Data Centers

SolutionBase: Configuring Windows XP to use a WSUS Server

Windows Server Update Services helps you get a handle on the job of keeping workstations on your network up-to-date. To get it to work right, you must properly configure Windows XP to get those updates. Here's how.

Configuring WSUS clients locally

Keeping your workstations up to date with all of the latest updates and security patches is vital. This becomes problematic when you have to support dozens or hundreds of workstations. Microsoft has made it much easier by creating Windows Server Update Services.

Implementing a Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) infrastructure requires you to install and configure a WSUS server. Once this is complete, you then need to configure the client computers on your network to point to the WSUS server. This entails deploying the required software on the network and configuring the required settings. Here's how to configure Windows XP to access patches on a WSUS server.

Author's Note

In this article I will outline how to configure a computer running Windows XP Professional to obtain updates from a WSUS server on the local network. The article assumes that you have already installed and configured a WSUS server.

Configuring clients for automatic updates

In order to implement a WSUS infrastructure a compatible version of Automatic Updates must be installed on the client computers. The updated software, referred to as the WSUS client, allows clients to download the updates from a WSUS server instead of using the Windows Update.

The updated version of Automatic Updates can run on any of the following platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional with SP3 or later
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (All editions)

Installing a compatible version of automatic updates

The process that is use to install the WSUS client will depend on the operating system and service pack version that is installed on client computers. If all clients are running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, no installation is required because the WSUS client is already installed.

If client computers are not running Service Pack 2, or they are running a different version of Windows, the WSUS client can be installed through self-update. When WSUS is installed, IIS is automatically configured to distribute the updated version of Automatic Update when each client computer contacts the WSUS server. The self-update method is supported by the following clients:

  • Windows 2000 with SP3 or SP4
  • Windows XP with SP1 or SP2
  • Windows Server 2003

The self-updating client software is not available if client computers are running Windows XP with no service packs. Assuming that there is not a Software Update Services (SUS) server on the network already, you must first install the SUS client software on the computers. This will add the self-updating client software. When the client connects to the WSUS server, the SUS client will be updated to the WSUS server.

The SUS client software (WUAU22.msi) can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site. You can deploy the software locally on each client computer or it can be deployed from a central location using Active Directory. The following steps outline how the client can be deployed using a group policy object:

  1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and click Active Directory Users And Computers.
  2. Right click the appropriate organizational unit and click Properties.
  3. From the Group Policy tab, select an existing GPO and click Edit or click New to create a new GPO.
  4. Under Computer Configuration, select Software Settings as shown in the figure.

Figure A

Deploying the SUS client through group policy
  1. Right click Software Installation, point to New, and click Package.
  2. Locate the WUAU22.msi file and click Open.
  3. The Deploy Software window appears. Click Assigned and click OK.

Configuring automatic updates

Once the updated version of Automatic Updates has been deployed to client computers, you can configure the client software. The settings can be configured through the Local Security Policy on each computer or if your network uses Active Directory, you can deploy settings using group policy.

Using Active Directory to configure WSUS clients

Before you can deploy any settings through a Group Policy Object (GPO) you must first load the Automatic Update policy settings. This should be done when Software Update Services is installed. If not, open the appropriate GPO, under the Computer Configuration or User Configuration, right click the Administrative Templates folder and click Add/Remove Templates. Click Add and locate the Automatic Updates ADM file (wuau.adm) which is located in the Windows\inf directory. Select the adm file and click Open.

You can find the Windows Update settings within a GPO by navigating to Computer Configuration/ Administrative Templates/ Windows Components/ Windows Update folder. Within the details pane, double click Configure Automatic Updates and click Enabled. The details pane will display the options listed below:

  • Configure Automatic Updates
  • Specify Intranet Microsoft update service location
  • Enable client-side targeting
  • Reschedule Automate Update scheduled installations
  • No auto-restart for scheduled update installation options
  • Automatic Update detection frequency
  • Allow Automatic Update immediate installation
  • Delay restart for schedule installations
  • Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations
  • Allow non-administrators to receive update notifications
  • Remove links and access to Windows Update
  • At a bare minimum, you need to configure the first two options to enable Automatic Updates and point the client computers to the WSUS server. The first setting, Configure Automatic Updates, is used to enable or disable automatic updates. If it is enabled you can select one of the following settings as to how updates are downloaded and if the administrator is notified:

    • Notify for download and notify for install - A logged on administrative user will be notified before updates are downloaded and again before updates are installed.
    • Auto download and notify for install (this is the default) - Updates are automatically downloaded. A logged on administrative user is notified before updates are installed.
    • Auto download and schedule the install - Updates are automatically downloaded and installed on a pre-configured schedule.
    • Allow local admin to choose setting - Local administrators are permitted to configure their own settings using the Automatic Updates setting in the Control Panel.

    You also need to point the client computers to the WSUS server on the network. This can also be done through the Windows Update container within a GPO. Double click the Specify intranet Microsoft update service location option and click Enabled. In the Set update service for detecting updates field, type in the Universal Resource Locator (URL) to the WSUS server. Type in the same URL in the Set the intranet statistics server field.

    The WSUS settings configure through the GPO will now be automatically deployed to the client computers. Group policy settings are automatically refreshed at a certain interval so the changes may not take effect immediately. To manually refresh the settings, use the gpupdate /force command on the client computers. The remaining settings that can be configured through a GPO are:

    • Enable client-side targeting - This setting is used to enable client computers to self-populate computer groups that exist on the WSUS server.
    • Reschedule Automate Update scheduled installations - This setting is used to define how long to wait after system startup before proceeding with an installation when a scheduled install has been missed. If this option is disabled, the installation will occur at the next scheduled day and time.
    • No auto-restart for scheduled update installation options - This setting is used to configure whether or not the computer is automatically restarted after an update is installed. If this option is enabled, the user currently logged in will be notified to restart the computer.
    • Automatic Update detection frequency - This setting defines the frequency at which Windows will check for available updates.
    • Allow Automatic Update immediate installation - This setting defines whether updates that do not interrupt Windows services or restart Windows should be installed automatically.
    • Delay restart for schedule installations - This setting will determine how long Automatic Updates will wait before performing a scheduled restart.
    • Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations - This setting will determine how long Automatic Updates will wait before prompting a user for a scheduled restart.
    • Allow non-administrators to receive update notifications - This setting will determine whether non-administrative uses receive update notifications.
    • Remove links and access to Windows Update - This setting removes the Windows Update icon from the Start menu.

    Configuring WSUS clients locally

    As already mentioned Automatic Updates can also be configured locally if your network does not use Active Directory. This can be done by editing the Local Group Policy object with the Group Policy editor or by creating and editing various registry entries.

    You can open the Local Group Policy Object in Windows XP by clicking Start and clicking Run. Type in gpedit.msc and click OK. The Group Policy editor will appear. Navigate to Computer Configuration/ Administrative Templates/ Windows Components/ Windows Update as shown in Figure B. The details pane will display the same settings that were outlined in the previous section.

    Figure B

    Configuring automatic updates through the Local Group Policy Object

    Finally, you can also configure the WSUS client settings through the local registry. This requires you to create several registry keys, some of which are outlined in the table below.

    Registry Entry

    Description

    UseWUServer

    This option is used to specify whether a WSUS server is used. Setting the value to 1 indicates the client will download updates from a WSUS server.

    AUOptions

    This option is used to configure how updates are downloaded and whether administrators are notified. The possible values are 2 (notify of download and installation), 3 (automatically download and notify of installation), 4 (automatic download and scheduled installation), or 5 (Automatic Updates is required, but end users can configure it).

    ScheduledInstallDay

    This option specifies the day of the week that updates will be installed. The values range from 0-7 where 0 indicates every day and 1-7 indicates specific days of the week where 1 = Sunday and 7 = Saturday.

    ScheduledInstallTime

    This option specifies the time of day that installs will take place. The value is specified in 24 hour format.

    RescheduleWaitTime

    This defines how long to wait after restarting to computer for a missed scheduled install to take place. The value is specified in minutes (1-60).

    NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers

    This option specifies whether the computer is automatically restarted after an update is installed. Set this value to 1 to enable the logged on user to choose whether or not to reboot their computer.

    NoAutoUpdate

    This option is used to enable or disable automatic updates.

    WUServer

    This option is used to specify which SUS server the client will retrieve updates from. The SUS server is identified by HHTP name.

    WUStatusServer

    This option is used to specify where clients will send status information. The server is identified by HTTP name.

    Keeping up-to-date

    In order to implement a Windows Server Update Services infrastructure, client computers must be configured to obtain updates from the WSUS server on the network. After the updated version of Automatic Updates is installed on client computers, Automatic Updates settings can be deployed to client computers using group policy or they can be configured locally.

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