In addition to being free, OpenOffice.org 2.0 is very
compatible other office suites such that it’s extremely easy to convert and
continue to work with all documents created with other packages, thus making it
an ideal way to move your small or medium sized business up to the next level
without all the hassle and expense related to a standard upgrade. As such, if
you’re considering making the move to OpenOffice.org 2.0, one of the first
things you’re probably wondering about is how you would go about deploying and
installing this package on the computers in your organization’s network. In
this article, I’ll take a look at the tasks involved in downloading, deploying,
and installing OpenOffice.org 2.0.

Downloading the package

To download the OpenOffice.org 2.0 package, point your
browser to OpenOffice.org
2.0 Downloads page
and click the
Download link. When you do, you’ll be prompted to select the language, the
operating system, whether you want to include the Java Runtime Engine (JRE),
and a download site in your geographical region. Once you do, you can begin the
download operation.

Keep in mind that Java is required for complete
OpenOffice.org functionality; however, you can indeed install and use
OpenOffice.org without Java. For instance, Java is necessary in order to use Base
and the new embedded Java technology based HSQLDB database engine as well as to
take advantage of the accessibility and assistive technologies. As such, Base won’t
run without Java, but the other programs (Writer, Calc and Impress) only need
Java for special functionality. If you have already Java installed there is no
need to download the OpenOffice.org installer with Java.

Installation prep

Once you’ve downloaded the OpenOffice.org 2.0 package, you’ll
need to perform the installation preparation. To do so, open Windows Explorer
and locate the OpenOffice.org 2.0 package, for example
OOo_2.0.2_Win32Intel_install_wJRE.exe and double-click to launch the
NSIS-Installer. (NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is an open-source Windows
installer tool.) You’ll then see the opening screen of the OpenOffice.org 2.0
Installation Preparation wizard. When you click Next, you’ll be prompted to
choose a folder in which the installation files will be unpacked and saved, as
shown in Figure A. To continue, just click the Unpack button.

Figure A:

The OpenOffice.org 2.0 Installation Preparation wizard will prompt you
unpack and save the installation files.

Once the files are unpacked, the OpenOffice.org 2.0
Installation Wizard will launch automatically and prompt you to begin the
actual installation, as shown in Figure B. If you’re manually installing the
office suite on a computer, you can click Next and follow along with the wizard
to install OpenOffice.org 2.0. If you’re planning on deploying OpenOffice.org
2.0 to multiple computers, you can click Cancel. You’ll be prompted to confirm
the cancellation and can click Yes. Then click Finish to close the OpenOffice.org
2.0 Installation Wizard.

Figure B:

As soon as the files are unpacked OpenOffice.org 2.0 Installation Wizard
will launch.

Deploying via network share

If you have a small business with a handful of computers
connected to a peer-to-peer network, you can easily install OpenOffice.org 2.0
on each system across the network by way of the Windows Installer Service and
the OpenOffice.org MSI installer package (openofficeorg20.msi) produced by the
Installation Preparation wizard. To do so, you’ll need to share the folder on
the network in which the Installation Preparation wizard saved the installation
files and then create a batch file to launch the MSI installer package.

As you may know, the Windows Installer Service is an installation
and configuration service that ships with Windows Me, Windows 2000, and Windows
XP. So if you’re going to be installing OpenOffice.org 2.0 on those operating
system then, you’re all set to go. If you’ll be using Windows 98 or Windows NT,
you’ll need to download the and install the MSI installer package from the Microsoft
Platform SDK page
.

Sharing the folder containing the OpenOffice.org 2.0
installation files is easy. Creating the batch file is a bit more intricate.
For the sake of an example, let’s suppose that you share the folder as OOo-Share
and the computer is named Datamem. To begin, launch Notepad and type the
following command:

msiexec /i \\Datamem\OOo-Share\openofficeorg20.msi
/qb-

In this command line, msiexec is the MSI executable that
performs the actual installation of the application. The /i
switch configures the Windows Installer to install the specified application.
The next piece is, of course, the UNC path to the MSI file. The /qb- switch configures
the Windows Installer to perform the installation with a basic user interface
without any dialog boxes. In this case the basic interface simply consists of a
progress bar. If you prefer a silent installation, no user interface at all,
you can use the /qn switch.

To complete this part of the operations, save the file as
OOo-install.bat. You can then email the file to your users and instruct them to
run it.

Deploying via Group Policy

If you have a medium to large business and are running
Active Directory, you’ll be interested to know that some IT folks have had varying
degrees of success in deploying OpenOffice.org 2.0 via Group Policy using
standard techniques. As you can imagine, Microsoft isn’t exactly very excited
about this prospect and isn’t doing anything to make it easy to do. Still,
resourceful IT jockeys are hammering away at the problems.

If you want to experiment with deploying OpenOffice.org 2.0
via Group Policy you should spend some time perusing the postings on OOoForum.org and AppDeploy.com. At both of these places you’ll
be able to read and ask questions about other IT folks’ successes and trials
with deploying OpenOffice.org 2.0.

On the other hand, a company by the name of Open Office Technology has developed a product called
OpenOffice-Enterprise–an enterprise management solution for the OpenOffice.org
office suite. This product is designed to make easier to manage OpenOffice
using standard Windows Group Policy tools, including Active Directory,
Microsoft Management Console and the Group Policy Editor.

You can download the OpenOffice-Enterprise client software
as well as very detailed installation and configuration instructions from the Web
site. The Licensing page says that OpenOffice-Enterprise may be installed and
used without charge on up to five computers for testing and evaluation purposes.
For any other use, pricing is $400 per year for 100 users, and $2 per year for
each additional user.