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EMCO Remote Installer - Getting Started

This tutorial is aimed to help you understand the main features of EMCO Remote Installer and its user interface to start using the application for your day-to-day tasks as quickly as possible. It takes about 10-15 minutes to go through the steps of this tutorial, but once you have done it, you will have enough knowledge to efficiently use the application to install, uninstall and audit software remotely.

Table of Contents

Introduction

EMCO Remote Installer is an application designed to manage software across a local network. You can use EMCO Remote Installer to collect information about the installed software from remote PCs and to install, uninstall and repair applications remotely. This tutorial demonstrates how to use the main features of the application, but you should realize that it's only a small part of the application's functionality. Once you have familiarized yourself with the main features, you can start discovering other available options and features. You can refer to the integrated Help file by pressing the F1 keyboard button in the application to find explanations for the available features.

In scope of this tutorial Professional Edition will be used. If you would like to follow step-by-step instructions provided here, please make sure that you downloaded and installed right edition. Otherwise you can notice some missed features and different interface options.

Making the Required Pre-Start Checks

Before you start to use the application and follow the steps described in this tutorial, you need to check a few points explained below. It's really important to check and understand these points in order to use EMCO Remote Installer successfully, so please don't skip reading this chapter.

1. Check if you installed the right edition of EMCO Remote Installer
EMCO Remote Installer is available in two editions: Free (freeware edition) and Professional (commercial edition). The Free edition can be used to work with up to 5 remote PC to install, uninstall and repair up to 5 applications at a time, while the Professional edition can be used to work with an unlimited number of remote PCs concurrently to install, uninstall and repair one or unlimited applications at a time. If you need to install or uninstall an application to/from more than 5 remote PCs, like it is demonstrated in the course of this tutorial, you need to use the Professional edition. Other functionality differences between the Free and Professional editions are explained in the feature list.

2. Check if your network environment is configured to meet the requirements
EMCO Remote Installer uses the standard Windows networking infrastructure to communicate with remote PCs, so you need to ensure that the required Windows services are started, the network ports are opened on remote PCs. The application requirements are explained on the requirements page. In case of any problems, for example, when a remote PC can't be contacted, you can find the problem details on the Application Log or Task Execution Results views. Usually, log messages contain information on how to resolve the problem, so you need to follow the provided instructions.

3. Make sure you have a setup file that supports silent installation
To be done automatically, remote installations should always be performed in the silent mode. If you have an MSI installation, it can be easily installed remotely since silent installation is supported by all Windows Installer packages (MSI packages). If you have an installation in the EXE format, you need to contact its vendor to learn how to install it silently. Different installations require different approaches to activate the silent installation mode: in some cases you need to specify the silent installation command-line switches, in other cases you need to record and specify an installation scenario. If an EXE installation doesn't support the silent installation mode, you can convert it into a silent MSI package using EMCO MSI Package Builder.

Getting to Know the Application Interface

EMCO Remote Installer has a Ribbon UI where all main actions are represented by the Ribbon menu located at the top of the application's window. You can use corresponding actions on the Ribbon in order to install MSI packages remotely, scan installed software and perform other operations. Under the Ribbon, you can find three areas that contain multiple views represented by tabs. The Network area located on the left side of the application window is used to display the PCs available in the local network. You can select the PCs in the Network area to install and uninstall software and perform other operations on. The main area of the application window consists of multiple tabs that allow you to audit installed software and manage remote tasks. At the bottom of the application window , you can find tabs that can be used to work with network PCs, manage tasks and check log messages.

 
Pic 1. The main application window
 

On the left side of the application window, you can see the Network area that consists of two views: Machine Tree and Alternate Credentials. You can switch between these views by pressing the corresponding buttons at the bottom. The Machine Tree view consists of two areas divided by a separator.

The Network Browser view displays network PCs. After a network enumeration, the detected network PCs appear in Network Browser and are displayed in a hierarchical order grouped by domains, workgroups and Active Directory organizational units representing the network structure. If you need to create custom groups of PCs so as to execute group operations quickly, you can use the Custom Grouping area. You can create custom groups there and drop or paste PCs from the Network Browser or All Machines views into the custom groups. Both Network Browser and Custom Grouping views are designed to select remote PCs. If you need to execute a remote operation, you can select target PCs in the Network Browser or Custom Grouping views and choose the required action on the Ribbon or in the context menu.

The Alternate Credentials view can be used to specify administrative credentials used by the application to access remote PCs. To audit or deploy software remotely, you need to have an administrative access to the remote PCs. You can enter administrative usernames/passwords for domains, workgroups or PCs in the Alternate Credentials view. If required, you can configure different credentials to be used to access different parts of your network.

       
  Pic 2. The Network area views: Network Browser, Custom Grouping and Alternate Credentials

The main area of the application window contains several tabs, and the Welcome tab is opened by default. This tab provides you an access to the main actions of the application, which are also available on the Ribbon. Once a network is enumerated or a task is created, you can switch to other tabs. Most of the time you will use the Software Inventory and Task and Schedule tabs as described below.

The Software Inventory view provides you an access to information about applications and updates installed on remote PCs. If you performed a software scan, you can select a single PC, a workgroup/domain or an entire network in the Network area and see the aggregated inventory report displayed by Software Inventory view for the selected PC(s). By default, the inventory info is grouped by software vendor and application name, but you can re-group it by PC name or other fields using the actions available on the Software Inventory tab's toolbar. You can use the Software Inventory view to select applications and perform the required actions. For example, if you need to uninstall an application, you can select it in this view and choose the corresponding action from the context menu.

Using the Tasks and Schedule view , you can run, edit and delete existing tasks and manage their execution schedule. This view is available only in the Professional edition of the application. Tasks represent preconfigured remote operations, so you can create a task for any remote operation and configure it by defining the set of target PCs and remote operation settings. You can either schedule tasks to be executed automatically or run them manually from this view.

Finally, there are two other tabs in the main area of the application window. The Inventory Snapshots and Snapshots History tabs can be used to view the software inventory data collected during remote software scans.

   
   
  Pic. 3. The inventory and tasks management views

At the bottom of the application window, you can find another group of tabs. These tabs represent views designed to provide you with various types of information. Let's take a closer look at these views.

The All Machines view displays a set of network PCs with the additional information available for every PC. In particular, you can see the platform (x86 or x64) and the number of software inventory snapshots for every PC stored by the application. If you like, you can use this view to select PCs instead of using the Network Browser or Custom Grouping views.

The Application Log view is used to show information on the results of operations performed by the application. The log information is available for every remote PC involved into the executed operations. In case of errors, you can find detailed error reports and troubleshooting information in this view.

The Task Execution Results view can be used to review the results of the remote tasks execution. You can select a task in the Tasks and Schedule view and if this task has been executed, you can find its execution status on the Task Execution Results view. The reported data is available for every remote PC, so you can easily see where the task failed and resolve the problem easily using the available error messages and troubleshooting information.

The Operation Management view can be used to check and manage the currently running operations. When an operation is started, you can find its progress displayed on the Operation Management view. Using this view, you can cancel the operation being executed on particular PCs or cancel its execution on all PCs where it has not been executed yet.

     
     
  Pic. 4. Views located at the bottom of the application window

This tutorial demonstrates how to use basic features of EMCO Remote Installer, and in the following chapters you will see how most of the described UI controls can be used in practice.

Understanding a Remote Operation

EMCO Remote Installer is designed to execute various software deployment and audit operations remotely, but all operations can be configured using the same approach. To plan a remote operation, you need to answer the following questions: what, when and where should be executed and how it should work. Once you have answered these questions, you can configure and execute a remote operation in EMCO Remote Installer. Use a simple workflow below so as to plan a remote task.

1. Define an operation that should be executed remotely
You need to answer the "What should be executed?" question and select one of the operations supported by the application. In other words, you need to define if you need to install, uninstall, repair an installation or scan the installed software.

2. Define a time when the remote operation should be executed
You need to answer the "When should it be executed?" question and choose the time when the operation will be executed. You can execute a remote operation either immediately or later at a defined time. Also, the operation can either be executed just one-time or recurrently on schedule (i.e. every day, every second Monday of a month, etc.). You need to make your choice based on your needs and the available options. Note that the Free edition of the application supports only a one-time immediate execution of remote operations. The Professional edition supports all execution types.

3. Define remote PCs where the remote operation should be executed
You need to answer the "Where should it be executed?" question and select the target remote PC(s) where the remote operation will be executed. Using the Free edition of the application, you can only execute an operation on up to 5 remote PC; whereas using the Professional edition, you can execute an operation on an unlimited number of remote PCs. If the operation should be executed on multiple PCs, you need to define if it will be a fixed set of specific PCs or a dynamic group of PCs. The Professional edition of the application allows executing an operation on a dynamic group of PCs defined by a query, for example, on all PCs that belongs to a specified Organizational Unit in Active Directory.

4. Define details of the remote operation
You need to answer the "How should it be executed?" question and define how exactly the remote operation should work and what it should do. For a remote installation to be performed, you need to prepare MSI package(s) or EXE setup(s) that should be installed. For a remote uninstallation to be performed, you need to define application(s) that should be uninstalled. If you plan to install/uninstall an EXE installation, you need to know how to perform it in the silent mode by specifying the command-line options or an install/uninstall scenario file. Also, it's possible to execute various custom actions before and/or after installation and uninstallation operations, so you can use install/uninstall customizations, if required.

When you've gone through these steps, you are ready to configure and execute a remote operation. All you need to do is just specify the corresponding settings in the application as it will be demonstrated in the following chapters.

Case 1 - Auditing Software Installed on Remote PCs

To plan software installations, updates and uninstallations, you need to know what applications are installed on remote PCs. EMCO Remote Installer allows scanning remote PCs to extract and display information on installed applications. You can get the same information as displayed by Windows Programs and Features for the scanned remote PCs. The collected inventory information is stored in the database as a single inventory snapshot. If you make inventory scans multiple times, you will have multiple snapshots and will be able to compare them to see applications that were installed and uninstalled during the time between the scans.

Let's audit installed software on all available PCs from the local network. In the Free edition of the application, you can execute software scans manually to get or update inventory information. In the Professional edition of the application, you can also schedule scans for an automatic execution in regular intervals so as to always have up-to-date software inventory info. Follow the steps below to run a software scan manually.

Step 1. Select the network enumeration operation
When you start the application the first time, there is no network and software inventory information available. We need to scan a network to detect available PCs and to collect software inventory info from them. These two actions can be performed in the scope of the network enumeration operation. Press the Enumeration Wizard button on the Ribbon to start the network enumeration.

Step 2. Select PCs to be scanned
We need to scan the entire local network and collect inventory information from all available PCs. To do this, you need to follow a few steps in the Enumeration Wizard.

  • Pass the Welcome page of the wizard
  • Select the Scan Network option to instruct the application to get information about available PCs from the network, then press the Next button
  • Select the Enumerate All option to scan all the available domains and workgroups. Alternatively, you can select the option to scan the specified domains and workgroups only.

Step 3. Start the network enumeration operation
Press the Finish button in the wizard to start the network enumeration. Once the network enumeration is started, you can see detected PCs appearing in the Network Browser view. Once the enumeration is completed, the progress bar located in the bottom right corner of the application window will stop, and you can proceed to the next step.

Step 4. Review the software scan results
Select the Network node in the Network Browser tree and open the Software Inventory tab. Since you've selected the node representing the entire network the Network Browser, you can see aggregated inventory information for all scanned PCs. The information is grouped by Software Publisher and Application Name, but you can re-group it using the buttons available on the Software Inventory tab's toolbar. If you need to see the software inventory information for a particular PC or a group of PCs, select it in the Network Browser tree.

 
Pic 5. Selecting network enumeration options
 
Pic 6. Aggregated software inventory info
 

Step 5. Checking for errors
If you cannot see inventory information displayed for every scanned PC, you need to check if any errors occurred during the network enumeration or software scanning operations. This information is available on the Application Log tab, so you can check the status for every PC. In case of errors, you need to follow the provided instructions as well as check if your network environment is configured properly to satisfy the application requirements. For example, a typical problem cause is that some PCs were powered off during the scan, so their inventory information can't be collected. To resolve this problem, you need to scan software on those PCs again.

How to update software inventory info and track software changes?

If you need to update the inventory information for certain PCs, you can select them in Network Browser and choose the Quick Software Scan action from the context menu. The network enumeration process described above isn't necessary in this case, because the application already has information on the available network PCs, so you can collect or update the inventory information only.

 
Pic 7. Selecting the scan software action
 
Pic 8. Comparing inventory snapshots
 

If you've run software scans multiple times for the same PCs, you can switch to the Inventory Snapshots tab and find the results of those scans called snapshots. You can compare any two selected snapshots to see the differences between the scans hence the events that occurred in the meanwhile.

Case 2 - Installing Software on Multiple Remote PCs

When planning a remote software installation, you need to keep in mind that the installation process works differently in the Free and Professional editions of the application. Using the Free edition, it is only possible to install up to 5 applications on up to 5 remote PCs at a time; whereas using the Professional edition, it is possible to install unlimited applications on an unlimited number of remote PCs in one step.

Step 1. Select the target PCs and the required operation
Let's assume we need to deploy an installation to multiple remote PCs. Select the required PCs in the Network Browser tree using multi-selection (hold the Ctrl or Shift key and click on the required PCs). From the context menu, select the Quick Install action.

Step 2. Specify the installation package
In the Select Installation dialog that appears on the screen, you need to select the installation file you are going to deploy. You can select an EXE setup, MSI package or MSI patch file from a local disk or enter an UNC path to a file stored on a network share.

Step 3. Configure the installation options
Depending on the type of the selected installation file, you can see different dialogs with different installation configuration options. The main difference between MSI/MSP and EXE installations is that MSI/MSP packages use well-known silent installation options and you don't need to specify them, and EXE setups use vendor-specific options and you need to configure them to enable silent installation of the selected EXE setup.

  • In case you've selected an EXE setup, you get an information dialog that explains the specifics of EXE installation in the silent mode. Click the Next button to proceed to the installation configuration step where you should specify the installation command-line parameters that activate silent installation and/or the answer file that defines the installation scenario. Contact the software vendor to get information on running the installation in the silent mode if you don't know how to activate it.
  • In case you've selected an MSI package, you get a dialog that shows information about the selected MSI file and the command that will be used to install the package. If your MSI package has CAB files dependencies, you can select the option to copy the entire folder where the MSI is located to remote PCs before installation so that CAB files are available for the MSI installer.

Step 4. Run the installation and check the installation results
To start the installation, press the OK or Finish button on the installation configuration dialog. Once the installation is started, you can see its progress displayed by the progress bar at the bottom of the main application window. If you need to get detailed information on the installation progress, you can switch to the Operation Management view. This view allows you to stop the running installation operation. When the installation is completed, you can switch to the Application Log view to check the installation results. In the log, you can find installation statuses for every PC and detailed error messages if any problems occurred during the installation.

 
Pic 9. Selecting the installation task action
 
Pic 10. Configuring an EXE package
 
 
Pic 11. Configuring an MSI package
 
Pic 12. Checking the installation results
 

The Quick Install operation is the fastest way to deploy an installation on selected remote PCs. It offers you only the basic installation features, and if you need to use the advanced deployment features, such as pre- and post-installation actions or deploying multiple installations at once, you can use other available deployment operations described below.

Using the advanced remote installation options

To perform remote deployments using the advanced options provided by the application, you need to select the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations available on the Ribbon or in the context menu in the Network Browser view. All these operations offer the same deployment options. The Install Package operation can be used for immediate one-time software deployment, the Install Package Task can be used for creating a reusable installation task and, finally, the Install Package Scheduled Task can be used to run an installation task on schedule. The main advantage of using tasks is that tasks are preconfigured, i.e. they include the configuration of the software package(s) to be installed, the installation options and the target PCs. You can run a task immediately any time with no additional configuration required; so if you need to repeat the same operation or execution on schedule, it makes sense to create a task.

When you use any of the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations and configure an installation package, you are prompted to choose the installation type by selecting one of the two available options. Those options are available in the Professional edition of the application and allow you to install the same or different installation files depending on the platforms (x86 or x64) of the remote PC as explained below.

  • The Generic Package option allows you to install a single installation file on remote PCs regardless of their platform. This option should be selected if you have a multi-platform EXE setup or if you need to install an x86 MSI package on remote PCs with the x86 or x64 OS.
  • The Multi-Platform Package option allows you to install different files under x86 and x64 platforms. If this option is selected, in the next configuration steps you will be prompted to specify the location of the installation packages to be installed under x86 and x64 platforms. This option should be selected if you need to install different variants of the same installation designed for x86 and x64 platforms.

Once the installation package properties are specified, in the next step of the wizard you can configure optional custom actions that can be executed on remote PCs before or after the installation. Custom actions are available in the Professional edition of the application and allow you to import a registry file and run an executable file, a script file, a PowerShell script or a Shell command before/after the installation.

 
Pic 13. Selecting the installation type
 
Pic 14. Available custom actions
 

Using the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations, you can install multiple packages to remote PCs within the scope of a single operation. Once you've finished configuring the installation package, the package is displayed on the Installation Packages page of the wizard, so you can proceed by installing it or pressing the Add Package button to configure another package. You can add as many EXE and MSI installations as you need, and they will be deployed on remote PCs one-by-one. If you like, you can change the packages installation order using the buttons located on the toolbar.

 
Pic 15. Installation package info
 
Pic 16. Configuring a Machine Query
 

Finally, when you configure the target PCs where a remote operation should be executed, you may notice that the configuration dialog has a number of options that allows specifying target PCs very flexibly. On the left side of the target PCs specification dialog, there are available PCs displayed: on the right side of the dialog screen there are selected PCs displayed, i.e. target PCs that define the so-called Machine Queue of a task. You may see that the Machine Queue already contains some PCs - those are the PCs that were selected when you opened the wizard, so the application added them automatically. If you need to modify the Machine Queue, you can select PCs on the left and press the corresponding button to move them to the Machine Queue. Use the corresponding button on the toolbar to delete PCs from the Machine Queue. Also, you can not only select PCs but also create so-called Machine Queries defining dynamic groups of target PCs. These Machine Queries are executed automatically before the task execution to report the PCs that satisfy the specified conditions.

Case 3 - Uninstalling Software from Multiple Remote PCs

Using EMCO Remote Installer, you can use different approaches to uninstall software. For example, you can provide an MSI package or an EXE file to run uninstallation on specified PCs, and if you have already collected software inventory information from remote PCs, you can use this data to run uninstallation in the so-called Smart mode. When software inventory data is collected from remote PCs, the application gets a list of installed software and the uninstallation info for every application, so EMCO Remote Installer knows how to uninstall the installed software. In the Smart Uninstall mode, the application uses the inventory information, so you only need to select the remote PCs and the applications that should be uninstalled from them.

You need to remember that the Free and Professional editions of EMCO Remote Installer have different uninstallation options. Using the Free edition of the application, you can uninstall up to 5 installations from up to 5 remote PCs at a time; whereas using the Professional edition of the application, you can uninstall unlimited installations from an unlimited number of PCs within the scope of a single operation. Also, the Free edition lacks some other features, so the uninstallation steps and options differ in the Free and Professional editions.

Let's uninstall a single application from multiple remote PCs using an uninstallation task that will be executed automatically on schedule at a defined time. Follow the steps below to configure the uninstallation task.

Step 1. Select the application to be uninstalled
Select the Network node in the Network Browser tree and open the Software Inventory tab to see the aggregated inventory info for the entire network. Find the application that should be uninstalled. If you need to uninstall the application from all PCs where it's installed, select the application row in the Software Inventory view. If you need to uninstall only some of the displayed installations, you can select the required PCs under the application node using the multi-selection (hold the Ctrl or Shift key and click on the required PCs). Select Smart Uninstall > New Scheduled Task from the context menu to start the wizard.

Step 2. Specify the uninstallation time
Specify the task name and enter the date and time when the uninstallation task should be executed. Note that for a successful uninstallation the remote PCs should be turned on on the specified date/time. Press the Next button to proceed to the next step.

 
Pic 17. Selecting the uninstallation task action
 
Pic 18. Scheduling the uninstall execution
 

Step 3. Configure the selected uninstallation package and the set of target PCs
You can see that the selected application is configured for uninstallation as an uninstallation package. If you've chosen to uninstall an MSI installation, you don't need to configure its uninstall options because all MSI packages have the same options to enable silent uninstallation. If you've chosen to uninstall an EXE installation, you need to configure its options to activate silent uninstallation because those options are different for different software, hence the uninstallation package is highlighted because it requires configuration. Press the Edit Package button to open the configuration dialog and enter the command-line parameters and/or an answer file with the uninstallation scenario. You can follow the next steps to configure the custom actions and the list of target PCs the selected software should be uninstalled from. Press the Apply button to apply the changes and return to the previous dialog. Once the uninstallation package is configured, you can press the Schedule button to create and schedule the new task.

Step 4. Wait for the uninstall task to be completed
The uninstall action will be executed by the application automatically on the defined date/time. You only need to keep the application running in an active user session to let it execute the scheduled task.

Step 5. Check the uninstallation results
Once the uninstallation is performed, you can switch to the Tasks and Schedule tab, select the created uninstall task there and switch to the Task Execution Results tab at the bottom to check the uninstallation results. If there were any errors, you can find detailed information and troubleshooting tips on the Task Execution Results tab.

 
Pic 19. Configuring EXE uninstall options
 
Pic 20. Uninstall execution results
 

If you need to execute uninstallation immediately and there is no need to customize the uninstallation, you can select the Smart Uninstall > Quick Uninstall action from the context menu in step #1 described above. In this case, you only need to confirm the operation and don't have to follow the wizard steps.

Using the advanced remote uninstallation options

In the example above, we used only the basic uninstallation settings, but you can also use the advanced options to customize the uninstallation process, if required.

In step #3 described above, on the Package Set Editor tab you can add other packages to be uninstalled within the scope of a single uninstall operation. To add a new package, you can click the Add Package button available on the toolbar. The packages uninstallation order can be managed using the corresponding buttons located on the same toolbar.

 
Pic 21. Configuring multiple uninstallations
 
Pic 22. Supported custom uninstall actions
 

If you need to execute custom actions before/after uninstalling an application, you can select the corresponding package on the Package Set Editor tab and open its properties using the Edit Package button. In one of the package configuration steps, you can configure the application to import a registry file and run an executable file, a script file, a PowerShell script or a Shell command before/after the uninstallation.

Summary

In the scope of this tutorial, you can see how to use the main features of the application. Some features and options are not discussed here, but if you need additional information about the application features and configuration options, you can refer to the integrated Help. You can open the Help file by pressing F1 in the application.

Product Facts

Did you know that Remote Installer allows you to silently install/uninstall MSI-based applications across your entire pool of remote computers with just a few clicks?

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