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"Reinstalling" Apps in an OS Deployment

Friday, December 9, 2011 in System Center (Views: 2241)
One of the biggest questions I am asked routinely in an OS Deployment is "How do I reinstall my applications?" Well, the basic OS image only comes with the base OS and apps common to all, traditionally. Using Config Manager, there is another way that apps can be "reinstalled". Remember that Config Manager doesn't support an "Upgrade". The only way to upgrade the OS is to insert the Windows DVD with the older version of Windows (Vista) loaded.

This may be overlooked, but a common best practice for user state is to reinstall all applications first and then lay down user state. One reason for this is that a new install of an app can remove app specific settings that a user may have customized and captured in the state.

This procedure will help remedy some of these below questions and more:
- Joe said he had Project on his computer. Do you know if it was 2007 or 2010, Pro or Standard? Did Joe even have Project?
- Sally needs Acrobat Pro installed on her new computer. Did she have it before?

You will need the following things:
Software Inventory: Without this, we would not have a record (in Config Manager) of what systems have what software.
Packages: We will need to have packages created for any application you wish to reinstall (or upgrade).
Collections: We will need to create collections based on what system has what software. For example: Computers with Project Pro 2010 or Computers with Adobe Acrobat Professional. Set the criteria to find the appropriate product for the sake of collection membership.
Task Sequence: Because no OS Deployment is complete without one.

The concept to this is quite simple:
- To each collection, assign a collection specific variable. For example, in your "Computers with
Project Pro 2010" collection, create a variable called "ProjPro2010_Install" and set it to Yes. By
using collection specific variables, these will be assigned as the Task Sequence begins to run, and will follow through the deployment, even after the disk is formatted and the new OS is laid down.
- In the Task Sequence, create another group (you don't have to, but it's much easier to look at) called "Reinstall Software".
- In the "Reinstall Software" group, add the packages that you wish to reinstall on one computer or another. Set the Task Sequence Step to acknowledge the appropriate collection specific variable.

This way, all computers running the Task Sequence don't have unnecessary apps installed, only the ones that were originally installed.

Some notes:
- This will add time to the actual OS Deployment, but ultimately will save time over having to visit
the user, install the software (or if you trust them, have them do it), or even listen to constant
calls and/or e-mails about "When is this app being installed?"
- For offline media, every package added will make the size of the media grow as all packages need to be on the offline media (USB or DVD). So, you may need to invest in some bigger disks. This does not apply to using PXE Boot, Bootable Media, or Prestaged Media as everything is stored online and optionally downloaded or run from a DP as configured.
- If you have issues with licensing and want to create a "clean slate", this method will simply
reinstall applications. You will need to do an audit after the fact, or clean it up beforehand.

Hope this simplifies your OS Deployment.

 

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