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Zen and the Art of Finding Silent Parameters


Here you are yet again. You’ve got an application you need to silently install to dozens, hundreds…maybe even thousands of computers. Maybe you have access to the Package Library, but alas, no package is available. Here you are, in the woods (er, office?) alone…how will you send out a deployment, young grasshopper?

Try This First…

Before you begin traipsing all across the Internet, try running the installation file followed by /? (front slash and question mark with no spaces). With many (but not all) EXE’s this will open a usage window:

Is it an MSI?

By default PDQ Deploy will set an MSI to install silently. That makes them the easiest of all install files. If you look for a usage statement on an MSI (/?) you’ll always get the same one, /qn.

You’re ready to deploy, no need to add a silent switch. The only thing that might slow you up is if you want to add customizations, such as EULA acceptance, install paths, etc. For this you’ll need to look around on the vendor website or online.

The Art of Google Fu

Typically, a simple search of “Silently Install ” will be all you need for many applications. Other possible search terms that might help you get the information you need include:

quiet install, unattended installation, mass deploy, configurations for, installation settings for…

Hopefully, you’ll get information from the vendor’s site or you may have to scan a few forums and see what your fellow sys admins have come up with for parameters. Be sure to test out your packages on maybe one or two computers beforehand to be sure you’ve got your deployment just right.

Note: It is important to remember that some silent parameters may be case sensitive.

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding a /S in your parameters field, but perhaps you don’t have that option or maybe you just want to customize your installation further…you might in your searches find information to help you create an INI file for your installation file.

Mozilla Firefox is a great example of this.

Instead of a -ms, you would instead have /INI= and then reference a configuration path.

In your practice of Google Fu, you may come across customization wizards. These can be very handy in helping you to build a silent install. Adobe and Office are a couple examples, but there are other applications that have a wizard available.

Still Can’t Find the Right Parameter?

Depending on the application, you many need to contact the vendor directly for silent install options. Sadly, some vendors do not anticipate (or want) silent installations of their application. When all else fails just ask them. 


A Commonly Requested Package….

Microsoft Office:

This is a fairly involved installation and cannot be provided in the Package Library due to licensing issues. Good news is that between the Office Customization Tool (OCT) and PDQ Deploy it’s simple enough to customize your deployment and get it out to your machines. 

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