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Chapter 2 - Getting to Know Systems Management Server

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Systems Management Server provides a set of tools for both administrators and users. The administrative tools allow you to manage the system, and to perform administrative tasks such as distributing software and viewing inventory. The client programs let users perform the Systems Management Server tasks that you have requested of them. For example, they can install software and provide customized inventory information.

This chapter describes the tools and programs available to administrators and to users of the Systems Management Server system. It covers the basic material that you should know about Systems Management Server before proceeding on to more detailed information.

Systems Management Server administrative tools

When you install Systems Management Server on a server in a site, you are given access to the Systems Management Server program group. This program group gives you access to the administrative tools, help, and online documentation that you use to manage your Systems Management Server system. By default, these tools are all installed on the site server in the primary site. They can also be installed on other computers running the Windows NT operating system. These tools are described below:

Icon

Name

Description

 

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Systems Management Server Administrator

Allows you to perform the majority of Systems Management Server administrative tasks.

 

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Systems Management Server Security Manager

Allows you to grant user rights to the Systems Management Server Administrator functions.

 

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Systems Management Server Service Manager

Allows you to start or stop Systems Management Server services and to configure service tracing.

 

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Systems Management Server Database Manager

Allows you to delete obsolete or unused data from the database.

 

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Systems Management Server Sender Manager

Allows you to control sender and address -based bandwidth use.

 

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Systems Management Server SQL View Generator

Allows you to create a view on the Systems Management Server database. Other applications (such as Crystal Reports) can use views to access Systems Management Server inventory information.

 

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Systems Management Server MIF Form Generator

Allows you to collect customized data from your users.

 

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Network Monitor

Allows you to observe and analyze network activity.

 

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Systems Management Server Setup

Allows you to upgrade, install, or remove Systems Management Server components.

 

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Systems Management Server Books Online

Provides an online copy of the Systems Management Server documentation.

 

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Systems Management Server Frequently Asked Questions

Provides answers to frequently asked questions about Systems Management Server.

 

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Systems Management Server Release Notes

Provides late-breaking information about the current Systems Management Server release.

Systems Management Server Administrator 

The Systems Management Server Administrator is the primary tool which you use to manage the Systems Management Server system. The Systems Management Server Administrator provides access to the SQL Server database, and lets you create, view, or modify any of the core Systems Management Server objects (such as packages, jobs, and events).

With the Systems Management Server Administrator, you can log in to the Systems Management Server system and administer the objects and properties for that site and its subsites. Sites are collections of domains and computers that are managed together in Systems Management Server. An Systems Management Server system is composed of a central site and its subsites. The central site is a primary site that stores system-wide information and manages all other sites. A primary site is a site that stores system data for itself and its subsites locally in a SQL Server database. A secondary site is a site without a database. A subsite is a site that is beneath another site in the site hierarchy. For more information about sites, see Chapter 3, "Understanding Sites."

You can log in to the database for any site to which you have network access and permission. Once you have logged in, you can administer that site and all its subsites. If you log in to the database at the central site, you can administer the entire Systems Management Server system.

Using the Systems Management Server Administrator, you can:

View and provide remote support for all computers in the site and its subsites

You can view the list of all computers in the site and its subsites. You can also view the inventory for each individual computer. If you need to remove a computer from the inventory, you can delete it. If you can directly connect to a computer in the inventory, you can provide direct support to the computer by using the remote troubleshooting utilities.

Create, modify, and delete Systems Management Server objects

You can create Systems Management Server objects that can be used at the primary site or its subsites. To modify and delete Systems Management Server objects, you must be logged in to the database of the site where the objects were created.

Manage packages and program groups

You can create, modify, and delete packages and program groups. Changes are made at a primary site, and are applied to the site and its subsites.

Define packages to be inventoried

You can define inventory rules for packages so that Systems Management Server scans for these packages and reports them to the inventory if they are detected. For packages, inventory rules are propagated to all subsites of the site where the package was created. Therefore, when you create a package with Inventory properties at a site, Systems Management Server scans for the package at every subsite beneath that site.

Set site and domain properties

You can modify site properties for the specific site and the sites below it in the site hierarchy. Site properties for a secondary site must be modified at a primary site above it in the site hierarchy.

Analyze network traffic

You can use Network Monitor to capture network data from a computer in the inventory.

Receive SNMP traps

You can configure the Systems Management Server Administrator to receive SNMP traps and to store the traps in the database for later viewing. You can also configure the Event to Trap Translator, to translate Windows NT events into SNMP traps.

Manage computers using the Windows NT Administrative Tools

You can start Windows NT Administrative Tools (Event Viewer, Server Manager, User Manager, Performance Monitor) to manage Windows NT-based computers in the inventory.

The Systems Management Server Administrator is installed on the site server in every primary site in the Systems Management Server system. You can also install and run the Systems Management Server Administrator on other computers running the Windows NT operating system (version 3.5 or later). For more information about installing the Systems Management Server Administrator on computers other than the site server, see Appendix A in Installation and Configuration.

By default, you can run only one instance of the Systems Management Server Administrator. However, you can configure a computer to run more than one instance of the Systems Management Server Administrator. For more information, see Chapter 1 in the Administrator's Guide.

The Systems Management Server Administrator is composed of multiple windows that allow you to manage objects in the underlying database. The windows in the Systems Management Server Administrator are not automatically refreshed; they are updated only when you perform an action that retrieves data from the database. For instance, the Sites window, which displays information about Systems Management Server sites, domains, and computers, is not updated when inventory is added to the database. You may need to refresh the display for the Sites window and the other windows in the Systems Management Server Administrator to see changes to the system.

When you open a window in the Systems Management Server Administrator, you will see the following dialog box:

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You can access any of the major windows in the Systems Management Server Administrator from this dialog box. You can also access these windows from the File Open menu item.

The major windows in the Systems Management Server Administrator are described in the following sections.

Sites window 
The Sites window shows a complete view of all domains and computers in the site hierarchy, for the current site and any subsites. When you log in to a site's database, that site appears as the top site (which appears as a globe) in the Sites window — even if there are parent sites above that site.

You can navigate the Sites window to find any computer in the hierarchy. For each computer, Systems Management Server displays the computer name, the Systems Management Server Identifier (ID), the name of the last user to log on at the computer, the system type (Intel®, MIPS®, Alpha, or Macintosh®) of the computer, and the system role (server or workstation). The computer icon also indicates the system role.

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You can view the detailed hardware and software inventory properties of any computer in any site displayed in the Sites window. You also have access to utilities (such as remote troubleshooting, Network Monitor, and Windows NT Administrative Tools) that you can use to manage the computer.

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Because the Sites window displays all of the computers, domains, and sites in the site hierarchy, it is often used in conjunction with other elements of the Systems Management Server Administrator. For instance, if you want to run a query to find all Pentium® servers in a specific site, you can take a query to find all Pentium servers and you can drag the query to the site you are interested in. Dropping the query on the site will run the query, limited to the specified site. Similarly, to distribute a particular software package to a specific domain, you can drag the package onto that domain in the Sites window. This will create a job to perform the software distribution.

Machine groups and site groups windows 
The Sites window groups computers by site and domain. Site groups and machine groups provide alternative ways of viewing and managing computers in Systems Management Server.

You can create a machine group that serves as an alias for a set of computers. Machine groups can be used to specify the job targets and distribution servers for Run Command On Workstation and Share Package On Server jobs. You can create machine groups by dragging computers from the Sites window or from a query results window to the Machine Groups window. Note that a machine group is static; it contains only the computers that you add to it (unlike the Sites window, which contains all computers that belong in the site). For this reason, machine groups are often used in situations where you want to specify an exact number of computers (such as distributing licensed software to clients).

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You may also want to limit a job to a set of specific sites. Systems Management Server enables you to create site groups that serve as aliases for a set of sites. You can use a site group to limit a job to only the sites contained in the site group. For instance, you may want to distribute software to servers at all your manufacturing sites. You can do this by creating a site group containing all of the manufacturing sites and using this group to limit the job to servers at those sites. You can also use a site group to limit a query or an alert.

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Site groups and machine groups can both be nested (they can both contain one or more groups). A site can be part of more than one site group and a computer can be part of multiple machine groups.

Jobs window 
Jobs are used to define instructions for system actions. All jobs are stored in the database. You can create, modify, cancel, and delete jobs to manage the distribution, installation, and removal of software. Some jobs, called system jobs, are automatically created by Systems Management Server to manage and maintain the system. You cannot create or modify system jobs.

When you create a job to distribute, install, or remove software, you must create a package before you create the job. You may also need to create machine groups, site groups, or queries if you want to use these to limit the computers which receive the package. For instance, to create a job to distribute Microsoft Office to all Pentium computers in your Research sites, you would first need to create a package for Microsoft Office, a query to find all Pentium computers, and a site group containing all Research sites. Then, you could create this job by dragging the Microsoft Office package to the Find All Pentium computers query, and selecting Research sites in the Limit to Sites field in the Job Details dialog box.

You can create three types of jobs to manage software: Run Command On Workstation jobs, Share Package On Server jobs, and Remove Package From Server jobs. For more information about using jobs to manage software, see Chapter 6, "Managing Software."

All jobs are displayed in the Jobs window. The main window displays the primary properties associated with the job, including the job ID, type, status, creation time, priority, repeat interval, and comment.

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Double-clicking a particular job lets you view or modify its properties. There are three types of job properties:

Details

Indicates the package to run, distribution serversto use, clients to run on, and so on.

Schedule

Indicates the job start time, priority, and repeat interval.

Status

Indicates whether the job has been started, and what the current job status is.

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When you create a job, Systems Management Server monitors the database and starts the job after the Start After setting has expired. Systems Management Server determines the target sites (the sites where the target clients or target servers are located) and then sends the package and job instructions to those sites, where the actions specified by the job are carried out.

As Systems Management Server carries out a job, the job's status is reported back to the originating site (the site where the job was created). Job status can be viewed using the Status button in the Job Properties dialog box.

When you create a job at one site and send it to another site, the data and instructions are sent directly to the target site — they are not routed through other (intermediary) sites. The site where the job is created must have a direct address for the target site.

Packages window 
A package is an object that defines software to the Systems Management Server system. Systems Management Server uses packages to store information about software so that the software can be identified, distributed, installed on clients, and shared from servers. When you create a package, you define the files that comprise the software, and the package's configuration and identification information. Packages are defined and maintained in the Packages window.

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After you create a package, you can use Systems Management Server to install the package on clients, share the package so that it can be run from network servers, or maintain inventory on the package. You can create packages for commercial applications, applications you have developed, for batch or data files, and so on.

All packages are displayed in the Packages window. For each package, the window displays the package name, the package ID, the package setup status, and a comment. Double-clicking a particular package displays additional properties of the package. You can view or modify these additional package properties in the Package Properties dialog box.

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The properties you define are determined by how the package will be used. A package can have one or more of the following properties:

Workstations

Used to specify the source files and commands for a package that is installed on clients.

Sharing

Used to specify the source files, share name, program items, and directory permissions used for a package that is installed on servers.

Inventory

Used to specify the rules used by Systems Management Server to identify a package, maintain its inventory, and collect files.

All packages that you create are stored in the database at your site and at all subsites. All packages stored in the database are displayed in the Packages window.

When you create a package, you must define the package properties so that the package can be used as desired. For example, when you install a package on clients, Systems Management Server uses the Workstations properties to determine which files comprise the package and the command used to install it.

After you create a package, you must create a job to install the package on clients or share the package on servers. A job defines the task you want to perform with a package.

You do not need to create an explicit job to perform software inventory. After you define Inventory properties for a package, the Systems Management Server system automatically creates a system job to update the Systems Management Server inventory components so that they can maintain inventory on the package.

Program groups window 
After you have created a package with Sharing properties, and created a job to share the package on servers, you can create a program group for the package in the Program Groups window. Program groups let you create Systems Management Server network applications that are presented to users as program items within program groups. Program items are defined in the Packages window and assigned to program groups in the Program Groups window.

Creating program groups and Systems Management Server network applications allows you to make packages (program items) available to users based on their user groups membership. This is in contrast to Run Command On Workstation jobs, which target computers instead of users.

Program groups are created and managed in the Program Groups window. The Program Groups window displays the name of the program group, the program group ID, and a comment.

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You use the Program Groups window to define the program groups that are created in the Program Manager on the clients for users who are assigned the program group. Program group information is stored in the database. A program group contains two types of properties: Packages and User Groups.

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To make an Systems Management Server network application available to users, you must add the Systems Management Server network application's program item to a program group. Program items for Systems Management Server network applications are defined within the Sharing properties of packages.

You add program items to program groups in the Packages dialog box from the Program Group Properties dialog box. You can add program items from different packages to a single program group. A program item can also be part of more than one program group.

You must also assign the program group to user groups. You assign a program group to user groups in the User Groups dialog box from the Program Group Properties dialog box. You can assign a program group to one or more user groups. (For users with computers in Windows NT domains, you assign program groups to global user groups.)

After you have created a program group, you can view or modify the program group's properties. You can only modify a program group's properties in the site where the program group was created (that is, you must log in to that site's database).

Using the Delete command, you can delete a program group from the Program Groups window and remove it from the database. You can only delete a program group from the site where the program group was created.

Queries window 
You use queries to search for objects in the database. A query defines and stores the criteria used to identify the objects that you want to find. Queries are typically used to select target computers for a software distribution job. They can also be used for other purposes, such as to select other types of objects, to create machine groups, or to trigger alerts. Queries are created and managed in the Queries window.

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When you create a query, it is stored in the database. Queries are constructed by building a set of expressions combined by logical operators. The Query Expression Properties dialog box is shown below.

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You can run a query without storing the query in the database. This type of query is known as an Ad Hoc query. Ad Hoc queries are usually created for immediate use. If you will need to repeat the query, you should create and store a named query.

By running a query, you search the inventory for the objects that match the query's criteria. The results are displayed in a Query Results window. Note that the results displayed in this window are the actual objects which meet the query conditions — deleting an object from the Query Results window will also delete the object from the database.

You can control how query results are displayed in the Query Results window by defining query result formats. Query result formats determine the attributes that are displayed for each object in the Query Results window.

Each query is specific to a pre-defined architecture. For example, you could create a query for the Personal Computer architecture to find computers that match a specified set of criteria (such as Processor Name is 486 and Operating System Name is MS-DOS). You can also query system architectures (such as Systems Management Server Events and Job Details) or custom architectures that you have created. If you run a query for the Personal Computers architecture, you can save the results of the query to a machine group (for instance, to be used later for job targeting).

The query system in the Systems Management Server Administrator also allows you to run prompted queries. These queries are constructed using a general expression, not a specific value. The Systems Management Server Administrator will prompt you for the actual value to be used when the query is run.

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Systems Management Server includes several default queries that take advantage of the new prompted query feature. For instance, there is a query for Computers By Operating System. When you select and run this query, Systems Management Server will prompt you for the Operating System name to use in the query. You can select the name from a list that includes the names of all operating systems for all computers inventoried at that time.

Events, Alerts, and SNMP Traps Windows 
The Systems Management Server Administrator contains separate windows for events, alerts, and SNMP traps. Each of these windows provides you with information and tools that you can use to better manage your network and your Systems Management Server system.

  • Events are logs generated by Systems Management Server that contain information, warnings, or error messages.

  • Alerts are actions that are generated by Systems Management Server when certain conditions are detected.

  • SNMP traps are similar to Systems Management Server events, but SNMP traps are typically generated by other devices and systems on the network.

For more information about events, alerts, and SNMP traps, see Chapter 7, "Troubleshooting."

Systems Management Server security manager 
The Systems Management Server Security Manager is available in the Systems Management Server program group and from the Systems Management Server Administrator Tools menu. Using the Systems Management Server Security Manager, you can view and set access rights to specific features in the Systems Management Server Administrator.

When a user logs in to a database with the Systems Management Server Administrator, the user is given access to features according to the rights set with the Systems Management Server Security Manager. For example, a user may log in to Systems Management Server with full access to packages, queries, and jobs, but with only view access to sites. This means that the user can view the Sites window and its contents (including viewing the site properties) but cannot create, modify, or delete any objects in the Sites window. However, the user can view, create, modify, or delete any objects in the Packages, Queries, and Jobs windows.

When you install a site, only the database owner account (dbo) is granted all rights to the Systems Management Server Administrator. A new user is granted no access to any of the features in the Systems Management Server Administrator. You can use the Systems Management Server Security Manager to grant other database users rights to the Systems Management Server Administrator.

If you do not have full access to some objects, your view of those objects in the Systems Management Server Administrator will be altered. For instance, if you have no access to the Packages window, you will not even see the Packages window in the Systems Management Server Administrator. If you have view access to objects in the Jobs window, you will be able to view the Jobs window, but you will not be able to modify jobs in any way. Restrictions are enforced in database as well as in the Systems Management Server Administrator.

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Security settings are displayed on a per user basis in the main window of the Systems Management Server Security Manager. For each object in the Systems Management Server Administrator, the Systems Management Server Security Manager displays the following information:

Security object

The name of the object for which rights are being set.

Proposed rights

The rights you want to grant to the selected user for the security object. You can grant no access, view access, or full access to each object.

Current rights

The rights currently granted to the selected user for the security object.

When you grant individual rights with the Systems Management Server Security Manager, you must be aware of dependencies between the security objects that restrict the sets of rights you can grant. For instance, to grant any rights to Alerts, a user must also have rights to Queries. To simplify the task of granting security rights to users, the Systems Management Server Security Manager includes templates that you can use to grant a consistent set of rights to a user with a single action. The Systems Management Server Security Manager provides the following templates:

  • Asset manager

  • Job manager

  • Network monitor

  • Software manager

  • Tech support

For more information about the Systems Management Server Security Manager, see Installation and Configuration, Chapter 6.

Systems Management Server service manager 
The Systems Management Server Service Manager allows you to manage the Systems Management Server services and service components at a site. The Systems Management Server Service Manager is available in the Systems Management Server program group and from the Systems Management Server Administrator Tools menu.

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Using the Systems Management Server Service Manager you can:

  • Start and stop the Systems Management Server services and components on the site server or on another server.

  • Control and configure tracing on the Systems Management Server services and the components of the Systems Management Server Executive.

  • Display the current run status and tracing status of the components.

For more information about the Systems Management Server Service Manager, see Installation and Configuration, Chapter 5.

Systems Management Server sender manager 
The Systems Management Server Sender Manager allows you to control properties of the Systems Management Server senders. For instance, you can control the sending bandwidth, the number of threads that each sender uses, and how often the senders retry. The Systems Management Server Sender Manager is available in the Systems Management Server program group and from the Systems Management Server Administrator Tools menu.

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For each sender you can set the rate limits (maximum transfer rate per hour) to be used. For instance, you can select a sender and set it to use no more than 50 percent of the bandwidth during work hours, and unlimited bandwidth after work hours. You can also set the concurrent sessions for each sender, and the maximum number of concurrent sessions to each destination site. Finally, you can control the retry settings for each sender.

You can also control properties of the sender addresses. For instance, you can limit the maximum transfer rate per hour on a per address basis instead of a per sender basis. You can also specify the maximum estimated bandwidth for the sender address. These options are useful when you have more than one sender that can be used to communicate with a site, but you want to limit the total amount of data sent to the site.

For more information about the Systems Management Server Sender Manager, see Installation and Configuration, Chapter 2.

Systems Management Server database manager 
The Systems Management Server Database Manager (DBCLEAN.EXE) allows you to delete most types of data from the database. The Systems Management Server Database Manager is available in the Systems Management Server program group and from the Systems Management Server Administrator Tools menu.

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You use the Systems Management Server Database Manager to delete obsolete or unused data from the database. The Systems Management Server Database Manager lets you find duplicate computers by name, Systems Management Server ID, or netcard ID, and then lets you delete or merge the duplicate records that were found.

You can also use the Systems Management Server Database Manager to delete Group Classes, Collected Files, and Unused Records. Deleting unused records allows you to recover wasted database space. When you use the Systems Management Server Database Manager to delete group classes, deleting the final group in a custom architecture will also delete the custom architecture.

You can also use the Systems Management Server Database Manager to set the preferences for groups displayed in the Personal Computers Properties window. For each computer property group, you can select a table view or a column view. For example, if most of the computers in your site have only one processor, you may choose to display a single list view of the computer's Processors group. However, if you have many multi-processor computers, you can choose a table view which allows you to concurrently view the data for multiple processors on each computer. Note that the views can also be set directly from within the Systems Management Server Administrator when you are viewing the Personal Computer Properties.

For more information about using the Systems Management Server Database Manager, see the Administrator's Guide, Chapter 15.

Systems Management Server MIF form generator 
The Systems Management Server MIF Form Generator allows you to create forms that you can use to collect custom data. The Systems Management Server MIF Form Generator is available in the Systems Management Server program group. Management Information Format (MIF) forms can be distributed to Systems Management Server client users, who can complete the forms using the MIF Entry client utility. After the forms have been completed, the data is reported back to the database. Systems Management Server creates a custom computer inventory group for each user that completes the form.

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Crystal Reports is a tool for creating reports from databases. This tool is included on the Systems Management Server CD-ROM, and can be installed from the Systems Management Server Setup program. Crystal Reports uses ODBC to extract data from the Systems Management Server database. There are several ready to run reports included with Crystal Reports. To use Crystal Reports, you must first run the Systems Management Server SQL View Generator.

For more information about using the Systems Management Server SQL View Generator and Crystal Reports, see Getting Started, Appendix F.

Additional tools 
The Systems Management Server CD-ROM includes installation scripts, Systems Management Server network application configuration scripts, and package definition files (PDFs) for many Microsoft applications and operating systems.

  • Installation scripts let you use Systems Management Server to install applications in a controlled manner.

  • Systems Management Server network application configuration scripts are used to configure Systems Management Server network applications to run on Systems Management Server clients.

  • PDFs are used to define packages so that they can be more easily imported into Systems Management Server.

There are additional tools on the Systems Management Server CD-ROM in the SUPPORT directory. These tools are documented in the TOOLS.WRI file in that directory.

Finally, there is an extensible Tools menu in the Systems Management Server Administrator. This menu is context sensitive, so the items displayed in the menu depend on the actions of the user. Independent software vendors (ISVs) may add tools to Systems Management Server via this menu. For more information about ISV tools on this menu, see the ISV product documentation. For more information about how to add tools to Systems Management Server, see the BackOffice SDK.

Systems Management Server client software

Clients are added to the Systems Management Server system when users at the clients run Systems Management Server Client Setup. Systems Management Server Client Setup may be run through a logon script, through a local startup file (such as AUTOEXEC.BAT), or manually (by connecting to an Systems Management Server logon server). Systems Management Server Client Setup sets up the appropriate client software, performs the first system inventory on the computer, and adds the computer to the Systems Management Server system. For more information on Systems Management Server Client Setup, see Chapter 5 "Managing Inventory."

When Systems Management Server is installed on a client, the client is set up with the Systems Management Server Client program group. The Systems Management Server Client program group contains the following items:

  • Package Command Manager

  • Program Group Control

  • MIF Entry

  • Remote Control

  • Help Desk Options

  • Systems Management Server Client Help

The following sections describe the programs in the Systems Management Server Client program group.

Package command manager 

The Package Command Manager monitors the Systems Management Server logon servers for package commands for the computer, and displays the package commands for the computer. (Package commands are made available to a computer with Run Command On Workstation jobs.)

Using Package Command Manager, the user can run the command line specified in the package, display information about when the package needs to be run or when it will no longer be available, find out where the package was sent from, and read any administrator comments about the package.

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The Package Command Manager displays three types of command folders; Pending, Executed, and Archived. Pending commands are package commands that are available to run. Executed commands are package commands that have been run at least once. Archived commands are commands that were moved to the Archived Commands folder by the user; these commands may or may not have been run before moving. Once a command has been moved to the Archived Commands folder it cannot be moved back to either of the other folders.

A package command can be any valid software command: a standard setup program, a custom installation script, a batch file, a command line, and so on.

Package commands can be optional or mandatory. Users can control the installation of optional package commands; mandatory package commands are run automatically by the Package Command Manager. For more information about automating package commands, see Chapter 6, "Managing Software."

The Package Command Manager service is automatically installed on Systems Management Server logon servers running Windows NT Server. This service allows automated package installation to occur on unattended computers running Windows NT; a package configured for automated installation in background mode can be installed without the user having to log in. The Package Command Manager service does not attempt to run any commands when a user is logged on the computer and the Package Command Manager program is running.

There is a separate version of the Package Command Manager for each of the supported operating system platforms (except for OS/2 version 2.x clients, which use the same version as Windows version 3.x clients). Systems Management Server ensures that each client has the correct version of the Package Command Manager installed for its operating system.

For clients running a Windows-based operating system, the Package Command Manager starts when the user starts the Windows environment. For MS-DOS–based clients, the Package Command Manager starts after the user logs on to the network if the user has automatic logon scripts (otherwise the user must start the Package Command Manager manually). For Macintosh clients, the Package Command Manager starts when the user starts up the Macintosh environment.

Program group control 
Program Group Control runs Systems Management Server network applications on clients. Systems Management Server network applications are applications set up on servers using Share Package On Server jobs and made available to users in specified user groups. Program groups for Systems Management Server network applications are created as users log on to the network. Program Group Control builds the program groups and automatically makes the Systems Management Server network applications available to users as program items in the program groups. When a user double-clicks one of the program items, Program Group Control makes the connection to the application's shared directory and starts the application. Because Program Group Control builds the program groups based on user group membership, users can log on at any client and have the appropriate program groups on their desktop.

If an Systems Management Server network application is installed on multiple servers, Program Group Control automatically selects and connects to an available server. Having multiple servers for an Systems Management Server network application provides some level of server load balancing, and basic fault tolerance (since users are not dependent on a single server to provide them with their applications).

Program Group Control runs in the background, and is largely invisible to the user (it does not have a standalone user interface). Program Group Control runs only on Windows-based computers.

For more information about creating Share Package On Server jobs, or using Systems Management Server network applications, see Chapter 6 "Managing Software."

Remote control and help desk options 
Systems Management Server includes Help Desk and Diagnostics utilities, which allow you to directly control and monitor remote clients. The Help Desk utilities provide direct access to a client. The Diagnostics utilities enable you to view a remote client's current configuration. These utilities are run from within the Personal Computer Properties - [computername] dialog box of the Systems Management Server Administrator. These utilities are referred to as the remote troubleshooting utilities.

For security purposes, the remote troubleshooting utilities are disabled by default. They can be enabled only by a user at the remote client you want to control. The Help Desk Options dialog box allows a user to set up permissions and access rights for their computer. This dialog box includes options for remote viewing and for local configuration. Remote viewing options specify whether an administrator can remotely access the computer. Local configuration options specify how the computer will handle remote access. The remote viewing and local configuration options available depend on which operating system the client is running. The Help Desk Options dialog box for a Windows 95 computer is shown below.

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The Remote Control Agent must be running on a client before an administrator can remotely control the client. In addition, the user must have configured the client to enable Remote Control. The user can end a remote troubleshooting session by choosing Terminate viewer in the Remote Control Agent window.

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Systems Management Server provides remote troubleshooting utilities for all supported clients except those running Macintosh or OS/2.

MIF entry program 
The MIF Entry program allows users to fill out a MIF form, providing information requested by the administrator. The form is collected by Systems Management Server and added to the inventory, where it can be viewed in the Systems Management Server Administrator. The MIF Entry program is used in conjunction with the Systems Management Server MIF Form Generator.

When a user double-clicks the MIF Entry icon, available forms are displayed in a list at the top of the MIF Entry window. The User Information form is displayed by default.

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When a user completes the form, Systems Management Server generates a MIF file which is collected with the next software inventory. The groups in the MIF form are added to the inventory for the users' computers in the database. The group can be viewed in the Personal Computer Properties - [computername] window for each client that reported the group to the inventory.

Systems Management Server client help 
Systems Management Server Client Help is a quick and convenient way for users to look up information about any of the Systems Management Server software which has been installed on their computer. The Systems Management Server Client Help is installed on all clients running Systems Management Server, and it describes all features of the software. You should be sure that your users know about the Systems Management Server Client Help feature.

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