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Are there any free systems for deploying new applications across a Windows network?

e.g. if I wanted to automatically install Silverlight to every PC?

(Assuming a Windows network of about 150 machines)

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5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you have a Windows domain you should read up on using Group Policy to install software. Having said that, though, if the software isn't packaged in Windows Installer (MSI) format this becomes significantly harder. Using Group Policy Startup Scripts to perform silent installations of non-MSI-based packages is certainly possible, but you need some scripting skills to pull that off.

You might also have a look at wpkg. It sounds right up the alley of what you're looking for. There's a pretty strong community around it, and you can usually find "recipes" written by others for common installation needs (example: http://wpkg.org/Microsoft%5FSilverlight).

Personally, I go the route of Group Policy, either using MSI-based installs or custom Startup Scripts, but I've played around with wpkg and like what I see with it, too.

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I highly recommend WPKG. From official site:

WPKG is an automated software deployment, upgrade and removal program for Windows. + WPKG is open source software.

There are already many existing silent installers available (including Microsoft Silverlight) and writing custom packages is pretty easy.

PS: Update Windows Script on Windows 2000/XP computers if needed, and (CRITICAL) test your packages well on all platforms (XP,2k,Vista,7) before you do massive deployments - VirtualBox can be one tool for this.

PS1: Some testimonials from satisfied users.

PS2: WPKG can also do:

  • Windows Updates, but WSUS is the way to go
  • Change registry settings etc., but Group Policy is the way to go (if you have AD)
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Assuming you have AD, why not GPOs or Windows Deployment Services? Those are both included in the Server 2003/2008 software.

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We use WPKG (wpkg.org) -- an open-source deployment/upgrade/removal program for Windows. Cheers

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I've also used WPKG in places where WSUS wasn't an option. It takes a bit to setup all the xml files but once it's all setup it's pretty easy to maintain and works well. –  3dinfluence Dec 2 '09 at 15:50

I haven't had much luck finding free ways to deploy general software. Windows components like Silverlight can be installed via WSUS server, which is free (And disk/memory intensive, in my opinion) and integrates with Active Directory to keep your systems up to date. It acts as a kind of local mirror for Windows Updates.

I have run into several "quirks" with it not necessarily upgrading your clients in a timely manner and I think the interface for getting accurate and up-to-date update information absolutely sucks, but it does help with bandwidth and keeping systems in your Windows network relatively up to date. And it's free from Microsoft.

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