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Distributing Applications to Windows CE

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature

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Posted: 6 Jan 2003

Applications installed on WinCE are distributed as CAB files (end in .CAB). When a CAB file is "copied" to a CE handheld, it automatically executes and, upon completion, deletes itself. All installation behavior is controlled within the CAB file itself.

ZfH is a delivery mechanism for files, including CABs (app install) or any binary content (Word, Acrobat, Text Files, MP3s, etc). You can edit file behavior (overwrite, skip if newer, etc.) by editing the CAB with any commercial CAB Manager. (We like OCP Software's WinCE CAB Manager at

Don't forget, the CAB deletes itself after execution. If the ZfH "target location" is \TEMP\, the file and path will be deleted after execution if the \TEMP folder did not exist before the file copy! Fun, huh? So? how do you get the ever elusive CAB file? Read on...

Getting the CAB File

Windows CE is only capable of running .EXEs that are designed for the OS. Many applications assume that you will use ActiveSync to install applications. So, how do you get your CAB out of that EXE so you can use a real management package to distribute the apps? Until we figure out a way to build a sneaky way to do this, you can use this workaround.

  1. Install ActiveSync to a machine without a cradle.
  2. Run the EXE and break out of the install when it prompts you to connect your handheld.
  3. Browse to the \Program Files\Microsoft ActiveSync\ folder on the desktop and you'll typically see a telling folder with a name similar to the application you were "pretending" to install. In that folder is your grand prize? that little 'ole CAB file you want so much.
  4. Copy this to your ZfH server's distribution share\folder or your favorite app source folder (we like the reliable NetWare volumes around here).
  5. Create your Handheld Application object and browse to your CAB.

For more info about ZENworks for Handhelds, check out the ZENworks for Handhelds Resource Library.

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