I’ve been a big fan of Ninite for the past year and have used it on many freshly imaged workstations, but I didn’t notice until recently that you can use it an Active Directory environment as well. I can’t estimate the amount of time that it’s saved me over the course of this past year, but I’m sure it’s a sizable amount. Noticing the screenshot below, I became curious about using Ninite in my AD environment and decided that I would document it as I worked with the program and became more familiar with its feature set.
Ninite, in case you are still in the dark – is a wonderful website/( Software As A Service ) SaaS that allows you pick and choose from your favorite applications. It then bundles them all in one automated installer, and removes any additional bloatware that may be present in the installers. It’s a great way to save yourself a ton of time after re-installing windows, and the best part is you can even save the original executable that you built and use it to update your software down the road. Outstanding! Having worked with it before, I kind of had an idea what to expect in regards to installation on a “server” OS.
After signing up for the free trial I was prompted to download a separate “pro” installer that gives me 7 days of testing. I’m working with my home lab so I’ve only got the primary DC and 1 virtual machine running Windows 7 to work with, but I think that should be enough for this case study. Launching the executable gave me the familiar GUI that lets you pick and choose the software of your choice, with the additional feature on the left hand side to select target workstations within the Active Directory environment itself. One thing that I noticed right off the bat is that it selected all machines by default, this bugged me a bit as it’s not logical to assume that all machines in an environment require the same patch level – make sure you are deploying only to the desired workstations before you launch the installation. Here’s a screenshot of the Ninite One GUI that we’re going to be using with Server 2008 :
In typical Ninite style, it’s simple and to the point. Let’s see if it works as well as it’s desktop counterpart – I’m going to be deploying 2-3 packages from each category to give Ninite a good test. As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve targeted the target workstation BK-WRK-001 with the desired software.
I’m kicking off the install now, and running a continuous netstat on the target machine as I’m curious to see the push install in action.
And here’s the netstat in action…interesting. Look at all of those high level ports in action.
The end result was that the target machine received every single package that it was targeted for, and with greater efficiency than some “enterprise” level solutions that currently exist. If you are a small business, then you should definitely consider using Ninite in tandem with a software service, or perhaps as the sole SaaS in your environment.
Overall, I’m happy with the software and it works exactly as advertised. Another win from the developers at Ninite!