Tech Note 104: How to automatically install Wonderware Information Server client components through Windows Domain Group Policy

Applies to:

  • Wonderware Information Server 3.x

Summary

As a time saving feature when faced with having to install the Wonderware Information Server 3.x or Wonderware ActiveFactory Reporting Website client components on a number of domain attached computers, it is much easier and more efficient to be able to push the Information Server Client Components install out to the client machines through Windows Domain Group Policy. This is also a very handy tool in environments where the clients are non administrative users as the installs can be attached to computer policy which does not require that an administrator level user be logged in, just a computer reboot.

By applying the procedure detailed in this Tech Note, network administrators will be able to remotely install client components for Wonderware Information Server and provide a computer environment that is ready to access Information Server by the customers. The procedure will involve the following tasks:

  • Sharing the Information Server Client Components through a network share
  • Setting up Group Policy Object (GPO) Template for the Information Server Client Components on the Domain Controller

Prerequisites:

  • Information Server client machines must be part of a Windows domain
  • Some familiarity with Group Policy and Active Directory
  • Have the Group Policy Management Console installed on a domain attached computer
  • Access and permissions to the”Active Directory Users and Computer” and “Group Policy Management” Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Add-ins
  • The Wonderware Information Server 3.x client components install requires Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 or higher, so it must either be preinstalled or also pushed through Group Policy (as per this document). If .Net Framework 2.0 or higher is already installed through other means, Sections B  and C below can be skipped.

Abbreviations:

  • GPMC – Group Policy Management Console
  • GPO – Group Policy Object
  • GPOE – Group Policy Object Editor

Section A. Creating a Network Share
1. Designate a network share on a file server computer that is a member of the Windows domain. The network share will contain the Wonderware Information Server Client installation package (and Microsoft .Net Framework installation files if applicable).

Note: This procedure assume all the steps will be taken while logged in to the console of the file server computer.

2. The network share must have read permissions for [Domain]\Domain Computers security group as this will be a computer based Group Policy. Domain Computersis the actual name of the domain group. To create a share and add/check appropriate permissions right click on the designated folder and click on Sharing and Security…

3. If the folder is not yet shared, click on the Sharing tab and click the Share this folder radio button.

4. Click on the Security tab and click the Add button.

5. In the Enter the object names to select field, type in [Domain]\Domain Computers where [Domain] is the actual name of the domain. Click on Check Names, the Domain Computers security group should be found and its look should change like the following.

6. Click OK to close the window, then click OK on the Share Properties window to complete the Share setup.

7. Finally copy the clientsetup.msi file from the following location on the Information Server computer: C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\Wonderware\_library\bin to the file share.

Section B. Creating the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 Group Policy Object

The client machines will need to have Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 installed before the Wonderware Information Server client will install. This requirement can be met by pushing out Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 specifically or Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5 which includes previous versions of .Net Framework in its install. If Wonderware Information Server Clients already have .Net Framework installed you can skip this section.

1. If applicable download the redistributable package of Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 from the Microsoft website and save it to any location on the file server computer other than the designated network share folder.

Note: To create an MSI package you don’t need to install .Net Framework on the local computer.

2. Once the .Net Framework package is downloaded go to Start ->; Run and type in cmd and click OK.

3. Create an administrative install point by running the following command in the window:

dotnetfx.exe /c:”install.exe /a”

4. When the Setup window opens click Next.

5. Accept the License Agreement and click Next.

6. Specify the location where you will want the MSI package created (most likely the share where it will need to be placed). Otherwise choose a temporary location and the file can be manually copied to the network share afterwards.

7. Click Install. It will then proceed creating the MSI file.

8. Once completed, click Finish.

Note: By following the procedure above, nothing got installed on the machine. Only the .Net Framework MSI package is created.

9. If in step 6. above you specified a folder other than the designated network share, navigate to the folder where the MSI package was created and copy the file netfx.msi along with the also created Program Files, Win and Windows folders to the network share.

Note: The folders Program Files, Win and Windows that were also created are necessary.

Section C. Creating the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 Group Policy Object

If you don’t need to automatically deploy Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 to Wonderware Information Server Clients you can skip this section.

1. On a domain-attached computer with the Group Policy Management Console installed, go to Start -> Administrative Tools -> Group Policy Management (GPMC)

2. In the GPMC expand the Forest, then Domains, then the name of the domain and expand Group Policy Objects.

3. Right click on Group Policy Objects (GPO) and select New.

4. Name the GPO (for example Net Framework 2 Install) and click OK.

5. Right click on the Net Framework 2 Install GPO and select Edit.

6. In the Group Policy Object Editor (GPOE) window that opened, under Computer Configuration expand Software Settings then right click on Software Installationand select New -> Package…

7. In the File name field in the Open window enter the UNC path to the netfx.msi file. Once entered, click Open.

Note: If the UNC path is not specified and a local path is specified, this will not function.

8. In the Deploy Software window, make sure Assigned is selected. Click OK.

The package should now show in the GPOE window on the right side.

9. Close the GPOE window and close the GPM window.

Section D. Creating the Information Server Client Group Policy Object

1. On the Domain Controller or a computer with the Group Policy Management Console installed, go to Start -> Administrative Tools -> Group Policy Management(GPMC)

2. In the GPMC expand the Forest, then Domains, then the name of the Domain and expand Group Policy Objects.

3. Right click on Group Policy Objects (GPO) and select New.

4. Name the GPO (for instance, InfoServer 31 Client Install) and click OK.

5. Right click on the InfoServer 31 Client Install GPO and select Edit.

6. In the Group Policy Object Editor (GPOE) window that opened, under Computer Configuration expand Software Settings then right click on Software Installationand select New -> Package)

7. This time in the File Name field enter the path to the ClientSetup.msi file. Click Open.

8. Again select Assigned in the next window and click OK.

9. Close the Group Policy Object Editor window.

10. The GPOs previously created should now be available.

At this point the GPOs are ready and they can be assigned to the entire Domain or to a specific Active Directory Organizational Unit (OU), for example an OU that contains all client computers or a subset of them.

11. To assign the GPOs, drag and drop them to the location that you want them. In the example below, they have been attached to the entire Domain.

It is recommended that the Net Framework 2 Install GPO be linked first and then the InfoServer 31 Client GPO be linked second. Because .Net Framework 2.0 is a prerequisite for the InfoServer client, it will need to be installed first.

In the screenshot below a Link Order is visible. This Link order is the order in which the GPOs will be run on this particular OU. If they are in the wrong order they can be removed and re added or they can be highlighted and order changed by clicking the up or down arrows to the left side. Higher Link Order values are run FIRST, so a GPO with a link order of 3 will run before a GPO with link order 1! Use the arrows to adjust the GPOs so that Net Framework 2 Install has a higher link order value (lower placement on the window) than InfoServer 31 Client Install.

Note: Depending on how other GPOs are used, you may have to right click on the GPO where it was placed and set it as Enforced to may sure that it is not overridden by another GPO. On the other hand if you Enforced a GPO (see the screenshot below) it will override the Link Order, so for example if the “InfoServer 31 Client Install” GPO is last in Link Order, if it is set to Enforced, it will run before the Net Framework 2 Install GPO causing problems.

12. Close the GPMC.

Section E. Testing the Package Deployment

1. At this point as long as the client machine is part of the Windows Domain/OU that you attached the GPO to, it should automatically install the client software. To test it, reboot the client machine.

If the machine is running XP, after the first reboot, the following message may appear in the Event Application Log (accessible through Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Windows Event Viewer -> Application Log).

Failed to apply changes to software installation settings. Software installation policy application has been delayed until the next logon because an administrator has enabled logon optimization for group policy. The error was : The group policy framework should call the extension in the synchronous foreground policy refresh.

This is just indicating that due to optimizations in Windows XP, a second reboot will be required for the group policies to apply.

2. After rebooting and before logging in, you should see the following:

a. Applying computer settings message

b. Installing managed software Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 message

c. Installing managed software ActiveFactory Shared Components…  message

d. Then the Login window should appear on the screen

Once Windows is finished starting up, if Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 and ActiveFactory Shared Components should be listed in Add/Remove Programs.

And the Information Server client should be able to access the Information Server portal without any prompts to install any components.

Created by Jason Wagner.
All Wonderware PacWest Tech Notes are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
Version 1.0 released October 30th, 2009