SMS 2003: How to Expunge Microsoft’s Systems Management Server 2003 from Your Network

Microsoft’s Systems Management Server 2003 is notoriously difficult to remove from a network once it has had its client installed on all workstations/servers. I was recently tasked with figuring out the right process to get it off our network and execute it (the process and SMS). We had moved to Altiris some time ago, but SMS lingered on like a bad cold… occasionally causing issues and certainly making most of the IT staff uncomfortable with its presence.

This process details how to remove the SMS 2003 Advanced Client from all workstations/servers. It assumes you have some familiarity with SMS 2003 and systems management in general. I used SMS 2003 itself to pull it off the workstations and servers. That way, the process only attempts to run once (saving bandwidth and reducing login times) and I liked the irony of making it remove itself from the network. 🙂

Once the Advanced Client is off all of the nodes, uninstalling the actual SMS server is fairly straight forward.

Microsoft created a tool some time ago called CCMClean.exe. This tool will completely remove the SMS Advanced Client from any workstation or server. You can set it up to run silently (recommended) and it does not require a reboot. That’s awesome in the enterprise, as things that require a reboot generally require a lengthy change request to be filed and approved.

This tool is included in the free Systems Management Server 2003 Toolkit 2 from Microsoft.

You’ll want to download that toolkit and install it on your SMS 2003 server. Once installed, you’ll find CCMClean.exe under the root of the toolkit’s installation folder. You’re not going to use it quite yet, but it’s important to know where it’s at.

Now it’s time to prep SMS 2003 for the removal of the client’s from the network. This requires several configuration changes and you are basically “turning off” SMS, so be certain you are done with it.

First, I like to set SMS to remove all nodes from its asset list after five days of non-reporting. Once the Advanced Client is removed, the node is not going to report to SMS anymore. This allows me to see who has had the client removed in a reasonable amount of time. The default is 90 days, so five days is a big change.

You’ll make this change here:

Site Hierarchy – Site – Site Settings – Site Maintenance – Tasks – Delete Inactive Client Discovery Data

It should be set to a default of 90 days or whatever it may have been changed to when it was originally installed/configured.

Next, we’ll want to make sure we’re using SMS as little as possible, so we need to disable all of the agent reporting… the only thing we want to keep is the Advertised Programs as that’s how we’ll push CCMClean.exe to the workstations and servers.

You’ll make this change here:

Site Hierarchy – Site – Site Settings – Site Maintenance – Client Agents

You’ll disable everything under there except Advertised Programs Client Agent.

At this point SMS is doing very little on the network. Clients should stop reporting almost everything and they’re basically just checking if there are any new programs to be installed.

Now you’ll need to create a new Collection. In SMS 2003, a collection is simply a collection of computers, generally populated based on specified rules. A collection may contain 5000 computers or just one based on your needs. When I removed SMS 2003, I created a collection called “SMS Client Removal” and initially set the rules so that just the computers from our department were included. Then I included the PCs for the Level 2 helpdesk, then Level 1, and finally I broadened the rules so that we were removing the client from a couple of hundred computers at a time (servers I did at a much slower pace). CCMClean.exe is a very safe application; it does very little and has very little impact on the systems but at the same time I generally play it safe.

Once your collection is created, you’ll need to create a new package from CCMClean.exe. To do so, right click on Packages and select New – Package. You’ll stair step through that process, but all you need to really specify is the following:

  • Name the package CCMClean or something similar
  • Select “This package contains source files” and point it to the root of the SMS 2003 Toolkit installation folder. Choose to “Always obtain files from source directory.”
  • Everything else you can leave at the defaults unless your environment requires something additional

If you’re not too familiar with SMS, you’re probably scratching your head as to why you would create a package and not point to a specific program. That’s because SMS looks at a package as a container, which may contain many items including programs. Therefore, you now need to add a program, CCMClean.exe, to the package.

Go to Packages – CCMClean – Programs, right click, and select New – Program.

Give it a name and then type the following in the Command Line field:

ccmclean.exe /all /q

It knows where to run that command from because you specified the location of the Source Files when you created the package.

You might want to go ahead and set Run to Hidden. Also, under the Environment tab, change Program Can Run to Whether or Not a User is Logged On and then set the Run Mode to Run with Administrative Rights (you may or may not need to check the options below it, I did not on my network but our users have administrative rights on their PCs (for now). You can leave all other options at their defaults.

Finally, it’s time to tell the clients to run this new package. You’ll need to create a new advertisement by right clicking on Advertisements and selecting New – Advertisement. Give it a name like CCMClean and choose CCMClean from the Package drop down and CCMClean again from the Program drop down (assuming you used CCMClean for your Package and Program names). Click Browse next to Collection, and select your SMS Client Removal collection from the list.

Under the Schedule tab, you can set it to what you want but as this was running without user involvement I set mine to As Soon As Possible.

Under the Advanced Client tab, I set the first option set to Run Program from a Distribution Point and the second option set to Run Program From a Remote Distribution Point.

Once this advertisement is saved, any client computers in the SMS Client Removal group will begin to uninstall the Advanced Client the next time they check in with the server (generally every 60 minutes). Five days later, the client computer name will be removed from the SMS database and you will no longer see it in the SMS console.

Optionally, you may want to download SCCM Client Center from SourceForge and install it on your SMS Server. This will allow you to type in a client computer name and see what version of the client is currently installed on the PC. If it can’t connect, the Advanced Client was successfully removed from the PC!


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