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Pushing out Updates Despite Slow WAN

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Chris Nicholl

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Posted: 7 Feb 2003

I work at an agency that is distributed over a large WAN with slow links. Our goal was to be able to distribute software updates to systems that are local to each site.

Here's what we have to work with:

  • Windows Desktops with ZEN and File server access back to a central HQ site
  • Slow WAN link back to HQ
  • Local UNIX host at each site (but no NetWare local)
  • Token ring/Ethernet at each local site (so access to the UNIX is fast)

The problem was that software distributions could not come from the HQ site. They were too big to pipe over the slow WAN links. They needed to get their files from the UNIX system somehow. So...


To get the client32 out there, I created a complex batch script running out of the login script. This code was pretty cool and was necessary since stable ZEN connectivity was not online everywhere yet. It collected everything under the sun and worked great to do this same kind of process. It just was not nearly as easy and efficient. So now that ZEN is online it works tons easier.

ZENworks Applications are written to get a small FTP script file from the HQ site. This is coupled with the local Windows FTP service and launched like this:

ftp -v -i -s:\\netware-server\vol\dir\ftppack.txt

This gets the ftppack.txt file as an FTP script to go get the package from the local site's UNIX system.

ftppack.txt is like this...

open "unix-host"  
cd "/sourcedir"
lcd "/destinationdir"
get "the zip file you want to extract"
  • "unix-host" = local UNIX servers defined in DNS with each site being set for their local server, and the local systems having their local domain set to the proper site.
  • "ftpuser" = local UNIX user across all servers
  • "password" = password
  • "sourcedir" = a UNIX directory that is replicated at night on the all Solaris systems via a program called Rsync.
  • "destinationdir" = where you want the file to sit for it to extract
  • "the zip file you want to extract" = a self extracting file that opens itself into a proper distribution directory.

The application launches the ftp script and gets the file from UNIX.

A staged second application is set to launch the extracted package "as you want it".

Voila! Since the packages are synched at night to the UNIX hosts, we can "get" packages to the local workstations any time we need to without disrupting traffic back to HQ during the day! They just grab them from the local UNIX host!

If you have any questions you may contact Chris at

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