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SolidWorks Administrative Install Images & SLDIM – Part 1

24 September 2008 12 Comments

SolidWorks provides the ability to create administrative install images that can be used to make a CAD administrator’s job much less stressful by allowing quick and easy installation of SolidWorks.  There are several benefits to using an administrative image, such as:

  • standardizing installations across multiple seats/locations.
  • pushing out file locations and/or customizations.
  • performing pre- and post-install maintenance or other tasks.
  • easily apply service packs.
  • ability to quickly and easily roll back to an earlier service pack if there are any problems with a service pack.

The creation of these administrative images used to have to be done through the command line, but the SLDIM provides much more control and better finesse when applying service packs.  When you apply a service pack to images created with the command line tools, it only updates the SolidWorks install itself, and any add-ins, such as COSMOS or DWGEditor, will have to manually be patched and rolled out.  Using the SLDIM, all SolidWorks packages are updated at once.  (Unfortunately, if you are using Active Directory to deploy the image, you will still have to use the command line tools to create your image.)

This article series will focus on using the SolidWorks Installation Manager (SLDIM) to create a SolidWorks Administrative Image that is tied to a SolidWorks Network License server, and using the HTA method of installing SolidWorks.  It is fairly straightforward to create the image using the SLDIM, but there are a few gotchas that you need to look out for.  This series was also being developed on SolidWorks 2008; but from my testing with the SolidWorks 2009 Beta and PR releases, the information here is valid.

Before you begin, you should make sure that you have exported your settings using the Copy Settings Wizard.  At the very least, you should save the System Options.  I generally leave it up to the users to save their personalized customizations.

First off, you should create your server directory structure so that it will be easy to manage and remember where everything is located.  In the image below, you can see the directory structure I have chosen (located at D:\SW Admin Images\):

Sw2008_sldim_01

The “Licenses” folder is where I have saved my SolidWorks Network License (SNL) file, the “SP3.1″ folder is where I am going to create the installation image, and the “Updates\SP3.1″ folder is where I am going to download the install files.  This is the folder structure that I have found works best for me, but you should do what is easiest for you.

Next, you need to create the share on the server where you will be making the installation image available for your users:

Sw2008_sldim_02

It is important to remember to use a generic share name here, such as “SW2008″, and not “SW2008SP3.1″, as this share name will be used throughout the life of this SolidWorks version.  The directory you are sharing will change, but the share name should remain the same!

So now, we are ready to run the SLDIM.  Enter your serial number(s) on this screen:

Sw2008_sldim_03

You will get a screen similar to the one shown below.  If this was the latest version, it would tell you that you had the latest version, but for this exercise, I am going to continue to install SP3.1.

Sw2008_sldim_04

The important things to note on this page are at the bottom.  Check the “Administrative/Server Installations” radio button, and then check the boxes for everything that you wish to install.  If you are only creating an image, just check the first box; if you also need to install PDMWorks Workgroup Server or the SNL Server, check those too.

The next page is where you choose what applications and add-ins will be installed with the image:

Sw2008_sldim_05

You are then prompted to enter the SNL Server location.  The default port number is 25734:

Sw2008_sldim_06

Now it is time to configure your client options.  Choose “Use a settings file exported from the Copy Settings Wizard”, and browse to where your swoptions.sldreg file is located.  You can also determine if a new installation or upgrade is performed.  Personally, I always do a clean install when moving to a new version, but this is up to you.

Next, the SLDIM will ask for the location of your Standard Library Files, which is Toolbox and the Hole Wizard.  Be very careful what you choose here!  If you choose your current location, your files will be upgraded to the newer version, thus making them inaccessible from older versions.  If you are creating a test image, be sure to choose a different location for the new files.

Sw2008_sldim_09

The next screen is where you set your installation options, including the location of the install image, the default client install path, and any pre- or post-install programs you wish to run.  The image path is the only required entry and MUST BE IN UNC FORMAT; the others are accessed by clicking the “Options…” link.

Sw2008_sldim_10
Sw2008_sldim_13

After you click “Next”, you are now ready to start the administrative image creation!  You have the option to postpone the installation, so that it can be run after-hours, for example.

Sw2008_sldim_14

After clicking “Install Now”, you wait…and wait…and wait…  (Unless you have a fat connection, Gigabit ethernet, and fast HDD’s that is!  The last download AND install I did here took less than 15 minutes total!!! ;)

Sw2008_sldim_15

When the download and administrative image is created, you are presented with the window below.  If you so choose, you can give SolidWorks comments on your installation experience and also turn on the Customer Experience Program.  The feedback SolidWorks gathers from these options will help them tune the software so that we all can have a better SolidWorks experience, so why not participate?

Sw2008_sldim_16

So there you have it, a basic administrative installation image.  After the image has been created, you can further customize it by using the sldadminoptioneditor.exe file in the sldim folder located in the image root directory.

Also, be sure to test the image and work all the kinks out before rolling it out to your users.  Changes to your install image can be made in the AdminDirector.xml (image options), Activation.xml (activation information), or users.xml (user/group information) files if needed.

It has been my experience that using the SLDIM to create administrative images is a very painless process to keep everyone’s software up to date.  It definitely helps when rolling out a new version.  Hopefully, this tutorial will help you become more efficient at keeping up to date with the latest releases.  If you are new to administrative images, perhaps it has given you some ideas on how to make your job easier by consolidating the installation of SolidWorks into this process.

As always, your comments are welcome!  Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where I will show how to go about creating and applying service packs to your administrative image.

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  • jaraak16

    Awesome article Brian!

    I think I am going to be using Admin images for the first time this year when I employ SolidWorks 2009 here. Thanks for the info!

    Jason

  • http://WWW.BARRY-WEHMILLER.COM Rod_Uding

    Wish you had posted this about 1.5 months ago when we went to 2008. Spent an entire day trying to get it installed and running.

  • http://www.rickyjordan.com Ricky Jordan

    Nice job Brian!

    Looking forward the the rest of the series of posts on this subject!

    Ricky Jordan

  • Surajith Ravindran

    Hello Brian,
    Upto creation of Admin image, it looks good. But how to notify the client or how it is implemented at client machines. Please clarify.
    Thank you.

  • http://www.cadfanatic.com Brian

    Hi Surajith,

    You can have several ways to deploy the image:

    * Email deployment (sending the StartSWInstall.hta file by email)
    (http://files.solidworks.com/Supportfiles/SW_Ins…)
    * By advertising the image to clients (creates a shortcut to SolidWorks linked to image in users' Start Menus)
    (http://files.solidworks.com/Supportfiles/SW_Ins…)
    * Through Microsoft Active Directory
    (http://files.solidworks.com/Supportfiles/SW_Ins…)

    You can find this and more information at the SolidWorks Installation and Administration Overview help page at http://files.solidworks.com/Supportfiles/SW_Ins….

    Hope this info helps!

  • Surajith

    Thanks Brian,
    One more doubt. When we are upgrading from Solidworks 2008 to Solidwork 2009. Should we create a new administrative image in a similar directory structure, but '2009' and give the share name as 'SW2009'. Then send new notification to clients. Now what will happen when the clients 'click' the link. Will it upgrade the client's exsiting Solidworks installation or will it do a parallel installation (with both SW2008 and SW2009 coexiting in the same computer)?

    Or otherwise, is it possible to give a generic share name like 'Solidworks' (instead of 'SW2008', and so on) and just continue to give the same share name for both Service Pack upgradations and Version upgradations, so that client machines will always upgrade automatically (after the first installation). (This would be helpful, since we don't have to disturb client users every year for Solidworks version upgradations).
    Sure this is the last query I have regarding this. Hope you will spare some time for me once again to answer this question too.

    Thank you.
    Regards,
    Surajith

  • http://www.cadfanatic.com Brian

    Hi Surajith,

    If you use a different share name for the new version, I believe that it will install parallel. The client install is tied to the share name, and will only look to that to see if the image has changed. (You could change the registry keys for the image location in the client machines, but it is rather involved finding all instances…).

    When changing to a new version I have always been adamant about doing a clean install… When you do the new version image, you can run a batch file before the install to do an uninstall.

    If you do want to try to just do the upgrade between full versions, I would use a generic name for the share such as SolidWorks (as you mentioned) to avoid confusion down the road.

  • Surajith

    Hi Brian,
    Thank you very much for this great help. This gives me a clear understanding of the complete installation procedure, which I could use, for the years to come.
    Thank you.
    Regards,
    Surajith

  • http://www.cadfanatic.com Brian

    No problem, Surajith. Hopefully this information can help other folks!

    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.cadfanatic.com Brian

    No problem, Surajith. Hopefully this information can help other folks!

    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.cadfanatic.com Brian

    No problem, Surajith. Hopefully this information can help other folks!

    Thanks for reading!

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