Customizing Installation Status Reporting
September 17, 2001
by Dana Daugherty
Want more accurate, customized Software Distribution client reporting? Receiving better installation status reporting requires configuring a Site Server to look for specific MIFs on your clients. This article will explain the process.
Installation status reporting is pretty simple really. I don't think it is explained very well in most of the available resources, though. In my opinion this is an extremely important area of software distribution. If you are distributing a package to 1000+ machines it would be really nice to have an accurate method of determining if the install was successful or, if not, what was the problem.
Client Side Process
The process looks like this: SMS Advertised Program Manager looks for an Install Status Management Information File (MIF) that can be associated with the completed program. If it finds one, it passes the status information back to the SMS Site Server. If it can't find one, it uses the program's exit code.
These MIFs are generated by applications and placed in the Windows or Windows\Temp directories. Not all applications generate MIFs. But you can work around this. Wrappers can be used to give you more control and customization for installations. I like to use SMS Installer for this purpose. SMS installer allows for customized MIFs. I find this feature quite useful. To see if an installation generates a MIF just do a search for *.mif.
Typically programs create a failed status MIF at the beginning of an install. If it finishes successfully then the MIF is edited causing it to become a successful status MIF.
Contents of a MIF
MIFs have a standard format. Here is an example of an Installed Status MIF for the MDAC 2.1 install. Focus on the last two sections, Status and Description. This is the information that you will see in the SMS Administrator Console.
Specifying MIFs within Package Properties
With SMS, customizing installation status reporting is simply telling SMS to find a specific MIF on the client, after an install. The MIF has information about the install. That information is then available for you to view from the SMS Administrator's console.
In order to specify a certain Status MIF, go to to the properties of a package. Select the Reporting Tab. Select "Use these fields for status MIF matching:". Then enter the complete name of the MIF that is being generated by your installation. If the MIF isn't found, SMS will revert to using the default status messages that would normally be used.
Viewing Installation Status Messages
Go to the System Status tree, open Advertisement Status, and select an advertisement . In the right pane, right-click on a SMS site where the program is being advertised, then select a submenu option. When the report appears, the value from the Status section of the Status MIF (created on the client) is available under the Status heading. Information from the Description section from Status MIF is available under the Description heading. Pretty cool, huh?