Inventory software on Linux

opsi

Developed and maintained for years by uib GmbH from Mainz, Germany, the opsi (Open PC Server Integration) [9] client management system is available as free software under AGPLv3. The package can be considered a genuine all-arounder in the field of intranet client management: In addition to inventorying hardware and software, the application can also handle the installation of complete operating systems, taking into account the typical Windows versions as of Windows XP. Opsi does not support other systems such as Mac OS X and BSD derivatives, but it does at least support Linux through the use of netboot.

Additionally, the package offers software deployment, even across different sites, and can host software repositories for installing clients at remote locations. Some of opsi's functionality (e.g., a local image backup or the Nagios interface, as well as license management) is still in development and is programmed as a cofunding project.

uib GmbH offers software updates and patch solutions for opsi, partly in the form of commercial subscriptions based on the client count on the respective intranet. Also, a commercial support model can be tailored to customer needs on the basis of detailed service descriptions [10]. Various workshops and training courses complete the support offer.

Installation

The opsi server can be installed in different ways: The manufacturer offers its own images for VMware Workstation Player or VirtualBox and VMware ESXi virtual environments, and the manual contains a list of server operating systems on which the opsi server runs, according to the manufacturer. In addition to the latest Ubuntu LTS version, they include Debian, openSUSE, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, CentOS, and Univention Corporate Server. The developers also say you need 2GB of RAM and a dual-core processor as further conditions for using the server.

Problematic

For this article, I tested the VirtualBox variant of the server on a dedicated Ubuntu 16.04 system. Although the installation of the pre-built virtual machines was completed in a few minutes, the complex and time-consuming installation procedure of server version 4.0.7 on a freshly installed Ubuntu failed because of missing dependencies and a resulting termination of the routine, which was reproducible on two different computer systems. It appears that the documentation has not kept pace with the technical developments.

In tests with other Linux derivatives not on the manufacturer's compatibility list, including the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" and Mageia 5, we were unable to talk the opsi server into installing or cooperating; administrators would thus do well to adhere strictly to the manufacturer's specifications. To compensate for this, the vendor offers exemplary manuals, sometimes in multiple formats, in which the individual installation steps are described [11].

Unfortunately, when it comes to installing the server on a dedicated machine, it is described relatively late in the manuals, and not very prominently, that a Java runtime environment version 7 must be installed if you want to use the management interface directly on the server. Opsi is not picky and also works with the OpenJDK run time.

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