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How do you do....it? Thread, Installing software on a network other than GPO? in Technical; Hello, Like everyone here I spend too much time installing software. I have been looking into various ways to simplify ...
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    Installing software on a network other than GPO?

    Hello,

    Like everyone here I spend too much time installing software. I have been looking into various ways to simplify installing software. Anything that is distributed with an MSI is easy and a pleasure to install but something like Adobe Master Collection/Creative Suite is an absolute nightmare of which I have found no reliable way to install other than to manually run a script on whatever computer it needs installing on.

    I spent a summer playing with a trial of Microsoft System Centre Configuration Manager which managed to install things but it was incredibly bloated if just used for software installations, it was also not as reliable and managable as GPO deployment.

    My question to you is how do you install software and do you know of an elegant solution to installing non-MSI applications?

    I've been playing around with the software listed in the essential software section of the wiki but before I get too involved trying to find solutions with them I was hoping for feedback on how you install software.

    Appdeploy always refers to command line switches but this is obviously no use with GPO and i'm struggling to find a program to handle switches and such.

    I currently install software by praying it comes in an MSI format (maybe tweaking a MST with Wise Install Tailor) or by using Veritas Discover/Software Console to repackage programs. I've thought about using Microsoft System Centre Essentials but i've read it's a real pain with licensing and can get very expensive.

    Very interested in hearing others experiences with this topic.

    Many thanks

    Neil Knapp
    IT Manager
    The Priory School

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    If it comes with an installer which'll allow command-line switches then you can always go for putting the installer on a hidden share and setting up a startup script to run the command. The script can then log what's been installed on the machine to check that it doesn't try to install things twice. Set up an uninstall script the same way to apply if you want to remove software again.

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    Main Page - WPKG | Open Source Software Deployment and Distribution

    WPKG is an automated software deployment, upgrade and removal program for Windows.

    It can be used to push/pull software packages, such as Service Packs, hotfixes, or program installations from a central server (for example, Samba or Active Directory) to a number of workstations.

    It can run as a service to install software in the background (silent install), without user interaction.

    It can install MSI, InstallShield, PackagefortheWeb, Inno Setup, Nullsoft, other software installers or .exe packages, .bat and .cmd scripts and similar: no more repackaging to perform software installation.

    WPKG is open source software.

  4. 2 Thanks to CyberNerd:

    jinnantonnix (10th June 2009), Oops_my_bad (10th June 2009)

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    PSEXEC is what you need.

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    Hi James,

    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    I assume you're speaking from personal experience and that you use scripts to deploy software?

    There are a few questions that come to mind when thinking of logon scripts and it would be very useful to hear your experiences with them.

    Can you run the script at machine start up and if so does it use the SYSTEM account or another? How are permissions for that handled? Have you experienced any problems with software installing incorrectly because of permission problems? Have you had any problems such as computers getting stuck because an installer is waiting for a prompt and the script hangs resulting in the computer freezing?

    Do you use user logon scripts rather?

    I assume the reliability of installing the software is only as good as the script that's running it? (Assuming the installer does its job properly) What method of error handling do you tend to use? Simply have the installer log what it's doing? I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have a shared area the installation script could access and write details to for tracking purposes.

    Have you written a custom script or would you recommend one available from elsewhere?

    If you have any other useful information i'd be very keen to hear it.

    Many thanks,

    Neil

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    CyberNerd,

    OOps! Thanks for that - I stumbled upon that while going through the software list and forgot to mention it. That looks incredibly promising - I read through the webpage briefly and came up with a few questions but I can't remember what they were now.

    How have your experiences been with it? If it delivers everything it promises then it looks absolutely perfect.

    K.C.Leblanc - PSEXEC seems like the adventurous option, I assume you support it with a lot of scripts. Does it work for you?

    Thanks to you both,

    Neil

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    How have your experiences been with it?
    limited. extremely limited.
    Someone on this forum had linked to it previously, I installed a couple of things with it.
    All our curriculum machines are thinclients, so mostly we do a manual install on the servers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilknapp View Post
    I assume you're speaking from personal experience and that you use scripts to deploy software?
    Haven't done for coming on a year now, but prior to that yes. When an MSI wasn't available I used to use a script. Usually a startup script assigned by GPO on the computer.

    Can you run the script at machine start up and if so does it use the SYSTEM account or another? How are permissions for that handled?
    You can run a startup script, which'll run as the local system account. This account has permission to do pretty much anything it wants.

    Have you experienced any problems with software installing incorrectly because of permission problems? Have you had any problems such as computers getting stuck because an installer is waiting for a prompt and the script hangs resulting in the computer freezing?
    No to the first, yes to the second when I've forgotten to include command line parameters, or where the software doesn't allow them to silence the install. In those cases I've generally either resorted to manual install, tried to make an MSI, or tossed the software in the bin.

    Do you use user logon scripts rather?
    For certain programs, yep. I did this for exam software a couple of times as I didn't want the software available outside of exams. A logon script would install and run it (as part of an exam lockdown GPO), and a logoff script would remove the program afterwards. Probably overly paranoid as the kids couldn't access any local drives anyway but it was more because I wanted to see if it could be done.

    I assume the reliability of installing the software is only as good as the script that's running it? (Assuming the installer does its job properly) What method of error handling do you tend to use?
    Manual error handling. Basically I'd get the script to create a text file based on the name of the computer, on a central share. Then it'd write when it started, and when it exited successfully. If it didn't then I'd find out quickly enough through a Delphi program I had which turned the text files into a nice series of colours next to each computer name. Mine was a rather simple method, but with WMI and a bit more expertise I'm sure it could be expanded to give a lot more reporting on errors.

    Simply have the installer log what it's doing? I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have a shared area the installation script could access and write details to for tracking purposes.
    Yep, that was it. Crude but effective.

    Have you written a custom script or would you recommend one available from elsewhere?
    I did have custom scripts but I no longer work for the school, and haven't for some time as I said. I'd recommend though that you look at the technet website, particularly the Scripting Guys. It'd probably also be worth investigating PowerShell. All of this relies on an installer that allows you to run it in a silent mode however.

    If you have any other useful information i'd be very keen to hear it.
    Feel free to drop me a PM if you have any other questions. I'm always happy to help, even if I am a little rusty.

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    With software that isn't msi and that have switches available to install silently, then I try and package it into an msi.

    I use the free software by Installer2Go (version 4.2.4). You basically make a blank project, add the exe file as a Custom Action (right click --> add run exe --> attached to installation). It gives you a text field where you add the command line switches (e.g. /quiet or /s etc). Build it as an msi, and then deploy through GPO (after testing!).

    Only issues are when there are no switches available to make it silent, or there are drivers to install due to hardware installs.

  11. Thanks to rocknrollstar from:

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    if it supports command line i tend to write a script like below and assign it as a computer startup script

    Code:
    rem @ECHO OFF
    REM --- Check for an existing installation of Video Lan Client
    if exist "c:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\086d.txt" goto _End
    REM --- Deploy to Windows 2000/XP/2003
    "\\server\packages$\VLC\vlc-0.8.6c-win32.exe" /S /NCRC"
    copy "\\server\packages$\VLC\086d.txt" "c:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\086d.txt" /y
    REM --- End of the script
    :_End
    or failing that create a ghost package and deploy from ghost console to whichever pcs need it

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    Try Purgos, its easy, its light and its FREE!

  14. Thanks to binky from:

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    Yeah - Ghost is nice if you can afford it. Also had some success using AutoIT for really painful software.

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