What is the Altiris Agent Bootstrap Program?

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Article ID: 181207

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Management Platform (Formerly known as Notification Server)

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Question
What is the Altiris Agent Bootstrap Program? How does it work? How does it use AeXSWDInstSvc (Altiris Agent Installation Program)?

Answer

Note: This information can be found in the Notification Server 6.0 SP3 Reference Guide pages 19–20.

When the Altiris Agent is installed using a Push or Pull installation, a small (approximately 100 KB) bootstrap program is used. This program, the Altiris Agent Bootstrap program, downloads a larger (approximately 4.5 MB) program, the Altiris Agent installation program, that actually performs the Altiris Agent installation. The Altiris Agent Bootstrap program gets sent to all managed computers at the same time to prevent an overload of the network. The Altiris Agent Bootstrap program then handles the network throughput (starting and stopping), until it downloads the Altiris Agent installation program to the managed computer.

Because the Altiris Agent Bootstrap program controls how fast the Altiris Agent installation program gets downloaded to the managed computer, it can reliably download the Altiris Agent on remote computers or managed computers with poor connections.

The following steps show the installation process during an Altiris Agent installation using a Push or Pull installation:

  1. The Altiris Agent Bootstrap program (AeXSWDInstSvc.exe) is downloaded to the managed computer (either by Push or by Pull). This program is quite small (approximately 100 KB) and can be sent quickly even over a slow line. Because the Altiris Agent Bootstrap program is an NT service, it runs as soon as it is downloaded.
     
    Note: The Altiris Agent Bootstrap program creates a log file, AeXSWDInstSvc.log, in the operating system directory. This log file records the process of downloading the Altiris Agent installation program and installing it. It displays "Sending 'Remote Install Finished: Success' message to Notification Server" when the process of downloading and installing the Altiris Agent installation program is complete. Some messages recorded in this log file are sent back to the Notification Server and logged in the Notification Database.
  2. The Altiris Agent bootstrap program downloads the Altiris Agent installation program (AeXNSC.exe) from the Notification Server. It has the ability to stop and start again until the Altiris Agent installation program is downloaded completely.
  3. The Altiris Agent bootstrap program runs the Altiris Agent installation program.
  4. The Altiris Agent installation program installs the Altiris Agent onto the computer.

    Note: The Altiris Agent installation program adds itself to the registry run key so that, if the computer is rebooted, it will run when a user logs on.
  5. When the installation is complete, you will see an Altiris Agent icon in the system tray of the managed computer, if you selected that option.
     
    Note: During the installation process, status messages are sent back to the Notification Server. There is a chance that one or more of these messages can end up in a Bad event directory on the Notification Server and not be processed into the Notification Data base. However, the Altiris Agent installation could still be successful.

Note: From the time you start a Push or Pull installation, it can take several minutes before the Altiris Agent icon appears in the system tray. This is because the Altiris Agent Bootstrap program is downloaded, then the Altiris Agent Bootstrap program downloads the Altiris Agent installation package, then the Altiris Agent installation package installs the Altiris Agent on the computer. Depending on the network traffic, this process can take some time.
 
Note: There is an MSI program available, AeXNSCInstSvc.msi, that also installs the Altiris Client Installation Service. This service downloads the Altiris Agent installation program from the Notification Server and installs it on the managed computer. The only parameter that AeXNSCInstSvc.msi takes is [NS=NSName.domain .com], where NSName is the name of your Notification Server and domain is the domain that your Notification Server is on. This MSI supports the elevated privilege install.

These are the commands that can be used as additional parameters for the AeXSWDInstSvc (Altiris Agent Installation Service):

AeXSWDInstSvc [-u URL]
                            [-s server_name]
                            [-w URL]
                            [-d path]
                            [-c chunk_size]
                            [-p pause_interval]
                            [-exe]
                            [-checkonly]
                            [-notrayicon]
                            [-nostartmenu]
                            [-preconfig]
                            [-?] [-h]

AeXSWDInstSvc Parameters

 u URL  URL to download the Altiris Agent setup program from. This is an HTTP site. This argument is required.
 s server_name  Name of the Notification Server that the Altiris Agent will report to (without leading \\). This argument is required.
 w URL  URL that the Altiris Agent will use to report to the server. This argument is required.
 d path  Destination path the Altiris Agent will be installed to.
 c chunk_size  Size (in bytes) of data to download each time. If omitted, 1 KB is used.
 p pause_interval  Time (in ms) between downloading each chunk. If omitted, 25 ms is used.
 exe  Forces the program to run as an .exe under Windows NT/2000/XP/ 2003, ignoring any service registration to this .exe. This option has no effect under Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, or Me.
 checkonly  Forces the program to check the Altiris Agent minimum requirements are met. Details are displayed on screen.
 notrayicon  Specifies that the Altiris Agent will not show the tray icon on initialstartup. This will be overridden by the Altiris Agent Settings policies as soon as they are downloaded.
 nostartmenu  Specifies that no start menu item will be installed for the Altiris Agent.
 preconfig  If specified, the program and the Altiris Agent will use the existing client proxy configuration. If omitted, both will attempt to connect to the Notification Server directly.
 ? or h  Shows the usage dialog.