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How do I distribute software through a GPO.

Issue

 I want to distribute PDF-XChange across a network using a Group Policy.

Resolution

Introduction

Distributing Software via a Group Policy requires some planning and deploying PDF-XChange is no different. The following is an overview of the steps required to deploy an MSI installer, for PDF-XChange Pro, via Group Policy. 

MSI installers, both x86 and x64, are available for the following Tracker Software Products:

  • PDF-XChange Viewer
  • PDF-XChange Editor
  • PDF-XChange Standard
  • PDF-XChange Pro

Overview

  1. Chose a Method of deployment
  2. Create a distribution point
  3. Create a Group Policy Object
  4. Distribute the Software
  5. Additional Tasks

Choose a Method of Deployment.

There are two main ways you can distribute software using a Group Policy, by assigning it or publishing it:

·         Assigning Software
You can assign a program distribution to users or computers. If you assign the program to a user, it is installed when the user logs on to the computer. When the user first runs the program, the installation is completed. If you assign the program to a computer, it is installed when the computer starts, and is available to all users who log on to the computer. When a user first runs the program, the installation is completed.

·         Publishing Software
You can publish a program distribution to users. When the user logs on to the computer, the published program is displayed in the Add or Remove Programs dialog box, and it can be installed from there.

Create a Distribution Point

To distribute the software through a GPO it must be made available on a Windows Server called a ‘Publishing Server’ in this context.  This is called a ‘distribution point’.

1.     Log on to the server as an administrator.

2.     Create a shared network folder where you will put the Microsoft Installer package (.msi file) that you want to distribute.

3.     Set permissions on the share to allow access to the distribution package.

4.     Copy or install the package to the distribution point. For example, to distribute PDF-XChange Editor, copy the files PDFFVE5.x86.msi and/or PDFXVE5.x64.msi to the distribution point.  Note that these installers are architecture discrete.  You will need to manage your target systems accordingly.  Depending on your Domain infrastructure this could be a simple as having an OU (Organizational Unit) for each class of target machine.

 Create a Group Policy Object

To create a Group Policy Object (GPO) to distribute the software package, follow these steps: 

1.     Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

2.     In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.

3.     Click the Group Policy tab, and then click New.

4.     Type a name for this new policy (for example, PDF-XChange distribution), and then press Enter.

5.     Click Properties, and then click the Security tab.

6.     Clear the Apply Group Policy check box for the security groups that you don't want this policy to apply to. 

7.     Select the Apply Group Policy check box for the groups that you want this policy to apply to.

8.     When you are finished, click OK.

 

 

Distribute the Software

In your planning stage, you should have decided if you will be Assigning the Software or Publishing it.  Choose the steps below, according to your preferred plan.

 

Assign a package

To assign a program to computers that are running Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Professional, or to users who are logging on to one of these workstations, follow these steps: 

1.     Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

2.     In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.

3.     Click the Group Policy tab, select the policy that you want, then click Edit.

4.     Under Computer Configuration, expand Software Settings.

5.     Right-click Software installation, point to New, and then click Package.

6.     In the Open dialog box, type the full Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path of the shared installer package that you want. For example, \\file server\share\file name.msi.

!! *Important* !! Do not use the Browse button to access the location. Make sure that you use the UNC path of the shared installer package.

7.     Click Open.

8.     Click Assigned, and then click OK. The package is listed in the right-pane of the Group Policy window.

9.     Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

10.   When the client computer starts, the managed software package is automatically installed.

 

Publish a package

To publish a package to computer users and make it available, for installation, from the Add or Remove Programs list in Control Panel, follow these steps: 

1.     Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

2.     In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.

3.     Click the Group Policy tab, click the policy that you want, and then click Edit.

4.     Under User Configuration, expand Software Settings.

5.     Right-click Software installation, point to New, and then click Package.

6.     In the Open dialog box, type the full UNC path of the shared installer package that you want. For example, \\file server\share\file name.msi. 

!! *Important* !! Do not use the Browse button to access the location. Make sure that you use the UNC path of the shared installer package.

7.     Click Open.

8.     Click Publish, and then click OK.

9.     The package is listed in the right-pane of the Group Policy window.

10.   Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

11.   Test the package. 

 

Additional Tasks

 

Redeploy a package

In some cases, you may want to redeploy a software package (for example, if you upgrade or change the package). To redeploy a package, follow these steps:  

1.     Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

2.     In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.

3.     Click the Group Policy tab, click the Group Policy Object that you used to deploy the package, and then click Edit.

4.     Expand the Software Settings container that contains the software installation item that you used to deploy the package.

5.     Click the software installation container that contains the package.

6.     In the right-pane of the Group Policy window, right-click the program, point to All Tasks, and then click Redeploy application. You will receive the following message:

"Redeploying this application will reinstall the application everywhere it is already installed. Do you want to continue?"

7.     Click Yes.

8.     Quit the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

 

Remove a package

To remove a published or assigned package, follow these steps:  

1.     Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

2.     In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.

3.     Click the Group Policy tab, click the Group Policy Object that you used to deploy the package, and then click Edit.

4.     Expand the Software Settings container that contains the software installation item that you used to deploy the package.

5.     Click the software installation container that contains the package.

6.     In the right-pane of the Group Policy window, right-click the program, point to All Tasks, and then click Remove.

7.     Do one of the following:

o    Click Immediately uninstall the software from users and computers, and then click OK.

o    Click Allow users to continue to use the software but prevent new installations, and then click OK.

8.     Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

 

Tracker Software MSI Options

Each of the Tracker Software MSI installers have a list of options and switches that can be applied when installing the software.  These include choosing features, passing serial keys and user information, the level of user interaction during the install and more.

It is always prudent to check these for the build you are installing.   To get the switches and options for your package start it in a GUI environment and on the first screen click the Help button and you can read there or print the options and know they are correct for the installer build you are using.

Note! The command line switches cannot be applied directly when Publishing or Assigning software through a GPO.  You must create and apply a transform.

Related topics:
KB#494
KB#462
KB#317

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