In a recent article, we introduced the Automatic Client Upgrade (ACU) and demonstrated how to use it to upgrade the Novell client software on your Windows 95/98 workstations. In this article, we’ll show you how to customize the ACU installation so you can determine which settings to use, just as if you were performing a manual custom installation on each workstation. Our focus will be on upgrading Windows NT clients to Novell’s latest client version, 4.80; however, you can also use this same procedure to perform a customized Windows 95/98 ACU.

Preparing for the ACU
To begin the process, you must download the client file from Novell’s Web site and unzip it, creating the directory structure of \Novell\english\winnt\i386. This directory structure is normally created in the SYS:\Public folder.

Next, you should create an NDS group that will contain the users who need access to the directory structure created in the step described above. You should give this group Read and File Scan rights to the folder holding the client software. If you’re going to create log files of the installation, the group must also have Write and Create rights.

Configuring the ACU
Now that the preparatory work is out of the way, we can move on to the customized ACU process. Configuring the ACU is a two-step procedure:

  1. Use NCIMAN.EXE to create a customized installation file.
  2. Configure the ACU.INI file so that it knows where to look for that customized installation file.

The Novell Client Install Manager, or NCIMAN.EXE, is located in \winnt\i386\admin\. Figure A shows the first screen you’ll see after launching the utility.

Figure A
Novell Client Install Manager

To begin creating a customized installation file, select File and then New File to open the dialog box shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Select install type

After you choose the install type, you can modify the properties of the client configuration as needed. For example, we selected the IP Only option, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
Installation configuration

When you’ve finished configuring the client installation, save it by choosing File and then Save. You should save this file in the \winnt\i386 folder.

Now, you must modify ACU.INI, which will determine the settings used by ACU.EXE. The ACU.INI file is located in the \winnt\i386 folder. You can use many of the default settings, so we’ll discuss only the UnattendFile parameter.

The UnattendFile parameter specifies whether an NCIMAN configuration file is used, and if so, where it’s located. As shown in Figure D, you should change the Use value to Yes and then provide the path to the customized installation file we created in the previous step.

Figure D
Changing the Use value to Yes in the UnattendFile parameter of the ACU.INI file

After completing the ACU.INI modifications, your final step is to create a login script that will start the ACU process. We chose to create a container login script, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E
Creating a container login script

At this point, your configuration is complete and you are ready to put the ACU to the test. To do so, log in to a Windows NT workstation as a user who is a member of the ACU upgrade group. If your configuration is correct, you should be notified that the client software is being upgraded. The new client installation should then be performed. Pretty powerful stuff for just a few minutes of work, don’t you think?
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