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September 16, 2006

Installing Arcobat automatically on multiple machines

There has been a steady rise in requests to have the latest version of acrobat installed by many of the staff members whose computers I maintain. Partly, its simply to satisfy their urge to have the latest and greatest - but increasingly, they are receiving documents that only work with the latest version. I decided to take this opportunity to try Publishing applications via group policy. Here are the steps!!

  1. Download Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional from the Software Center. Run the installer, but DON'T EXIT. Instead, go to the directory "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Software Center\Acrobat 7\acrobat7_src" and copy the installation source to another directory - for this example, we use "D:\acrobat7_src".
  2. Next, create an administrative install point by running "D:\acrobat7_src\setup /a" - give the installer a directory to put the files for the install point - I used "D:\acrobat".
  3. We now need to download a series of updates from Adobe's site to bring the patch level of Acrobat up to 7.0.8 - this way you will be distributing Acrobat 7 along with the very latest updates - automatically. Unfortunately there is no cumulative update, so you need to download and apply three patches. Also, these files are self-extracting ZIP files; you'll need Winzip or something similar to extract the files contained in them - XP's built-in zip file facilities won't cut it. Go download these files:

  4. Now that the updates are expanded, run the following commands to apply the patches to the administrative install point we created earlier in "D:\acrobat":

    • msiexec /p d:\acrobat705update\Ac705PrP_efgj.msp /a d:\acrobat\AcroPro.msi /qb!
    • msiexec /p d:\acrobat707update\Acro707.msp /a d:\acrobat\AcroPro.msi /qb!
    • msiexec /p d:\acrobat708update\Acro708.msp /a d:\acrobat\AcroPro.msi /qb!

  5. Next, you'll need to download the InstallShield Tuner 7.0 for Adobe Acrobat - this application allows you configure many default settings - like the serial number - to make the install non-interactive
  6. Open the Installsheild Tuner. A dialog box will pop up automatically - open the transforms file "D:\acrobat7_src\AcroPro.itw". Next click on "Create a new transform" in the left hand side of the screen. Where it says Select an MSI file, enter the path " D:\acrobat\AcroPro.msi" and click the Create Button.
  7. Now comes the part where you can configure a multitude of default settings for your install. Here is a rundown of the important ones:

    • Under Installation Options, enter the serial number and your name. The serial number is given when you run the installer from the Software Center.
    • Under Shortcuts, click remove desktop icon (this is a personal preference).
    • Under Application Configuration, select Prefences. Then go to the "EULA and Online Features" tab. You need to need to agree to the EULA to make the install non-interactive. I also disabled "All Updates" since my users don't have the administrative privledges to install them. For the Nord Lab, I also disabled "Display PDF in browser". This has proven VERY helpful for people using Blackboard - the PDFs now open in a seperate window, so they don't accidentally use IE's print function instead of Acrobat' (which results in a blank printout).
    • Go through the rest of the preferences and see if there is anything else you'd like to customize.

  8. Once you're done with your customizations, save the new MST file! It will be written in "D:\acrobat\AcroPro1.mst".
  9. Now copy D:\acrobat to a share on a file server - this will be the install point your clients will look to. Test the install by running AcroPro.msi /passive transforms="AcroPro.mst" - it should install Acrobat 7 with all of the updates & customizations - and it should be completely non-interactive. The only thing you should see is a progress bar - it ought not prompt you for any questions. If it does, go back to the Installsheild Tuner and see what you missed.
  10. At this point we're done making the Acrobat 7 package. Now you need to make a group policy entry to publish the application. Open up the GPMC. Create a new Group Policy object and go to "Computer Configuration -> Software Settings -> Software Installation". Once there, right click on the right hand pane of the GPMC and select New. From there, go to package and select the path to the Acrobat MSI file shared on your file server. Thats it!
  11. Link the GPO to the appropriate OUs you wish the publish Acrobat to. Next time your users restart their computer, they'll see an "Installing Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional" message for about 5-10 minutes prior to the login dialog box appearing. No more having to install Acrobat by hand!!

Posted by djc6 at September 16, 2006 11:42 PM

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thanks a lot for this guide!

Posted by: Ryan at January 30, 2007 11:43 AM