Simplifying Setup & Deployment to Multiple Workstations

Deploying Little Green Button to the computers in your organisation need not necessarily require a physical visit to each workstation. Systems administrators use technologies such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Group Policy Objects (GPO), Windows Sysinternals or an equivalent to remotely distribute software to large groups of computers around their business enterprise. If you plan to remotely distribute Little Green Button using such a technology then you may find the following tips useful.

Choice of Installation Media

The setup and deployment media for Little Green Button is available from the downloads page either as a .exe or as a .msi file. The .exe file performs the same installation functions as the .msi but first checks that two dependencies are installed, namely

  • Microsoft .Net Framework (V2, V3 or V3.5),
  • Windows Installer v3.1

If either of these dependencies are missing the user is prompted to download and install them before proceeding.

For remote deployment it is recommended that you ensure that these dependencies are already installed on the target workstations by some means. Once this has been accomplished, deploy Little Green Button using the .msi file.

Windows Installer Command Line Parameters

In common with all Windows Installer files, installation of Little Green Button on a target computer using the .msi file can be controlled by command line parameters. Refer to Windows Installer’s Command-Line Options.

Installing Licence

The first time that Little Green Button is run on the target workstation it will prompt the user for a licence activation key. However, this can be avoided by allowing the installation media to install a licence file in parallel with the software installation. To do this place a licence.dat file in the same folder as the installation media, as shown here:

explorer_licencedat

When the Windows Installer file is executed, it will detect licence.dat and copy it to the correct folder on the target workstation.

Note: this capability requires Little Green Button version 3.2.nnnnn or higher.

Example using Windows Sysinternals

PsExec is a free utility that allows an administrator to execute processes on other systems, without having to install client software on the remote computer.

  1. Download LGB installation media from the downloads page (make sure you download the .msi file).
  2. Save the .msi file to a location on your network that is accessible to all computers.
  3. Obtain PsExec by downloading Windows Sysinternals Process Utilities.
  4. Unpack the PSTools.zip file to a folder on your computer.
  5. At a cmd prompt customise this command to your needs:
    c:\PSTools\psexec \\REMOTENAME -u "DOMAIN\Username" -p "PASSWORD" cmd /c "msiexec.exe /i "\\SERVERNAME\lgbsetup-3.2.14128.msi" /quiet /forcerestart"
    Take care to include all the apostrophes and modify

    1. c:\PSTools\psexec to the drive and folder where you unpacked PSTools.zip,
    2. \\REMOTENAME to the name of the target computer where LGB is to be installed,
    3. DOMAIN\Username to the domain name and username of an account on the target computer (must be an administrator account),
    4. PASSWORD to the selected account’s password,
    5. \\SERVERNAME\lgbsetup-3.2.14128.msi to the location on the network where the installation media can be found.
  6. When you run the customised command your screen will appear like this.  Note: the “error” code 1641 is expected.  Code 1641 indicates that installation was successful and a reboot is now required.psexecexample
  7. On the remote computer it will appear that not much is happening. However, in the background, Windows Installer will be preparing Little Green Button for use.  Be patient, this may take a few minutes, depending on the speed of the remote computer.  The final phase of installation requires the remote computer to be restarted. This happens automatically.
  8. After the remote computer has been restarted Little Green Button is ready for use.

Tip: The instructions above demonstrate how to install on a single remote computer.  However, PsExec accepts a @file parameter which directs it to run the specified process on each computer name listed in a text file.  Use this feature to install Little Green Button on multiple workstations.

Tip: This method has been proven when installing LGB on remote computers running Windows XP.  Getting PSExec to remotely connect to Windows 7 is certainly possible but extra consideration must be given to finding the correct user account on both the local and remote computers.  Unfortunately, that’s beyond the scope of this article but there is plenty of help at the sysinternals forum

Troubleshooting Installation Problems

Windows Installer can generate a log file which can assist when diagnosing problems with the installation. By default, no log is created. To instruct Windows Installer to log the installation, include the /lv* [logfilename] parameters on the command line, e.g.

msiexec /i lgbsetup-3.2.14128.msi /lv* “c:\setuplog.txt”

Additionally, during installation, Little Green Button logs the progress of custom actions to a text file named lgb3CustomActions.txt in the user’s temp folder, as shown below:

explorer_temp