Network Management, Monitoring, Planning, and Configuration tools for community networks

Hi everyone! I’ve been exploring tools used for community network management/planning/etc and wonder what folks are currently using. Right now, particularly for captive portal management, Ive found CoovaChilli to be the best but it has its issues.

Ideally, you could have a plug and play mechanism when a user could grab the components needed (captival portal, billing management, network monitoring). OpenWISP is doing some of this, I believe.

Also there is nothing I’ve see so far that provide a NetBox like management interface for community networks in addition to tools to support in the network planning phase, ip address management. Would love to hear about tools folks are using.

I’m playing around with idea for a more modular version of coova-chilli and a general management and planning solution. Would love thoughts on what the community thinks is missing and needed on the management and planning side.


1 Like

Hi Innocent,

Dirk van der Walt in South Africa created RadiusDesk and MeshDesk which can do both provisioning and captive portal. products [RADIUSdesk] It has been a while since I have looked at it though.

StartYourOwnISP has a list of resources although they are more oriented towards the North American WISP environment Billing and Customer Management - Start Your Own ISP

Thanks Steve. I’ve played around a bit with RadiusDesk. How popular do you think it is with community networks in general? I found it highly functional but very cumbersome.

I haven’t been in touch with Dirk in a while. Most of his clients are commercial wireless ISPs, not sure if any CNs are using it. There is also Freeside which can do provisioning but I suspect that both Freeside and RadiusDesk are going to feel cumbersome compared to the offerings from WiFi manufacturers with the trade-off being vendor lock-in.

I know David Johnson uses RadiusDesk quite extensively and I believe they have an updated version working in a docker container. I’ll ping him and try to get a link.

Thanks, Eric. I remember chatting with David about this a while ago, but never asked if he was actively using it. I just tried running it locally and getting all sorts of errors. Would be interesting to survey CNs to understand what they are actually using and what needs they have. I know for sure that voucher/captive portals are a big part, but doesn’t seem like there is consensus on the best way to deploy those.

Also a question of at what point should we just use the commercial/proprietary solutions? Should we build the FOSS solutions in a way that CNs when they are ready can easily transition from the FOSS to the COTS solutions?

Hi all - good discussion going on here. I’ve used RadiuDesk for about 2 years now. I created a docker container version using the latest version available on sourceforge. Its worked well for creating vouchers for the Ocean View community network and combining with pfsense to authenticate and accounting. The user interface takes some time to get used to. I’ve never used meshdesk - its partner mesh management system. The challenge for me is having so many tools to manage different things - e.g. Unifi WiFi management to manage the network, RadiusDesk for vouchers, pfsense for the firewall, Grafana for traffic monitoring. Would like to see one dashbaord that integrates everything one day.