We were in need of some software to help get our hardware and software inventory under control for our Windows PCs. We had a commercial application that had been partially rolled out over a year ago. Due to department turnover and a rapid release cycle our install soon fell into disarray and was out of date on top of that. With interest in getting something up and running again our help desk guy found a nice open source package called Winventory.
We took a look at it and saw it used a VBScript to pull the hardware specs and software installed on the Windows PCs using WMI. It formats all the data up into a series of SQL update statements which are submitted to a web form running on Apache with PHP and a MySQL database backend. I put it up in our test environment pretty easily, probably in about ten minutes.
From there I played with the audit file and got it to run against a test PC. A few small issues later (the biggest being not all the software found was loaded into the DB, this was corrected with a re-written function taken from the Bugs forum of the Winventory site) we had our first PC inventoried. It grabbed a large amount of information, in fact I saw very little missing. It includes a hardware section, software section, when the PC was audited and areas to add your own manual notes.
The audit can be run from a central station as long as the user running it has Admin rights on the remote machines. This is great as there is no client software to install as long as WMI is on the machine you are scanning (which is the case for 2K and XP machines). This is agreat advantage over our commercial solution which required a client which was prone to crashing on the PCs it was installed on. Each scan takes about 30 seconds on a modern PC, a little longer if the remote is an older model.
The other nice factor is that with it all being open source we can customize the software if we want. Add to the VBScript if we want more information or create our own reports to run against the DB.
So far I have been pretty impressed with the software. It looks like we will be rolling it out into production next week and saying goodbye to the maintenance renewal fee for our commercial software.