29.1 Understanding Software Packages

A complex application such as Novell GroupWise or Microsoft Office requires many files to be installed and many configuration changes to be made to the workstation. To ensure that complex application are distributed and installed correctly, ZENworks Desktop Management supports the use of software packages.

Software packages contain the files, configuration settings, and instructions required to install the application. The following sections describe the two types of software packages that ZENworks Desktop Management supports:

In addition to the information provided in the sections listed above, the article, Consistently Consistentcontains excellent information about software packages and the ZENworks utilities provided to create them:

29.1.1 Microsoft Windows Installer Packages

The Microsoft Windows Installer is an installation and configuration service that ships as part of the Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems, and is provided in a service pack to Windows 98.

The software packages used by Windows Installer are called Windows Installer packages or MSI packages (because of their .msi file extension). Windows Installer packages are the common and accepted standard for Windows applications. Because of the benefits associated with using the native Windows Installer, Novell recommends that you use Windows Installer packages whenever possible.

Vendor-Supplied MSI Packages

Many software vendors provide Windows Installer packages that include the files and configuration settings required by the Windows Installer to install the application to a workstation. In this case, unless you want to customize the package, the package is ready to distribute.

Customized MSI Packages

Different groups within an organization often use the same application, but that doesn’t mean they require the same feature set. One of the benefits of Windows Installer is that if you have 10 groups needing 10 different feature sets or other alterations for the same application, you can deploy the same MSI package to all 10 user groups, but with a different transform file (MST) applied for each group.

A transform file is a collection of changes applied to an MSI installation. It contains all modification information, such as whether features are installed; how they are installed; which files, shortcuts, and registry entries are included; and Add/Remove Programs applet information.

If you have vendor-supplied MSI packages, you can use AdminStudio ZENworks Edition to create and manage transforms. For information about using AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, see Section 46.0, Reference: AdminStudio ZENworks Edition.

Non-Windows Installer Installations

Not all Windows applications are designed to be installed by Windows Installer. Many applications use other software installers such as MacroVision InstallShield.

AdminStudio ZENworks Edition includes a Repackaging Wizard that lets you create MSI packages for non-Windows Installer applications. For information about using AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, see Section 46.0, Reference: AdminStudio ZENworks Edition.

29.1.2 ZENworks snAppShot Packages

Windows Installer packages are the recommended package format for distributing applications. If you cannot create a Windows Installer package for an application, you can use the ZENworks snAppShot utility to create a software package.

ZENworks snAppShot was created prior to the existence of Windows Installer. It lets you create a proprietary software package called a snAppShot package or AOT package/AXT package. AOT stands for Application Object Template and AXT stands for Application Object Text Template. Both packages contain the same information. However, an AOT package is an uneditable binary format, while an AXT package is an editable text-based format.

For information about using snAppShot, see Section 47.0, Reference: ZENworks SnAppShot.