If you manage multiple machines, whether they are Macs, Windows PCs, or Linux boxes, you are familiar with the concept of a silent install. It seems pretty clear what a silent install is — one that happens with no user-visible indication that it is happening.
Why, then, do major software vendors find this confusing?
Take, for example, Adobe’s CS3 and CS4 Enterprise Deployment methods. Even when instructed to preform a “silent” install, they bounce two or three icons in the dock, and disk images appear and disappear on the desktop over a several minute (or longer!) period. Focus is stolen from the frontmost application. It’s a far cry from “silent”. But it can be done without user interaction at least.
Here’s a worse example: QuarkXPress 8. See Quark’s knowledgebase article “How to perform a silent installation”
I find this part particularly entertaining:
To perform a silent installation on Mac OS:
- Copy the installer folder containing the ‘setup.xml’ file to your computer.
- Double-click the QuarkXPress Installer icon and follow the instructions on the screen.
(Final emphasis mine.) Earlier in the knowledgebase article, Quark simply redefines “silent install”:
The silent install feature lets users install QuarkXPress on their computers over a network, without having to follow step-by-step instructions.
That might be a “streamlined” install, or a “pre-configured” install, but it’s hardly a silent install. The user still has to initiate the install and will have to provide administrative credentials. This type of install is not terribly helpful in a large organization.
Fortunately, things are better than they appear. The QuarkXPress 8.1 installer is a standard Apple metapackage, and can be installed silently using the command-line installer (
/usr/sbin/installer) or any other tool that uses Apple’s command-line installer (ARD, etc).
QuarkXPress 8.1 installed in this manner will be missing the activation code and any QLA server information. You can create a second package with this information and install it as well to end up with a fully-functioning silent install of QuarkXPress 8.1.
First, run QuarkXPress 8.1 after installing it using
/usr/sbin/installer. Enter your registration/license code when requested. This gets written to
/Applications/QuarkXPress 8/QuarkXPress.app/Contents/Resources/QuarkXPress.rsrc. That’s the first file you need to include in your licensing/registration package.
Second, If you are using a QLA license server, you’ll need to create a QLAClient.properties file and also include that in your licensing/registration package. This is simply a plain-text file, located at
/Applications/QuarkXPress 8/QLAClient.properties, with contents similar to:
QLASERVER_HOST = licenseserver1.pretendco.com
QLASERVER_PORT = 12345
QLASERVER_BACKUPHOST = licenseserver2.pretendco.com
QLASERVER_BACKUPPORT = 12345
So — create an installer package that installs the following files, properly setup for your organization:
/usr/sbin/installer to install QuarkXPress 8.1 and your licensing/registration package, and you now have a true silent install.