Apple Remote Desktop - Installing by Package and Metapackage

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Installing by Package and Metapackage

You can install new software automatically and without user intervention by copying
installer packages (.pkg or .mpkg files) to one or more remote clients. Apple Remote
Desktop copies the package to the computers you choose, runs the installer with no
visible window or user interaction required, and then erases the installer files on


Distributing copyrighted software without the appropriate license

agreement is a violation of copyright law.

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Chapter 8

Administering Client Computers


You can choose to initiate the installation of a package from the designated Task Server
rather from a Remote Desktop task. This allows you to install packages on computers
that may not be connected to the network (with a current status of “Offline”) when you
run the task. The Task Server monitors the network for the next time the offline client
comes online again. Then the Task Server performs the installation. For more
information about designating a Task Server, see “Using a Task Server for Report Data
Collection” on page 122 and “Setting Up the Task Server” on page 166. For detailed
instructions about installing via the Task Server, see “Installing Software on Offline
Computers” on page 112.

You can install multiple packages in succession. When you execute installation of
multiple packages, Remote Desktop copies over all the selected packages and then
installs them. It also detects whether a restart is required and will give you a visual cue.
You can tell the task to restart the computers upon completion, or restart the
computers manually later.

It is not possible to stop the installation of a package. Once the installation starts, it will
complete (assuming no errors occur on the client). However, you can click the Stop
button to stop remaining packages from being copied over and therefore halt the

Alternatively, an administrator can use the PackageMaker application (available on the
Apple Remote Desktop CD or with the Apple Developer Tools) to create a metapackage
that contains several installers to be run in sequence. In addition to creating
metapackages, you can also use PackageMaker to create packages for custom software
that your organization may have developed. More information about making and using
packages and metapackages is available on the Apple Developer Connection website

To copy and install software using a .pkg file:


Select a computer list in the Remote Desktop window.


Select one or more computers in the selected computer list.


Choose Interact > Lock Screen, and then click Lock Screen.

By locking the screen, you prevent the package installation interface from appearing
on the controlled computer’s screen during installation.


When a controlled computer is restarted after a package installation, some

package installations may have processes that run as the root user in the login
window. These processes can be a security risk. Test your install packages before
installing them on controlled computers to make sure they don’t run processes in the
login window.

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Chapter 8

Administering Client Computers


Choose Manage > Install Packages.


Select a .pkg or .mpkg file to install.

Alternatively, you can drag an installer package on to the package list window.


Select whether to restart the target computers after installation.

If you select “Attempt restart, allow users to save documents,” users can allow or cancel
restart after installation.


Select the option to run the task from “This application.”

This option is preferable when installing on computers that are all currently online.

If you want to install the software via a Task Server, see “Installing Software on Offline
Computers” on page 112.


Select other installation parameters, as desired.

For more information on the available options, see “Copy Options” on page 116.

Note: Client computers are not restarted automatically after an installation is complete
unless explicitly selected in the task command.


Click Install.

During installation, a progress bar appears in the task header in the main window. No
progress bars appear on the client computer. The copied package is deleted from the
client computer if an error occurs during installation. However, a failed installation may
leave behind other files created by the installer.