the ongoing struggle: man vs machine
Deploy Civica Authority Desktop Client using Group Policy
In this post I will explain the steps I take to deploy the Civica Authority Desktop Client software to my mixed 32bit and 64bit environment. The below process will detail how to deploy an upgrade to a client that has previously been deployed, however the same process can be used for a new deployment of the client with the only change being in the group policy upgrade tab in Step 4.
As the Authority Desktop Client is frequently updated as part of the Authority patching process, it is important to distribute the new client to all your Windows PCs. Doing this manually is generally too much of a burden, and group policy can be used to reduce this burden.
It should be noted that if the Authority Client is going to be deployed through Group Policy, it should not be included in any system images that you are using to distribute your SOE, as this can cause problems when trying to upgrade to new versions.
My goals are:
- Deploy the Authority Desktop Client version 184.108.40.206 using a single GPO. Since I have previously deployed prior versions of the client to my PCs I will use my existing GPO titled “AuthorityClientDeploy”.
- Prior versions of the client will be removed before the new version is installed.
Step 1 – Obtain the Appropriate Files
After you have installed a new patch (or anytime after issuing the update_auth6_repo command at the authority command prompt), you will have the latest client files on your Authority Server. As we are on Authority v6.4 the path to the required files is D:\civica\download\6.4\AuthorityMSIClient_6.4.zip
Contained within this zip file are 5 files.
- authmsi Test Plan.pdf – This is a testing plan recommended by Civica prior to certifying the new client for use in your environment.
- authority.ini – This is the default configuration for the client installer. You should have been supplied with a customised version of this file for your specific site from Civica when you first installed Authority. This file should be compared with your customised version, so that any new features can be incorporated into your customised version.
- authority_64_installation_notes_windows_client.pdf – Well worth reading.
- Authority-220.127.116.11.msi – The file we will deploy
- CrystalReports.msi – The crystal reports runtime for Authority, which is not updated as frequently as the Authority Desktop Client. I use a separate GPO to deploy this.
Step 2 – Copy Files to Deployment Share
Copy both the Authority-18.104.22.168.msi and your sites customised authority.ini files to a deployment share that client computers have read access to.
Step 3 – Generate the Transform (MST) file to Customise the Install
- Open up the Authority-22.214.171.124.msi file in Orca
- Click Transform>New Transform
- Scroll down the left hand tables window and click the “Property” Table.
- In the right hand window, edit the values for the properties you wish to change.
For my environment, we are using the Quick Address Pro validation so the following 6 values relating to QAS have been set.
- REG_QAS_SERVER: yourqasserver.domain.local
- REG_QAS_PORT: 2120
- QAS_SERVER: yourqasserver.domain.local
- QAS_PORT: 2120
- QAS_VERSION: 6.12
- QAS_BY_INI: N (This setting allows the QAS settings to be set in an ini file rather than in the mst file we are creating. We set this to N as we have defined the settings within the mst file).
If you are not using QAS, you can leave these values at defaults.
5. We also need to set an INSTALLLEVEL value. This controls which components of the Authority MSI are installed. This property will not be available, and we will need to create it.
6. Right-click in the Property Detail Pane, and select “Add Row”
7. Create the new property with a Property name of INSTALLLEVEL and set a value. Available choices are 1, 3 and 999. I have set this value to 3. Click OK.
Which install level you select can be determined by going to the Feature node in the left hand tree, and looking at what the components are and deciding what you need to install. This information is also available from the installation notes document on page 32.
(Note: that an alternative method of selecting what items to install, the ADDLOCAL Property is detailed on page 32 of the release notes and provides a way to individually select features to install. However as the only level 1 feature that is optional for Authority is the Genero Desktop Client, and generally this is desired, the INSTALLLEVEL property is the easier solution).
Determine which install level you need based on the components installed at each level.
Install level 1 only installs level 1 components
Install level 3 installs level 1 and 3 components – Adds QuickAddress_Runtime
Install level 999 installs all components – Adds Terminal_Server_DLL
8. When you have finished making changes, go to Transform>Generate Transform
9. Save the transform file in the same location as the MSI file on your deployment share. I include the version number in the MST filename, and I make a new mst file every time I deploy a new version of the client, even though the settings are usually identical.
10. Close Orca
Step 4 – Add the Package and Transform to Group Policy
1. Open Group Policy Management Console, right-click the existing GPO and select Edit.
2. Under Computer Configuration>Software Settings>Software installation, Right click on the blank right-hand window and select New>Package.
3. Select the Authority-126.96.36.199.msi file. I like to ensure that a UNC path to the package is used, but it is up to you.
4. Select the “Advanced” option and click OK. The package properties window will appear.
5. Change the name of the package to distinguish that it is 32bit. I used “Authority Desktop Client 188.8.131.52 x32 – Deployed”.
6. Click the Deployment Tab>Advanced and check the option “Make this 32-bit X86 application available to Win64 machines”. This is because we need this 32bit package to install on the 64bit PCs in our environment. On the same screen, I usually check “Ignore language when deploying this package”. This prevents differences between US English and Australian English from preventing the install from occurring, but this is a personal preference.
7. On the upgrades tab, clear anything that has been added to the list, then click add, and select all versions of the client previously distributed by Group Policy that you wish to upgrade. I choose the option to uninstall the previous versions, rather than attempt an upgrade.
9. Click the modifications tab and add in the MST file you generated with ORCA.
10. Click OK.
Congratulations, you are now deploying Authority Desktop Client