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WPKG Software Deployment Overview

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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 a programmer to understand it.

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

textEditor

notepadplusplusEditor

 

 

 

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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