Set up a virtual Windows Server 2016 for Homelab: Part 6: Install Software Using Group Policy Management

 In this post, we will learn how to deploy *.msi files through folder sharing.

Double check these easy to miss things first.

1. Do you have Network Discovery settings settings set to allow on each computer in the system?

2. What groups do you have in Remote Desktop Users set? Preferably have Authenticated Users set.

Share the folder 

Go to File Explorer and choose a location where you'd like to place the shared folder > New Folder > give a relevant name (Software Deployment ) > Right-click > Share > Specific People >

Choose the group you'd like to share with (Everyone) > Share

Now let's place our desired .MSI file into the shared folder so we can create the GPO.


Create the GPO

Server Manager > tools > Group Policy Management > right-click Group Policy Objects > New > name appropriately (Software Deployment Folder) 

Right-click newly created GPO in right panel > Edit > 

Group Policy Management Editor > Computer Configuration \ Policies \ Software Settings > Right-click Software Installation > New > Package

Type in the Share path of the MSI file. like so \\NameOfServer\Foldershare\FileName.msi > Assigned > OK 

Now let's apply the GPO to our target OU.

Apply the GPO 

Right-click the server > Link an Existing GPO... > choose from the list > OK.

Expedite the GPO Update

If we don't force a Group Policy Update from the command line and simply restart the computer soon after linking the group policy or altering the GPO, there is a good chance the package won't install on restart and login. The reason being it can take 30 to 90 minutes for the GPO to take effect otherwise. so use GPUPDATE /FORCE to get things sped up.

First, open up the Command Line and run the following line of code on any workstations you want to install the MSI package onto. 

gpupdate /force

Restart the workstation.  If the MSI package isn't installing try the following and see what is happening.

1. Look at the event viewer on  the workstation that isn't installing. Check the Event ID and troubleshoot accordingly.

2. Check if the workstation's Windows version is compatible with the MSI software. The Event Viewer will give you an Event ID that would make this evident.

3. Make sure you have Network Discovery set to allow.

Hopefully you managed to install your files!

In the next part of the series we will look at how to map a drive.