[Article]-RichM on BCP and Free Apps Like Spiceworks

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    • #982
      Don Donzal
      Keymaster

      This month, as I continue the daunting task of my new job, a couple thoughts are forefront in my mind:

      1. Over the years I have had good fortune to always be on the “ins” with the main decision maker (CEO, president, etc.).  Sometimes it was because the company was so small that knowing the owner was inevitable. Other times it was because my immediate supervisor was the go to guy; which made me the go to go guy (in waiting) by proxy.  Currently this is not the situation, and for the first time I am on the outside looking in.  I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression. I do know the decision makers, and they know me, but getting face time is near impossible.

      2. Many of us know how hard it is for IT to get a workable budget.  Then try to boil it down for information security, and the picture gets even more grim.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, but overall most of us need all the free solutions we can get our hands on.

      See the rest of his latest column at its permanent link:
      http://www.ethicalhacker.net/content/view/104/24/

      As always with RichM’s column, your feedback drives the content. So share at will.

      Don

    • #11113
      slimjim100
      Participant

      Awesome Article RichM! I think I will try that Spiceworks on the network of a non-profit I volunteer to help with networking support. It will be nice to see what’s out there since the IT staff is very small and overworked. I have been building this non-profit network for 3 years (part-time) and with a budget of nothing it is always fun to find new tools to get the job done. Thanks again for the insight on your job and the tools you share.

      Brian
      AKA Slimjim100

    • #11114
      linuxstarved
      Participant

      slimjim100,

      No problem, and so your aware they just released an update (v1.1) which promises to make it twice as fast (or perhaps more accurately half as slow) 😉 

      They also added custom attributes for reporting and some other stuff that makes it even better.  I will try to highlight other free apps. in the coming mos.  Thanks for reading.

    • #11115
      slimjim100
      Participant

      RichM Thank you very much! I currently support 3 different non-profits and I would love to hear about any useful free tools. Also just as an FYI is anyone else here works for a Non-Profit go to http://www.Techsoup.org for free and discounted software and hardware.

      Thanks,

      Brian Wilson
      AKA Slimjim100

    • #11116
      Don Donzal
      Keymaster
    • #11117
      slimjim100
      Participant

      Dugg 🙂

      Brian

    • #11118
      skel
      Participant

      Hi RichM

      Thanks for the information on spice works. Recently I read through few Free IT inventory and management software and finally decided to give a go at OCS inventory NG (http://ocsinventory.sourceforge.net/) which is a open source software.

      I installed the server component on my Win XP PC in 5 minutes and it was up and running.

      Then you need to install the client agent on each PC which runs as a service. You can install the agent remotely if u are on a directory service. The outcome was very impressive.

      The agent updates the server at pre scheduled time intervals. The info collected by agent is stored in both the PC and the server. The advantage of this is even if your server crashes, u can re install the server from scratch. And the next time the agents connects to the server it will re-populate the database with all the info from the local file. So no information is lost. This is specially useful if you decide to use a old obsolete PC without any support or redundancy for the server 

      This software does inventory but custom reporting and such additional facilities are minimum. But there is another Open source software built on OCS inventory called GLPI (http://www.glpi-project.org/spip.php?lang=en) which uses the data collected from the OCS and facilitates complete asset management. I haven’t installed this product yet for reasons I will explain later. GLPI has a compete demo site at http://www.glpi-project.org/spip.php?article47 for you see the power of it.

      IMO These two Open Source applications together will compete with any thousand dollar IT asset management application without any problem.

      I was so impressed with the results I decided to put at least OCS inventory on live environment. For this I tried to install the server on a CENTOS ( http://www.centos.org/ ) This is a free alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux server. And I tried… and I tried… and I tried … for almost 2 days.

      The difference between the Linux version and the Windows version is that the windows version bundles MySQL, Apache Web server, and all related apps (incliding the XAMPP contol pannel) in to one installer and everything gets installed initially. But with Linux version only the app binaries are included. It requires MySQL, Apache and lot of other packages to be installed before installing the application. As a Linux newbie I just couldn’t get though this phase. So temporarily stopped the project untill I get some free time again. This is obvioulsy why I dint get to trying out GLPI.

      But if things fail, I will just install the windows version and try to install Linux version leisurely. (becuase I will not not loose the collected data by replacing the server)

      To summerise

      Pros
      1. Almost all the info u need on a PC is collected and well presented
      2. Web interface for view and admin
      3. Agent communicates with the server on port 80. So its easy on the firewalls
      4. OCS includes package deployment feature on client computers
      5. Unlike Spiceworks, the applications does not not need connection to the internet so there is no risk of any information leaking to the software vendor or any other person. 

      Cons
      1. Both french based products. So english help is limited
      2. The agent updates the “seconds remianing for next update” in local ini file every second (cant see any reason for this). So this could be a issue on old PCs though I didn’t feel a performance issue with the few PCs I tested. The documentation states this will be corrected and the ini file update frequency will be configarable in the next agent release.

      Please set me know your comments if you have already have tried this or if you try this.
       
      Regards

    • #11119
      plik
      Participant

      What’s the accuracy like? I’ve used two similar things the first was a very cheap bit of software that I can’t remember the name off that missed about 1/3 of installed apps. The other, M$ SMS, would report multiple copies of Office etc making any reports practically useless. 

    • #11120
      skel
      Participant

      HI plik

      I would recomend u to download the windows version of OCS and install it on a PC and  try the agent on few test PCs. Installation takes only few clicks and u are up and running.

      They have agents for following. (from their site)   
          *  Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me/NT4/2000/XP/2003,
          * Linux,
          * *BSD,
          * Mac OS X,
          * Sun Solaris,
          * IBM AIX
          * HP-UX.

      I tried the agent on 4 XP PCs and I didn’t have a issue with those. But for me anything was a improvement as currently we don’t have any way of inventorying PCs. As with GLPI my only experience is their demo site.

      My plan is to get one department on the OCS server and run it for few weeks and if satisfied role it out to others. Once I role it out to a department and if I find any issues will post them here. But it will take some time for me. My only worry is the excessive disk access of the agent.

      You can also check the discussion forums http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=196389 for issues raised by others.

      If you find any issues please let me know too.

      regards

    • #11121
      Don Donzal
      Keymaster

      Apparently RichM’s article caught the eye of Spiceworks. Check out their new campaign to get the word out on this free tool:

      http://www.spiceworks.com/spreadspiceworks/

      We’re mentioned and link int the “Blog Entries About Spiceworks” section on the menu on the right hand side.

      Nice work Rich,
      Don

    • #11122
      Anonymous
      Participant

      outstanding!

    • #11123
      slimjim100
      Participant

      Thats cool to have more links back to EH-Net 🙂

      Brian

    • #11124
      tpickard
      Participant

      RichM – Thank you. I need Knoppix to attempt repair to the filesystem of a Linux system that I just swapped the HDDs from a box with bad motherboard to a newer box with an Iwill PCI-IDE card. Since the card wasn’t in the original box it can’t find the HDD connected to it and it crashes before I can get in to reconfig and the SHELL is being Read-Only worthless. (By the way, does anyone know where I can get Linux drivers for the Iwill card?)

      At any rate, when I found the Knoppix and went to download it I goofed and got the ad for Spiceworks first. I decided to download both, since Spiceworks fits a need I’ve been looking to fill here at home. While doing so I went looking for reasons to trust or distrust this freeware and found your article. Again managing to stumble on just what I wanted.

      Thanks again.  ;D

    • #11125
      Clay Briggs
      Participant

      Heh, as long as it’s more accurate than Belarc manage. 😉

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