Many IT Professionals have problems with automated software distribution because it feels like a complicated topic. But there are really two halves: Software Packaging … and… Software Deployment In this session, you ’ll learn the nuances of both.
Automated Software Deployment
There are two halves to rapidly and remotely installing applications:
Repackaging – A software installation must first be reconfigured to install without prompting the user or requiring additional information.
Deployment – The repackaged software installation is then loaded into a deployment tool and scheduled for deployment.
Part I The Art of Software Packaging
Consider the typical installation…
Insert the CD/DVD media
Double-click setup.exe or setup.msi
Head to the next desktop
In order to deploy the same software automatically and remotely, you must…
Figure out how to complete the software installation without requiring input by the user.
Figure out how to execute the reconfigured setup.exe or setup.msi file locally on designated desktops.
Typical software installations arrive in one of essentially two formats.
.EXE-based setup files
These are slowly going away
Sometimes an EXE will wrap around an MSI
.MSI-based setup files
These are slowly becoming the primary mechanism for Windows software installations
These are relatively rare these days.
Of the first two above, virtually all are packaged using one of the major packaging utilities:
Wise Package Studio
Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
Each format and packager has its own characteristics and switches.
Adobe Acrobat: %ACROBAT_INSTALLER_EXE% /s /v/qn
We can tell Acrobat was packaged using InstallShield because of its “/s /v/qn” switch structure.
Installation switches define the “hidden” parameters that can be used to install the package.
Silent switches instruct the package to install without prompting for input.
Some have neither. Some have nothing.
Thus, while every software installation is different, they are in many ways the same.
You need to sleuth out if switches exist and what they are
… or decide to use more complex techniques.
Repackaging – MSI ’s
MSI installation works with the native Microsoft Installer system
Microsoft Installer is the framework built into every modern version of Windows
Easy to work with because “silent” switches are common across all installations.
Deployment and packaging tools can often automatically interrogate the MSI database and determine silent installation and customizations.
We ’ll talk about “packaging tools” in a minute.
Customization and silencing can be done at command-line or via transform.