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Migrating Computers from NS6 to NS7 Using NS6 Software Delivery

Created: 05 Sep 2012 • Updated: 05 Sep 2012 | 2 comments
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Andrey Shipov's picture
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Introduction

This article is based on migration from NS6 R13 to NS7.1 SP2.
There are different ways of migrating existing computers from NSv6 to NS v7, they all require extensive testing in the particular environment, to make sure it is working as desired.
Migration of physical machines is the last stage, after all necessary Asset Management data has been migrated from V6 to V7.
This is by no means the “best method”, but it works very well in our environment and I wanted to share our experience and hopefully it will be useful and save time to someone.

Audience

Symantec Altiris Administrators

Limitations

If agent migration fails, it needs to be investigated manually. We account for less than 5% failures.

1. Symantec Official Migration method from NS Agent v6 to v7

Symantec officially support only one migration method:

  • In NS6 point agent to the NS7 URL.
  • NS Agent v6 will connect to the new URL and upgrade itself and additional agents according to the policies on NS7

To use this method do the following

  • On NS7 enable all upgrade/ install agent policies
    In NS6 navigate to: Configuration > Altiris Agent > Altiris Agent Configuration
  • On the Advanced Settings tab in your Altiris Agent Settings policy point to the NS7 URL
  • At next configuration request NS Agent v6 will receive new URL and will try to connect to the new server.

 

We tried this method in our environment and found that it will migrate the agent from v6 to v7, but soon after we experienced quite a few issues with the upgraded agents:

  • Altiris Agent folder was left with most of files form v6 untouched
  • NS Agent service did not start
  • Additional Agents did not install
  • Inventory did not run/ not reported back, as v6 eXpress folder was not deleted
  • Packages not downloaded
  • Carbon Copy folder not deleted

In two weeks trial we had about 30 out of 100 computers with issue, it was too much failures for us and we decided to look for alternative migration methods.

 

2. Our working migration method from NS Agent v6 to v7

Quick Google search told me that it is not just me who has issues with the “Symantec way”.

Oddly I have found few documents on Symantec Support and Symantec Connect, written by Symantec employees telling users to use scripts to migrate agents (each with slightly different syntax). At that point I had support case open and when I questioned why they have several articles telling users to use scripts to migrate agent I was told that there is only one supported way (point to the NS7 URL in NS6 agent configuration) and Symantec Support and Symantec Connect web sites are not monitored very closely.

 

I have decided to investigate the “script method”, as I wanted to achieve the following:

  • Remove NS Agent v6 completely
  • Delete any NS Agent v6 files left by uninstallation process
  • Not affect Deployment Server 6.x installation
  • Install “clean“ NS Agent v7
  • NS Agent v7 will connect to NS7 and install all additional agents.
  • No upgrade features are enabled

 

These are the steps we took:

  • Create script that will:
    • Cleanly uninstall NS Agent v6
    • Delete several \Altiris\ folder
    • Install NS Agent v7
  • Choose delivery mechanism
    • Main: Software Delivery Task from NS6
    • Backup: deploy using GPO in Active Directory

 

2.1 Create Installation script

All our client computers that we need to migrate running Windows, so only one file is needed AeXNSC.exe (it contains both x86 and x64 agents) and it can be found here on your Notification Server:
NSCap\bin\Win32\X86\NS Client Package
Create a folder v6tov7 and copy AeXNSC.exe here.
Create bat file v6tov7.bat with the following syntax
Altiris7agent.log can be used as a marker for active directory deployment with the bat file, or vbs script can be run to check for AeXNSAgent.exe version.

REM This is for Agent installed on C drive

@echo off

REM Checks for log file presence

if exist "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris7agent.log" exit 183

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris7agent.log" exit 183

REM remove all plug-ins and altiris agent

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\AeXNSAgent.exe" start "" /b /wait "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\aexagentutil.exe" /clean

REM delete Altiris Agent folder from C

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\." rd /S /Q "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent"

REM delete Altiris Agent folder from D

if exist "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\." rd /S /Q "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent"

REM delete Carbon Copy folder from C

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Carbon Copy\." rd /S /Q "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Carbon Copy"

REM delete Carbon Copy folder from D

if exist "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Carbon Copy\." rd /S /Q "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Carbon Copy"

REM delete Setup Files folder from C

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Setup Files\." rd /S /Q "C:\Program Files\Altiris\Setup Files"

REM delete Setup Files folder from D

if exist "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Setup Files\." rd /S /Q "D:\Program Files\Altiris\Setup Files"

REM delete Altiris eXpress Inventory folder from C

if exist "C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Inventory\." rd /S /Q "C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Inventory"

REM delete Altiris eXpress Inventory  folder from C x86

if exist "C:\Program Files (x86)\Altiris\eXpress\Inventory\." rd /S /Q "C:\Program Files (x86)\Altiris\eXpress\Inventory"

REM install latest v7 agent to C drive

start "" /b /wait .\AeXNSC.exe -s -a ns="altns01.opaltelecom.com" nsweb="http://alttiris7.yourdomain.com/altiris" path="C:\Program Files\Altiris" NOSTARTMENU NOTRAYICON /s

REM create log file

echo %date% %time% Altiris 7 Agent install finished > "C:\Program Files\Altiris%\Altiris7agent.log"

exit

Script will not delete any Deployment Server related files.
Deleting folders commands are universal for C and D installation, if you want to install agent to D drive you need to change C: to D: in
REM remove all plug-ins and altiris agent
REM install latest v7 agent to C drive
REM create log file

2.2 Create Software Delivery Package on NS6

We are using software delivery from NS6 to run the above script on computers we need to migrate from v6 to v7.
In your file repository create a folder
V6toV7
and copy files AeXNSC.exe and v6tov7.bat here.
In NS6 create software delivery package and make sure that you configured alternative location on the target computer, outside Altiris folder, so when script is run it is not affected by files and folders removal.

2.3 Create Software Delivery Task on NS6

Create new software delivery task with migration package created above.
You will have to choose target collections and configure schedule, an example is below.

After a while you will see computers connecting to the new Notification Server v7

2.4 Migrate using GPO in Active Directory

If you have some computers not talking to Notification Server 6 (Agent is installed, but corrupt; no agent installed), you can try to migrate them using Active Directory push to minimize an amount of computers you need to migrate manually.
We did not do it yet, as most of the computers have been migrated from v6 to v7 fine and small amount of “problematic” computers are being reimaged.
You can use the same script with GPO.

Whichever method you choose to you, make sure you test it on the variety on computes.

Good luck with migrations
Andrey Shipov

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Drew_Miller's picture

Great information Andrey. We just came across something strange in our migration and I was wondering if you came across the same. 

When we utilize AexNSC.exe to migrate, the Software Delivery path is c:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Software Delivery. 

However, when we push the 7.1 Agent via the 7.1 console we find the path has changed to c:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Agents\SoftwareManagement\Software Delivery, which is what Symantec tells me is the expected path.  

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Andrey Shipov's picture

Hi

If you using built in  migraton mechanism, then you just need to poin NS 6 agent to the NS 7 server and configure upgrade policies on NS 7, however it is not very clean or relaible.

If you want to use a task from NS 6 to remove 6 agent and then install 7 agent, you need to make sure that you softwre delivery task is set to use custom location outsudie of c:\Program Files\Altiris. If your package is in c:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Software Delivery installation files will be deleted mid installation and 7 agent will not be installed.

 

As for path in 7 agent
c:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Agents\SoftwareManagement\Software Delivery
it is correct as a lot change in version 7

 

Andrey

 

Andrey Shipov
IS Infrastructure Senior Engineer
Manchester, UK

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