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Package Server Lifecycle

Created: 02 Mar 2009 • Updated: 29 Jul 2010 | 3 comments
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Raman's picture
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This article will help to know the Package Server entire lifecycle from installation to removal, the basic idea was to gather all the information regarding Package Server in single article, I hope to be informative for you.

Altiris Agent Process for Downloading a Package

To troubleshoot the issue you should be aware of how a package is processed for deployment. Here you will find it out. Also the Diagram below has been taken from Altiris KB article in order to support the document.

Applicable

  • Notification Server 6.0
  • Software Delivery 6.0, 6.1

The following dataflow diagram explains the process the Altiris Agent uses to download a package.

This diagram provides a graphical representation of the Software Delivery dataflow.

Dataflow walk-through

After you have created a SWD task, the SWD flow is the same for all packages:

  1. The next time the Altiris Agent checks in based on your configured settings:
    1. The GetClientPolicies.aspx page is passed a GUID.
    2. The Notification.server.name.xml file is returned to the Altiris Agent with information that includes a task definition, execution instructions, credentials, schedule and command-line parameters.
  2. The SWD Agent [AeXSWDAgent.dll] parses the task definition.
  3. The SWD Agent requests a package location from the Notification Server.
    1. The getPackageInfo.aspx page is called with the Computer GUID, the Package GUID, and the IP Address to look up the computer's location and which package server would be assigned for delivery should a package server be so configured.
      *TotalTime - The Agent sends a time value to indicate how long it has been trying to download the package. If the time is greater than the MaxAgentDonloadTryingTimeMins, the NS returns the codebases of the PS on the same site as the NS for that request. Default is set to off. See release notes, 5.2.7 for more information on this feature.
    2. The Package.xml retrieved from the Notification Server provides the snapshot location. If package servers are defined, package servers are included as a source for the Package Snapshot.xml file.
  4. Package Delivery Agent requests the package snapshot.
    1. The getSnapshot.asp file is called with the package GUID. When package servers are defined, the agent performs a speed test [SpeedTestCodebases = 1, by default in CoreSettings.config].
    2. Snapshot.xml returns containing a Hash, list of files in the package, and their sizes and date/time stamp. Should the package be updated, the hash would change.
  5. Agent evaluates the current task and the package attributes and compares them to the default settings received in the Agent Settings policy. If the prerequisites for multicast are met [enabled, package size, download to agent (not run from server), etc], then the request is passed to the multicast engine. The multicast engine checks for package availability. If there is a current multicast session running, the package is distributed during the current session. If a multicast session is not running, and the max sessions per physical subnet will not be exceeded, a new session is started. If the session fails, the multicast is tried again and again until it reverts to a standard download.
  6. The SWD Agent requests the package from Package Delivery.
    1. The Altiris Agent downloads the package from the Notification Server or the designated Package Server depending on how your solution is configured.
    2. The SWD Agent schedules the execution of the package.
  7. The package execution is scheduled.
  8. The package runs.
  9. The SWD Agent sends the execution Status to the Notification Server.
  10. The Status is received and processed through the Event process queue.

How to Retire or Decommission a Package Server

Ever thought of uninstallating Package server, here is the document for you.

Applicable

  • Notification Server 6.0

The best method to use to remove a Package Server from the Altiris infrastructure is to delete it from the Package Server configuration on the Notification Server. This can be done from the Altiris web admin console at Configuration tab, Server Settings | Notification Server Infrastructure, and the Package Servers tool. When the Package Server is deleted from the Notification Server the following occurs:

  1. The Notification Server no longer refers to this agent machine as a Package Server
  2. The 'Package Delivery' and 'Package Server Agent' folders (and contents) are removed from what was the Package Server machine
  3. The Package Server agent is removed from what was the Package Server machine
Tip - The agent.log file is an excellent resource to use when retiring a Package Server if problems occur. Be sure to enable the appropriate logging level as needed.

Generally speaking, the AeXAgentUtil.exe file should only be used to remove the Package Server agent when it is no longer able to communicate with the Notification Server. A description of two of the most commonly used switches for the AeXAgentUtil.exe utility are:

/UninstallAgents removes all sub-agent information. Each sub-agent will have its uninstall process run. Examples of sub-agents that will be uninstalled are Application Metering, Carbon Copy, Package Server, Software Delivery Solution Agent, Task Synchronization Agent, and Altiris Recovery Agent. The Altiris Agent itself is not uninstalled nor is the Inventory Agent Package.

/Clean removes all sub-agent information as well as the Altiris Agent components from the registry and the file system, but it does not remove itself or the Altiris Agent directory. The other directories that remain are ...\Program Files\Altiris\Carbon Copy with CCW32.INI and CCW32.INI files and the ...\Program Files\Altiris\Express\Inventory folder and all files.

Package Server Agent is Not Correctly Installed on a Client System

Application

  • Notification Server 6.0

Problem/Symptoms

In the Altiris Agent logs for a system set up as a Package Server, the following message is found: "Error while downloading package. No package sources returned by server (-2147023728)."

The information from KB 27161 did not seem to apply in this case. In the IIS manager, there were no virtual directories under the main Altiris one, and this one did not point to an actual folder on the computer. This server had previously been installed with the Notification Server software, which was since removed.

In the Altiris Agent, the Package Server Agent was not showing up as an installed agent, although the software task showed as being run properly. When a run was attempted on it again, it appeared to run but the Altiris logs showed it was already installed so it didn't attempt the run again.

Environment

Server: Notification Server 6.0.6074 (SP3 + R6)
Windows 2003 Server
Client: Windows 2003 Server

Cause

The Package Server Agent software had not been installed properly the first time.

Resolution

Manually uninstalled the Package Server Agent since it wasn't showing up in the Add/Remove Program list. From the Altiris Agent install path,

C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Software Delivery\{6C821F5E-5BF4-407F-A6FF-ABB85EEE0418}\cache\aexnscpkgsvr.exe /remove

Then, reinstalled the Package Server Agent:

C:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Software Delivery\{6C821F5E-5BF4-407F-A6FF-ABB85EEE0418}\cache\aexnscpkgsvr.exe

How to Install a Package Server Onto a Different Drive Than C:

Applicable

  • Notification Server 6.0

There are different ways to accomplish this request. One example is listed below to install the Altiris Agent on the desired drive, such as D:, E:, etc. Doing so, the Package Server Installation Agent could be pushed from the Altiris Console, which will install the Package Server Agent on the same drive as the Altiris Agent. Follow the next steps to accomplish this task:

  1. Install the Altiris Agent "manually" using the following steps, or the information found in AKB 2091. Before installing the Agent, it is recommended that the server to be used as a Package Server has IIS installed (so the packages can be downloaded using http URL and/or UNC).
    1. Manually copy the Agent installer file AeXSwdInstSvc.exe (located on the Notification Server at \Program Files\Altiris\Notification Server\NSCap\Bin\Win32\x86 or through a web browser at http://NSserver/Altiris/NS/NSCap/Bin/Win32/x86) to the server to be used as a Package server. The files should be copied to the system32 directory (to do so, remember use administrator rights on the target server, copy to the proper directory: %windir%\system32).
    2. Ensure that the package server keeps a map drive with your Notification Server to the next path: \\NSserver\NSCap\Bin\Win32\x86
    3. Open a CMD window, and manually type the next command line:
        
      AeXSwdInstSvc.exe -u "http://NSserver/Altiris/NS/NSCap/Bin/Win32/x86/Ns Client Package/AeXNSC.exe" -s "NSserver" -w "http://NSserver/Altiris/" -d "E:\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent" -notrayicon -nostartmenu
      
      
      NOTE: replace NSserver with the appropriate Notification Server name the Package Server will be reporting to. In the above example, we are installing the agent on the E: drive.
    4. Review the log file that should be created on the same directory where the file resides %windir%\system32. Find files with extension .log, When problems occur, a file AexSwdInstsvc.log is created.
    5. Ensure that the Agent installation process completed successfully using the Installation Report in the Altiris Console, View the Altiris Agent Installation Status report.
      NOTE: For troubleshooting Altiris Agent installation (using a Push method), use AKB 1547.
  2. If problems exist, proceed to troubleshooting, otherwise proceed to Install the Package Server Agent from the Altiris Console: Go to Configuration | Server Settings | Notification Server Infrastructure | Package Server, and using the "+" sign, select the machine name that will be used as Package Server.
  3. Review Package Server functionality, checking available packages number increasing.
  4. Use Site Maintenance tool to review that the Package server has been assigned to the right Site or assign it manually.
  5. The Package Server by default should be defined as Unconstrained (Review Notification Server latest documentation for additional information about configuring the package server.)

Comments 3 CommentsJump to latest comment

ag97690's picture

Great article !  I have spent many days in the knowledgebase pulling out most of this information. So having this all on one page will help others work out any issues with package servers. Thanks Raman

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jloubser's picture

Excellent info, now a little twist... I have a task server located on servers named PDCVALT01...the Altiris agent is installed on the C: drive, but limited space is available. I want to make this server to serve the role of a backup package server as well, so I would need the packages to download to the E: drive. Is there a way to do this without uninstalling the default Altiris agent and reinstalling it to the E: drive? I thought that installing the AeXNSCPkgSvr.exe with appropriately specified switch may do it, but I'm not sure and I don't want to take the chance and stuff up the task server. Any comment will be appreciated and you can also mail me directly at jacques.p.loubser@gmail.com.

Many thanks
Jacques

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KSchroeder's picture

Jacques,
The only supported way I know of to do this requires uninstall/reinstall to the E: drive.  There might be a way to do it via some registry modification, but that risks breaking other functionality.  It is really not a big deal to remove the Agent and reinstall it...if you want to be sure you don't have a changed GUID, backup the MachineGuid registry value and restore it if it is changed by the reinstall (it shouldn't be, as long as you don't delete the machine from the NS too).

Also...I wouldn't suggest posting your email address on a public forum unless you like receiving SPAM. The support provided on the Connect site works through the Forum function, not via email.  You may get better results posting your question as a new Forum topic.

Thanks,
Kyle
Symantec Trusted Advisor

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