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Distributing AutoCAD using ZENworks

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Updated: 8 Jun 2005

Ron Z. wrote: We are big users of AutoCAD in our company and I was wondering if anybody in the Cool Solutions community has had any experience distributing it with ZENworks. AutoCAD has a large footprint and I would like to make it as easy as possible to keep it up to date without having to create snapshots every time a new version or component is needed.

Any advice from people with experience would be helpful.

OPEN CALL: Got something to share with Ron? Let us know.


Perry Jordan

We use AutoCAD 2005 extensively and I've found the use of Autodesk's Network Installation Wizard very good for creating a network install point. We use the standalone deployment method with the license transfer utility to allow users to have installations here at work and on their home machines.

Simply do the steps in the Installation wizard, then create a NAL object pointing to the custom .mst file generated by the installation wizard. Here's a good white paper on network deployment.

David Brown

This works for us.

Under run options.

Make App Object

Path to file \\servername\sys\Apps\WINAPPS\AutoCADDeploy\CompleteSilient_LicenseServerIP\AdminImage\deploy.exe
                 Parameters "Complete Standard Silient with License Server IP Address"

Add your rules for distribution and add NAL to remove old version if you have older versions.

Use the the following in App Object to remove.

Path to file msiexec.exe
                  parameters /x \\servername\sys\apps\WINAPPS\Acad2000i\IMAGE\acad.msi /qb!

Byron Johnson

A company I service has 25 users of AutoCAD 2000 but they did not purchase the network version. Thus I was unable to perform an automated install and was forced to snapshot an install. There are some issues with some of the configurations that I saved into the AutoCAD snapshot. However they were easily corrected by pushing registry keys that fixed Windows-Profile-related problems.

Jerome Koch

You could just create a network deployment as Perry Jordan outlines. AutoCAD has a nifty license checkout feature that allows a user to checkout a license while they are away from the office. We have users here that will check out a license for 15-30 days. This allows us to maintain only one deployment package.

Daniel Verbarg

I have not distributed AutoCAD, but have distributed ADT 2005 (Architectural Desktop). It should be similar though; ADT is AutoCAD underneath. There are a number of issues in distributing ADT 2005 when your users are not admins of their stations, but at least with the 2005 version you don't have to be an admin (from what I understand) to run the program like in ADT 2004 (which I did not use). The deployment wizard that comes with ADT 2005 is great in creating the "package" that you will put on the server to distribute, whether it be standalone or network. It's been a while since I did the deployment wizard, but I believe when you set it up for standalone, it distributes the application to the machine and then you have to "register" it at the machine. I would recommend the network deployment as you can "checkout" licenses. Now the details...

After typing all of the information below, I remembered that it is almost impossible to install ADT 2005 on a machine as a user, even if you use Unsecure System User, without modifying the MSI. The MSI actually checks to see what the user is. Even if you set the app to run as Unsecure System User, the user is still in the User or Power User group and it will not install. I opened up the MSI in ORCA and did some looking around to see what was causing the problem. There are a number of places where it checks for the "admin" status of the user. If you remove these from the MSI, you can successfully install ADT as Unsecure System User with your users still being Users or Power Users. I know of one person in the ADT/AutoCAD forums who did it, but I did not have time, so I just changed my users to admin for a couple weeks and when the installs were done, I changed them back. I have 50+ seats of ADT so I was not about to visit each machine and did not have the time to troubleshoot the MSI.

The deployment wizard creates a package of files and in this directory it creates a shortcut (name of your package) to an executable called deploy.exe with a variable at the end of an MST file. You can create as many of these "packages" as you like. These files are small and point to the software image on the server. The MST file is named from the deployment wizard, same name as what you called that "package."

You cannot create a ZENworks app from the shortcut, deploy.exe or from just one MSI with the mst applied if your users are not admins. You have to create multiple applications and chain them. In the directory where there is the deploy.exe there is also a deploy.ini. This shows the order as to what applications are actually being installed. Prior to installing ADT, you have to have 2 applications already installed or it will try to install them, which may cause problems. You need IE (I think version 6) and you have to have Microsoft .NET 1.1 installed. If you don't have these applications installed you could chain these in also. The way I have the applications chained are Microsoft .NET 1.1 install, then ADT 2005 MSI install, then Express Tools MSI install.

To setup the Microsoft .NET install, I ran the "install" program and then found the MSI file that it uses to install and copied all of those files. The file is netfx.msi, plus a few other files. There does not seem to be an easy no silent install other than this for .NET.

To setup ADT, I setup a ZENworks app using the MSI install with the transform that was created. Since there is a patch out now, you could add that to the install also under the MSI tab. The patch is a .msp.

To setup the Express tools, I setup a ZENworks app using the MSI install; there is no transform for this app.

There is a little tweaking after all this, but it is more personal customization than anything.

That should be it. :) Hope this helps someone.

Jim Koerner

We have distributed AutoCAD via ZENworks for a number of versions. We too create a network deployment with the AutoCAD Deployment Wizard. This is then distributed as an MSI application to the users. Has worked problem-free up to 2005. Should be doing 2006 shortly; hope it goes as smoothly as the others.

I have a application object chained to the AutoCAD application that distributes our custom profile to the users. When we get a new version of AutoCAD I set up a profile integrating our VB/VBA programs, menus, custom linetypes, etc. Anything custom is stored on the server and the custom profile application object insures users are using the right resources. You can export your baseline profile from AutoCAD and import directly into your application object as it is a registry file. You will need to do some tweaking of paths and delete stuff that doesn't matter to the customization.

A cool little tidbit I put in our profile is to redirect the user's automatic save to a 'AutoCAD save' directory in their home directory on our NetWare server. This comes in handy when a user works on a drawing for a while (not saving as they go) and hits the wrong button when closing, dumping the changes. AutoCAD cleans up the auto save files once a drawing is closed so those are now gone. The user can now go to the 'AutoCAD save' directory and do a 'Salvage File' to get the last auto save file back. Has helped a few users over the years.

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