SF2012:Open Source IT Management

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Solidify this session is about smaller sizes, but scalable services for IT infrastructure.

Palante is a small cooperative tech organization.

  • Most of the organizations they work with is 4-10 staff.
  • Big Q: How does an organization running on donated computers, that are consumer-grade, and their entire operation runs off of that--how do you help them use them with open source tools?
  • How do you get big value out of $300 commodity PCs, especially remote access.
  • They work with many offices that
  • NTC (Non-profit Technology Conference) - major non-profit tech industry conference.
    • Found that this conference was not applicable to the community he works with.
  • What he'd really love out of this session, is to find IT collaborators to improve tech support deliver to small organizations.
    • Palante wants to collaborate! Happy to share!
  • Six-stages of IT (one great NTC talk)
    • When orgs go from "Reacting to Chaos" to "Getting on Top of Things."
    • The furthest stage is full integration of IT into orgs.

MSP industry (Managed Services Providers)

  • Flooded with proprietary services.
    • Among them: Kaseya, N-able, etc.
    • Sometimes, open source purists don't know enough about the proprietary alternatives, don't know what folks are using in the wild.
    • Platforms for providing tech--a suite of software designed to interoperate with one another.
      • E.g. RMM (Remote Management and Monitoring), remote access software
  • Freeware (Related to Freeatures, Fremium)
    • There are free tools, which are sometimes proprietary, but in some cases make sense.
  • Open Source Solutions
    • Integration can be an issue for open solutions, but are tending toward integration.
    • RMMs (Remote Management and Monitoring)
      • Ultra VNC
        • Is a great tool with a terrible website (don't be put off, check it out!)
        • It's pretty fast, you can download it and run it on your computer, or you can run it as a service across a network.
        • The reason we use it over other flavors is because there is more secure integration with Active Directory, which many office networks have.
        • Apple Remote Desktop is actually a VNC derivative, so they are compatible!
        • Video performance can be vastly improved, takes the "hook video driver"
      • Microsoft remote desktop
        • But the problem is running it on a client will kick the user out of their computer when you log in remotely.
    • Network Monitoring / Management Solutions
      • Isinga
        • Derivative from another package called nagios. One of the dominant tools in the open source space, but difficult to install and configure.
        • You can set reminders for things like domain name registration.
          • This saved the day for one organization, when they first launched a feature at Palante.
        • You can see if a computer is down, or a server is down.
        • Bottom Line: Isinga is easy to install and configure -- and it just works.
        • There are also Software-As-A-Service, and cloud-based solutions.
        • So light-weight, that they run it on a Virtual Machine that runs other software. (wow)
        • There are also heart-beat free services to make sure one of your computers is up (e.g. the one running isinga for monitoring the whole network).
        • Sub-software for Isinga
          • NSClient++ (Windows Software) - speaks nagios/isinga language
          • can configure to update statuses of devices like hard drives (warning when getting full)
          • One other such notification script Palante uses is with Microsoft Security Essentials
            • Security Essentials is free for orgs with less than 10 workstations.
    • Support Desk / Help Desk System?
      • Lots of good tools:
        • GLPI - it's French (don't know / care what the acronym stands for ;)
          • "But we don't use it as a helpdesk software" = Palante
          • Meant to run a helpdesk, web software on *AMP. It can inventory and entire network, find computers you possibly forgot.
          • Great for auditing hardware, software, usage data.
          • There are plugins with VNC, but there are some issues outside of the network (remote, over internet access).
          • People can open tickets, get updates on their tickets.
          • Best used for a single organization, not multiple (used for French universities).
        • Redmine for HelpDesk (client-facing)
          • Palante loves redmine. It's based on Trac, an open source tool.
          • Originally written for software, as a bug tracker, but now can be used for support requests.
          • Email submission tickets@palantetech.com or specifically for one ticket tickets-DWsome-Unique-numbers-5898033@palantetech.com
          • User management / account features (people can log in, have permissions at various levels, see status of tickets, etc)
          • Can use it through the web alternatively.
          • Integrates nicely with Active Directory (password consolidation).
        • NOT RECOMMEND (Mantis)
          • But it can work as a job-order and issue-tracking system. It is open source.
    • Patch Management / Update Management
      • If you're still running Windows XP, you should upgrade, it makes security easier to manage.
        • "Windows of opportunity" are much smaller on Vista and 7.
      • WPKG
        • Super minimal script that helps manage updates and patches to windows, applications, etc.
        • Wiki on their website is extensive, helps figure out how to install all sorts of software.
        • But not really great unless you already have a secure infrastructure
          • If someone who knows what they're doing they could act as your package manager.
        • Actually, there is no server component, just files on a server.
      • OCSNG (Inventory?)
        • Integrates very well with GLPI.
        • Two Modes:
          • Scan the Network from a server
          • Install it on each client (preferred for Palante), which can do all sorts of things.
        • Can use it for license management
        • Some folks use it for package management, Palante does not.

Quick shout-out

      • Pop-It
        • lots of changes to linux servers.
        • used by google, is gaining windows support.


An option to keep a lot of applications and services in the cloud and on the web.

  • Question came up about monthly fee, but there is a non-monthly fee option.