Auto Installers – The Time Savers in this Technological World

Prepared by: Danny Nagdev, MKCL, India

AUTO INSTALLERS – THE TIME SAVERS IN THIS TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD
BACKGROUND
This paper talks about various Software Auto Installers which were created by Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) to save huge delays and human efforts, caused due to software installation procedures at our learning centers. Before touching upon how we went about creating these Auto Installers, it would be apt to introduce MKCL as it would emphasize the magnitude of the problems faced by our learning centers while installing the softwares.

ABOUT MKCL
MKCL- Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited- is a public limited company established in Mumbai by the Government of Maharashtra, India, in August 2001, to create new paradigm in education and development through universalization and integration of Information Technology in teaching, learning and educational management processes in particular and socio-economic transformative processes in general. MKCL is an entrepreneurial endeavor to bridge the Digital Divide and the resultant Knowledge Divide and Opportunity Divide by offering actionable knowledge and essential services to masses for socio-economic transformation. In order to bridge the digital divide, MKCL launched a state-wide IT Literacy course in the form of Maharashtra State Certificate in Information Technology Program - MS-CIT in July 2002. This program is implemented across the state through a private-public-partnership (PPP) network of more than 5000 Authorized Learning Centers (ALCs) spread all across rural and urban areas of the State. Over 5.5 million learners have gone through this course in the last nine years.

THE PROBLEM – AN OPPORTUNITY TO INNOVATE
As the number of learning centers grew in number, so did the number of computers in each center. This resulted in a huge computer base of approximately 20,000 computers. Due to Internet bandwidth constraints the in-house developed Learning Management system, along with the full eLearning content was installed on the desktop (designated as server) of each learning center. This gave faster access to the eLearning content to the students of the center. In order to curb software piracy, Operating Systems, Application Softwares and Antivirus softwares were centrally purchased and sent to each center in DVDs. The LMS and its prerequisites like Microsoft .Net Framework, Windows Installer etc. were also sent along with these DVDs. Every center has a center coordinator who used these DVDs and installed these softwares on the centers computers. Even though it seems to be a very simple software installation process, it resulted in a very time consuming and labor intensive process. Figure 1 depicts a typical software installation scenario.

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Auto Installers – The Time Savers in this Technological World

Prepared by: Danny Nagdev, MKCL, India

Figure 1: A typical Software Installation Scenario

THE SOLUTION – AN INNOVATION
An extensive research was carried out at MKCL to find out products which would automate the software installation process. Various products tools were evaluated [1][2]to create a single Auto Installer DVD which would install all the softwares (except the Operating System). However, the following limitations were found in many auto installer tools: 1. Software installation process recording was based on mouse clicks 2. Screen resolution of the clients had to match the screen resolution of the PC where the software installation process was recorded 3. Installer Graphical User Interface should be easy to understand Finally we found a tool which could automate the installation process and eliminate the limitations found in other tools[3]. Using this tool we could record the software installation process, insert license keys (which are invisible to the user) and even modify the installer screen to insert our logo and support information. Using this tool we created an installer which could install the following softwares with a single click of a button: Antivirus Server, Microsoft .Net framework, Admission Software, Hardware / Software Inventory Client, LMS Server, Adobe Flash Player, Acrobat Reader 9.0, Messenger, Distributed Classroom Client, MS Office 2007, Winrar etc. The installer was then packaged in a DVD and sent across to our 5000+ learning centers. Now, the center coordinator could install all the required softwares with a single mouse click and save enormous time and effort. Figure 2 shows a typical software installation scenario which resulted due to the auto installer.

Figure 2: A typical Software Installation Scenario after Auto Installer

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Auto Installers – The Time Savers in this Technological World

Prepared by: Danny Nagdev, MKCL, India

THE WAY FORWARD
With the success of the Single click software auto installer, a need was also felt to automate the Operating System Installation procedure along with the softwares installed on it. The Operating System Auto Installer would further save time and effort of the center coordinators by automating the installation of the operating system and softwares; assigning IP addresses, create a windows domain, create sample student user accounts etc. Figure 3 depicts a typical Auto installer process for this requirement:

Figure 3: A typical OS Auto Installer process

We have almost completed the creation of the OS Auto Installer with the use of free tools[4][5]. Furthermore, research is in progress for the creation of a Virtual Machine based USB Pen Drive which would copy and run a preconfigured Virtual Machine onto the client’s Hard disk and run from there.

REFERENCES
     [1] Almeza Multiset Auto Installer [online]. http://www.almeza.com/ [2] Various Auto Installers [online]. ]. Available from: http://www.filetransit.com/files.php?name=Automatic_Install [3] RoboSetup Auto Installer [online]. Available from: http://robosetup.high-mountain-group.qarchive.org/ [4] Windows Unattended CD Creator [online]. Available from: http://www.vitaligraf.de/en/?Projects:Windows_Unattended_CD_Creator [5] Auto IT Script [online]. Available from: http://www.autoitscript.com/autoit3/index.shtml

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