Maybe “hate” is too strong a word.
And to be honest, it’s not entirely Windows’ fault. I mean… Windows 7 is actually pretty decent. It has things I like about it. The new taskbar is a thing of beauty, even if it does steal some ideas from Mac OS X.
My current Windows Desktop. Me and Happy Deer are friends. Original by Nathan Lanier on Flikr.
So let me be more specific. I hate administrating Windows. Especially when it comes to deploying software.
If you’ve ever had to manage a large group of Windows systems, or a large group of computers in general, you probably know what I’m talking about. Even with Active Directory and Group Policy software deployment, you are just too limited to be able to easily administrate any software package that comes along.
Especially poorly designed software installers. *queue angry glare at older Adobe packages*
So what is an administrator to do?
I cannot express in words how much simpler WPKG has made my job at work. Now instead of hoping and praying that a package has a Microsoft sanctioned MSI installer that works with Group Policy, I can custom write a sequence of commands to install just about anything.
It takes a bit more work to get your package going, but once you have the template designed it is relatively simple to maintain and deploy to multiple systems. I can also host all the packages and scripts from a Linux server on the network, using read-only guest access so that passwords aren’t floating around in the wild.
But, most important to me, it lets me configure a single logical script that will install the correct software, no matter what the version of Windows. Working for a school, we have systems that are still running Windows 2000. And now with new hardware coming in, Windows 7 has to be targeted as well.
That is, essentially, what work has consisted of the past week. I’ve gone over the packages we have deployed with a fine toothed comb, adding Windows 7 support. This is especially tedious since Windows 7 (and Vista, but we don’t talk about Vista) has 32-bit and 64-bit variants.
With a fair bit of creativity and copious use of environment variables, I now have all our installers using the correct packages for the targeted version and architecture of Windows.
Next step: building a network deployable Windows 7 image. And doing the whole process again when Windows 8 hits.