The Software Installation extension, a software management feature of Windows 2000, is the administrator's primary tool for managing software within an organization. Managing software using Software Installation provides your users with immediate access to the software they need to perform their jobs and ensures that users have an easy and consistent experience when working with software throughout its life cycle. Users no longer need to look for a network share, use a CD-ROM, or install, fix, and upgrade software themselves. This lesson walks you through the steps for implementing Software Installation.
After this lesson, you will be able to
Estimated lesson time: 75 minutes
Three tools are provided with Windows 2000 Server for software installation and maintenance. Table 20.3 describes these tools.
Table 20.3 Windows 2000 Software Installation and Maintenance Tools
|The Software Installation extension of the Group Policy snap-in||Used by administrators to manage software|
|Windows Installer||Installs software packaged in Windows Installer files|
|Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel||Used by users to manage software on their own computers|
The Software Installation extension is the administrator's primary tool for managing software within an organization. Software Installation works in conjunction with Group Policy and Active Directory, establishing a Group PolicyGroup Policy-based software management system that allows you to centrally manage the following tasks:
Using Software Installation, you can centrally manage the installation of software on a client computer by assigning applications to users or computers or by publishing applications for users. Assign required or mandatory software to users or to computers. Publish software that users might find useful to perform their jobs.
When you assign an application to a user, the application is advertised to the user the next time he or she logs on to a workstation. The application advertisement follows the user regardless of which physical computer he or she actually uses. This application is installed the first time the user activates the application on the computer, either by selecting the application on the Start menu or by activating a document associated with the application.
When you assign an application to the computer, the application is advertised and the installation is performed when it is safe to do so. Typically this happens when the computer starts up so that there are no competing processes on the computer.
When you publish the application to users, the application does not appear installed on the users' computers. No shortcuts are visible on the desktop or Start menu, and no changes are made to the local registry on the users' computers. Instead, published applications store their advertisement attributes in Active Directory. Then, information such as the application's name and file associations is exposed to the users in the Active Directory container. The application is then available for the user to install using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel or by clicking a file associated with the application (such as an .xls file for Microsoft Excel).
The Software Installation extension uses Windows Installer technology to systematically maintain software. Windows Installer is a service that allows the OS to manage the installation process. Windows Installer is composed of three key parts:
Because Software Installation takes advantage of Windows Installer, users can take advantage of self-repairing applications. Windows Installer notes when a program file is missing and immediately reinstalls the damaged or missing files, thereby fixing the application.
The Windows Installer package is a file that contains explicit instructions on the installation and removal of specific applications. The developer who produces the application provides the Windows Installer package .msi file and ships it with the application. If a Windows Installer package does not come with an application, you might need to create a Windows Installer package, or repackage the application, using a third-party tool.
You can only deploy software using the Software Installation extension if the file type fits one of the following categories:
In addition, you can make modifications to customize the installation of a Windows Installer package at the time of assignment or publication. Modifications are saved with the .mst file extension.
Other files you may encounter during Software Installation are
You can customize Windows Installer applications by using modifications, also called transforms. The Windows Installer package format provides for customization by allowing you to "transform" the original package using authoring and repackaging tools. Some applications also provide wizards or templates that permit a user to create modifications.
For example, Microsoft Office 2000 supplies a Customization wizard that builds modifications. Using the Microsoft Office 2000 Customization wizard, you can create a modification that allows you to manage the configuration of Microsoft Office 2000 that is deployed to users. A modification might be designed to accommodate Microsoft Word as a key feature, installing it during the first installation. Less popular features, such as revision support or document translators, could be installed on first usage, and other features, such as clip art, might not be installed at all. You might have another modification that provides all of the features of Word and does not install Microsoft PowerPoint. The exact mix of which features to install and when to install them varies based on the audience for the application and how they use the software.
The following is the sequences of tasks use to implemente software installation:
When planning a software installation, you should do the following:
Table 20.4 describes strategies and considerations for implementing a software installation. Some of these strategies might seem contradictory, but select the strategies that meet your business goals.
Table 20.4 Strategies and Considerations for Implementing Software Installation
|Create OUs based on software management needs.||Allows you to target applications to the appropriate set of users. Group Policy security settings are not required to target the appropriate set of users.|
|Deploy software close to the root in the Active Directory tree.||Makes it easy to provide all users in an organization with access to an application. This reduces administration because you can deploy a single GPO rather than having to re-create that object in multiple containers deep in the Active Directory tree.|
|Deploy multiple applications with a single GPO.||Reduces administration overhead by allowing you to create and manage a single GPO rather than multiple GPOs. The logon process is faster because a single GPO deploying 10 applications processes faster than 10 GPOs each deploying one application. This is appropriate in organizations where users share the same core set of applications.|
|Publish or assign one application only once in the same GPO or in a series of GPOs that might apply to a single user or computer.||Makes it easier to determine which instance of the application applies to the user or computer.|
Software licenses are required for software written by independent software vendors and distributed using software distribution points (SDPs). It is your responsibility to match the number of users who can access software to the number of licenses you have on hand. It is also your responsibility to verify that you are working within the guidelines provided by each independent software vendor with the software.
Gather the package formats for the software and perform any necessary modifications to the packages.
After you have planned and prepared for software management, the next step is to copy the software to one or more SDPs, network locations from which people are able to get the software that they need.
Follow these steps to set up an SDP:
Some software supports special commands to facilitate the creation of an SDP. For example, Microsoft Office 2000 should be prepared by running setup /a from a command prompt. This allows you to enter the software key once for all users, and the network share (SDP) location to copy the files to. Other software might have other ways to expand any compressed files from the distribution media and transfer the files to the appropriate location.
A GPO can contain several settings that affect how an application is installed, managed, and removed. You can globally define the default settings for the new packages within the GPO in the General tab of the Software Installation Properties dialog box. Some of these settings can be changed later by editing the package properties in the Software Installation extension.
Follow these steps to specify software installation defaults:
Figure 20.9 General tab of the Software Installation Properties dialog box
Given that software can be either assigned or published and may be targeted to users or computers, you can establish a workable combination to meet your software management goals. Table 20.5 details the different approaches to software deployment.
Table 20.5 Software Deployment Approaches
|Publish (User Only)||Assign (User)||Assign (Computer)|
|After deployment the software is available for installation after||The next logon||The next logon||The next time the computer starts|
|Typically the user installs the software from||Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel||Start menu or Desktop shortcut||The software is already installed (the software automatically installs when the computer reboots)|
|If the software is not installed, and the user opens a file associated with the software, does the software install?||Yes (if auto-install is turned on)||Yes||Does not apply; the software is already installed|
|Can the user remove the software using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel?||Yes, and the user can choose to install it again from Add/ Remove Programs in Control Panel||Yes, and the soft ware is available for installation again from the typical install points||No. Only the local administrator can remove the software; a user can run a repair on the software|
|Supported installation files are||Windows Installer packages, .zap files||Windows Installer packages||Windows Installer packages|
Modifications, or .mst files, are customizations applied to Windows Installer packages. A modification must be applied at the time of assignment or publication, not at the time of installation.
Assign an application when you want everyone to have the application on his or her computer. An application can be published to both computers and users.
Follow these steps to assign applications:
The File Name list in the Open dialog box shows those Windows Installer packages located at the SDP you specified as the default. If the Windows Installer package is located on a different network share, you can browse to find the SDP for the package.
Figure 20.10 Deploy Software dialog box
Publish an application when you want the application to be available to people managed by the GPO, should they want the application. With published applications it is up to each person to decide whether or not to install the published application. An application can only be published to users.
Follow these steps to publish applications:
The File Name list in the Open dialog box shows those packages located at the SDP you specified as the default. If the Windows Installer package is located on a different network share, you can browse to find the SDP for the package.
The application is available for users to install either by using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel or by opening a file with a file name extension that you have associated with the application.
Modifications are associated with the Windows Installer package at deployment time rather than when the Windows Installer is actually using the package to install or modify the application. Modifications (.mst files) are applied to Windows Installer packages (which have the .msi extension) in an order specified by the administrator. This order must be determined before the application is assigned or published.
Follow these steps to add or remove modifications for applications:
Figure 20.11 Modifications tab of the Properties dialog box
Do not click OK until you have finished configuring the modifications. When you click OK, the package is assigned or published immediately. If the modifications are not properly configured you will have to uninstall the package or upgrade the package with a correctly configured version.
To determine which application users install when they select a file, you can select a file extension and configure a priority for installing applications associated with the file extension using the File Extensions tab in the Software Installation Properties dialog box. The first application listed is the application installed in association with the file extension.
For example, if you use a GPO to deploy both Microsoft Word 2000 and Microsoft FrontPage 2000, both of these applications can edit HyperText Markup Language (HTML) documents, files with the .htm extension. To configure the file extension priority so that users who are managed by this GPO always install Microsoft FrontPage, set FrontPage as the application with the highest priority for the .htm extension. When users managed by this GPO who have installed neither Microsoft Word 2000 nor Microsoft FrontPage 2000 receive an .htm file (by e-mail or other means) and they double-click on the .htm file, Software Installation installs FrontPage 2000 and opens the .htm file for editing. Without Software Installation, the user would see the Open With dialog box and be asked to select the best alternative from the software already present on his or her computer.
File extension associations are managed on a per-GPO basis. Changing the priority order in a GPO affects only those users who have that GPO applied to them.
Follow these steps to set automatic installation options based on file name extension:
Figure 20.12 File Extensions tab of the Software Installation Properties dialog box
You can organize assigned and published applications into logical categories to make it easier for users to locate the appropriate application from within Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. Windows 2000 does not ship with any predefined categories.
The categories that you establish are per domain, not per GPO. You only need to define them once for the whole domain.
Follow these steps to set up categories for applications to be managed:
Figure 20.13 Categories tab of the Software Installation Properties dialog box
You can fine-tune each application by editing installation options, specifying application categories to be used, and setting permissions for the software installation.
Although you may have globally defined the default settings for new packages within the GPO in the General tab of the Software Installation Properties dialog box, some of these same settings can be changed later by editing the package properties. Installation options affect how an application is installed, managed, and removed.
Follow these steps to edit installation options for applications:
Figure 20.14 Deployment tab of the Properties dialog box
You must associate applications with existing categories. Categories you set generally pertain to published applications only, as assigned applications do not appear in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. The application appears in the selected categories in Add/Remove Programs, which the user can use to install the application.
Follow these steps to specify application categories for Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel:
Figure 20.15 Categories tab of the Properties dialog box
Permissions set for software installation pertain only to the application installation.
Follow these steps to set permissions for software installation:
Administrators who manage the application installation should have the Full Control permission set to Allow. Users who use the software assigned or published by the application should have the Read permission set to Allow.
After the deployment of software applications it may be necessary to upgrade or remove them at some point in the software life cycle.
Several events in the life cycle of the software can trigger an upgrade, including the following:
Upgrades typically involve major changes to the software and normally have new version numbers. Usually a substantial number of files change for an upgrade. You can use the Software Installation extension to establish the procedure to upgrade an existing application to the current release.
Follow these steps to upgrade applications:
Figure 20.16 Add Upgrade Package dialog box
A list of all the other packages assigned to be published within the selected GPO appears under the heading Package To Upgrade. Depending on the GPO, this list may have zero or more entries.
If this is an upgrade under the Computer Configuration node of the Group Policy snap-in, the check box appears dimmed and selected, because packages can only be assigned to computers, not published.
At some point, users may no longer require an application, so you may need to remove it. For example, the following two issues can be resolved by using the removal choices set within the Software Installation extension:
When you originally deploy the software, if you want the application to be removed when a GPO no longer applies, select the Uninstall This Application When It Falls Out Of The Scope of Management option.
Follow these steps to remove applications:
In this lesson you learned how the Software Installation extension helps you specify how applications are installed and maintained in your organization. You can centrally manage the installation of software on a client computer by assigning applications to users or computers or by publishing applications for users. Assign required or mandatory software to users or to computers. Publish software that users might find useful to perform their jobs.
The Software Installation extension uses Windows Installer technology to systematically maintain software. The Windows Installer package is a file that contains explicit instructions for installing and removing specific applications.
You also learned the tasks ued for implementing software installation: planning and preparing; setting up an SDP; specifying software installation defaults; deploying software applications; setting automatic installation options; setting up application categories; setting software application properties; and maintaining software applications.