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Packaging, Deploying Virtual Servers VMRC Client

Use WinINSTALL LE 2003 to create a vmrc.exe deployment package.

The Virtual Server Remote Control Client (VMRC) is great for connecting to and working with Virtual Server 2005 R2 virtual machines without the need for a Web browser. Sometimes it's desirable to automate how the client tool is deployed across a domain, and one method of doing so is by using WinINSTALL LE. In this article, I look at how to package VMRC as a MSI installation that includes a desktop shortcut.

To build an MSI package, you will want a clean Windows XP test system at your disposal. On the XP system, you'll install WinINSTALL LE and then set up how you want the vmrc.exe installation to look. WinINSTALL LE will allow you to create a Microsoft Software Installation (MSI) package based on how you configure vmrc.exe on the XP system. Note that I selected to document XP over Vista in my procedure, due to the fact that it still has the highest market share of workstation systems.

To get started, you need to set up WinINSTALL on your baseline (clean) XP system by following these steps:

  1. Download the WinINSTALL LE Web installer.
  2. Once the download completes, open Windows Explorer, navigate to the download location, and double-click on the "download-wininstallle.exe" file.
  3. Once the file download completes, the WinINSTALL LE 2003 setup wizard will open. Click Next.
  4. Read the product information and click Next.
  5. Read the additional support information and click Next.
  6. Read the full production information and click Next.
  7. Click the "I accept..." radio button and click Next.
  8. In the Registration Information dialogue box, enter your name, company, and e-mail address and click Next.
  9. In the Custom Setup dialog box, click Next.
  10. In the Installation Share Name dialog, leave the Share Name field blank and click Next.
  11. Click the Install button to start the installation.
  12. When the installation completes, click Finish.

Now that WinINSTALL LE is installed, follow these steps to create the VMRC deployment package:

  1. Click Start | All Programs | WinINSTALL LE 2003 to launch WinINSTALL.
  2. After the WinINSTALL LE 2003 Console opens, click the File menu and select Run Discover.
  3. In the Run Discover dialog box, click OK.
  4. Once the WinINSTALL LE 2003 Discover Wizard starts, click Next.
  5. In the Specific the Name for the Application field, enter VMRC. If you like, you may also edit the location where the new MSI file will be stored. When finished, click Next.
  6. When prompted that the VMRC directory does not exist, click Yes to create it.
  7. Select the location for temporary discover files (default is the C drive) and click Next.
  8. Select the drive that Discovery should monitor by clicking on the drive letter and then clicking the Add button. My procedures assume that the C drive is used. So the C drive should be listed in the Drives to Scan column. Once the drive is selected, click Next.
  9. Use the default file exclusion settings and click Next.
  10. Use the default registry exclusion settings and click Next.
  11. Click Finish so that Discover can complete the initial system inventory.
  12. When prompted that the Before snapshot is complete, click OK.
  13. When prompted to select the application to run, click Cancel.
  14. Use Windows Explorer to create an installation folder location on the XP test system. For example, you could create a folder named "C:\Program Files\VMRC."
  15. Copy the VMRC.exe file from the "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Server\VMRC Client" folder on the Microsoft Virtual Server system to the "C:\Program Files\VMRC" folder on the XP test system.
  16. Open the "C:\Program Files\VMRC" folder, right-click on the vmrc.exe file and select Create Shortcut. Now rename the "Shortcut to vmrc" shortcut file to "Open Virtual Machine" or whatever you like. When finished, copy the file to the "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop" folder.
  17. You can now close Windows Explorer on the XP test system.
  18. Return to the WinINSTALL LE 2003 Console, click File, and select Run Discover.
  19. When the Run Discover dialog box opens, click OK.
  20. Click the "Perform the After Snapshot" radio button and click Next.
  21. In the Conversion Successful dialog box, click Close.
  22. You are now prompted with the location of the new MSI package, click OK.

The MSI package is ready to deploy. Note that your deployment package consists of the entire VMRC folder, which is located in the "C:\Program Files\OnDemand\WinINSTALL\Packages" folder, by default.

The package can now be deployed by copying the folder to any system, opening it, and double-clicking on the VMRC.msi file. The new MSI should install the vmrc.exe file and create the desktop shortcut. Furthermore, you could deploy the new MSI using an Active Directory Group Policy Object (GPO). For instructions on deploying software via a GPO, take a look at the Microsoft support article "How to use Group Policy to remotely install software in Windows Server 2003."

About the Author

Chris Wolf is VMware's CTO, Global Field and Industry.

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