Managing resource information in GLPI

At Your Fingertips

© Andrea Danti, Fotolia

© Andrea Danti, Fotolia

Article from Issue 103/2009
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Anyone working in information technology knows how hard it is to keep track of inventory, maintenance history, and user support requests. GLPI puts the details in reach.

IT departments manage endless tidbits of important information, such as device inventories, contracts, help tickets, and vendor support details. At the frenetic pace of the average network, this information is often filed inefficiently or even lost. Wouldn't it be nice to store all this data in a single database with a unified, user-friendly graphic interface?

Recently, I installed an application called GLPI [1] to assist in IT management for my employer. GLPI, which stands for Gestion Libre De Parc Informatique, is a web-based LAMP stack application for inventory management, job tracking, equipment reservations, and basic network topology information. Unlike many equivalent proprietary tools, GLPI does not require a local client application; instead, it operates through a simple and flexible web interface.

Installation

Installing GLPI is quite easy. The first step is to make sure the necessary components and services are running on your system. For this, you need to install an Apache web server [2], MySQL (4.23+) [3], and PHP [4]. After installing MySQL, set up a database for GLPI and create a user with read and write access. Then you need to go to GLPI's website and download the latest version. Either download and unpack GLPI directly on your server or download it locally, decompress, and then upload to the server. (The directory structure referenced in this article are for openSUSE [5]. For your own preferred Linux distribution, adapt the directory structure as necessary.)

Now you need to move the unpacked files in Apache's web root at the /srv/www/htdocs/ directory. One last step before installing is to give Apache write access for the /files and /config directories by making sure they have the correct ownership.

To begin the installation, point your browser to http://<your_host>/. A web-based installation wizard will guide you through the short installation procedure. The first thing you have to choose is the default language. When you click on OK, you are presented with the software license. GLPI is licensed under GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). Just accept the license and click Continue.

To begin the installation procedure, click Installation on the next screen. The installation wizard will verify all required components, as shown in Figure 1. If something is not right, you will be notified accordingly, and you will need to fix the problem to proceed.

Choosing Continue leads to the database information form, where you will input the necessary username, password, and hostname for your MySQL database. If you created a database for GLPI before running the installer, you can choose to populate this database, or you can create a new one, as shown in Figure 2.

Now click on Continue to populate the database, then click Continue again to see a list of the four default accounts (Table 1). Click the button labeled Use GLPI for the GLPI the login screen. It is a good idea to test all four accounts and compare the rights assigned to each account. Afterwards, you can create other accounts or edit existing accounts to modify access levels as necessary. Each user account has its own user interface. At the University of Cyprus (UCy) Library [6], we have three user levels: Administrator, Technician, and an ordinary user account.

Getting Acquainted with GLPI

GLPI is a multipurpose tool that manages both users and their equipment.

The purpose of GLPI is to store information. This information is divided into categories, and the categories have sub-categories. Each sub-category has entries. Each entry has details. Entries from different categories can interrelate, forming bonds between hardware, software, users, suppliers, documents, contracts, support tickets, and more.

To get started with GLPI, log in as the system administrator to see the administrator's user interface (Figure 3). Here, you will notice six main categories: Inventory, Assistance, Management, Tools, Administration, and Setup. The Inventory menu provides information on computers and devices running on your network. The first sub-category, Computers, presents a list of your computer equipment, as seen in Figure 4. With the use of search filters, you can search this list.

GLPI lets you set up pre-configured templates to add similar systems to the inventory. To create the entry, use a template, then edit the settings for the serial number, host name, and IP address as necessary. Also, you can enter a full entry manually. Figure 5 shows the screen that lets you add a computer to the inventory. The green hexagon with a magnifying lens on the right of a field indicates that you can add/edit/delete an entry for that field.

Tickets

The other side of GLPI is its role in providing help desk support. The GLPI user interface makes it easy to create and manage help tickets. An ordinary user can create a new ticket to request support. Admins and technicians can add tickets manually or assign a user's ticket to the appropriate technician.

The Assistance option has the sub-categories Tracking, Helpdesk, Planning, and Statistics.

Tracking allows the admin to view a list of all tickets submitted by users. By default, the list shows the tickets currently open. A search tool offers simple and advanced search filters to narrow down the list of tickets according to your criteria, sort the list, and perform actions on multiple items. Also, you can export the resulting items in PDF, Excel, and other formats. A system administrator can perform actions on all tickets, but ordinary users can only access information on their own tickets.

Active tickets are summarized for the user in a list. The list includes several data fields, such as the creation date, the last update date, the requester, and the technician in charge of the ticket. Click on a ticket in the list to view, edit, or close the ticket (Figure 6).

After and Before

GLPI's Planning feature lets you schedule upcoming interventions and events in a calendar view. Also, you can export the calendar data in iCalendar format to synchronize with other calendar tools, such as the tools of Mozilla's Calendar Project [7].

GLPI also lets you view statistics on tickets submitted by users, including details on each item (location, operating system, graphics card, etc.), as well as reports on overall parameters, such as the total number of tickets, the number of unresolved tickets, the average and maximum ticket resolution delays, and more. Results appear in either table or chart format.

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