With the school year soon to be starting up, I am sure I am not the only one that is worried about protecting the campus network when 1500 students show up in early September ready to get onto ResNet. I had been working on a somewhat complicated system of VBScript, cgi, cookies and Windows Auto-updates to try to clean new users and patch them before they join ResNet.

In the middle of this long, complex job I received a forwarded email from a ResNet mailing list from someone asking for suggestions on something very similar to what we are doing. One reply really stuck out. Use the Nullsoft Installer. After about 30 minutes of reading and playing with it, I knew this was going to make things a hell of a lot easier. I can now:
-Make sure users are up to the current service pack.
-Make sure all OS hotfixes are installed
-Run Stinger to clean off the most popular viruses.
-Check to see if any AV software is installed and if not, suggest our site-licensed virus scan package.

This process is totally visible to the user, especially with the proper command line switches. (progress bars the whole way!) The only time a reboot is necessary is if an SP must be installed.

Unfortunately it took me almost a week of wasted time getting the first, not so good system set up but I got most of it redone in an afternoon with NSIS. (http://nsis.sourceforge.net/) I just wanted to let everyone know that this option is available and very powerful.

Thanks to Dave Hughes of Marist College for this idea.