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Nagios HTML Email Template

Generate HTML emails for Nagios service and host alerts

Quick Start Guide

Install this package on your nagios server

[sudo] npm install -g nagios-html-email

And modify commands.cfg (or similar) to use this program

define command {
    command_name notify-service-by-email
    command_line nagios-html-email service | mailx -t
define command {
    command_name notify-host-by-email
    command_line nagios-html-email host | mailx -t

The second argument of is optional, and if supplied, should be the base URI of your Nagios instance. If present, it will result in extra links in the email generated like like "acknowledge alert", "view all alerts", etc.

Restart Nagios, and you should get fancy HTML email alerts. If something doesn't work, check the Common Problems section below for possible solutions. The most common problem is nagios-html-email isn't in the PATH of the Nagios server.


A critical service

Critical Service

The service recovery, threaded because the subject is the same

Service Recovery Threaded

Host recovery

Host Recovery

Advanced Usage

Note that these tips are only useful if you use the builtin templates supplied by this program, or use the variables that the builtin templates use.

Custom Subject

A custom subject can be set by setting a _subject attribute on the host or service that is generating the alert, for example:

define service {
    use                 generic-service
    hostgroup_name      server
    service_description SSH
    check_command       check_ssh
    _subject            ssh

Now, whenever the check_ssh service generates an alert, it will be sent with the subject of simply ssh, regardless of notification type or service state. This is convenient for threaded email clients (like gmail), as all emails about the check_ssh service will be grouped in the same thread.

define host {
    use        generic-host
    hostgroups server
    _subject   prod box 1

Same as above, except for a host notification for Whenever this host generates a notification, it will be sent with the simple subject of prod box 1.

At Voxer, we use the _subject attribute of services and not hosts.

Alleviation Steps

At Voxer, we use Chef to manage our Nagios instance, and as such, programatically generate Nagios services for each production service we have. All of our production services are uniquely named like fooservice1, fooservice2, fooservice3, etc. regardless of the host that runs the service, so a separate Nagios service must be created for each production service.

One of the things we check is memory usage on a per process basis. Every node process running in production is set to warn us when it passes a certain threshold of RSS on the box, and under typical circumstances we just get a core dump of the process, and restart it.

After we have a couple core dumps, it becomes unecassary to waste time dumping core, so we just restart the troubled programs before they become a issue.

Since the "alleviation" steps are pretty much the same for each service, but we don't want this to happen automatically (imagine if every service restarted at the same time... that would be bad), we just add an _alleviate attribute to each service, that the builtin template knows how to render. For example:

define service {
    use                 generic-service
    host_name           prod-box-1
    service_description fooservice1 RSS
    check_command       check_voxer_rss!fooservice1
    _subject            fooservice
    _alleviate          ssh prod-box-1 sudo svcadm -v restart fooservice1

Now, whenever an email is generated for the service when it is not OK, extra lines will be added that look like:

the following steps may possibly alleviate the issue

ssh prod-box-1 sudo svcadm -v restart fooservice1

However, it is still up to the recipient of this alert to determine if this is the best course of action.

Custom Templates

By default, this program will use builtin templates for host and service alerts. You can use your own templates by supplying -t <dir> to point to a directory with your templates.

See templates/ to see the builtin templates.


Templates are rendered using EJS, and have these variables available for you to use.

  • nagios: this object contains all of the Nagios variables found as environmental variables. For example, nagios.CONTACTEMAIL, nagios.HOSTSTATE, etc. Any variable you could access as a macro like $MACRONAME$ will be avaliable as nagios.MACRONAME.
  • args: this array contains all of the command line arguments after the type argument. For instance, if the program is invoked as nagios-html-email -t /etc/templates -s subject service foo bar baz the array will be set to ['foo', 'bar', 'baz'].
  • package: package.json from this module as an object; this can be used to get information like package.version, etc.

A custom template dir, if you supply one, should contain at least a host.html.ejs and service.html.ejs file for host and service alerts respectively.


To test out custom templates, it's easiest to clone this repo and use the the example environmental variables for a fake Nagios alert.


git clone git://
cd nagios-html-email
npm install

Next, edit the templates

$ vim templates/*.html.ejs
... edit edit edit ...

Then, run make to generate test templates

$ make
. test/service.env && ./nagios-html-email.js service | awk 'NR > 5' > service.html
. test/host.env && ./nagios-html-email.js host | awk 'NR > 5' > host.html
$ ls *.html
host.html     service.html

Now you can open both HTML files to see what the templates looks like when they are rendered

open *.html

Or, if you prefer, you can do this manually with the following

. test/service.env
./nagios-html-email.js service > service.html
open service.html || xdg-open service.html

Repeat the edit and testing steps until your templates look good, and then you can call the globally installed nagios-html-email program with -t /path/to/your/templates to use your newly created templates.

Common Problems

No emails are being generated

Most likely, the path with nagios-html-email in it is not in the PATH variable for the Nagios server. Ensure the path given by which nagios-html-email is in the PATH of the Nagios server.

I'm getting emailed, but it is a JSON stringified version of the Nagios variables

This means that a template failed to render. Instead of failing to send an email, this program will do everything it can to make sure you get an email, even if it isn't pretty.

I'm trying to do numerical analysis on values but it isn't working

Since variables are passed as either command line arguments or environmental variables, all variables are of type String. You must expliticly cast any values you know to be numbers, booleans, dates, etc. to their correct data type.

I've disabled environmental variables for performance reasons

You can still use this program, just pass the variables you would like to use as command line arguments, and access them in your template as args[0], args[1], etc. For example:

define command {
    command_name notify-service-by-email
    command_line nagios-html-email -s "** $NOTIFICATIONTYPE$ Service Alert: $HOSTALIAS$/$SERVICEDESC$ is $SERVICESTATE$ **" -a $CONTACTEMAIL$ service | mailx -t

However, from experience, passing environmental variables won't cause too much of a performance penality. I'd recommend turning it on for a bit to see how it affects your latency before turning off such an amazing feature.




Generate HTML emails for Nagios service and host alerts






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