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Using Symantec Packager to Create a pcAnywhere 12.5 sp4 Host Only Package

Created: 01 May 2012 | 1 comment
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This is an updated How To document on how to use Symantec Packager to build a pcAnywhere 12.5 sp4 host only package.

The attached pdf contains the latest version of creating a custom pcAnywhere install including how to use the new awFileMgr.exe to harvest host and caller files from the new locked file model.

Topics covered are:

Symantec Packager

Symantec Packager is a tool to use in conjunction with pcAnywhere to build a custom install that includes all settings and customizations so that you can deploy pcAnywhere to an end user with no user intervention if you choose.

Symantec Packager Installation.

Note: If working on a system that already has an older copy of Symantec packagers please uninstall that version first. The install of the new version over the old version will uninstall the old and not install the newer version.

1. Symantec Packager is no longer included on the pcAnywhere install CD. To download the packager files run the setup.exe located on the root of the pcAnywhere installation CD.

2. Click Download Symantec Packager

3. A prompt to run or save the file will appear. Click Save

4. A prompt to pick a location will open. Select your desktop and click Save

5. Once the packager is downloaded go to your desktop and double click the Packager_ENG.exe icon

6. Click Run if a Security Warning comes up

7. You will be prompted, "You are about to install Symantec packager, Do you want to Continue?" Click Yes

8. The Symantec pcAnywhere - InstallShield Wizard will open and click Next >

9. After the packager extracts itself a Symantec Packager 1.4 - InstallSheild Wizard screen will come up click Next >

10. Enter User Name: and Organization: appropriately click Next >

11. Review and then select the "I accept the terms in the license agreement" radio button and click Next >

12. Selecting the destination default is fine click Next >

13. Click Install

14. Live update will run. Because there are no updates for packager. Click Cancel

15. Click Finish

16. The latest build of pcAnywhere will then be imported into Symantec Packager.

17. Once the import is finished the wizard will close.

Gathering Packager files.

Packager can be used to build any combination of customized installations. For this How To we will be building a host only installation that will include pcAnywhere SP4 with one Host item and one Caller item, built on a Windows 7 system. Please modify the name and location to reflect the name and location of the files in your environment.

Packager can include preconfigured Host, Remote, Caller, Option sets, Security Identifiers, and Command Queues. These files can be harvested from following folders of a machine that has pcAnywhere installed and configured the way you want it to be.

For this How To we are interested in the host files (.bhf) and caller files (.cif). For full control of every aspect of a pcAnywhere installation familiarize yourself with Remote Files (.chf), Option Sets (.opt), Security Identifiers (.sid) and Command Queues (.cqf) configuration files; they can be used for other customizations.

The locations of these files vary by operating system:

  • Windows 2000:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users.WINNT\Application Data\Symantec\pcAnywhere
  • Windows XP and 2003
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Symantec\pcAnywhere
  • Windows Vista, 7 and 2008

Note: New to pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 By default, host, caller and remote configuration files are encrypted and locked to the machine they are installed to. If you wish to move one of these files to another computer or harvest them for use with Symantec packager, you must first remove the encryption using awFileMgr.exe.

For this How To you will need to have a Host and Caller already configured. If you are new to pcAnywhere you can refer to the user guide at for more info on setting up a host and caller.

The use of the AwFileMgr.exe will be used to prepare the host and caller files for inclusion in a package. For more information about the use of and troubleshooting of the AwFileMgr.exe can be found at

For this How To we are going to use a host that is named myhost.bhf and a pca caller named pca.myuser.cif. Please modify the following steps to reflect the name of your host files and caller file. If more than one host or caller file is to be used the following steps will need to be repeated for each additional caller file. The AwfileMgr.exe is located in the pcAnywhere program install directory defaults noted below.

  • C:\Program Files\Symantec\pcAnywhere
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Symantec\pcAnywhere
  1. Open an administrative command prompt
  2. Navigate to the appropriate location
    • C:\Program Files\Symantec\pcAnywhere
    • C:\ProgramFiles (x86)\Symantec\pcAnywhere
  3. Run the following command modify as needed
  4. awFileMgr.exe /DecryptBeHost "C:\ProgramData\Symantec\pcAnywhere\Hosts" "myhost.bhf" "C:\TempHost"
  5. Run the following command modify as needed and repeat as often as needed for each caller.
  6. awFileMgr.exe /DecryptCaller "C:\ProgramData\Symantec\pcAnywhere\Hosts" "pca.myuser.cif" "C:\TempHost"

Creating a custom product

Packager has three phases to be able to build a custom install. The first is automatically taken care of when you install it. That is the importing of the product files (.pmi). The second is to customize a product.

1. From your desktop double-click the Symantec Packager icon.

2. Select the Configure Products tab

3. Select File > New Product Configuration

4. Select the version of the product that you will be configuring and click OK. (You will only have one choice by default. However, if you imported multiple versions of pcAnywhere packager files then you may have more than one version to choose from.)

5. The product editor page opens.

6. Uncheck the Remote option, as we will be making a host only package. Expand Documentation and uncheck the PDF Manuals (they are not needed and not the current version)

7. Select the Configuration Files tab.

8. Highlight and remove all of the files that were default in this product. See screen shot to follow.

9. Highlight the Host Files (*.BHF) line and click Add

10. Browse to the folder noted in the "Gathering Packager Files" section C:\TempHost\Export and select the appropriate .BHF file. click Open.

11. Highlight the Caller Files (*.CIF) line and click Add

12. Browse to the folder noted in Gathering Packager Files section C:\TempHost\Export and select the appropriate .CIF file and click Open.

13. Click the Installation Options tab.

14. Select the Host object to launch after install. Click Modify.

15. From the Value drop down menu select your host .BHF. Click OK.

16. Select the Host object to start with Windows. Click Modify.

17. From the Value drop down menu select your host .BHF. Click OK.

18. Click OK again

19. At the Save As dialogue name this file My_Host_Only_Product.pcg and select Save.

Note: The default location for packager files is
xp, 2000 and 2003 C:\Documents and Settings\%user profile%\My Documents\Packager
Vista and Win 7 c:\users\%user profile%\ My Documents\Packager

Creating a Custom Package

The second step to building a custom install is to configure a package that includes your custom product. Once the package is created it can be selected and built into a deployable installation file. In this example we will make the package installer passive. That means we can see the status, but can't make any selections.

1. Select the Configure Packages tab.

2. Select File > New Package Definition.

3. Click Add.

4. Locate c:\users\%user profile%\ My Documents\Packager and select the My_Host_Only_Product.pcg. Click Open.

5. Select the Installation Options tab.

6. Select the Default Installation Mode and click Modify.

7. Select the Passive radio button and click OK

8. Select Perform reboot and click Modify

9. Choose the appropriate reboot options for your package. Note that some pcAnywhere features will not be available until after rebooting the host machine.

10. On the Package Editor screen select OK.

11. In the Save As dialogue name this file My_Host_Only_Package.pkg and select Save.

12. Right click the My_Host_Only_Package and select Build.

13. Once the package is done building click the Close button after it appears.

Note: There is a known defect with Packager when a package is built. The windows that show the status do not have a large enough buffer to hold all the lines of information that pcAnywhere 12.5 has. You won't fully know if the package was a success or a failure until it is deployed. In all of my testing the packages that I have built which had failures, failed soon enough that the failure was displayed in the status window. Additionally, you can only determine that the package is done being built by when the cancel button changes to a close button.

For more information see TECH110406

Package Deployment

Packager will build a .exe and .msi file from the package that you created.

  • Windows XP C:\Documents and Settings\%user profile%\My Documents\Packager \Deployment
  • Windows Vista and 7 C:\Users\%user profile%\My Documents\Packager \Deployment
  • My_Host_Only_Package.exe

Testing by support has been done with a passive install using the .exe file over the top of pcAnywhere 12.5 sp1, sp2, sp3, sp3 with security hot fix 1, sp3 with security hot fix 2, sp3 with security hot fix 3, sp3 with security hot fix 4 with success. In the past packager has had, in some situations, displayed unexpected behavior when the silent install or the MSI install had been used. We recommend that you test before mass deployment. If in your testing you encounter any difficulties please retest with the passive .exe installer and then report the results that were experienced to Symantec support.

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FreeM's picture

Followed your steps, nicely written. But It didn't work for me as I expected it in the first try...

Test system XP:

First I uninstalled old 11.0 PcA with msiexec /x ...Then reboot,

Next, installed custom build msi (with Packager) package from 12.5 SP4 , only difference to your example that I did select "Preserve configuration" -> no

Installed by msiexec /i ... /qn through "psexec"

All looked good but two things happened:

1st the CIF File was suddenly 'empty' when going to properties (no admin user, no password??), but seemed to be ok when loading.

2nd after successful windows user login on the host system, PcA was not able to show a remote desktop, all other functions worked perfectly( file transfer, remote management, etc.)

Uninstalled and tried again, this time installing .exe package with admin user.( "psexec" seems to need admin credentials to install). But this time the remote desktop worked as expected.

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