The Dude from Mikrotik has been a long-time favourite of Windows based network managers for quite some time now, and its benefits far outweigh its shortcomings. Its tiny download size of 3.5MB hides a veritable powerhouse of an application, and its simple installation process that requires no additional files, services, databases or web packages allow you to be up and monitoring your network in minutes with a simple click of the ‘Discover’ button. You can even install The Dude on your desktop PC if you so wish. And once your network clients have had their SNMP settings configured correctly The Dude is capable of displaying a myriad of information and statistics as well as providing email reporting facilities when set criteria are met.
The Dude's working area.
The way The Dude displays and gives access to information is a great step as well. As the information is displayed from an application console and not via a web GUI you are freed from having masses of links and pages through which you have to trawl to perform even the simplest tasks. With The Dude it is all in front of you, and its map/icon based visual reporting system is so easy to use that you can see faulting clients and drill down to the information you require in seconds, and its deceptively basic layout hides the real power within.
Network devices and computers are easy to arrange in a logical order.
As with most network monitoring tools, it isn’t perfect at detecting every device you have on your network, it somehow overlooked the main office switch on more than one occasion, but adding them manually a breeze. You simply click the ‘Add device’ button, fill out its IP and it will immediately add it to the local map. Further information can be added by double clicking its icon to bring up the settings menu and in here everything from the devices general information, SNMP data, device history and notification settings (audio, visual and email) can be set and configured. You can also manually create custom device types and add new icons. It also has the handy feature of allowing you to install a workstation client so that you can remotely manage The Dude if it is installed on another machine such as a server or other PC.
Hovering over a device will instantly give you the low-down on monitored services.
And now to the shortcomings, of which all packages have. The Dude is starting to look old. It still has the easy to get to grips with interface but it is looking tired now, but, seeing as The Dude is a handy and highly effective tool in its current format I don’t suppose the developers feel the need to spoil a design that works so well. Also of note is that it struggled with SNMP information from my Windows 7 and Server 2008 machines, whereas the XP based VM had no problems at all in sending its statistics. This may have been a quirk of my little office network, but it is pretty basic here with just a few devices (I had to add more to flesh out the tests!) going through a single switch.
Lots of monitoring options are available and easily applied.
These points aside, The Dude is perfect if you need to see what is on your network NOW, and creating usable live network maps in a very short space of time. It’s also good for when you are helping out on new sites if you take a laptop with it installed you can get a pretty good overview in little time simply by connecting to the network and running a scan.
- Very quick to get setup and running
- Easy to understand layout and interface
- No need for additional files or plugins
- Excellent live mapping facilities
- Does not always detect all network devices
- It had issues with Windows 7/Server 2008 SNMP info
- Beginning to look old
Operating systems: Windows, Linux (requires Wine)
Download from: http://www.mikrotik.com/thedude.php