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back to article Tool time with Trevor: 'Organic' sysadmins' spice mush still pretty edible

I've talked before about Spiceworks as a social network. It's time to look at the application that serves as the carrot to get you hooked on that social network. Spiceworks has an organic development history; it has grown through developer vision but also through end-user and vendor feedback. This is both Spiceworks's greatest …

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Pint

single pane of glass?

Wasn't that an Cabletron Spectrum or HP Openview network management catchphrase from the late 1990's?

Or have I drank too much in the last 20 years?

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Mushroom

@theodore

I have heard VMware, Microsoft, and about 30 startups use "single pane of glass" to describe "bringing all the tools required to manage your network into a single application."

An absolutely vital consideration, given our collective lack of choice regarding the inevitable future. Single pane of glass, yes please! I don't want to be "swiping in" various management apps on my 47" LCD. I'd rather that my management application present for me a way to manage all my network devices, software, applications, cloud services, etc in a single interface. Preferably one with the ability to switch between the devices I am managing. Maybe even the ability to see the monitors/statistics for multiple devices side-by-side with another device I am managing. Something like that excellent interface used on by Synology on their NAS boxes.

Oh, but these are silly dreams; mere flights of fancy! Back to the coal mines of Metrololo…

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Vic
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Joke

Re: @theodore

> "bringing all the tools required to manage your network into a single application."

I call that "a terminal"...

Vic.

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Facepalm

Re: @theodore

Something that does everything tends to be rubbish at a large fraction of it and tends to include a lot of stuff you don't need. There's a lot to be said for separate tools that do less, but do it well. It's also much easier to mix third-party and in-house that way.

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This post has been deleted by its author

K
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Thumb Down

You fail to show the ADVERTISEMENTS!

I love the idea of Spiceworks, its great, but the problem is they try to up sell you something at every point.. and the advertisements, OMFG they are everywhere, in the most obstructive of places, chewing up probably 25% of the browsers right side.

To be fair to them, they do offer the ability to turn these advertisements off for a price.. but all you can do is replace it with a company banner or logo of your choice. You cannot get back that 25% of browser space they have decided to allocate for the advertising.

Meh.. Great tool, possible a great community, but simpley Meh!

Give the ability to recover the screen and I'll subscribe!

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Flame

Re: You fail to show the ADVERTISEMENTS!

You are 100% correct. You cannot recover the screen real estate because the dimensions of the viewable area are fixed. It is a pain in the ass. Paying for a sponsored version sans-advertisements doesn't solve the issue, nor does [deleted] which gets rid of the adverts.

The lack of ability to customise the interface to make optimal use of browser space – especially on cramped screens – is a problem. I promise you that it is on my list to enquire about. It's one of those "minor niggle" problems that absolutely needs to get fixed.

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Re: You fail to show the ADVERTISEMENTS!

To be honest, I don't find the ads any more intrusive than the ads on El Reg, but as ever mileage varies.

If you're using it for your helpdesk portal, the users don't see the ads anyway.

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Re: You fail to show the ADVERTISEMENTS!

Adverts? What adverts? Thanks to my standard extensions I don't see any.

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niggles

Two things I noticed at a previous role -

1) if the spiceworks installation cannot see the internet you are in for a world of pain, especially for upgrades.

You also lose the community, but that can be worked around.

You don't get the ads though, which may be a plus.

2) They identify hardware by IP address. Not by mac address, or something usefully constant.

Which means DHCP can be a right headache, and changing the IP on a machine means Spiceworks adds it as a completely new machine, losing the past history.

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Re: niggles

Actually they try to identify by serial number first. It's only if they can't find one that they move on to other things - and a MAC address isn't guaranteed constant either.

See http://community.spiceworks.com/help/How_Does_The_Scan_Work#SerialNumber

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Anonymous Coward

You do realise that to many folks the primary non-scientific meaning of the adjective "organic" isn't "fits and works together smoothly and naturally", but , instead, "obvious fraud" :P

Perhaps some less-abused adjective will need to be invented to cover ergonomics in such cases......

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very good, but there are some schoolboy errors in the design

The first and foremeost, is that users are allowed ONE email address, no more.

This was a disaster when our corporate policy dictated a change in our default email reply-to address.

Firstly, as soon as a user emailed the helpdesk with their new email address (Spiceworks didn't seem to pick up the change in active directory) it generated an entirely new user.

This immediately fractured the ticket history. Secondly, you cannot now update the original users email address, as it has to be unique, and there is a freshly created user (with no details other than email) now reserving said address.

OK, so you delete the newly generated user, sacrificing the associated ticket, and change the address in the original account. Nope. Deleting a user doesn't remove it from the SQL table (just marks it as hidden), and it continues to reserve the email address. So you've lost the ticket, and still can't fix the problem of the incorrect email address.

This is when you have to get your hands dirty in the SQL tables. Deleting the newly generated user record allows you to update the original user account in Spiceworks, but now the helpdesk crashes.

It didn't take long to figure out why (although the Spiceworks logging is pretty woeful compared to most MS products).

To completely fix it, you have to do a search and replace for the erroneously created user ID in the comments, ticket_involvements, and tickets tables. Replacing any reference to ID with the original.

Of course, if a user then decides to use a different one of their email aliases (they all have several options) the whole fiasco will begin again.

I really like Spiceworks. I really like the fact it's free, but I would have some very serious reservations about paying for something with such fundamental issues. Especially now that I've seen under the bonnet!

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Anonymous Coward

I like Spiceworks too

... but not for any of the reasons above.

Someone at work installed it, and it prompted me to do some security tweaks I'd been planning "when I get around to it" - specifically blocking root logins on all my servers.

I can't speak for anyone else, but when someone installs a piece of software "downloaded off the internet", and which can only work if you give it the "god" passwords for every bit of kit in the place, then I get a bit twitchy to say the least. Even if you can trust the software, you've introduced a single point (database of admin passwords) which if compromised would give an attacker full access and control, without any restrictions whatsoever, to your entire estate.

I use Nagios for my monitoring. The remote agent takes a bit of setting up on each machine, but at least *I* know (and can control) what it's going to do on each machine.

AC for what should be obvious reasons.

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