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Managing SMS Installer IPF Files

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By Nick Beaugeard

Nick is head of the Systems Management
Division at TSG Australia. Using a combination of technology,
procedures, documentation and process, TSG now deliver a coherent
and quality set of solutions based around Microsoft Systems
Management Server 2.0. Nick has been a freelance consultant for the
last seven years working in London, UK and the US. Upon moving to
Australia, he was coerced to work for a Microsoft Solution Provider
Partner, TSG Australia and concentrates on delivering quality
solutions. One of the most useful and cost saving functions of Microsoft SMS is being able to deploy software automatically to client workstations…

Visit TSG Australia at:


One of the most
useful and cost saving functions of Microsoft SMS is being able to
deploy software automatically to client workstations. Although an
extremely powerful function, without a quality control practice for
managing packages during the design, testing and release phase,
organisations run the risk of deploying a package which may cause
operating systems to fail, rendering users machines dysfunctional.
This is compounded when packages are deployed to server systems. If
the package is not fully tested, serious service disruption can be

The question is, how can we easily ascertain what
functions a package is performing and how can this be easily
reviewed by operations staff?

This article discusses
Microsoft SMS Installer however other tools, for example , Seagate
WinINSTALL can be used and the procedure documented below followed.

The question posed was, “How do we understand what a package

In coming to an appropriate answer, I looked for
where this information was stored. With Microsoft SMS Installer, it
is in the *.IPF file. When I first looked at this file, it seemed
extremely cryptic. How would I ever be quickly able to gather
information on this package and present it in an easy to understand

After some investigation, I found that the IPF file is
constructed of logical blocks and these contain items and values.
Unfortunately, not all similar blocks contain the same items and

At the client site I was working at, a requirement
is for IT specific information to be presented in a HTML form. Thus
I came up with the idea of IPFPARSE. IPF parse is a small command
line utility which extracts pursuant information from the IPF files
and presents it as a “cute” web page, automatically generated.

You can download
IPFParse.EXE here

With this tool, we can simply provide
information from an IPF file and present it in a format that users
and management can easily understand.

The programs are
included in this email. A sample
file and results file
are also provided


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