I was visiting a customer last month in Philadelphia and I really liked the first question that he asked me: “What feature do you wish more people would use in PDQ?”
“That’s easy. For PDQ Deploy it is Auto Deployments and for PDQ Inventory it is Custom Tools.”
Those of you who know PDQ Inventory are probably familiar with the Tools menu. The Tools menu allows you to call fairly common tools/utilities with a few keystrokes. The image below shows the default tools that come with PDQ Inventory. You can initiate VNC or Remote Desktop sessions, deploy software via PDQ Deploy, view the Event Log on the target and so on.
You can also add your own tools or utilities. Now it is up to you to extend this list to include your favorite sys admin tools and utilities. Basically, if you have a program/utility that can called from the Command Line (CLI) then you can integrate it with PDQ Inventory. Here are some of my favorite examples:
Example Integrations with PDQ Inventory
DameWare Remote Control
If you use DameWare for your Remote Control solution then you owe it to yourself to create a custom tool to initiate DameWare remote control sessions. You can see a breakdown of the available DameWare commands here.
In my environment I have DameWare 12. It is installed on the computer where PDQ Inventory runs. You may differ slightly in your command depending on where DameWare is installed and what options you want to use, but here’s an example.
Go to File > Preferences. Select Custom Tools. Click the New Tool button. Give the new tool a name. Your command may be different depending on your DameWare path and how you authenticate (Smart Card, Windows password, etc.).
"C:\Program Files\SolarWinds\DameWare Mini Remote Control x64\DWRCC.exe" -c -h -m:%TARGET% -md: -a:1 -x:
You can also add the shortcut keys CTRL+SHIFT+D. The shortcut is optional.
Here is a quick breakdown of the DameWare CLI.
-c means “Connect Automatically”.
The -m: argument expects you pass the name of the target computer. Well, we don’t want to hardcode a computer name here because we expect to run this command against many different computers. This is where we can use a variable. In this case I am using the name of the computer.
How did I know which variables were available? Well, surprise surprise, I referenced the documentation. From the Custom Computer Tool window I simply clicked the help button (the blue question mark). I could also simply hit the F1 button. If you don’t have this window opened you can also just jump to the online help for this feature here. You will see a list of the variables that we support. As far as the rest of the command arguments refer to the DameWare link above.
Now when you are looking at a specific computer in PDQ Inventory you can initiate a remote control session by selecting Tools > DameWare 12 or using the shortcut you defined.
Open an Elevated CMD Window
If you use UAC then you’ve probably had to re-open a CMD window after you realized it wasn’t running in an elevated mode. Here is how you can quickly open up an elevated CMD window.
Create a custom tool. Call it something like CMD (Elevated).
In the Command Line field enter the following text:
Notice how no variables are being passed? This is intended. I just want to open a cmd window. In cases like this you should enable the System Tool checkbox. This means that you don’t have to have a computer selected in PDQ Inventory in order to run this custom tool.
Open Active Directory Users and Computers
Here is how I open up the Active Directory Users and Computers window. This command is actually a snap in called dsa.msc and it is loaded into the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). As a result you won’t call the actual dsa.msc file but instead pass the this file as an argument to mmc.exe. Obviously you need to have the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) enabled on your console machine before you can run this command.
As you can see the process is fairly simple. You may need to do some leg work to find the correct command line to run, but the effort is well worth the work.