All posts by Frank Contreras

Manually Installing the Symantec Management Agent

While logged on to the machine you want to install the agent, locate the installation file.  One place to get the file is to drill down into the Symantec Management Platform (SMP) server NSCap share that is created when the server is installed.  In the example below, <SMP Server> is the hostname or FQDN of your SMP server.

\\<SMP Server>\NSCap\bin\Win32\X86\NS Client Package\AeXNSC.exe

Copy the file to your machine and then open a command prompt to execute AeXNSC.exe.  Run the command prompt as administrator on Windows 2008 and Windows 7.  In my example here, I placed it in C:\Temp because I will not actually need the file after the installation is done.

Determine where you want the installation path to be.  If this is going to be a package server, make sure that the location is somewhere you’ll have plenty of disk space for packages.  In my example, I’m using the default.  You can substitute anything else you want, like “E:\ServerApps\Altiris” or whatever… You’ll also need to inform the installer what the FQDN of the SMP server is.  The sytax is like this:

AeXNSC.exe /install /path=<My installation path> /ns=<SMP FQDN>

The installer then decompresses to start installing.  It went by too fast for me to catch a screenshot of it.  It looks very similar to other installers that count to 100.  Once the installer finishes running you’ll get a success prompt that will look similar to this one.  If you’re maticulous, you can delete AeXNSC.exe that you used to start the installation.

You can monitor the installation by drilling down to the installation path. 

Optionally, you can also launch AeXAgentActivate.exe to monitor a little closer.

Click on the settings link  to look at the Agent Settings.

You’ll see that the SMP server is shown with what we told it with the /ns switch.   Within 15 minutes, it will update with the SMP server, get applicable policies and proceed to be managed.  If you’re kind of impatient, you can click the Update button to try and force it to update with the SMP server and keep things moving along.  This works kind of like when a pedestrian would press the walk button at an intersection.  After the first update, the button is more responsive to policy updates.  As new plug-ins are installed, the agent will restart and close these windows.  That’s a good sign that things are progressing along as intended.

Asset Management Suite 7.1, Part 1

There are some product enhancements from AMS 6.x to 7.1 as well as 64-bit native code.  It’s a good thing that the fundamentals of managing IT assets remain consistent regardless of the technology.  I am biased and happen to believe that Altiris has the shortest path to implementation when compared with other enterprise products and is by far the simplest to implement for SMB’s.  These are some of my project notes for an AMS 6.x installation, but the broad strokes remain consistent.

When implementing Asset Management, one size does not fit all.  The implementation of such a solution in an enterprise may seem like a daunting task at first.  How does one eat an elephant? (Rhetorical question; No elephants were harmed in the production of this blog)  One eats an elephant one byte at a time.  Knowing a company’s culture and corporate structure can go a long way in determining how this will be approached.  Making sure that all the stakeholders and sources of information are aware of the project and communicating management’s priorities is absolutely essential.  This short series of blogs generically lay out an implementation project for a very generic company of about 1200 seats.  This is most likely not an exact fit and approach for your needs, but hopefully, it will get the gears turning in defining the project for your organization.  Bye the way, the generic IS jargon for AMS is ‘asset management system’ and may be confused at times when addressing the product specifically as AMS ‘Asset Management Suite’.  I think the overlap was intentional by marketing to keep the product related to the infromat systems needs.

Project Management 101: Scope Document.  Make sure you have a scope document that is clear on what assets are to be included in the project (implementation) so that you’ll have a fairly static target to shoot at.  It is quite easy to develop scope creep as people learn more of the capabilities of AMS.  Along with scope creep comes increased level of effort and project costs.  No one likes that, especially if you’re the hired help billing by the hour.

Here is an example of an Altiris AMS implementation scope document in Microsoft Word format.  An actual document could have a considerable more amount of detail and information.  A distilled document referencing the actual document may be nice for most management and other stake holders not neck-deep in the project:


Manually uninstalling Symantec Management Agent

Run through the following steps to fully remove the Symantec Management Agent (A.K.A. Altiris Agent).

Run the following command line to remove the Altiris Agent using AeXAgentUtil.exe located by default at

C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\

If you are running this on Windows 2008 or Windows 7, be sure to run this in a command window running as administrator.

AeXAgentUtil.exe /clean

This will remove all plug-ins (agents) and from the computer.  A reboot of the computer is required if you plan to reinstalling agents.

Optional: Delete Program files at :

C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent

The utility cannot clean itself out while it was running.

You should also go and delete this resource on the SMP console.  It frees up a license and keeps things tidy.

Optimizing SQL

Creating a maintenance plan in SQL Server 2005 or 2008 to optimize database performance

Article: HOWTO8589

How can I create a maintenance plan in SQL Server 2005 or 2008 to optimize database performance?
A SQL maintenance plan for rebuilding indexes and setting the index free space percentage to 10% within the Symantec/Altiris databases should be scheduled to run at least monthly (preferably weekly). This maintenance plan should also be configured to update column statistics (index statistics are updated during the index rebuild process). It is recommended that this plan be scheduled to run at a time when database utilization by the Symantec applications is at its lowest. This could be on a Sunday during the day or a during a scheduled maintenance cycle, etc.

To build the SQL Maintenance plan for SQL 2005/2008:

  1. Make sure that the SQL Server Agent service is running.
  2. Open SQL Server Management Studio.
  3. Expand the Management folder.
  4. Right-click on Maintenance Plans and select Maintenance Plan Wizard.
  5. When the SQL Server Maintenance Plan Wizard info page opens up; click Next.
  6. Give the maintenance plan a name such as “Rebuild Indexes for Altiris Databases”.
  7. Leave the default option set to Single schedule for the entire plan… Click the Change button to put in the schedule for this plan.
  8. Enter in the chosen weekly time.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click Next.
  11. Check the options to Rebuild Indexes and Update Statistics.
  12. Click Next.
  13. Make sure that “Rebuild Index” task is at the top.
  14. Click Next.
  15. Click the Database drop-down.
  16. In the These databases section, select all the databases you are trying to optimize, such as Altiris, Altiris_Incidents, eXpress, AeXRSdatabase, Symantec_CMDB and Symantec_CMDB_IntelAMT.
  17. Click OK.
  18. Select Change free space per page percentage to and set its value to 10% (20% if only rebuilding indexes monthly).
    • “Sort results in tempdb” should generally not be used; however, if SQL memory resources are low, then this will help, but it does cause rebuilding to take a lot longer.
    • Make sure that Keep index online while reindexing is unchecked.  Altiris databases uses ntext fields which prevent clustered indexes from being rebuilt while online for those tables that have an ntext column.
  19. Click Next.
  20. Chose the same databases as before.
  21. In the Update section, select Column Statistics Only.
  22. In the Scan Type section, select Full scan Click Next.
  23. Check the option to Write a report to a text file and allow it to write to the default location.
  24. Click Next.
  25. Click Finish.

Once the wizard is finished with creation, you can click Close. To execute the maintenance plan, right-click it in the left hand Object Browser pane and click Execute.

Additional Performance Considerations:

  • Make certain that the database files are not physically fragmented. Periodically check the fragmentation level on the volume where the database files are hosted and defragment when needed.
  • See KB49632: Optimizing SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003 for more optimization information.

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