoring the health of the network and supports up to 50 endpoints, free of charge.
Limitations of open source RMM software
- Lack of official support: From setting up all the way to configuration and maintenance, open-source RMM software can be complex unless you have an experienced team of developers. Although shared community platforms can be helpful, you can’t count on them for reliability and convenience across all issues.
- Limited features: An enterprise organization with thousands of endpoints to monitor requires automation and detailed analytics features. Most open-source RMMs don’t support this.
Commercial vs Open source RMM software: What should you consider?
Undoubtedly, leveraging open-source RMM software can improve productivity, cut down IT costs and simplify IT infrastructure monitoring and management. However, commercial RMM software can be more efficient and effective with various considerations.
So should you go between choosing either of these two directions? Consider these factors when choosing between commercial and open-source RMM software:
1. Nature of operations
Critical operations, such as in healthcare systems, demand optimum uptime. Else, they can be life-threatening.
For such systems, a commercial RMM would be more reliable as it can support advanced technology for over 99.5% uptime.
2. Scope of business needs
Opensource RMMs can be sufficient for a startup or small organization with, say, about 50-100 endpoints.
But enterprise organizations with thousands of endpoints require unlimited automation, integrations and customization that only a commercial RMM can support.
3. Cost of acquisition, implementation and maintenance
What are your business requirements? Would acquiring an open-source solution meet the requirements? If not, what is the cost of customizing the open-source solution? How does this compare with the cost of buying an RMM?
If the cost of open-source customization exceeds that of a commercial solution, acquiring the commercial RMM is cost-effective.
If you have an experienced team of developers that can customize the solution for efficiency, security and continuous improvement, then open-source RMM can be feasible.
Watch out for the weak point
One of the critical things that can render open source RMM insignificant is weak security. Data privacy and confidentiality remain a critical consideration, especially with the rise in cyber security threats. And if an RMM offers no proof of security, how safe is the data that it’s going to manage?
Even as we celebrate the convenience of open source software, pay attention to the security threshold. Go for open source RMM solutions that can guarantee optimal security, powered by a community that is conscious about cybersecurity and data loss prevention best practices.