Building Console and Silent Installers

by Robert Dickau, Principal Technical Training Writer, Flexera Software

Introduction

In a contemporary environment, an end user is likely to find a number of heterogeneous systems. They will be installing and uninstalling with different platforms, different operating environments, and different interaction environments. InstallAnywhere helps you meet the needs of these end users by presenting installer options that can run in any number of environments.

Beyond the basic installer wizard, graphical user tools, and variable-based rules, InstallAnywhere offers additional options for you to use when building an installer. This white paper describes additional installation-related concepts, including:

  • Console-mode, for command-line-driven installations
  • Silent installations, for working with limited or no user interaction

Learn More about InstallAnywhere

If you wish to learn more about the capabilities of InstallAnywhere and download a free evaluation, please visit the Flexera Software Web site at www.flexerasoftware.com/installanywhere

Console Installers

In enterprise-level environments, it is not uncommon for end users to install applications to servers and other remote systems. In these cases, a rich graphical user interface (GUI) such as that provided by InstallAnywhere's standard installer modes is not always desirable. You may find that your end users will a need command-line interface mode installer, or even a silent installation that requires no end- user interaction.

InstallAnywhere Enterprise Edition supports both console- mode and silent-mode installations. Console mode provides your end user with a text-only interface, similar to that found in ANSI terminal applications. Silent mode provides an automated non-interactive installation mode, which can either run entirely using the default settings you defined in the project, use intelligent logic to determine installation parameters, or read configuration information from a simple response file.

These modes provide enormous flexibility in your installation, enabling you to give end users a choice of installation mode that best meets their needs.

Console-mode installers enable your end users a non- graphical user interface structured to enable interaction through text only. Console mode is intended to add support for non-graphical environments such as those common on so called "headless" Unix systems. Console mode mimics the default GUI steps provided by InstallAnywhere, and uses standard input and output. The biggest advantage to console mode is that Unix developers no longer need X Windows (X11) to run their installers.

To enable console mode for your project, you must select the Console check box in the Installer UI > Look & Feel task.

Additionally, to enable console mode for a Windows installer, choose the Console Launcher option for the Install Launcher Type in the task Project > Platforms > Windows, pictured in the following figure. Starting with InstallAnywhere 2009, you can set the default UI mode of the uninstaller independently of the installer.

To run an installer in console mode, the user runs the installer with the -i console argument, as in the following:

install -i console

Note: If console mode has not been enabled for your project, the installer displays an error message that begins, "Installer User Interface Not Supported".

InstallAnywhere does not automatically provide console alternatives for panels you have added to your installer. You must provide consoles for each panel that you want displayed during console mode. In general, InstallAnywhere console actions provide parity with panels provided in the graphical mode.

For example, the Pre-Install task normally includes graphical panels such as Introduction, Choose Install Folder, and Pre-Install Summary.

To add console equivalents to these graphical panels, begin by clicking the Add Action button and selecting the Consoles tab.

You then select the desired consoles and click Add, which places the console actions in the Pre-Install task. It is not necessary to insert the console actions next to their graphical panel equivalents, but doing so can help with the overall organization. Another approach is to group the panels and console actions separately.

As with graphical panels, the customizer for a console action enables you to modify the text and behavior of the action in console mode. The default text of a console action is generally similar to the text used by the graphical panel, though slightly reworded to reflect the text-only mode. For example, where panel text might refer to Previous and Next buttons, the console action mentions typing "back" to return to a previous step.

At run time, the console actions display the text you specified in the respective customizers. For example, the console version of the Introduction panel appears as follows:

Introduction
---------------------
InstallAnywhere will guide you through the installation of 
SampleApp.

It is strongly recommended that you quit all programs before 
continuing with this installation.
Respond to each prompt to proceed to the next step in the 
installation. If you want to change something on a previous 
step, type 'back'.

You may cancel this installation at any time by typing 'quit'.

PRESS <ENTER> TO CONTINUE:

Similarly, the console version of the Choose Link Location panel appears similar to the following:

Choose Link Location
---------------------
Where would you like to create links?

-> 1- Default: C:\Documents and Settings\User\Start 
Menu\Programs\SampleApp
   2- In your home folder
   3- Choose another location... 
   4- Don't create links

ENTER THE NUMBER OF AN OPTION ABOVE, OR PRESS ->ENTER-< TO ACCEPT THE DEFAULT:

Console-mode enables text to be output to the console line-by-line. It does not support formatted text, clearing the screen, or positioning the cursor.

Tip: Running the installer in console mode sets the InstallAnywhere variable INSTALLER_UI to the value "CONSOLE". If necessary, you can test the value of INSTALLER_UI to determine whether any action should run.

 

Silent Installers

Silent mode, which enables an installer to run without any user interaction, is fully supported on all Unix platforms. (A near-silent mode, displaying only progress information, is available on Windows and Mac OS X.) As with console mode, you must enable silent mode for your project in the Look & Feel subtask.

This is an excerpt. Download the entire pdf: Building Console and Silent Installers