8.7 - Plugin Quick Install Feature explanation and Troubleshooting
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8.7 - Plugin Quick Install Feature explanation and Troubleshooting


Article ID: 261867


Updated On:


IT Management Suite Deployment Solution Client Management Suite


Starting with 8.7 SMA is able to quickly install, upgrade or uninstall client plugins without involving policies and tasks.

The information about the plugins that needs to be processed is passed to the agent via install xml file. This is the same install xml that is being used to provide SMA with the connection profile and CEM settings.

Install xml sample containing Deployment Plugin info is below. The important fields include plugin name, version, package GUID, installer's command-line.


There are a few ways install xml can be passed to the agent:

  1. Manual agent installation using AENSC.exe package, few samples are below:
    1. AEXNSC.exe /installxml=<xml path>
    2. AEXNSC.exe /reinstall /installxml=<xml path>
    3. AEXNSC.exe /nsweb=https://server.com /installxml=<xml path>
  2. Agent push installation. NS console page is used to select the list of plugins to process and then install xml gets pushed along with the agent package to the client and gets executed via command-line above.
  3. Agent upgrade policy execution. If plugin upgrade option is checked then install xml gets created and passed as a part of agent package to the client and gets executed.
  4. Unified plugin rollout policy execution. Install xml gets passed as part of client policy to the client and gets executed.
  5. Deployment Solution tasks execution. SOI and image deployment tasks allow user to select the list of plugins. Install xml gets delivered to the client as part of the task xml.

Install xml processing sequence.

In all the scenarios above the install xml file named AEXNSC.xml is created in the agent installation folder or copied in there and then SMA is restarted. All the scenarios work exactly the same way after that:

  1. SMA detects AEXNSC.xml in the agent folder and checks if plugins list is in there.
  2. If plugin list is there, then SMA starts in special "quick install" mode. All the steps below are specific to quick install mode where SMA executes very limited set of actions.
  3. SMA first checks if agent is registered and registers on NS server if it is not. The whole sequence is aborted if SMA cannot register in 20 minutes.
  4. SMA then sends basic inventory and receives the policies. The policies are used to get ACC credentials and various download settings. The whole sequence is aborted if SMA cannot receive the policy in 20 minutes.
  5. SMA does not load any plugin in quick install mode, so no tasks or policies get actually processed even if they are received.
  6. SMA does not show any UI elements, it does not show a tray icon and UI cannot be invoked.
  7. When SMA is running in quick install mode then both AEXNSAGENT.exe and AEAGENTUIHOST.exe processes can be seen in Task Manager.
  8. SMA validates list of plugins from install xml and downloads the ones that can be installed one by one. The plugins can be downloaded from NS, site servers or peers. All download and package delivery settings, like throttling are applied.
  9. SMA creates quick installer xml that contains the list of plugins that needs to be installed. This list can contain less plugins than list from install xml. Quick install xml is named QuickInstall.xml and located in agent installation folder.
  10. SMA starts quick installer module when all applicable plugins are downloaded.
  11. Quick installer does the rest of processing. Quick installer is hosted inside AEXAGENTUTIL.exe process. Only AEXAGENT.exe is visible in Task Manager during this stage. No UI is available.
  12. Quick installer stops SMA service
  13. Quick installer validates list of plugins from quick install xml and executes plugin installers one by one.
  14. Plugin installers running in quick install mode do not start or stop SMA service and do not send basic inventory. If some installer starts SMA service, then SMA service will be stopped by quick installer before the next plugin installer start.
  15. Quick installer starts SMA service and quits when plugin list is completely processed.
  16. SMA service starts, detects the end if quick installation sequence and sends basic inventory that will contain the list f installed or updated plugins.



Release: 8.7


Quick Installer troubleshooting

When quick installer starts at step #11 (see above) it creates the following registry entries under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Altiris\Altiris Agent


The first one is removed at the end of quick install sequence at step #15 and can be used to detect if quick installer is currently running or it was running before and crashed for some reason. The crash dump should be created in the later case.

The second registry entry is meant for plugin installers usage, they use this registry entry to detect if they are running in "quick install" mode and that they should not start or stop SMA service or send basic inventory. The second registry entry is also used by SMA service at step #16 to detect that installation sequence has ended and that it should send the basic inventory.

Quick installer copies both AEXNSC.xml and QuickInstall.xml that were used during installation sequence to "InstallLogs" folder, see sample below. There could be multiple xmls in case quick installation sequence was running multiple times, pay attention to the time stamp in the name. These files are never cleaned up.


Sequence sample

Below is the installation sequence sample obtained by using filter "QuickInstaller" in the log viewer. Two plugins gets validated, downloaded and installed.

Loading and plugin validation stages go first - AEXNSC.ml gets loaded, plugins get checked one by one.


Downloading stages go then - two plugins get downloaded one by one, which can take some time, the download timeout for each package is set to 10 minutes, if the plugin download cannot be started in 10 minutes, then that plugin will be skipped.


Then SMA service starts quick installer by passing path to QuickInstall.xml to AEAGENTUTIL.exe using /quickinstall parameter

Quick installer then stops SMA service


Quick installer then validates and installs plugins one by one starting SMA service at the end



Unified policy processing

Unified policy allows admin to schedule plugin updates via policy, The policy with the specified plugins in the list is processed only once. In order to process the same policy again the admin should change the plugins list.

This policy tracking mechanism is based on a policy run history, which is stored as set of files in "Quick Installer" folder, see below.


Each file name consists of policy GUID and policy content hash. You can force SMA to run policy again by removing the history file.

Each history file contains xml describing the policy rollout result, see below. By matching the time to XML files in "InstallLogs" folder you can find AEXNSC.xml and QuickInstall.xml files that were used during particular policy rollout.


So generally, SMA logs should be gathered from the Agent, and then we can check the mentioned folders if data was generated there.

Also note that only current list of Agents on 8.7 is supporting Quick Install method: