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Upgrading Novell Client Software Across the Network Using ACU.EXE

Articles and Tips: article

Technical Writer
Novell Inc.

01 Jan 2000

This AppNote explains about the new version of the Automated Client Update utility and shows how it can be used to automate the rollout of Novell's latest client software.


Upgrading Novell Clients to the latest version has many benefits. However, it can be a time-consuming task to figure out which versions you currently have running on your network and then roll out new client software to all the workstations that need it.

Novell Client for Windows 95/98 (version 3.2) and Novell Client for WindowsNT/2000 (version 4.7) now include a new utility called ACU.EXE to help you evaluate your client versions five times faster. If your clients need to be upgraded, ACU.EXE can automatically start the upgrade process.

Before you start worrying that this new utility is going to shake up your upgrade plans, relax. If you have upgraded in the past and you like using the commandline switches or unattended text file, you will be pleased to learn that ACU.EXE does not break any of the previous installation or upgrade methods. It just enhances what you already have and makes it faster and easier to manage.

This AppNote briefly describes how ACU.EXE works, and then takes you through the process of upgrading clients with ACU.EXE. It also provides a sample login script for launching ACU.EXE, as well as a tip on using ACU.EXE to check client versions quickly.

The above-mentioned versions of the Novell Client ship with NetWare 5.1 and are also available for download on the Web. For more information about installing Novell Client software, visit the product deployment Web page at:

Overview of the New ACU.EXE

Using ACU.EXE to upgrade your clients gives you more flexibility and creates less network traffic. When this utility is launched from the login script, it checks the existing client version to see if the client needs to be updated. If so, it launches the upgrade the way you have set it up--either as an Automatic Client Upgrade (sometimes referred to as an unattended install) or with user intervention.

Benefits of Using ACU.EXE

With this new version of ACU, you have the same level of control you always did, but now you have some additional advantages:

  • ACU.EXE speeds up the login process and eliminates the network traffic that previous ACU installations caused because the setup utility is not launched unless the client actually needs to be upgraded.

  • ACU.EXE allows users connected to the network via a slow link (WAN/dial-up) to download a small program to check to see if they need to upgrade before downloading the setup utility, thus saving them time.

  • ACU.EXE can create a status log that shows the success and failure of the client upgrades so you know which workstations were successful and which had problems with the upgrade.

How ACU.EXE Works

ACU.EXE is executed from the login script. It checks the client version to see if it is older than the version in three files: the NWSETUP.INI file (Windows95/98), the OEMPRNW.INF (Windows NT), and the unattended file (if you have created one and changed the version numbers).

It then checks the ACU.INI file or the command-line switches to determine several install options. These options are listed in Figure 1.

Figure 1: ACU.INI file options and corresponding command-line switches.

Corresponding Command-Line Switches


Determines if the platform- specific setup utility will be launched once ACU.EXE determines that the install is necessary.

Launch=Yes | No(default: Yes)


(Indicates that you do not want to launch the install)


Determines if users will be prompted to begin the upgrade.

Display=Yes | No(default: Yes)

/D:Yes | No


Determines if a platform- specific configuration file will be used and where it is located.

Use=Yes | No(default: No)

File=configuration file path





Determines if a status log will be created and where it will be located. If you did not create a status log file prior to installation, it will be created and placed in the installation directory on the network or in the directory specified in the File setting.

Use=Yes | No(default: No)

File=log file path





Allows you to display a message to users when ACU.EXE prompts them to upgrade the client.

Message=message displayed to users

(maximum 255 characters)

Not available from command line

The ACU.INI file allows you to create one central text file to handle the command-line options used in previous versions of the client upgrade. You can customize your installation by setting options in the ACU.INI file. However, if you choose to use switches, they will override any ACU.INI options you might have set.

You have the flexibility to determine whether the installation is launched automatically using the [LAUNCHINSTALL] option. In most cases, you want to launch the installation after ACU.EXE has determined that the client needs to be upgraded. However, if you only want to check client versions, you do not want to launch the install. (See "Using ACU.EXE to Check Your Client Version Quickly" for more details.)

If you have chosen to run the install once ACU.EXE determines it is necessary, you can either choose to prompt the user to begin the install or start an unattended install by setting the [DISPLAYDIALOG] option. The software is installed or upgraded when users log in or restart the workstation.

If you want to use the default settings, you do not have to alter the ACU.INI file. However, if you want to customize the installation, you must create a configuration file. The easiest way to create this file is to use the Novell Client Install Manager (NCIMAN.EXE).

Novell Client Install Manager creates a text file that sets up the client parameters you want as defaults. In previous documentation, the file created by Novell Client Install Manager has been referred to as the unattended install option, and that is why the option in the ACU.INI file is called [UNATTEND- FILE]. Several options previously set in the NWSETUP.INI file or on the command line (such as Display First Screen or CAB FIX) are now set up in Novell Client Install Manager, making it even easier to set up the client default settings.

If you set the [STATUSLOGGING] option in the ACU.INI file to Yes, a status log file records the success or failure of the installation. As each workstation completes its installation, the status log file is appended to include information on that workstation.

If you want to display a message to users when ACU.EXE prompts them to upgrade the client, you can add the message to the [ADMINISTRATOR-MESSAGE] variable in the ACU.INI file. This message can be a maximum of 255 characters.

Upgrading Clients with ACU.EXE

You can install and upgrade the client software on all platforms when users log in. The process involves six tasks:

  • Create a folder on the server.

  • Copy Novell Client files and other required files to this folder. Workstations can then read the files during login.

  • Grant rights to the new folder.

  • Modify the ACU configuration file.

  • Create or update the platform-specific configuration files (optional).

  • Create or modify the login script (a sample login script is included in this AppNote).

When the login script runs, ACU.EXE determines if the client needs to be upgraded. This initial check saves network bandwidth during login since the setup utility is only run if the client needs to be updated.

Create a Folder

  1. Log in to a server as Admin or as a user with Admin equivalence. Make sure that you have rights to copy files to a network folder that all users can access, as well as rights to modify login scripts.

  2. Create a folder in SYS:PUBLIC (for example, SYS:\PUBLIC\CLIENT).

Copy Files

  1. From the PRODUCTS directory on the Novell Client CD-ROM, copy the WINNT or WIN95 directories to the new folder. If you are installing only one platform, you need to copy only the platform directory (WINNT or WIN95) for the platform you will install.

    Also, if you are installing the client in only one language or your network does not have enough space to accommodate multiple language directories, you can delete the language directories you do not need from the NLS directory under each client directory. To ensure that you have all necessary files, copy the entire client directory and then delete only the extra language directories.

  2. (Conditional) If you are installing Novell Client for Windows 95/98, copy the Windows 95 and/or Windows 98 .CAB files to the WIN95 directory. The files are on the Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows 98 CD (and Upgrade CD) in the respective WIN95 or WIN98 folder.

Grant Rights

  1. Create a Group object in the NDS tree.

  2. Place into that group users whose workstations need to be installed or upgraded.

  3. Make sure that the group has Read and File Scan rights to the folder you created. If you created a folder in SYS:PUBLIC, the new folder should have Read and File Scan rights already associated with it, but you should make sure that these rights have not been changed.

  4. (Conditional) If you want the results of the installation to be added to a status log file, make sure that the group has Write rights to that file. As each workstation completes its installation, the status log file is appended to include information on that workstation. Make sure you have enabled status logging in the ACU configuration file. If you did not create the status log file prior to running the network installation, you must give users Create and Write rights to the directory.

Modify the ACU Configuration File

  1. Open the ACU.INI file located in the folder you created on the server.

  2. Modify the configuration options.

Update the Platform-Specific Configuration Files

If you want to customize the installation, you can use a platform-specific configuration file to configure Novell Client. Remember that you must change the [UNATTENDFILE] option in the ACU.INI file to Yes and specify the path to the configuration file. However, if you are installing the client with the default settings, you do not need to create or modify the configuration files. You can skip this step and proceed to "Create or Modify the Login Script".

Each platform-specific installation utility reads a configuration file generated by Novell Client Install Manager to configure the client properties. This file provides information such as where to copy drivers during installation and the most recent version number. This file must be placed in the same folder as the installation utility.

  1. Start Novell Client Install Manager (NCIMAN.EXE).

    For Windows 95/98, Novell Client Install Manager is located in the WIN95\IBM_language\ADMIN folder that you copied to the server.

    For Windows NT, Novell Client Install Manager is located in the WINNT\I386\ADMIN folder that you copied to the server.

  2. Select File | New, then select the platform and click OK.

  3. Modify the installation options as needed.

    In the Installation Options list box, double-click the configuration option that you want to modify.

    In the property pages, set the parameters and then click OK.

Note: You can import the settings from a workstation that has been previously configured and save them to the configuration file. Once you set up the workstation, select File | Import Registry to import the settings.

  1. Select File | Save. You can use any filename--for example, UNATT_95.TXT or UNATT_NT.TXT.

  2. Copy this file to one of the following directories:

    • WIN95\IBM_language (for Windows 95/98)

    • WINNT\I386 (for Windows NT)

Note: The path to the text file cannot contain long file names.

Create or Modify the Login Script

You need to modify login scripts for users whose workstations will be upgraded. To upgrade workstations for users in a container, modify that container's login script. To upgrade workstations for users in a profile, modify that profile's login script. To upgrade specific users' workstations, modify those users' login scripts. To upgrade a workstation running bindery-based client software (such as Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks that ships with Windows 95 or Windows 98), edit the system login script (SYS:PUBLIC\NET$LOG.DAT).

To create or modify a login script using NetWare Administrator, complete the following steps.

  1. Start NetWare Administrator.

  2. Using the browser, select the object whose login script you want to create or modify.

  3. Select Object | Details | Login Script.

  4. Enter the login script commands and information into the login script text box. You can edit the sample login script we provide to match the server names, directory paths, and specifications of your own network.

    For additional information on all login script commands, see "Login Script Commands and Variables" in the Novell Client documentation.

  5. To save the login script and close the Details dialog box, click OK.

If the login script you just created was a container or user login script, you're finished and the client software will be installed or updated the next time the users log in.

If the login script you just created was for a Profile object, you must associate the User object with the Profile and make the User object a trustee of the Profile object. For additional information on all login scripts, see "Creating or Modifying Login Scripts" in the Novell Client documentation.

Sample ACU.EXE Login Script

Here is a sample login script that shows the commands you add to the login script to install the client software across an internal network. In this sample, the information that is necessary to the script is represented in uppercase letters. The information you should customize for your network is in lowercase letters.

Note: If you are using this sample script to replace the Microsoft Client with Novell Client for Windows95/98, some user intervention is necessary. Due to Microsoft's limited scripting capabilities, users must close an open DOS box before the workstation is rebooted and the installation is completed.

REM ***** Windows 95/98 *****
   WRITE "Updating Novell Client for Windows 95/98."

REM ***** Windows NT/2000 *****
   WRITE "Updating Novell Client for Windows NT/2000."

Using ACU.EXE to Check Your Client Versions Quickly

In addition to making client upgrades faster and easier, there is a bonus for using ACU.EXE. You can quickly create a log of all your workstations and what client version they are running. To do this, modify the ACU.INI file so that [STATUSLOGGING] is set to Yes and a status log file path is set. Then set the [UNATTENDFILE], [LAUNCHINSTALL], and [DISPLAYDIALOG] options to No. When ACU.EXE runs, a status log listing the versions of all the clients that logged into the network will be created.


With ACU.EXE, there are no more excuses not to have the latest Novell Clients on your Windows-based workstations. In conjunction with NCIMAN, ACU.EXE makes the whole process easier and more efficient that it was in previous versions of the client. And this new upgrade process saves you time and network bandwidth.

customer comments

Acu.exe might not be a excuse to not upgrade clients. I has a slight disadvantage of not being able to run on XP sp2, even with acu.ini set to administratorRights to Yes, for a User with no Rights.

The user must have administrator rights to upgrade Client to eg, 4.91


* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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