|distributed.net Faq-O-Matic : the Client software : What are the special features of the Windows MSI client installer?|
|See also: What are the requirements of the Windows MSI client installer?
|The distributed.net dnetc MSI installer is designed to not only be friendly to new users, but it is also easy for network administrators to rapidly deploy to machines within their Windows domains.
When the MSI installer is run interactively it prompts for the participant's email address. It defaults to "email@example.com" if it cannot find another address from an existing dnetc.ini file. The default can be changed by editing the MSI Property called "DNETC_PARTICIPANT_ID".
Additionally, the default installation startup mode is normally to create a shortcut in the All Users' Startup folder. If you want to make the MSI installer default to installing the client as a service, you can change the MSI Property called "DNETC_STARTMODE" and changing it from "AllStartup" to "Service".
|The MSI Property values mentioned above can be permanently persisted into the MSI file itself by editing it with an MSI editor.
One common (and free) editor is the Microsoft "Orca" editor that comes with the Windows Installer SDK. Unfortunately you must install the entire Windows Installer SDK from http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/platformsdk/sdkupdate/ in order to get it. After you have installed that SDK, inside of the \Program Files\Microsoft SDK\bin\ directory there will be an ORCA.MSI file, which you can in turn install. Doing so will add an "Edit with Orca" context menu item when you right-click on any MSI file. Navigate to the "Property" table in the left-pane, and then find the Property value that you want to modify in the right-hand pane.
Other MSI installer development products (such as Wise for Windows Installer, or InstallShield for Windows Installer) include the ability to edit exiting MSI database files. For a list of some of the other utilities available (both commercial and non-commercial) visit http://www.installsite.org/
Windows Installer also includes an MSI automation interface that can be used to programatically modify MSI database files via COM programming. It is possible to write small scripts (such as in Visual Basic, VB Script, or even Perl) to use COM and modify Properties within a MSI database.
|The dnetc MSI installer can also be scripted to silently install by using the "msiexec.exe" command-line utility. For example, this will silently install using all of the defaults that are stored within the MSI database (omit the trailing "/qn" if you don't want a silent install):
msiexec /i dnetc486-win32-x86.msi /qn
You can also override Property values when you use the command-line technique if you do not want to bother with modifying or editing the MSI database:
msiexec /i dnetc486-win32-x86.msi /qn DNETC_PARTICIPANT_ID="firstname.lastname@example.org" DNETC_STARTMODE="Service"
You can also automatically uninstall the client (assuming it was installed with the same MSI database) with something like:
msiexec /x dnetc486-win32-x86.msi /qn
|If you are Domain Administrator of a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 Active Directory network, you can use Windows Group Policy software installation to transparently install the dnetc MSI on machines throughout your network. Group Policy software installation can install software remotely onto Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows 2003 computers that are members of your domain. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/prodtechnol/windowsserver2003/proddocs/entserver/ade.asp
It is highly recommended that you test deployment of the dnetc MSI to a small set of computers before widely deploying it on large networks, in order to verify that it installs cleanly and does not introduce any other problems. You can use organizational unit containers to "assign" the dnetc MSI to just a limited set of computers.
When using Group Policy software installation, the dnetc MSI should be "assigned to computers" (not "published to users" or "assigned to users"). This is because the client cannot be installed per-user. When software is assigned to a computer, it will be installed while the computer is sitting idle at the Windows login dialog screen.
You should be sure to edit the MSI Properties (mentioned above) so that the e-mail address of your choice will be used by the client. Otherwise the default address will be used by the client when it is installed.
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