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Boris: A networked-device scanning library. Boris allows you to write programs for logging into and pulling information off of various server platforms, appliances, and other types of networked devices, producing clean and consistent data ideal for configuration managment usage.


>= 0.12.3
>= 3.1.1


>= 1.5.0
>= 2.5.2
>= 1.1.0
 Project Readme


Networked-device scanning library written in Ruby


Boris is a library that facilitates the communication between you and various networked devices over SNMP, SSH and WMI, pulling a large amount of configuration items including installed software, network settings, serial numbers, user accounts, disk utilization, and more.

Out of the box, Boris has server support for Red Hat, Solaris, and Windows, as well as support for Cisco IOS and NX-OS (and more!), with a focus on returning precisely formatted data, no matter which platforms your organization may have deployed. Through the use of profilers, Boris can easily be extended by the developer to include other platforms. Highly suitable for small and large environments alike looking to pull configuration data from various platforms connected to their network.


  • Server support: Red Hat Linux, Solaris, and Windows (support for OS X in the works)
  • Appliance support: Cisco IOS, Cisco NX-OS, F5 BIG-IP LTM, Brocade FOS, and HP Onboard Administrator
  • Utilizes SSH and WMI communication technologies (SNMP is baked in but not currently used)
  • Expandable to include other networked devices, such as switches, load balancers, and other appliances and server operating systems


gem install boris

Or if using Bundler, add to your Gemfile

gem 'boris'


Let's pull some information from a Red Hat Enterprise Linux server on our network:

require 'boris'

Boris.log_level = :debug

hostname = ''

# let's use a helper to suggest how we should connect to it (if we're not sure what kind of device this is)
puts Boris::Network.suggested_connection_method(hostname)

# you can also add the logic to make the decision yourself
puts Boris::Network.tcp_port_responding?(hostname, 22)

target =

target.options.add_credential(:user=>'myusername', :password=>'mypassword', :connection_types=>[:ssh])

# if this is a host using SSH, we can also pass in Net::SSH options (such as a private key for
# authentication). SSH options passed to Boris will automatically be passed to Net:SSH. Likewise for
# Net::SNMP--options passed to :snmp_options will be passed to the Net::SNMP library.
target.options[:ssh_options] = {:keys=>['/path/to/my/private/key']}


if target.connected?
  # we can try to detect which profiler to load up (is this target running windows? solaris? or
  # what?).  if we can't detect a suitable profiler, this will throw an error.

  puts target.profiler.class

  # we can call individual methods to grab specific information we may be interested in

  # retrieved items can be referenced two ways:
  puts target[:network_interfaces].inspect
  puts target.profiler.network_interfaces.inspect

  # we can also call #retrieve_all to grab everything we can from this target (file systems, hardware,
  # installed applications, etc.)

  puts target.to_json(:pretty_print)


Sample Output



puts target[:hardware]
  #    :cpu_architecture=>64,
  #    :cpu_core_count=>2,
  #    :cpu_model=>'AMD Opteron Processor 6174',
  #    :cpu_physical_count=>1,
  #    :cpu_speed_mhz=>2200,
  #    :cpu_vendor=>'AMD, Inc.',
  #    :firmware_version=>'6.0',
  #    :model=>'VMware Virtual Platform',
  #    :memory_installed_mb=>1024,
  #    :serial=>'VMware-1234',
  #    :vendor=>'VMware, Inc.'
  #  }

puts target[:operating_system]
  #    :date_installed=>#<DateTime: 2013-02-04T19:08:49-05:00 ((2456329j,529s,891979000n),-18000s,2299161j)>,
  #    :features=>[],
  #    :kernel=>'5.2.3790',
  #    :license_key=>'BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB',
  #    :name=>'Microsoft Windows',
  #    :roles=>['TerminalServer', 'TimeServer'],
  #    :service_pack=>'Service Pack 2',
  #    :version=>'Server 2003 R2 Standard'
  #  }


Through a number of queries and algorithms, Boris efficiently polls devices on the network for information including, but not limited to, network configuration, hardware capabilities, installed software and services, applied hotfixes/patches, and more.

Available methods for use on most platforms include:

  • file systems - file system, mount point, capacity and utilization
  • hardware - make/model, cpu information, firmware/bios version, serial number
  • hosted shares - folders shared by the target
  • installed applications - installed applications and the dates of their installation
  • installed patches - installed patches/hotfixes and the dates of their installation
  • installed services/daemons - background services and their startup modes
  • local users and groups - local groups and the users within each
  • network ID - hostname and domain
  • network interfaces - ethernet and fibre channel interfaces, including IPs, MAC addresses, connection status
  • operating system - name, version, kernel, date installed
  • running processes - process command, start time and cpu time

See Boris::Profilers::Structure for more details on the data structure.

Because the commands that might work correctly on one type of platform most likely won't work on another, Boris handles this by the use of...


Profilers contain the instructions that allow us to run commands against our target and then parse and make sense of the data. Boris comes with the capability to communicate with targets over SNMP, SSH, or WMI. Each profiler is written to use one of these methods of communication (internally called 'connectors'), which serve as a vehicle for running commands against a server. Boris comes with a few profilers built-in for some popular platforms, but can be easily extended to include other devices.

Available profilers:

Run Boris#available_profilers.

Extending Boris

Running your own commands

You can also run your own commands to grab information off of systems. For example, on a Linux device, to run your own script that is already on the target and retrieve its output:

# use the target's connector to grab multiple values.  #values_at will return an array with each line
# returned as an item in the returned array.
multiple_lines_of_data = target.connector.values_at('/path/to/some/script')

# to grab only the first line from a script or file, you can use #value_at:
single_line_of_data = target.connector.value_at('/path/to/some/script')

Running commands in this fashion utilizes the #exec method from the Net::SSH library.

For a Windows host, which uses WMI vice SSH, you can send WMI queries or registry keys to the connector to get information:

# this will pull rows from a class in the standard root\CIMV2 namespace, returning an array of hashes
multiple_rows_of_data = target.connector.values_at('SELECT * FROM Win32_NetworkAdapter')

# this will pull rows from a class in the lower-level root\WMI namespace (note the second argument we're
# passing to #values_at):
multiple_rows_of_data = target.connector.values_at('SELECT * FROM MSNdis_EnumerateAdapter', :root_wmi)

# poll registry keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE by providing a base key path, which returns an array of keys:
registry_keys = target.connector.registry_subkeys_at('SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows')

# grab values found at some key via #registry_values_at, which returns value/data elements in a Hash:
registry_values = target.connector.registry_values_at('SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion')

Creating your own profiler

More than likely, you may want to grab information off of a platform that is not supported by Boris. It's easy to create your own profiler by using the profiler skeleton file located in the skeleton directory. Simply copy the profiler_skeleton file to your app's directory with a .rb extension, and modify that file to run the proper commands and retrieve the data from your desired platform, writing the data into the already available instance variables. Once your data retrieval methods are set, simply require your newly created file in your app, and add the class to your Target#options[:profilers] array, and it will be available to you.

Some recommendations on making your own profiler:

  • Create a core file (ex. WindowsCore) for your platform, and only place generalized data-retrieval methods in this file if they would apply to the majority of versions available to that platform
  • Create a new profiler file for each version of your platform (ie. Windows2012), using the core class as its parent class
    • Name your version classes with the major version number applied
    • Only use code that applies to that specific version in your version profiler files
    • Each version file should include a class method called matches_target?, where the logic will be to determine if this specific profiler version matches that of the device you're communicating with
  • Stick with the built-in variable names, and use the templates as described in structure.rb, and extend them as necessary.
  • Be consistent by always calling super on your data-retrieval methods and ending the method by returning the data variable, even if that method does not apply to that platform
  • Check out the available helpers in the lib/boris/core_ext directory (especially those in string.rb!)
  • See the profilers in the lib/boris/profilers directory for more guidance

Also, please consider a pull request if you think your code can help others!

System Requirements

While Boris does its best to gather data from devices without any special privileges, sometimes it just can't be helped. One example of this is the RedHat profiler, which requires sudo access for the dmidecode command, as there isn't a well known, reliable way to grab hardware info without dmidecode. If Boris attempts to run a command that requires special access and is denied, it will throw a message to the logger and move on.

Here is a list of known scan account requirements for each platform:

  • Big-IP
    • User shell set to tmsh
  • Brocade FOS
    • User role
  • Cisco IOS/NX-OS
    • User EXEC mode (privilege level 1)
  • HP Onboard Administrator
    • User role
  • Linux (any flavor)
    • User must have sudo for dmidecode
  • Solaris
    • User must have sudo for fcinfo
  • Windows
    • User must be a member of local Administrator group


If you have written a profiler (and tests) for a device not currently supported, please create a pull request for it. Also, my testing sucks, so if anyone wants to help clean that up, I'm all about it.


This software is provided under the MIT license. See the file.