Rawns (9th January 2014)
So I've just used Solus 3 for the first time like many others for the Autumn 2 Release, here's some feedback:
- Its feels massively over engineered!! Seems like its designed for huge councils to update thousands of machines not single schools like us.
- The user interface is incredibly slow, it's painful to just browse a list using a mouse wheel
- The blue colour scheme looks rubbish imo, glad to see the new screenshots posted of a much nicer greyer look
- Why does it rely on DNS so much? Not all schools will have scavenge records set. No other software I know of has these problems. Surely it should show some more useful feedback about a machine that cannot be pinged?
- Solus 3 seems to break completely when you change a computers name in Active Directory
- Why do I have to type in domain/username and password EVERY SINGLE TIME I update a few workstations in the environment? Can't this be saved in the central settings?
- Add agent workstations should be at the top as its most commonly used, not 3 items down in the list. This is poor UI design.
- Needs a way to reset hung agent installs such as "active install" or "queued install" see here for more details
- Why doesn't the agent close down Sims automatically?
- Please make the Blue warning box on the client machine bigger and easier to see. A number of our staff simply ignored it causing all kinds of errors inside of Sims.
- Sims should show better warning message if the update wasn't successful. "Incompatible database" is a pointless error. How about something like "You are trying to run an earlier version of sims" Please see your ICT department to update.
- Sims should save reports constantly, we had an incident where someone walked away from their computer for 5 minutes and lost all their reports because of the Solus 3 upgrade procedure.
- Sims should auto close so the agent can update successfully. All work should be saved as mentioned above.
- Why is discover a separate install from Sims? It should all update at the same time without the need to rollout 2 packages.
- The manage updates list is incredibly confusing. I see things like "Solus 3 auto deployment patch" which I have no idea what it does and there is no description or release notes that I can see.
Sorry if this sounds like a bit of a rant, but Solus 3 is in no way ready to replace Solus 2 yet.
Rawns (9th January 2014)
I agree about performance and overengineering; it's been designed with geeks in mind and not pretified. Isn't ideal, because in an ideal world the data staff would do SIMS upgrades.
I disagree about DNS - even more so now than ever before, DNS is vital and should be correctly set up. Try telling any techy that statement in 5 years time when we're further into ipv6 and see how long you last!!
Solus 2 is not exactly much better - it doesn't moot any of the points made about 3 especially in interface terms, ease of use, warnings, closing sims etc!
Solus 2 has always worked perfectly for us since we add all teachers to the power user group on the local computers. Usually we get around a 5% failure rate.
Solus 3 had about a 45% failure rate yesterday. I realize that a lot of this is due to outdated DNS records, changed AD names and hard disk space issues but the simple fact is it worked better with Solus 2.
Hopefully next time we run it the failure rate will be much reduced.
I just use Impero (you can of course insert similar product name here) to close any instances of pulsar.exe after the warning emails & messages sent out prior
100% success rate across my 3 schools this week.
Just done our first upgrade with S3 and *said through gritted teeth* I was impressed by it.
On a wider level though:
- The UI is terrible, *terrible*. Looks like the designer has never deployed software in his/her life. Hopefully the promised updates will improve this.
- Re: DNS. Schools should have DNS setup properly and savaging enabled. This will help on a much wider scale then just S3.
- You should be able to change computer name. That you can't is just dumb. Any other central based console type program (eg Sophos) can cope with this.
- The domain\user thing irritates the Hell out of me too.
- The fact that machines can get stuck in a failed state is dumb as well. Surely its easy to fix this as community members have knocked up utilities to sort this out themselves.
- I like the idea of SIMS automatically. Currently it seems that if people are using it during an upgrade they just get errors which isn't elegant.
Last edited by sparkeh; 9th January 2014 at 12:55 PM.
Quote from Mr Neal on Twitter in December:
"Reviewed progress of new SOLUS3 screens. The new UI will be a huge productivity leap. A couple of clicks to manage a school!"
I'll gather this refers to a future release of SOLUS.
Another thing, unless I am doing it wrong, is how the deployments are handled and reported.
So an example. I have about 100 machines to update. After the initial deployment 90 were successful, 7 were offline and 3 failed due to SIMS being left opened.
So I contacted the teachers to close SIMS and clicked to redeploy to the 3 failed. This created a new deployment which resulted in 2 successes and 1 failure (still not closed SIMS!). So I 'contacted' teacher again and redeployed to that 1 machine. This created a 3rd deployment which was a success.
In the meantime people are turning on machines that were originally listed as offline which are picking up the original deployment. SIMS is installing successfully. However the original deployment is still reporting that the 7 machines are offline. But when I look at the deployment detail it reports that those machines are a success.
This seems a messy way of doing it. Why can't we just stick to one deployment. If the installation fails then you reattemp installation but within the same deployment so the feedback in the "Targets in the deployment" just updates with the latest information.
This way we only have one deployment per product to keep track off.
Last edited by sparkeh; 9th January 2014 at 01:12 PM.
You should of been on the field trial!!
How do you think that little school with 1 Winodws 7 workstation feels?
Keeps me out of trouble
I did ask
How far do you take this, I mean it could get over complex - I think the "best" solution is a link to a KB article - oh wait, that sucks. Maybe a few macros might be nice maybe? Soemthing like a global %SCHOOL_ICT_MESSAGE% you can set so the staff nice a friendly message.
Isn't really SOLUS, also surely you warn them about the update first? Still auto-save like in Word would be good, we all know what staff are like
It isn't part of SIMS and it isn't included. It's a bolt on dispite what @PhilNeal says, it's a bolt-on as part of the assessment suite.
Cheers, I did say this to them over a year ago. Ah, now I can do the "I told you so" dance to @JonathanWood
Ok interesting, our FMS deployment (of which there is only one) updated as successful when our offline machines came online and installed the update.
The original SIMS deployment does not. I wonder if creating new deployment with a redeployment task stops the original deployment updating?
You should only need to redeploy if it fails, fails, if a few workstations after offline you'll be ok. If a workstation fails, try a reboot*, then redeploy just to those workstations, it could get it into a bit of a pickle and do it twice. Historically it would cause it to reinstall - pretty sure they got it fixed now as it checks before running it. So you would just add to the "job" list and it would check twice and upgrade once so not really a biggy. I do also believe once it fails to install it won't try again until you tell it - I mean it's its stupid to try re-running it on a machine without a enough disc space or some other unknown fault, you'll just lock the machine up.
No idea re-update the original screen, I remember talking to them about it but I'm not sure, I'll ask one of the developers - who I know from the field trial - I'll just keep saying this so people actually get involve in future field trials so when you want a change something isn't like Chinese whispers involving a lot of repetition and jumping up and down and (as much) waiting.
* You can check if it needs a reboot - check the registry for the pendingfilerename key - it will list any files it couldn't update cause they had SIMS open - annoyingly because the way .NET works, it'll dynamically load the .dlls as it needs them so you may think your in SIMS say v1, but half the SIMS libraries \ dlls will be on v2 so it'll crash spectacularly when it trys loadings a v1 library and gets a v2. So really a force close is the only way forward. Because it's a wise installer it'll happily keep trying to install if you keep running it, so as you say, re-deploying will get it going if you close sims then redeploy - but you'll have pending file renames when you reboot - hopefully it'll be the same version and Capita won't do a 2 parter update like they did before - we had manually updated some\redeployed, didn't know about the pending rename, so the next day the windows machine put the part 1 files over the top of the part 2 files
- Solus 3 also appears to break the Examination Module everytime its upgrade. Needs Sims to be installed manually to fix it. "Automation Error"
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