What’s New in PDQ Deploy 8

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PDQ Deploy 8 is now available.  You’ll be able to update PDQ Deploy in the status bar at the bottom of the console. After updating, here’s what you can expect in PDQ Deploy 8.

Auto Deployment Improvements

If you’re a PDQ Deploy Enterprise user, you probably know and love the Auto Deployment feature. Schedule PDQ Deploy to check for updates to packages from the Package Library and get those updated on your machines. (Read more here.) Well, now you can add steps before and after your Auto Deployments.Edit Auto Deployment

Schedule your Auto Deployment as usual, (see the steps here) then save and exit. With your Auto Deployment selected, click Edit Auto Deployment. In this window, you can select either Pre-Auto Deployment or Post-Auto Deployment to start adding steps. These steps will remain in place when packages are updated and deployed.

Pre and Post Auto Deployment Steps



Easily Deploy Multiple Packages

It’s super simple to do multiple deployments to your target computers. Pro and Enterprise users are probably already familiar with nested packages and scheduling packages. This new option makes getting multiple deployments underway that much faster. Then, we added the ability to start a deployment with your selected packages right away. (This is also available to Free mode users!)

Deploy Multiple Packages

Set End Times for Scheduled Deployments

Kicking off a scheduled deployment after-hours but need the deployment to stop before people start logging in? Can do. Set a time limit on your scheduled deployments. This option is useful for overnight deployments, remaining queued computers can be stopped before anyone arrives in the office.

Stop deployment

Time is measured from when the deployment first starts. After the time runs out, any computers that remain queued after the timeout will be aborted, however, any target computers that are running when the timeout elapses will complete their deployment.




Silently Install Office 2016

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Deployment Examples, PDQ Deploy

You’re needing to install Office 2016 on several machines on your network. You can silently install Office 2016, and with a little prep work you can get a deployment underway in no time at all. To start, you’ll need to create a MSP file using the Office Customization tool that’s ready for deployment.

Note: These steps are for Office 2016 only, not Office 365. If you need to silently install Office 365, see this blog post.

Using the OCT (Office Customization Tool)

First, you’ll need to unpack or copy the contents of the Office 2016 ISO to a location on your machine (that you are using PDQ Deploy on) or on a network share. Make sure you have the setup.exe and that it contains the admin directory (you’ll need that in order to use the OCT).

Drag the setup.exe to Start > Run, and append /admin to the setup.exe path to open the OCT (c:\path\to\Officefiles\setup.exe /admin) . Once you have the OCT open, you’re ready to customize your Office installation. Give it a good look over, but for sake of time/interest, here are the basic customizations you’ll need to make to install this silently. (More steps and more in depth explanations can be found on this Knowledge Base article on our support site.)

Licensing and User Interface

You’ll want to set your display level to None and check Suppress modal. There’s also the inevitable EULA you’ll have to accept.

Office Custom Tool

Modify Setup Properties

In this section you’ll add two property values. (Again, these are just the essentials. Click here to see a complete list of property values.)

  • Name: SETUP_REBOOT  Value: Never
  • Name: HIDEUPDATEUI  Value: True

Between these two values, your install will not ask your user to reboot, nor will it reboot. (If you’d like to reboot your machines after install, use the reboot step in PDQ Deploy when deploying. This will give you a lot more control over when and how the reboot takes place.)

The Auto_Activate property value does not work for Office 2016, you can read up on some possible workarounds here.

silently install office 2016

Set Feature Installation States

Set your installation states as appropriate for your environment. Need help knowing what to configure it to? Read up on your options here.

Office configurations

Other Considerations:

Check settings in the following areas to help your users maintain their current settings.

  • Outlook Profile
  • Modify User Settings

Now you’re ready to save your MSP file for silent deployment! It’s a simple File > Save, it should save your MSP in the same directory as the Office setup.exe file.

Silently Install Office 2016

With PDQ Deploy you can get your deployment underway in moments. First, create a new package. (File > New Package or Ctrl + N).

  1. By default, an install step is available. Put in the setup.exe file for the Install File
  2. Add silent parameters. For Office 2016 that would be /adminfile [name of MSP file]
  3. Check Include Entire Directory. Don’t miss this step. If you don’t check this your install will fail.

deployment for office 2016



If you use the free download of PDQ Deploy then, you’re set to deploy. However, if you have PDQ Deploy Pro or Enterprise mode (which you can try out free) you can set conditions to specify OS and architecture types to deploy to in the conditions tab.

Also in Pro or Enterprise mode, you can add a step to reboot machines after Office is successfully installed. A reboot will likely be required so this is a good way make sure your installation is complete.

 


Three Benefits of Automating Your Deployments

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in PDQ Deploy

The best kind of work is work that does itself. A close second is work that someone else does for you (that you get paid for). Setting up Auto Deployments gets you both. A new Google Chrome is released…within 24 hours a ready-to-deploy package is available for your deploying pleasure. One step better? PDQ Deploy (Enterprise mode) will deploy it for you. First, see the how it works in the video below.



Reasons to use an Auto Deployment

1. Banish Post-Vacation Catch-Up Work

Maybe you’re so lucky as to have gotten some time-off…but is an admin’s work truly ever done? No. Of course not. You are the reason these people have working computers, and then Adobe Flash will have the nerve to release a critical patch while you’re out of the office. What are your options? Well, you could remote in to take care of the deployment yourself…unless you’re “off the grid”.  Either way. You’re on vacation. It should stay that way.

But you really don’t want to have to deal with the backlash of your absence. Auto Deployments. That’s your answer.

2. Trick the Boss

Nothing so refreshing as telling ol’ Lumbergh, “It’s already done.” when he stumbles in to the office complaining about some new critical update he’s read all about on Yahoo! news. Schedule the auto deployment to go off late night after hours. Then you can even print up some reports and show him you worked on get that update out late last night. Even he’ll have to admit he’s impressed.

3. Cut Down the To-Do List

You have enough on your plate. AND you’re supposed to keep tabs on every critical patch out there?! Put away the sticky note to-do list of deployments to run, add those applications to your Auto Deployment schedule…set it, forget it. Free up time at work for…other things.

benefits of automating

What’s your favorite thing about automating your software deployments?


Automate Silent Installs of Java 8 Update 71

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Deployment Examples, PDQ Deploy

It’s that time again. You guessed it, another fun-filled Tuesday with no less than a new Java update.  Or, if you’re getting tired of checking for (or being surprised by…) another critical Java update. Maybe it’s time to schedule an Auto Deployment for Java.

Automate a Silent Install for Java 8

Using the Package Library in PDQ Deploy (download it free here) you can quickly get access to ready-to-deploy silently installing packages. The Package Library has the Java 8 update 71, but not update 72. Oracle recommends update 71 for most users (read more here). If you find yourself needing Java 8 update 72,  you can still get it deployed by building your own package.

Here, you’ll see how you can use the Java package in an Auto Deployment to stay up-to-date on Java in just four steps. Get an Enterprise trial license to access the complete library and use the Auto Deployment feature.

  1. Select the Java 8 Package
  2. Go to the Package Library and select the Java 8 package. If you’d like there is also a 64-bit version available. You also might notice a Java 8 – ALTERNATE package. Don’t use this package on your machines unless you are experiencing errors when deploying. The alternate is there to help resolve issues such as Java error 1603.

    Package Library Java Alternate

  3. Click Add Auto Deployment to Schedule or Set Deployment Trigger
  4. schedule silent install java

  5. Choose Targets
  6. Select target computers by either adding them in or linking to them. Using Link To makes it easy to get your deployments to the right computers. If you have PDQ Inventory Enterprise mode you can link to a collection from the Collection Library that already has computers sorted by old vs. new Java versions. (Scroll down to read more on using the Collection Library.)
    choose targets

  7. Review Options and click OK

It’s always good to check your options before deploying. Below are the defaults (generally recommended) but you can also set up an email notification so you know when your deployment is complete. You may also find it helpful to use the Retry Queue if some of your computers are offline at the time of the deployment.

deployment options

After clicking OK, you’re done. PDQ Deploy will check for a new version for you on the schedule you set (see schedule tab), and get that new version deployed to the selected targets after the approval period. (Change your approval setting under File > Preference > Package Library.) You can also run your schedule whenever you’d like by selecting the schedule and clicking Start Schedule in the upper right panel.



Using the Collection Library

Linking your Auto Deployment to a PDQ Inventory collection is a great way to target machines that specifically need the update. You can build your own collections in PDQ Inventory, or save yourself a little time with pre-built and regularly updated collections.

Yes, there is a collection that sorts your computers by Java update status. Collections are updated the same time that new PDQ packages are created. This means that you can be sure when your deployment is kicked off that those computers with out-of-date Java installations will be deployed to and updated.

Note: PDQ Inventory will inventory both Java 8 updates 71 and 72 as up-to-date (new). Lower versions will be counted as out-of-date (old). 



 

Note: If you need to customize or change settings in Java’s Control Panel, please refer to this post on managing Java’s control panel and exception site list.


How to Silently Update to IE 11

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silently install IE 11 IE 8, 9, and 10 will no longer be supported as of January 12, 2016. Windows will roll out an update that will ask users to update to IE 11. The only exception is for Windows Vista, on which IE 9 will be supported. Although, it’s time to retire Vista anyway. Windows will no longer support Vista in 2017.

Silently Update to Internet Explorer 11

That said you’ll probably want to have the latest IE on your machines to protect against potential security holes. You can silently install IE 11 using a ready-made package available in the Package Library. Select Internet Explorer 11 in the Package Library, click Import. After the deployment package is imported, you can click deploy and start selecting target computers to send your deployment off too. Mission accomplished.

The deployment package installs IE 11 on 32-bit and 64-bit machines (based on the target computers architecture, see the conditions tab). It also disables auto updates, and sends a message to users requesting that they restart their computers to complete the installation.

Install Step



Or, as always you can create the package yourself. Get the IE exe and add it to the Install File field. Then you’ll need silent parameters. NOTE: Without silent parameters, your deployment will fail. This is critical for all silent installations except for msi files as those are inherently silently installing.

To silently install IE you’ll need the following parameters entered:

/quiet /norestart

You may notice the above image has other steps to it. While in Free mode you can create one install step per package. You’ll be able to get the latest IE installed, but you won’t have the command steps that disable auto update or post the restart request message.

 

Using the IEAK

To get up-to-date with all the latest patches and update for IE 11, you’ll want to use the Internet Explorer Development Kit 11. Using this you can also customize IE to best suit your environment. Want a few pointers on using the IEAK? Click here.


Finding the Correct Adobe Flash Version to Silently Install

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in PDQ Deploy

Silently installing Adobe Flash is a simple thing. Just download the ready-to-deploy package from the Package Library, click deploy, select target machines and send it off using PDQ Deploy  (Adobe Flash is available for free.)

(Note: The following video is based on an older version of Flash, however the process is still the same.)

Three Adobe Flash Packages

Adobe likes to throw a few curveballs. To simplify the deployment process as much as possible, while keeping you completely up-to-date on all patches, here’s what you need know.

There are generally three Adobe Flash packages available. Why? Well, here’s the break down of what the packages are used for.

  1. Adobe Flash. This package contains Flash NPAPI for other browsers such as Firefox.
  2. Adobe Flash for IE. This package contains Flash for IE on Windows 7, Vista and XP computers.
  3. Adobe Flash (All IE). This package is quite comprehensive. It includes the regular Flash for Win 7, etc and it also contains the Flash patches made available by Microsoft on Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

Adobe Flash Releases

silently install adobe flashOn 12/28/2015 Adobe released Flash Player 20.0.0.267. We immediately made the packages “Adobe Flash 20.0.0.267” and “Adobe Flash for IE 20.0.0.267” available in the Package Library. As usual there was a several hour wait (often more than 24 hours) for Microsoft to publish the Win 8.x and Win 10 Flash patches.

Once those were published we included them in the new All IE package. This patch addressed some critical security issues. Unfortunately the changes also broke Flash on ActiveX. A few days later Adobe released a new update for Flash on IE. The new version for the ActiveX Flash is 20.0.0.270. We released the new package and then played the waiting game again.

After a few days Microsoft released patches for only Windows 10. The version of Flash ActiveX on Windows 10 was now 20.0.0.272. Then, according to the linked thread on Adobe’s forums, Microsoft stated that they wouldn’t supply the Win 8.x patches until Patch Tuesday (a week later).

So what to do? Do we update the All IE package with the new Win 7 and Win 10 updates and leave the same Win 8 patches? If we do, what version do we publish? (Remember, each package can have only one version.)

We opted to create a new package called Adobe Flash for IE – Windows 10. On this coming Patch Tuesday the All IE package will be updated once  all the IE patches are accounted for.

If you need to update Flash for IE on Win 7, Vista or XP then we strongly recommend that you use the package Adobe Flash for IE.

If you need to update Flash for IE on Windows 10 then use the new package Adobe Flash for IE – Windows 10.



Collection Library Criteria

If you use the Collection Library in PDQ Inventory then here are the criteria that will cause a computer to show up in the “Flash IE (Latest)” collection:

  • Windows 7 or earlier with Flash ActiveX version of 20.0.0.270
  • Windows 8.x with KB3132372 (20.0.0.267)
  • Windows 10 with KB3133431 (20.0.0.272)




Use PowerShell to Play Music Remotely

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in PowerShell

With Christmas right around the corner, the holiday spirit can be seen nearly everywhere you look. It can be seen in everything from the many Christmas lights and decorations to the pumpkin-spiced everything. It can even be seen in the snow (here in Utah, at least). In fact, here’s my buddy Chester getting his daily dose of holiday spirit. That’s some mighty fine holiday spirit.

corgi in snow

What does this have to do with PowerShell, you ask? Everything! As a system administrator (or even average IT guy), it’s your duty to get everybody into the holiday spirit by bombarding them with holiday excitement!

How are we going to get everybody into the holiday spirit?! We’re going to blast our amazing Christmas music on everybody’s computers! How thoughtful of us!

Using PowerShell to Play Music Remotely

Are you excited yet?! Me too. Let’s tackle this by learning how to play sounds with PowerShell. Then, we’ll show you how to play these sounds remotely on your co-worker’s machines by using PDQ Deploy.

PowerShell and .wav files – SoundPlayer

(info link – System.Media.SoundPlayer)

This is one of the easiest ways to play a sound file via PowerShell. Sadly, it only support .wav files (see the notes box in the Remarks section – link).

$path = "C:\temp\Star Wars - Holiday Special sounds.wav"
 $soundplayer = New-Object Media.SoundPlayer $Path
 $soundplayer.PlaySync()

We can even smoosh this together into a fairly simple one-liner:

(New-Object Media.SoundPlayer "C:\temp\Star Wars - Holiday Special sounds.wav").PlaySync()

If we want to use something fancier, such as an .mp3 file, we’ll have to use another option.

 

PowerShell for mp3s and more – Media.MediaPlayer

(info link – System.Windows.Media.MediaPlayer)

This method requires a little more setup, but it essentially works the same way.

Add-Type -AssemblyName presentationCore
 $filepath = [uri] "C:\temp\Futurama - Christmas Elves song.mp3"
 $wmplayer = New-Object System.Windows.Media.MediaPlayer
 $wmplayer.Open($filepath)
 Start-Sleep 2 # This allows the $wmplayer time to load the audio file
 $duration = $wmplayer.NaturalDuration.TimeSpan.TotalSeconds
 $wmplayer.Play()
 Start-Sleep $duration
 $wmplayer.Stop()
 $wmplayer.Close()

Combine with PDQ Deploy – Music for Alllogo-deploy

Now that we know how to play audio via PowerShell, we can use these newly-discovered powers to blast coworkers with a hefty dose of holiday spirit in the form of Christmas music!

Since PDQ Deploy can deploy just about any software, script or patch to a machine (Yes. It’s that awesome), we’re going to utilize it for some fun.

All you need to do is create a PowerShell script (a .ps1 file) and use it in an Install Step:

powershell install file



If you’ve got a Pro or Enterprise license for PDQ Deploy, you can even set an option to only deploy to machine where a user is currently logged on. How delightfully convenient!

powershell logged on user

After that, you simply need to deploy this package to a machine where somebody is currently logged on and then watch the magic happen. While you’re at it, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Nothing says, “Christmas” better than the confused look on someone’s face when seasonal music mysteriously starts playing on their speakers.



Final Notes

Now you can add musical depth to your scripts! Your creativity is the limit for applying music to your scripts.

Do you have a long script that wish that you you could notify you when it was done? Well, you probably already addressed it a long time ago after reading my blog post about sending emails . But, now you can play music/sounds in addition to sending emails! How delightful!

You could even loop music while your script runs to give your scripts background music!

Go forth and PowerShell!


One Million Package Library Downloads

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Deployment Examples, PDQ Deploy

Businesses around the world have downloaded over 1 million packages from the Package Library since its debut in 2012. We’re stoked to see so many system administrators using PDQ Deploy to silently deploy software and scripts. It’s even more exciting to see these ready-to-deploy packages saving sys admins hours of work.

1 million packages

 



By the Numbers

Downloads for top 10 most downloaded deployment packages:

  1. Adobe Flash: 96,992
  2. Adobe Flash for IE: 73,835
  3. Google Chrome Enterprise: 60,494
  4. Adobe Flash (All IE): 55,827
  5. Mozilla Firefox: 44,569
  6. Java 8: 26,807
  7. Google Chrome Enterprise (64-bit): 24,767
  8. Adobe AIR: 24,767
  9. Adobe Reader XI: 22,795
  10. Skype: 22,095

FAQs about the Package Library

How quickly are packages updated when a new version comes out? 

Short answer, within 24 hours of a new release. Some applications make take longer if the application is a lower priority. For example, a Flash critical patch would have higher priority over a non-critical update of a lesser known application.

What Mode of PDQ Deploy Do I Need to use the Package Library? 

There are a few packages available in Free mode, but the majority of packages can be accessed in a Pro or Enterprise mode license. You can see which applications are available here.

Do You Test Your Deployment Packages?

Of course. What kind of shop do you think we run? However, we still recommend doing small scale deployments as environments can vary widely. While we’re very confident of our deployment packages, we can’t speak for the various application vendors. Make sure your computers are compatible with the latest updates before deploying.

Can I Make Changes/Customizations to Packages?

Go nuts! Just remember, any changes you make to current packages will not be reflected in new updates to packages. You can also create your own packages. You aren’t limited to what we have in the library.

Try out the Package Library, try any three applications free for 14 days:



 

 


The Sys Admin Guide to Preparing Deployments During Time-Off

Posted on Posted in PDQ Deploy, Schedules

So you’re going to be out of the office for a few days. With the coming holidays, you’re probably taking a few days off here and there at the end of this month. But you know the entire company is depending on you, sys admin. 

Often time off means playing catch-up when you get back. With a little planning you can keep on top of things and avoid the onslaught of catch-up work. So how do you make sure your computers stay up-to-date on their patches?  (more…)