Proof You Should Not Run My Code: my SNMP agent

I’ve included bits of code in my books, sure. Always with warnings to not run it in production, as I am a firm devotee of fault-oblivious computing. You should not follow my example. But after a Fediverse (Mastodon) discussion last night, I’ve decided to share the code of a program I wrote and deployed. In production. When writing SNMP Mastery, I needed to understand how to integrate a custom agent into net-snmp. I also needed to go through the process of getting my own enterprise OID. I submitted the OID request right before Christmas 2019, and 55030 was assigned the next day.

So I promptly wrote my own SNMP agent, use top-notch state-of-the-art Perl 4. There’s some compatibility glue to make it run under Perl 5, but it’s basically Perl 4. Yes, there’s other languages–but Perl is eternal and timeless. Like Cobol and SNMP, that is not dead which can eternal sleeping lie.

This agent is the single source of truth for my published bibliography. Instructions for accessing it are in the SNMP book, but if I’m sharing the code I should provide context.

Browse to and you’ll find the MIB file TWP.mib. Put that in your SNMP browser or MIB directory. If you’re running net-snmp you can pull the table with:

$ snmptable -v2c -c megadweeb mwlBooksTable

The file includes the agent proper.

This code has been called “comically evil,” which warms my bitter heart. Yes, I could use a database. But why? The data changes 3-4 times a year, if I’m productive. And yes, the data is in columns, not rows. SNMP doesn’t do rows. It doesn’t really do tables. It only has columns, which you could choose to arrange side-by-side, but that’s a feeble human thing and irrelevant to this primordial protocol.

In writing this I had to choose between complex code and simple data, or simple code and complex data. Given that updates consist of adding an entry to the end of each column, I chose simple code. Yes, there’s an occasional painful update where I realize that I missed one of my old books, but those are increasingly rare.

Anyway. If you want a truly complete checklist of what I’ve written, here it is. Other writers have spreadsheets or text documents or perhaps, if they’re truly prolific, desktop databases. But noooo, I had to do this.

TLDR: do not run my code. That’s one reason I don’t use github; this is not a sample or example, it an inspiration for you to recoil in horror and do better. (I also insist on controlling my platforms, and I don’t control github.) I’m certain this will be presented as an exhibit in my inevitable, eventual sanity hearing.

3 Replies to “Proof You Should Not Run My Code: my SNMP agent”

  1. “complex code and simple data, or simple data and complex code” is one of the best typos I’ve seen, given the context!

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