WPKG Software Deployment Overview

WKPG Overview

First question, What is WPKG? As defined on their website: WPKG is an automated software deployment, upgrade and removal program for Windows. WPKG always you install software onto any number of hosts intelligently. I have been using it for several years and use it on over 3,000 machines. I will discuss the basics of WPKG and its software deployment. For more detailed explanation you can visits their website at www.wpkg.org

It can be used to push/pull software packages, such as

  • Service Packs,
  • hot fixes
  • MSI
  • Install Shield
  • Package for the Web (Flash, shock wave, adobe reader…)
  • Inno Setup
  • Nullsoft
  • .exe packages (windows executable)
  • .bat and (Batch Files)
  • .vbs (visual basic scripts)

 

It can run as a service to install software in the background (silent install), without user interaction.  Or you can use it with an Active Directory to run when the computers start. WPKG offers a lot of options on how to use it to deploy applications and software to your computers.

Who should use WPKG?

Anyone who has more than a couple of computers that are already deployed and needs to manage software installation from a centralized location. You can use this if you are looking for an open source “Free” software development program to use within your organization.

Does WPKG have a GUI interface?

NO, but it did at one point. They created one that never really worked well (It was hard to use and took a lot of time to accomplish anything). So they stopped support for it. The majority of work in WPKG needs to be do through a text editor. I recommend using Notepad plus plus, because it make reading the XML file much easier – see screen shot. WPKG is based on an XML file structure, which means you don’t have to be Add Mediaa programmer to understand it.

 (on the left is word and the right is Notepad plus plus download here)

notepadplusplusEditortextEditor

What are the Strengths of WPKG

WPKG does a lot of things really well.

  • automated installs – a set it and forget it
  • organizing and managing in-depth organization structures for deployment of software
  • Run’s as system (admin) so you don’t have to set user names and passwords
  • Allows you to run a debug mode
  • Pre-build list of application packages (found on their website WPKG Silent Installers )
    (this covers things like Flash, Shock wave, etc…)
  • Can be integrated into AD
  • Can uninstall programs that it originally  installed
  • Allows you to install just about anything
    ( I have run – BAT files, VBS, REG Edits, EXE, Service Pack Updates and MSI )

What are Weakness of WPKG?

WPKG does some things not so well.

  • It doesn’t keep record of when a program is installed onto a computer
  • It can get convoluted if you have more than a few people at a time working on it
  • If you have custom applications to deploy you will need to build your own applications
    (which takes trial and error.  I end up building about 75% of my package installers)
  •  Can uninstall programs it installs  (I added this one to both – See WPKG Software Deployment – Tutorial – Coming Soon)

Summary:

 WPKG is a great program for automating the install of applications onto client machines from a central location. You can’t be scared of using a text editor with XML files. I find that co-workers of mine keep the mentality that it is easier to do things the old way. This is a great program that if endorse will save you a lot of time.

Are you using WPKG?  Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment.

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