HayesJupe's Blog

May 30, 2013

SCCM – Install at logoff (or similar)

Filed under: System Centre — hayesjupe @ 12:20 pm

A few times over my career, ive run into certain situations where an application is always running and does not have a nice method of shutting itself down in order to update or install. An example of this is a data terminal in a police car, or a kiosk run by a government department…. both of which have been cobbled together with a mixture of open-source tools, custom code and random other bits. (I have dealt with both of those)

Most of the time, this can be scripted or programmed around…. sometimes it cant (or maybe can’t with my scripting ability!)…. but i’ve always considered SCCM as a deployment infrastrcuture (and a good one) – it doesnt magically make deployments happen (like some people seem to think) – but its gives you all of the tools to target very specific machines/users (via query based collections) and at an appropriate time (via deployment or advertisement scheduling). So why am i having to write code for something the tool could far better than i ?

But….. there is a gap in there…. as any SCCM people will know, we can schedule the deployment + add in a criteria of “only if the user is logged on”, “only if the user is not logged on” or “whether or not the user is logged on” – and the last option accounts for a good 99% of all deployments that we have ever done…. however, “only if the user is not logged  on” relates to starting the program only, not completion of the package install….. therefore if a packages takes a long time to install, it may still be running while someone logs on. Additionally, if a machine is set to autologon and start up and application (such as the police car example) – then a time when the machine is logged off (and the sccm client is running) simply does not exist.

I dont seem to be alone in thinking this is an issue – this poor guy over at the technet forums got the usual “people not quite understanding where he’s coming from” thing that the technet forums seem to have – http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/configmgrswdist/thread/abdf134b-7be2-4bdd-b025-dc5b2e5ff9da

Dont get me wrong, the responders are completely correct… but why is there no-one just agreeing with the guy ? Where’s the “maybe we should consider putting that into the next version of our product” response ? Suggesting to log a DCR is all good, but i have about as much faith in that process as i do PSS.

Anyhoo – while i think thats relevent to show the combative, instead of collaborative mindset, its not productive….

SCCM (in my opinion) is about providing an awesome toolet to administrators to enable deployments with less effort and more flexibility. I would really like to see an option

“Install when no user is logged on  – and prevent user from logging on until install is complete” or

“Install after user logoff – and prevent new user logon until install is complete” or

“Install at next reboot – and prevent user logon until install is complete”

They seem to me like relatively small additions….

</rant>

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4 Comments »

  1. Hell yes.
    I’m having this exact issue right now as I’m trying to update LAN and WLAN drivers via a SCCM package. The installation will abrupt the connection for a short period and the customer doesn’t want this to affect the users. So I want to do this when no user is logged on.

    I’m unsure what happens if a user logs on during the installation, and I don’t think that I will be able to display any custom messages at the login screen to alert them to wait a while. These options you suggest would be a godsend.

    Comment by bertelsenbo — October 16, 2013 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  2. Maintenance Windows.

    Every organisation should use them, they take effort to setup as you must agree with the customer when they will take place, which may differ from department to department, but every IT department needs to be able to install on and reboot client machines which they manage – It is a necessity. The result of not doing so, is a negative impact to the IT department AND THE USER.

    Comment by MikhailCompo — February 17, 2016 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

    • You’ve missed the point Mikhail.

      Maintenance Windows – they don’t handle the fact that certain processes may need to be killed (and that these processes may not be consistent) prior to an installation – sure, scripting can handle that – but isn’t the whole point of a tool such as SCCM? To provide tools to make the deployment and management process easier.

      A maintenance windows also does not address the user logon during installation issue.

      Its all well and good to agree with a customer that the task (install or whatever) will occur at x hours, and notify the userbase of this, but its just delusional to make that statement as if its always adhered to.

      Comment by hayesjupe — February 20, 2016 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

      • Your post and your response I totally agree with, and so do people on the user voice site. But I think the reality is that what we are asking the system center team to do if make a change to the Operating System, I just don’t see this ever going away.

        BUT (big but) if they are not going to implement feature requests into SCCM that thousands of admins are asking for, I think we should be pressuring the product team to advise us on ways to achieve what we all require through other/existing techniques.

        Comment by MikhailCompo — February 20, 2016 @ 7:07 pm


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