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SkyBox client deployment

If you do not need to use Cloud Jobs (explained further down), there are basically two ways around it. If you have set up FastTrack Logon, the easiest way to upload inventory is to simply add a command to your logon script. If you are going to use the cloud-based version, simply insert this command anywhere in prelogon.fsh or postlogon.fsh:

UploadInventory

If you are using a local SkyBox server, you need to use the SaveInventory command instead. The url of the server has to be supplied as the first parameter, as explained on this page:

SaveInventory 192.168.1.3

If you have not set up FastTrack Logon or you also need to use Cloud Jobs, you need to generate a client to upload. Even if you have FastTrack Logon set up, it might still be a good idea to generate a client regardless, as people rarely log on to servers and many users more or less never log on and off. But if the primary purpose is to inventory laptops, desktops and tablets, this easy set up is sufficient for most. The rest of this page will go through how to generate an inventory client and how to deploy it.

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SkyBox client

Deploying a SkyBox client

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Terminology

SkyBox is the name of a cloud service that we make available to you through your FastTrack Automation Studio licensing, which you access at www.skyboxinventory.com. There is no additional cost to use SkyBox as long as your executing computers are licensed and within maintenance period. SkyBox consists of two services: Inventory and Jobs. The Inventory service can be used without using Jobs, but not the other way around, because Jobs use inventory data to filter Job executions. The inventory part of SkyBox has its own documentation page here and cloud jobs have their own documentation page here. This matrix shows which features are available in which edition of FastTrack Automation Studio.
  Cloud Inventory
Edition
Professional
Edition
Enterprise
Edition
Platinum
Edition
Hardware inventory
Software inventory
Geographical tracking
Custom inventory information from clients
Ability to create and execute scripts
Cloud jobs
Push MSI files to clients using Cloud Job
SkyBox server on own network
Log events centrally (requires own server)

Generating a SkyBox client

To generate a SkyBox client, go to the App Factory and click the "Inventory" menu and click "Build Inventory Client".
App Factory Inventory Generator
Selecting the menu item starts a wizard and the first step after the welcome page is to decide which type of output file to generate:

Inventory client wizard

If you are going to deploy with Group Policies, MSI is the favoured method, as this will set up a scheduled task to execute a daily upload. On the next page in the wizard, you need to decide, if the msi or exe file is going to use a cloud-based account or a local inventory server.

Inventory client wizard

The next pages in the wizard are used for selecting an output file and a complete screen. Basically what this wizard does is just to build a simple script around the UploadInventory or SaveInventory command and then it uses the exe or msi file generation features of FastTrack Automation Studio to build the output file.

Deployment option 1: Deploying an msi through group policies

If you use the MSI feature, the MSI will install a scheduled task that runs daily to upload the data. To deploy the MSI file through Group Policy management, simply add it as a computer software installation:

Deploying an msi file through group policies

When logging on to a Windows XP computer that is under this group policy, it looks like this for a few seconds. It takes only a few seconds to install, because the MSI file is only 2 megabytes in size.

Loggon on to a computer with an MSI deployed through group policies

Note that when you deploy an MSI, it will intentionally not do an initial upload on install, because this would cause all computers to upload more or less at the same time. If you need to test that everything works as intended, you can go to the scheduled task list on one or more computers and manually start the scheduled task to verify the data upload, as shown below.

Task Scheduler

Deployment option 2: Including an exe file in an existing logon script

If you are not using FastTrack Logon, one way to upload inventory data is to generate an exe client and simply call it from your current logon script. If you called the output file "Inventory.Exe", you could put in the netlogon share and simply execute it from there, as shown below with VBScript. Executing the exe file will normally take about 2 seconds.
Calling Inventory.Exe from VBScript
Set oShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
oShell.Run "\\AcmeDom\netlogon\Inventory.exe"
If your client security settings pop up a security warning, you can get by this by disabling the zone check through the environment variable. Then the script could look like this:
Calling Inventory.Exe from VBScript disabling the security warning
Set oShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
set oEnv = oShell.Environment("PROCESS")
oEnv("SEE_MASK_NOZONECHECKS") = 1
oShell.Run "\\AcmeDom\netlogon\Inventory.exe"
oEnv.Remove("SEE_MASK_NOZONECHECKS")

Deployment option 3: Deploying an exe through group policies

Another option is to execute a generated exe file through group policies based on another event than the log on process, such as logoff, startup or shutdown. If we wanted to execute an inventory exe at logoff to get the most recent information, we could simply add the inventory.exe as a logoff script. First we need to locate the user logoff script GPO property:

Deploying an exe file through group policies

If the domain was "FastTrack" and we have put the Inventory.Exe in the root of the netlogon share, we simply add it as a logoff script:

Deploying an file with GPO
Click here to go to the main inventory page.
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Rating: 5 out of 5

"Use this as a replacement for VBScript and PowerShell"

"It's easy to include attractive GUI elements in FastTrack scripts, beyond the basic dialog boxes and text input that VBScript offers ... Another powerful feature is the ability to distribute scripts as Windows Installer (.msi) or standard .exe files. Although interesting in its own right, this ability results in a much more intriguing capability: to repackage -- or wrap -- software installers as .msi files without using snapshots. If you've ever created an .msi installer file from before-and-after system snapshots, for use with a software distribution system such as Group Policy or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), then you know how hit-and-miss the results can be."

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Rating: 8 out of 10

"Faster than the rest"

"We found the FastTrack syntax to be more transparent and easier to learn than Microsoft's PowerShell – the editor in particular provided good support in this regard. Scripting mode offers a large number of options from the command set through to simple output of graphical elements, which cannot be achieved at all with PowerShell or other solutions or only with a significantly greater level of effort."

"Anyone wanting to tackle the many hurdles in everyday admin and especially anyone for whom logon scripts and client automation is a priority will benefit from the variety of functions offered by FastTrack."

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