Powershell, WMI, Dell, and OMCI

OK, I’m a big fan of Dell computers (when they’re not bursting into flames, as per my previous post), but one thing that has irritated me for ages is that they don’t provide an easy tool to set the asset tag in the BIOS. To date, everybody I’ve ever spoke to at Dell has told me that the ONLY way to set an asset tag in the Dell BIOS is to “boot from a floppy” (that’s so 1990) and set tag using their DOS command application.  Well I guess they’ve never used Powershell!!!!

I manage about 1000 Dell computers at Indiana University, and there’s no way I’m going to boot all of these machines from a floppy.  Most of these machines don’t even have floppy drives.  So how, oh how, is it done, you ask?  Well, you need to install the Dell OMCI (Open Management Client Instrumentation), which is free from Dell’s website, and which can be deployed via GPO, SMS, etc. And then…

Three lines, my friends:

$a =  (gwmi -namespace “root/Dellomci” Dell_SystemSummary)
$a.AssetTag = “MyTag123”
$a.put()

You can set assettag, BIOS password, WakeOnLan, ChassisIntrusion…you name it…

Flaming Dells

So it’s been over a month since my last post, and I’m ready to get back in the swing of things. It’s been an exciting month. I actually got to experience watching a Dell Optiplex 745 burst into flames this week. OK, so the whole computer didn’t burst into flames. But a flame did literally shoot up off of the motherboard. I’ve seen various degrees of electrical sparks and smoke in my time, but I think this is the first time I saw flames shoot from a motherboard. I’m still not exactly sure what happened. One of the C# programmers I support called to tell me that their computer wouldn’t turn on, and the front LED on the box just kept blinking orange.  I stopped by their computer, pulled the power cord, and waited the standard 10 seconds, and when I plugged it back in, the light started blinking orange again, so I disconnected all the drive cables, power cables, etc., and hooked everything back up. Again, a blinking orange light. So I held the power button down, and the light finally went out. One more press of the button, and the light went green. The fans spun up, and then, puff, flames shot up from about 1 square inch of the motherboard next to the CPU. I pulled the plug, but the damage was done. The whole room smelled of ozone. I guess those Sony batteries aren’t the only things bursting into flames on Dell computers these days. More exciting news to follow…