Managing inventory

LANDesk Management Suite uses an inventory scanning utility to add devices to the core database and to collect device hardware and software data. You can view, print, and export inventory data. You can also use it to define queries, group devices together, and generate specialized reports.

Read this chapter to learn about:



NOTE: For more information about running the inventory scanner, and inventory scanner troubleshooting tips, see Appendix: Additional inventory operations and troubleshooting.

Inventory scanning overview

The inventory scanner collects hardware and software data and enters it into the core database. When you configure a device with the Agent configuration tool, the inventory scanner is one of the components of the standard Management Suite agent that gets installed on the device. The inventory scanner runs automatically when the device is initially configured. A device is considered managed once it sends an inventory scan to the core database. The Windows scanner executable is named ldiscn32.exe.

There are two types of inventory scans:

You can scan a device on demand by finding it in the network view, right-clicking it, and clicking Inventory scan.

NOTE: A device added to the core database using the discovery feature has not yet scanned its inventory data into the core database. You must run an inventory scan on each device for full inventory data to appear for that device.

You can view inventory data and use it to:

You can also use inventory scans to keep track of hardware and software changes on devices, and generate alerts or log file entries when such changes occur. For more information, see Tracking inventory changes.

Read the sections below to learn more about how the inventory scanner works.

Delta scanning

After the initial full scan is run on a device, the inventory scanner only captures delta changes and sends them to the core database. By sending only changed data, network traffic and data processing times are minimized.

Forcing a full scan

If you want to force a full scan of the device's hardware and software data, you can delete the existing delta scan file and change a setting in the Configure LANDesk Software Services applet (Configure > Services).

  1. Delete the invdelta.dat file from the device. A copy of the latest inventory scan in stored locally as a hidden file named invdelta.dat. The LDMS_LOCAL_DIR environment variable sets the location for this file. By default it is in C:\Program Files\LANDesk\LDClient\Data.
  2. Add the /sync option to the inventory scanner utility's command line. To edit the command line, click Start > All Programs > LANDesk Management, right-click the Inventory Scan shortcut icon, select Properties > Shortcut, then edit the Target path.
  3. At the core server, click Start > All Programs > LANDesk > LANDesk Configure Services.
  4. Click the Inventory tab, then click Advanced settings.
  5. Click the Do Delta setting. In the Value box type 0.
  6. Click OK twice, then click Yes at the prompt to restart the service.

Scan compression

Inventory scans performed by the Windows inventory scanner (ldiscn32.exe) are compressed by default. The scanner compresses full scans and delta scans with approximately an 8:1 compression ratio. Scans are first built completely in memory, then compressed and sent to the core server using a larger packet size. Scan compression requires fewer packets and reduces bandwidth usage.

Scan encryption

Inventory scans are encrypted (TCP/IP scans only). You can disable inventory scan encryption by changing a setting in the Configure LANDesk Software Services applet (Configure > Services).

  1. At the core server, click Start > All Programs > LANDesk > LANDesk Configure Services.
  2. Click the Inventory tab, then click Advanced settings.
  3. Click the Disable Encryption setting. In the Value box type 1.
  4. Click Set, then click OK.
  5. Click OK, then click Yes at the prompt to restart the service.

Encrypted data transport

In the Configure > Services > Inventory tab, there is an Encrypted data transport option. This option causes device scans to be sent to the core using SSL. Since the files are sent through the Web service and not the inventory service front end, a NAT address won't be appended to the scan file, even if that option is enabled in the registry.

Viewing inventory data

Once a device has been scanned by the inventory scanner, you can view its system information in the console.

Device inventories are stored in the core database, and include hardware, device driver, software, memory, and environment information. You can use the inventory to help manage and configure devices, and to quickly identify system problems.

You can view inventory data either as a summary or as a full device inventory. You can also view inventory data in reports that you generate. For more information, see Reports.

Viewing a summary inventory

Summary inventory is found on the device's properties page and provides a quick look at the device's basic OS configuration and system information. The summary also shows the date and time of the last inventory scan so you know how current the data is.

NOTE: If you added a device to the core database using the discovery tool, its inventory data isn't yet scanned into the core database. You must run an inventory scan on the device before you can see its inventory.

To view summary inventory
  1. In the console's network view, right-click a device.
  2. Click Properties > Inventory tab.

Viewing a full inventory

A full inventory provides a complete listing of a device's detailed hardware and software components. The listing contains objects and object attributes.

To view a full inventory
  1. In the console's network view, right-click a device.
  2. Click Inventory.

For detailed information, see Inventory help.

Viewing attribute properties

You can view attribute properties for a device's inventory objects from the inventory listing. Attribute properties tell you the characteristics and values for an inventory object. You can also create new custom attributes and edit user-defined attributes.

To view an attribute's properties, double-click the attribute.

For more information, see About the Inventory attribute properties dialog box.

Tracking inventory changes

LANDesk can detect and record changes in device hardware and software. Tracking inventory changes can help you control your network assets. Inventory change settings let you select which types of changes you want to save and with what severity level. The selected changes can be saved in an inventory history log, the core server's Windows event log, or sent as an AMS alert.

You can view and print a device's history of inventory changes. Additionally, you can export the inventory changes to a CSV formatted file for analysis using your own reporting tools.

To track and use inventory changes, you must first configure the inventory change settings. You will be able to perform the other inventory changes history tasks:

Configuring inventory change settings

NOTE: You must first configure these settings if you want to view, print, or export inventory changes for any devices on your network.

To configure inventory change settings
  1. Click Configure > Inventory history.
  2. In the Inventory change settings dialog, expand the Computer object in the Current inventory list, and select the system component you want to track.
  3. In the Log event in list, select the component's attribute you want to track.
  4. Select the appropriate check box to specify where to record a change in that attribute. Inventory changes can be recorded in the inventory changes history log, Windows NT event viewer log, or as an AMS alert.
  5. Select a severity level from the Log/Alert severity drop-down list. Severity levels include: None, Information, Warning, and Critical.
  6. Click OK.

For more information, see About the Inventory change settings dialog box.

Viewing, printing, or exporting inventory changes

To view, print, or export inventory changes
  1. In the console's network view, right-click a device.
  2. Click Inventory history.
  3. Click Print to print the inventory changes history.
  4. Click Export to save the inventory changes history as a CSV file.

For more information, see About the Inventory changes history dialog box.

Using custom data forms

LANDesk includes a custom data forms tool (Tools > Configuration > Custom data forms) that you can use to create and manage forms. Custom data forms provide a way for you to collect information from users and add it to the core database.

NOTE: Custom data forms aren't supported in LANDesk Security Suite
Custom data forms aren't available with a LANDesk Security Suite only license. You must have a full LANDesk Management Suite license in order to use the custom data forms feature.

The inventory scanner can't gather certain types of personalized user-specific information, such as:

The best way to get this information is directly from your users with custom data forms.

Custom data forms have two main components: the form designer which is used by you to create forms for users to fill out, and the form viewer which is used by users to fill out forms.

Forms can be stored centrally or locally. If they're stored centrally, all users automatically have access to the latest forms because everyone views the same form from the same place. If forms are stored locally, you must ensure that users receive the latest forms.

After a user completes a form, the form viewer stores the results locally in C:\Program Files\LANDesk\LDClient\ldcstm.dat. This file contains the results from all of the forms the user has responded to. If the user ever needs to fill out the same form again (for example, if the original form was revised), the form viewer fills in the form with the previously entered data.

The inventory scanner takes the information from each device's ldcstm.dat file and adds it to the core database.

NOTE: Oracle databases are case-sensitive
When creating custom fields with custom data forms (or using any other feature) on an Oracle database, make sure you consistently capitalize field names. For example, data associated with "Cube location" is stored in a different place in the database than data associated with "Cube Location."

Also, make sure custom fields have names that are unique regardless of capitalization. The correct inventory data may not be retrieved if two custom fields have the same name but different capitalization.

For more information about custom data forms, see the following procedures:

Creating custom data forms

Follow these steps to create a custom data form.

To create a custom data form
  1. Click Tools > Configuration > Custom data forms.
  2. In the Custom Data Forms window, double-click Add new form.
  3. Enter a name for the form.
  4. Enter a description for the form.
  5. Click Add to open the Add question dialog box.
  6. In the Add Question dialog box, type in the Question text, Inventory name, and Description.
  7. Select the Control type.
  8. Select whether you want the field to be required.
  9. If you selected the Edit control type, click Finish to close the Add question dialog. The Edit control type lets users type in their own answers to questions in an editable text box. You can add more questions or proceed to step 12.
  10. If you selected either of the Combo box control types, click Next to open the Add items dialog. The Combo box control type lets users select their answers from a drop-down list of pre-defined items.
  11. In the Add Items dialog, enter an item name and click Insert to place the item in the Items list. These items appear in a drop-down list for that question on the form. You can add as many items as you like, then click Finish.
  12. When you're done adding questions, click Close to save the form.

You can right-click on a form to schedule it for distribution to devices.

Creating a group of forms

If you have more than one form that you want to send to devices, you can organize them into a group. Then you can simply schedule the group of forms for distribution. Of course, this is not a required procedure.

When you schedule a group of forms for distribution, the local scheduler reads the contents of the group when it's time to distribute it. In other words, you can still change the contents of the group even after it has been scheduled (as long as the scheduled job hasn't yet occurred).

NOTE: If a form that is part of a group is later modified or deleted, the group automatically reflects those changes.

To create a group of forms
  1. In the Custom data forms window, click the Multiple forms toolbar button.
  2. Enter a name for the new group.
  3. Select the forms you want to add to the group from the list of available forms.
  4. Click OK.

You can right-click on a group of forms to schedule it for distribution to devices.

Configuring devices to receive custom data forms

When you set up devices, you can configure them to receive custom data forms. You must choose to install the custom data forms component, and specify custom data form options on the agent configuration dialog. For more information, see Deploying custom data forms.

In the agent configuration dialog, you need to specify how you want to update forms on the device:

You also need to specify when forms will be shown on the device:

You can also use the Scheduled tasks window to launch the form viewer on devices at a predefined time. In this scenario, use the Scheduled tasks window to first distribute the forms to devices. Make sure to allow enough time to distribute the forms before you use the scheduled task scriptable jobs feature to run the form viewer.

Filling out forms on the device

When the form viewer launches on the device, a list of forms and each form's status displays:

Once users select a form to fill out and click Open, a simple form wizard appears. It contains a list of questions and fields for answers. If there are more questions than fit on a page, there are Back/Next buttons. Users can click Help (or press F1) while the cursor is in a field to display a help message generated by the Description field in the form designer.

Users must answer any required questions before continuing to the next page or exiting a form. Required questions have a red dot beside them.

The last page of the form wizard has a Finish button that users click when they're done. Clicking this button returns users to the Form selection dialog where the status message beside the form name is updated.

NOTE: Using custom data forms on devices running the LANDesk legacy agent
The form designer saves forms in a Unicode format. The form viewer used by the legacy agent on Windows NT and Windows 98 devices can't open a Unicode form and so the viewer displays an error. You can work around this issue by opening the .frm file (on the core where it was created) in the Windows Notepad application and saving the file as ANSI. Then the custom data form can be pushed to the legacy device and it will work.

Using an off-core inventory server

Normally, the core server processes inventory scans from managed devices. If you're concerned about the demand this scan processing is placing on your core server, you can install an off-core inventory server. This off-core inventory server contains a special version of the LANDesk Inventory Server service that will accept inventory scans and insert scan data into the database. Once you've configured an off-core inventory server, when the inventory scanner on a Windows-based device pings the core server, the core server replies telling the scanner to send its scan file to the off-core server.

The off-core inventory server only processes scans from Windows-based devices. The core server still processes scans from these devices:

The off-core inventory server has these system requirements:

WARNING: Don't use the inventory Encrypted Data Transport option with off-core inventory servers
The Configure LANDesk Software Services dialog's Inventory tab has an Encrypted Data Transport option. Encrypted transport isn't compatible with off-core inventory servers. If you're using an off-core inventory server, make sure this option is disabled.

To install an off-core inventory server
  1. From the device you want to make an off-core inventory server, map a drive to the core server's ldmain share and run \Install\Off-Core Inventory Server\Setup. This installs the off-core inventory server. When setup finishes, it will prompt you to reboot. Reboot to finish the installation.
  2. From the core server, click Start > Programs > LANDesk > LANDesk Configure Services.
  3. On the Inventory tab, click Advanced settings.
  4. Click the Off-core inventory server option.
  5. In the Value box, enter the off-core inventory server's computer name and click Set.
  6. Click OK, and on the Inventory tab click Restart to restart the inventory service.
  7. Go to the off-core inventory server, and from the Services Control Panel applet, restart the LANDesk Inventory Server service.
  8. Windows-based device scans will now go to the off-core inventory server.

NOTE: Any time you make changes on the Configure LANDesk Software Services dialog's Inventory tab, you need to restart the LANDesk Inventory Server service on both the core server and the off-core server. Restarting the off-core service allows it to load the configuration changes you made.

Manage software list

Use the Manage software list to configure the files you want scanned or ignored by the inventory scanner. The inventory scanner uses this configuration data to identify your devices' software inventory. The scanner recognizes software applications in three ways:

NOTE: By default, the inventory scanner only scans for files listed in the Manage software list. If you want to scan all files on devices, you can change the scanning mode to all files. A mode=all scan mode can generate inventory scan files from devices that may be several megabytes in size. After the initial scan, the inventory scanner sends only delta scans, which will be much smaller.

The Manage software tree contains two panes that show the following details.

Modifying the Manage software list

You can modify the Manage software list to determine which files are included in or excluded from scans. You can drag files from the right pane to the categories in the left pane. You can also change the properties for any file in the list by selecting it and clicking the Properties toolbar button.

IMPORTANT: After you have edited the core's Manage software list using any of the procedures below, you must click the Make available to clients button to update the product definition files used by the inventory scanner. The next time devices do an inventory scan, the scanner gets the updated product definition files from the core server and applies any changes.

About the File properties dialog box

Use this dialog box (click Files > and the To be scanned or To be dispositioned category, then click the New File toolbar button) to add files to Manage software list.

Dispositioning files

You can disposition files by dragging them to either the To be scanned or To be excluded category in the Manage software tree.

Excluding files from the To be scanned list

To exclude a file
  1. Select the To be excluded category under Files in the Manage software tree.
  2. Click the New file toolbar button.
  3. Enter the name of the file to be excluded.
  4. Click OK.

Identifying application files that don't have .exe extensions

The default To be scanned list contains descriptions of executables (.exe files only). If you want the scanner to also identify other types of application files (.dll, .com, .sys, and so on), see Editing the LdAppl3.Template file.