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Configuring Your Deployment Solution, Part 4

Created: 23 Apr 2009 • Updated: 23 Apr 2009 | 1 comment
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jamesmax's picture
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In this article, I will describe some additional setup options for your Deployment Solution. First, I will explain how to change the default eXpress drive letter to another letter to avoid imaging problems with newer computers. Then, I will describe how to force new client agents to take default settings. Then, I will explain how to install the Altiris Deployment Solution Agent on the client machines.

Changing the Default Imaging Drive Letter (eXpress share) (instead of F)

Some of the newer computers have more than the normal one hard drive and CD drive. Many of the newest computers have multiple partitions (Windows, Restore, Diagnostics, etc.) on the main hard drive, a DVD drive, and SD card reader. These drives and partitions use many of the drive letters including the letter F, which is the default eXpress share for Altiris Deployment Solution.

You must change the default eXpress share drive in at least two or three different locations.

The main one is in the Altiris Deployment Solution's configuration. Click "Start" > "All Programs" > "Altiris" > "Deployment Solution" > "Configuration"

A new window will open and click the "Options" button. Then, click on the "Drive Mappings" tab. Find the F: or eXpress drive and change it to another letter that you don't usually use in your offices (try K) > click "OK" , "OK", and "OK".

If you use Boot disks, at the end of the configuration, make sure you change the eXpress share to be the same letter that you picked above. You will need to modify this and create new boot disks if they don't load the newest boot disk from the server.

Another one of the places you may need to change this is in the automation agent settings (Tools > Options > Agent Settings). Each Automation agent's settings can be set by right-clicking on the computer and selecting "Change Agent Settings" > Automation Agent. You can change them all at once by right-clicking on them.

Requiring/Forcing New Agents to Take Default Settings

Requiring each new client agent to take default settings will allow you to make each new client that connects to your deployment server apply specific settings. The settings it refers to are the Production Agent Settings some of which include, the Server Connection, the Security password, hiding the client tray, allowing access, allowing remote control, forcing shutdowns, and other settings. The settings for Automation (Imaging) can also be applied.

To force each new agent to configure the production and automation agents settings in a specific way, do the following:

Click "Start" > "All Programs" > "Altiris" > "Deployment Solution" > "Console". Once the console is open, click on the "Tools" menu > select "Options" > click "Agent Settings" tab.

Production Agent

Select "Force new agents to take these default settings" > Click "Change Default Settings" > Modify each tab according to your needs. In most situations, I would select the "Access" tab and make sure the "Copy file and Run command" is not selected. I want to be able to copy files and make changes without the user knowing about it because otherwise they all freak out when they see something happening to their computer. On the security tab, make sure that you have a password set so that the user cannot mess up your Altiris client. You may also want to hid the client tray icon.

Automation Agent

On the Automation Agent, you can set the user and password settings. You can also set map the network drives from which you will be imaging. Because I use a USB Boot disk, I don't need to change these settings.

Select "Force new automation agents to take these settings" > Click "Change Default Settings" > Modify each tab according to your needs.

Add a User and Password for Domain Changes Via Altiris

Click "Start" > "All Programs" > "Altiris" > "Deployment Solution" > "Console". Once the console is open, click on the "Tools" menu > select "Options" > click "Domain Accounts" tab > click "Add" > type in the username and password (confirm the password too) > click "OK" > click "OK"

Disable Aclient User Access

Stop users from disabling the Altiris client. If they have administrative rights on the computer, they can kill the process at anytime. However, if they do not know about that or don't have rights, they can still disable the client by right-clicking on the client tray and selecting user properties. You can also hide the tray icon, which will stop them from being able to right-click on it and turn it off. Even if it is hidden though, they can still access it from the command line. You can stop them from accessing the user properties by requiring a password, which can be done modifying a registry setting on each client computer. You should be able to find a download for this in the download section, but this is the registry setting that needs to be applied to each computer: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Altiris\Client Service\RequirePasswordForUserProp

The REG_DWORD needs to be set to 1.

Installing the Client Agent for Altiris Deployment Solution

To install the client agent to computers you wish to manage, you have a few different ways to implement it. You can use the remote agent installer, copy the necessary files to the computer and install them, remotely connect to the Altiris server file share install it, and there are other ways to install the client agent for Deployment Solution that I will not cover (you could use a logon script, etc.)

The first thing you should do to prepare to install the aclient is to use the remote agent installer, during which you may export the configuration that you modified for the other options of installation.

Dagent vs. Aclient

Basically, use the Aclient unless you are using Vista. This may change in the future, but for now Aclient has more features.

Modifying the Agent Configuration for Installation

To install the client with default settings you need to edit an inp file, which by default is called aclient.inp. You can modify the agent client configuration in a couple of different ways. One way to configure the client is by finding the original aclient.inp and editing it in a text editor. You can find the original configuration file at C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\aclient.inp. Edit the file's variables to the settings you prefer. You can also generate and export an inp configuration file by using the remote agent installer, which I will describe below.

Remote Agent Installer

The remote agent installer allows you to remotely install the client to computers on which you have an administrator account and password. Windows file and printer sharing needs to be enabled in the firewall. You also need to make sure that simple file sharing is disabled (open "My computer" > click the "Tools" menu > select "Folder Options" > click the "View" tab and scroll to the bottom > make sure "simple file sharing" is NOT selected > click "OK." For Windows Vista, you also need to disable UAC for this to work properly.

(Configuring the agent client settings and inp file)

Open the Deployment Solution, and click on "Tools" > "Remote Agent Installer" or just click on the icon at the top of the console. Once the remote agent installer begins, it will ask if you would like to use the same username and password for each computer or you can choose to use a different username and password for computer (it will prompt you later). Select the username option you prefer, and click "Next." Change the installation directory if you prefer (I recommend leaving it as the default so that you don't end up with multiple installations of the client in two locations - it can cause problems). Then, click the "Change Settings" button. Now configure the client how you want it for each computer you are going remotely install it on or manually install it on. Click "OK" and then click "Next." Add the client to a group (folder in DS to organize computers) if you would like and click "Next." Click "Add" to add the computers to which you would like to install the agent. To export the inp configuration file, you need to add at least one computer.

You can add computers by typing the IP address or you can search for them on the network.

Click "Export" and two files will be created in the chosen directory. A clients.rci file will be created that you can delete, but you will want to save the inp file and rename it to use it while installing the agent via the executable file.

Click "Finish" and the remote agent installer will attempt to install the client to all of the computers you added during the wizard.

Installing the Agent Client with the Executable

To install the client from an executable file, on the Altiris Deployment Server find the folder C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\Agents\AClient\. In this folder, you will see a lot of different executable files (.exe extension). The aclient would be something like "altiris-aclient-6.9.164.X86.exe" with three different versions (IA64, X64, and X86). The X86 is for all 32-bit Windows XP machines. For Vista 32-bit, use the file called "altiris-dagent-6.9.164.X86.exe". Copy the appropriate executable file to the machine and run it. If you just run the executable without the inp file, you will need to choose the settings for the agent.

If you created an inp file as described above, you can run the file with the appropriate switches. For example, on the computer that I want to install the client, I would connect to the altiris server share (ex: \\altirisserver\eXpress\Agents\AClient\) and copy the altiris-aclient-6.9.164.X86.exe file and the aclient.inp file that I had already configured to the same folder on the client machine. Then, I would execute this command "altiris-aclient-6.9.164.X86.exe aclient.inp -silent -install -scriptedinstall". You could use this same command to silently install it with a logon script.

If you would like to install the file without needing to use the command line or another method to run the switches, you could make a txt file with these contents "altiris-aclient-6.9.164.X86.exe aclient.inp -silent -install -scriptedinstall" and then rename the txt file to a .bat file. Double-click the .bat file (make sure it is in the same location as the .exe and the .inp file) and you installed it with the appropriate configuration and command line switches.

Ideally, I would have the exe, inp, and bat file all in the same folder on the eXpress share and then copy them to the client machine and run the bat file.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you are well on your way to remotely managing many computers in a very efficient way. Now that your DS default imaging drive is not F, you are prepared to image the newest computers without having problems. You can also now install the agent remotely or from the client computer. Have fun.

Also, see Part 3 of the Deployment Solution Installation.

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Ian_C.'s picture

Seems like the AClient does not work on Windows Server 2008 R2.

We use v6.9 SP4 and DAgent seems to be fine on Windows 7 and Windows 2008+

Please mark the post that best solves your problem as the answer to this thread.
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