Open source configuration management is a type of computer program that is able to help people manage large computer systems, such as enterprise networks. Most of these programs deal with both hardware and software, though some may be specialized. With a large system, it can be easy to misplace a program or information, but an open source configuration management program acts like a catalog that details the placement of every item in the system. This configuration management program is open source, so users are able to change the original program’s coding. Updates also are logged, so users who believe an update is needed can get a broad view of each program’s version number.
In general, most open source configuration management programs are able to log information about hardware and software. The hardware information is typically less intense, because it does not change often, but this will keep tabs on what the hardware is and what chips and equipment are currently installed. Software management is usually a broader field, because all information and updates are typically stored in or concern software. Some programs may be specialized to manage either software or hardware exclusively, though software is the more common choice.
Home computer users rarely lose information on their computer and, if they do, there typically is a search program that can quickly scan the computer for the information. This is much harder with a large system, because the same search function may take hours to go through everything. Open source configuration management acts as a catalog that holds and displays information on where data — even low-level data — can be found.
Users of such programs in open source form are granted a license that allows them to change the program's original coding. Some licenses allow users to sell their modification of the configuration management program, while others have restrictions. These programs are typically free, though not all of them are.
Along with data, the open source configuration management program also will track the version number of each program. The update log also will typically track hardware versions and updates, such as detailing how much random access memory (RAM) the computer has or the manufacturing number of the monitor. This is to help users keep track of updates, so they know if a new update is needed. Update information is typically viewed from a database, but it also may be in spreadsheet form, depending on the program.