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NT Applications Support – Status and Future Developments. Christian Trachimow, DESY. The Product. NetInstall 4.2 / 5 from InstallShield / NetSupport more than 500,000 clients in Germany cooperation with InstallShield for worldwide distribution price: $18 / client Technical highlights

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nt applications support status and future developments

NT Applications Support – Status and Future Developments

Christian Trachimow, DESY

The DESY WindowsNT Group

the product
The Product
  • NetInstall 4.2 / 5 from InstallShield / NetSupport
    • more than 500,000 clients in Germany
    • cooperation with InstallShield for worldwide distribution
    • price: $18 / client
  • Technical highlights
    • “Software on demand”: This feature provides a synchronization between user part and workstation part. If a user launches an application for the first time, NetInstall checks, which part is missing and installs it
    • “Local security management”: All commands which needs administrative privileges are executed through a service without splitting installation script

The DESY WindowsNT Group


Classification of Support

  • The Fully Controlled PC
    • positioned for task oriented user
      • Centrally installed, configured, maintained and managed
      • Full responsibility for the PCs
  • The User Configurable PC
    • positioned for sophisticated user
      • Centrally installed, locally configured and maintained
      • Partial responsibility: availability of services, applications, etc.
  • The non-maintained PC
    • if you think you need it, OK, but abide by the rules
      • no responsibility taken at all, “good NT-keeping” rules enforced

The DESY WindowsNT Group

the yellow pc
The Yellow PC
  • User can be local administrator
    • PC is managed by user or group administrator
    • User can install all programs at his owns risk
    • NetInstall is just a AddOn Service
  • Basic Setup can be installed on every PC
    • installed applications are not affected
    • setup takes 1 - 10 minutes
  • Application Service with NetInstall
    • Install and uninstall whatever you want
    • During installation the user is asked for a local path
    • When applications have to be updated the user is asked at logon if the update should be installed right now, at next logon or never

shared responsibility

The DESY WindowsNT Group

the green pc
The Green PC
  • User is not allowed to be local administrator
    • only group administrators or domain admins are in administrators group
  • Basic setup has to be installed on plain PC
    • local security restrictions to OS (parts from the ZAK)
      • User can only install applications, which don´t override existing files
      • some tools cannot be used, e.g. regedit, Service Manager, ...
  • Application Service with NetInstall
    • Some applications are preinstalled
    • Install / uninstall with interactive installer whatever you want
    • every installation restricts the file access to the files which are installed
    • Updates are done automatically at logon, but user can delegate it to next logon

group admins or central services are fully responsible

The DESY WindowsNT Group

  • The use of NetInstall Number of PCs


NetInstall PCs 1100

Green 18 % 200

Yellow 82 % 900

Total Number 1400

  • Green PC
    • Hera controls (50), administration (80), other people (70)
  • 3 NetInstall databases with 50 packages
    • Hamburg / Zeuthen / Hera Controls

The DESY WindowsNT Group

  • Yellow PC
    • precondition: trust between users and service providers
    • user has control about updates (!!!)
    • application support is an AddOn service
    • widely accepted service
  • Green PC
    • centrally supported
    • no trust to the user (but to group administrator)
    • only accepted by some groups
    • important for public PCs

The DESY WindowsNT Group

psychological aspects
Psychological Aspects
  • What PC users said (and still say)
    • “This is my PC !” / “I need full control !” / “I need this application now!” / “You have to support me !”

PC is a universal tool that has a voice on the daily work

  • The key of success and the challenge was to loose the users distrust in central services ...
    • accusation: domination / dictate
  • ... and to establish a group administrators structure
    • They are the natural speakers of their groups
    • They focus the needs of their users
    • Help us to keep users under controls / educate their users

The DESY WindowsNT Group

the role of central services
The Role of Central Services

Democratization of the Desktop

  • The user has become more powerful and more independent than before the arrival of the PC. This must actually be seen as a good thing!

Service Provider

  • Central Services have to offer the user community services that it needs and that it wants to use. The services must be “sold” to the community.

Primus inter Pares

  • Central Services will remain an important service provider, but it will not remain the only one, or, for a given user, the most important one. The focus should be on services that a computing center excells in naturally.

Cooperative Computing

  • Rules, service designs and implementations have to be defined in close cooperation with the user groups. An important role in future will be as facilitator of services between local groups and as information broker.

The DESY WindowsNT Group

building application packages
Building Application Packages
  • Easy installation of local packages
    • 1. Scan PC configuration
    • 2. Install and configure application
    • 3. Scan PC configuration again
    • 4. Test the script
  • Green PC
    • find out which files and directories need write access
  • Shared installations
    • separate read only from write data, reengineer application

Do we need shared applications and Green PCs ?

NetInstall script

amount of time

The DESY WindowsNT Group

building application packages cont
Building Application Packages (cont.)
  • Configuring application
    • Needs expertise of application
  • Maintaining applications
    • problem: how to migrate user settings between different versions
  • Problems with special applications
    • IE4: setup is dynamic, more a operating system upgrade than an application
    • Office 2000: Installation with Windows Installer provides new functionality (installation on demand, auto check, ...). This functionality is lost when using a “static” NetInstall script.

The DESY WindowsNT Group

migration to netinstall v5
Migration to NetInstall V5
  • Problems with NetInstall 4
    • synchronization between 3 sites / databases
    • replication of packages between 3 sites
    • test / production database are separated setups
    • laptop support
  • NetInstall 5 features
    • Multi-Database
    • Multi-Server support which includes
      • Load balancing / fail over
      • Replications

The DESY WindowsNT Group


NetInstall 5 Site Structure


OU - DESY Hamburg

SITE - backoffice



OU - DESYZeuthen


The DESY WindowsNT Group

netinstall 5 at desy
NetInstall 5 at DESY
  • NetInstall 5 is used by “Hera Controls”
    • Each packages had to be migrated
    • Two servers hold packages for redunancy
    • Clients are migrated automatically
  • Migration of packages and databases in Hamburg and Zeuthen will start in October
    • Add features to standard behaviour
    • Every package builder gets own database
    • Laptop support

The DESY WindowsNT Group

application support in the future based on windows installer
Application Support in the future - based on Windows Installer ?
  • Package contains information to install/uninstall an application
    • consists of .msi file and some source files / cabinet files
    • .msi consists of
      • Installation database
      • Summary information stream
      • Data stream
  • Packages organized around features and components
    • Feature:
    • Component:

The DESY WindowsNT Group

windows installer features
Windows Installer Features
  • Installation mechanism
    • Installer (service) is instructed to install a feature
    • Installer queries database to generate installation script
    • Installation can be performed by a process with elevated privileges
    • Rollback: during installation a rollback script is generated
  • Advertisement
    • Assigning
      • application appears to the user (shortcut)
    • Publishing
      • Application appears to other application (published to shell: installed by file accociation / MIME association)

The DESY WindowsNT Group

windows installer features17
Windows Installer Features
  • Installation on demand
    • User can call functionality in abscence of the files itself
  • Resiliency
    • Idea: recover gracefully from broken components
    • But: a set of API functions which has to be implemented by software  will be used only for vital components
  • Customization
    • databases can be merged or transformed
    • Will be used for patches / customization
  •  database contains a state description of the application

The DESY WindowsNT Group

example registry tables
Example: Registry tables

The DESY WindowsNT Group

installing application with w2000
Installing application with W2000
  • Applications will come with a description of the installation state (.msi database)
    • Less intallation problems / less inconsistencies
    • repackageing or reengeneering is not needed
  • Software management will be package oriented
    • Local as well as shared installations can be mixed
    • It will take time until the spirit of the Logo program reaches the programmers ( „Local security management“ / „Software on demand“)
    • During the next two years most software will come with „good“ databases
  •  Installation process itself and the consistency become less important

The DESY WindowsNT Group

Software distribution
  • Additional tool to is needed for
    • Configure / maintain versions !!!
    • Pakete erstellen, die kein .msi mitbringen
    • Anpassen
    • Patches
    • Migration / Pflege der Usereinstellungen
  • Policy based management not clear
    • Depends on the programs
  • Green PC is dead / Nice concept is dead
  • Think of functionality (define collections ...)
  • More degrees of freedom:
    • many features are availabe/ shared vs local / on demand vbs preinstalled

The DESY WindowsNT Group