Desktop Management Interface

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What Does Desktop Management Interface Mean?

Desktop Management Interface (DMI) was the first desktop management standard issued by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), a consortium of hardware manufacturers led by Intel. DMI provided a standard framework for managing and tracking components in a personal computer used as a desktop, notebook or server computer. The DMI actually abstracted components from the software that managed them.


DMI ended on March 31, 2005. The DMTF defined an end-of-life process for DMI as a result of the rapid development of other DMTF technologies such as Common Information Model (CIM).

Techopedia Explains Desktop Management Interface

Desktop Management Interface provided access to the system management BIOS and other system data for management software. The system data and DMI functioned independently, and DMI was independent of any connected hardware. It was easy for vendors to adopt, could be used on network and non-network computers and did not conflict with Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) or other similar protocols.

Original equipment manufacturers and BIOS vendors were required to support DMI so that it could qualify for Microsoft certification after 1998.

DMI consisted of four components:

  • Management Information Format (MIF): This file contained one or several groups with attributes to describe each system component as well as specific information about hardware and software used by that computer.
  • Service Layer: This was a memory-resident code that allowed management and installed software to access MIF files and their database. It is an OS add-on and a shared resource for all programs.
  • Component Interface (CI): This application programming interface used the service layer to communicate status information to the appropriate MIF file.
  • Management Interface (MI): This management software allowed administrators to list all DMI-manageable devices as well as issue "Get" and "Set" commands.

DMI could not be used without a DMI-compliant software management package and a DMI-compliant computer, meaning one containing the CI, MI and service layer (drivers), which were all available as a free download on the Internet.

There was a DMI encoder in Linux that allowed system administrators to enable or disable some workarounds to deal with specific system problems.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.