Cool Solutions

ZENworks Design Series :: Application Packaging (Part 1)

coolguys

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June 3, 2006 5:42 pm

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Application packaging can be challenging for any organization, to say the least. Packaging resources can, and sometimes do spend countless hours, days, or even weeks packaging applications to be delivered to their desktop environment. Well, why not leverage the work that other people have done. If you are not already aware of it, I suggest that you take a look at AppDeploy.com and browse the numerous applications in the repository, and the directions on how to successfully package them to automate their deployment.

The site contains a wealth of information with respect to packaging information, packaging related tools, other downloads, and plenty of other useful information. You can easily cross reference your existing corporate application library to that on AppDeploy.com and immediately start to benefit from the hard work others have already done. There are tonnes of applications and installation instructions (packaging and more) available to choose from, so you should be able to tackle quite a number of your corporate applications you are dealing with today. If some of your applications you manage are not listed, and you come up with a way to package and deploy it properly, take a few minutes and list it here so someone else can take advantage of your hard work. Here is a typical listing for an application everyone is aware of:

FireFox ver 1.5: here is what worked for me…

Silent Install:
Firefox Setup 1.5.exe -ms

Silent Uninstall:
C:\WINDOWS\UninstallFirefox.exe /ua “1.5 (en-US)” -ms

Worked like a charm.

There is piles more information for this application available as well… check it out!!

Of course there is plenty of information available for you to consume when it comes to packaging your applications into MSI packages, and building the transforms to tailor their install. And that brings me to my final point. If you use ZENworks Desktop Management, ZENworks Server Management, or are licensed for the full suite you are free to use InstallShield Professional – ZENworks Edition. To really trim down, and clean up your packaging I suggest you look at utilizing this and some of the other tools listed on AppDeploy.com to create your MSI packages, and transform files. And if you don’t mind, you can take use of some of the other cool tools listed that may require a little investment on your part.

I would love to hear what you are doing about packaging, and if you can share some of your tips and tricks for some of the harder ones… that would be superb.

Cheers.

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Disclaimer: This content is not supported by Novell. It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test it thoroughly before using it in a production environment.

7 Comments

  1. By:Grant

    It was a complete nightmare for me to try to package apps to install in a locked down (read: no admin rights) environment. Most programs just won’t do this by default.

    I changed strategy after this brainshare. Instead of preventing users from installing apps (which was the main impetus behind this) I’m going to use ZENworks Asset Management and it’s awesome reporting. That way we can just set up automatic reporting and send us an e-mail for banned apps.

    Politically, this is much easier to manage. And I don’t have to re-package every app.

  2. Grant – an interesting approach; I’ve not seen this used on its own without good control of application management.

    Can you share some information about the size of your environment?

    Most customers we see are really embracing a lot of our best practices around packaging to get a grip on things like software release management, change control and security management.

  3. Grant.

    Sounds interesting, but it’s still a little reactive. I’ve talked to many customers who have or are going through some sort of re-packaging effort. This is mainly due to some other major event like a hardware refresh, or OS standardization project. I’ve spent time with them, and walked through the concepts of putting in place isolated testing environments so the rigor is done up front, and the package is provisioned to all desktops. This includes packaging and provisioning in a very tightly managed (as in locked down) environment.

    That being said… I’m happy to see you using ZENworks Asset Management in the way you are proposing. This is very interesting, and something new to keep in mind.

    Cheers… and thanks for sharing.

  4. By:Grant

    My environmnent is about 1000 office (and some factory) users. We don’t have a lot of trouble with users abusing their rights (although webshots is very prolific). But the overhead incurred with repackaging (even MSI apps) to work in non-admin areas plus developing tools and techniques for the help desk was more than one man (me) could handle. Plus it was just so danged unpopular with everybody! IT especially.

    Yes, it is reactive but by doing this we can single out the problem users and if necessary lock them down. I personally hate to take all freedom away from users. And right now the cost to repackage, retrain, etc. outweighs the damage admin rights due to our environment. This could change if more spyware and viruses get through.

    plus, that hyperthreading Zen 4 bug taking out NALNTSRV.EXE really made “Unsecure System User” apps really hard to rely on.

  5. Grant. Once again… thanks for sharing.

    Quick question… has the bug you are referring to been reported up the support channel? Just curious, cuz I’m not 100% familiar with this particular bug.

  6. Just to avoid confusion: the correct name for the product is not ‘InstallShield Professional – ZENworks Edition’ but ‘(FLEXnet) AdminStudio ZENworks Edition’. InstallShield Professional is a different product, not included in the ZEN Edition. It is however integrated in the Professional and Enterprise version of AdminStudio to which you can upgrade to.

  7. By:Grant

    Mark, I assume it was although I couldn’t find a TID exactly describing it.

    Symptom: NALNTSRV.EXE would crash
    (caused a 603 error I believe on “Unsecure System User” apps)

    Workaround: Disable Hyperthreading in BIOS

    Permanent Fix: Install Zfdagent IR5 (I believe)

    Shaun Pond commented on these threads frequently.

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