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6 Best Open Source Network Mapping Software

by Vamsi Krishna
routers and switch

If you are designing or managing a network, a detailed diagram or map of that network is hugely helpful. Depending on your environment, network connections can get pretty crazy pretty quickly. This is especially true for large networks like in office environments. In those situations, a network map provides you with a ton of information in an interactive way and makes it easy to understand where everything is and how they connected from one to the other.

While Network mapping is better done manually. There is however software that connects discovered devices and makes it easy for you to map your network. To get you started, here are some of the best open source network mapping tools you can try.

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Best Open Source Network Mapping Software

1. Nmap

Nmap (short for Network Mapper) is one of the most popular network mapper and network security scanner that is used by individuals, professionals and companies alike. Nmap has built-in topology options that give you an interactive and animated network map with just a few clicks. All the networks are visualized in node graphs where the host is placed in the center and all the children networks are expended from that host center. Though the default view is set to localhost, you can change the viewpoint and see what the network actually looks like.

When needed, you can drag and drop different networks in the map and even able to manipulate them with the provided options. Once you have the map, you can highlight regions and group host’s children. When you click on a network or host children, Nmap provides you with additional options to get information and manipulate the target. Since Nmap is both a mapper and scanner, the network map is particularly useful in traceroute sessions.

Platform support: Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Price: Free.

Download Nmap

2. Netdisco

Netdisco is web-based network management and mapper tool. Using Netdisco, you can locate all the devices connected to a network. Once located, the app will automatically map them in a simple graphical representation. The application works the same no matter the network size. From the network map, you can gather all kinds of information like network hardware model, MAC address, IP address, installed software and operating system, etc.

Unlike Nmap, Netdisco’s user interface is much more friendly and has a lot more options when it comes manipulating the detected networks. For added functionality, you can install plug-ins and extensions too.

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Keep in mind that you need to install Netdisco on a server running a Linux distribution. Once installed, you can log in to the Netdisco from anywhere you want.

Platform support: Being a web tool, it supports all platforms.

Price: Free.

Download Netdisco

3. Masshandra

Masshandra is both a network mapping and network diagraming tool. In general, Masshandra is mainly used to create personal or office network diagrams in a 3D environment so that you know what’s going on when you actually create the network. If you already have a network, Masshandra can auto-discover your network using ping or SNMP operations. Once detected, it will create a network map instantly.

The app supports drag and drop operations so that you can easily manipulate or configure the predefined objects. So, if you want an application that can create new network diagrams all the while giving you access to the existing network maps then give Masshandra a try.

Platform support: Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Price: Free.

Download Masshandra

4. OpenNMS

Just like Masshandra, OpenNMS is both a network mapper and diagramming tool for any size of the network. However, OpenNMS is a full-blown network management tool that is mainly aimed towards professionals and the corporate world. Once you’ve installed OpenNMS, it will automatically discover your network and maps all the available objects. From the map, you can perform various activities like network provisioning, even notifications, platform management, etc.

So, if you are looking for a full-blown network management tool that can both map and manage your network then Open NMS is for you. As good as the software is, there is a big learning curve. That being said, the OpenNMS community is huge and you should get the help you need without any problems.

Platform support: Web tool. You need to install OpenNMS on a server.

Price: Free.

Download OpenNMS

5. nwdiag

nwdiag is a very simple application that is designed to do one thing and one thing only. Using nwdiag, you can generate a network diagram from dot like text. Unlike other programs where you see pretty diagrams of your networks, nwdiag shows simple text-based maps that are searchable. Once you have the map or diagram, you can embed it in Sphinx and search for various network objects. nwdiag does nothing more and nothing less. As such, it is very lightweight and uses barely any system resources.

As good as it is, nwdiag is severely limited and doesn’t provide any options whatsoever to manipulate or manage the networks. So, as long as your needs are simple and all you need is a network map or diagram, nwdiag is a great tool.

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Platform support: Linux only.

Price: Free

Download nwdiag

6. Nagios Core

Just like OpenNMS, Nagios Core is a full network management tool that is designed to maintain large networks in professional and corporate environments. Being a full network management tool, Nagios can easily detect your network and create a map out of it. Though the default map is just that and doesn’t provide many options for manipulation, you can use the information available from the map to make modifications via the Nagios management section.

One of the best things about Nagios is that you can create your own customizable network maps with a wide range of variations. Once created, you can also share them with a simple URL. If necessary, you can install additional components to enhance the network maps.

Nagios has a huge learning curve and the options are not that intuitive or easy to find and use. If you don’t mind the learning curve, give Nagios a try.

Platform support: Linux only.

Price: Free.

Download Nagios Core

That is all for now. Alternately, you can also draw it with your hands, or if you’re just looking for manual topology with no stimulation, Visio is kind of the industry standard.

If you think I missed any of your favorite open source network mapping tools then comment below and share them with me.

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