Install Several Programs At Once With Ninite

As an IT consultant I do a fair amount of PC installations and rebuilds. In the SMB market, there aren’t a lot of companies that have imaging or rapid desktop deployment capability so many times when a PC needs to be set up, much of the work is still manual in the sense that applications are installed one at a time. The more programs that need to be installed, the longer it takes.

There are a standard set of programs that are installed on most computers. Things like Adobe Reader, Flash, Java, Chrome, Firefox, iTunes, and Quicktime are installed fairly frequently on PC builds. Installing each one can take several minutes that can add up to many hours over time. Not to mention, some of these have those check boxes that if you’re not careful, will install other programs that you don’t want or change defaults like setting a specific search engine as the new default.

Enter Ninite.com

Ninite

Ninite | Install or Update All Your Programs an Once

Ninite is a cool web based tool that allows you to select from a list of programs and install them in one install process. I’m sure it’ll save you time when building computers by skipping a bunch of steps like navigating to the install site or share on the network, clicking through the install wizard windows, and it picks the basic checkbox selections and doesn’t install 3rd party programs which we can forget to do sometimes. In addition to the list above, there are other programs like VLC player, messaging applications like Skype, AIM, Trillian. Online storage programs like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive. Even popular antimalware programs like Malwarebytes, Avira, AVG, and Avast. Of course you don’t want to install all of them. One should do.

Log onto Ninite.com and see what it can do for you. It will also update applications if you already have them installed. It’s really quite convenient. On your next build, try ninite.com out and see if it you find it saving you some time on your computer builds.

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Blank Desktop, No Mapped Drives

Had a weird issue pop up recently. The background is this. The client had a new Windows 2012 server installed running as a domain controller, DHCP, DNS, and file server. Some new switches were installed.

The issue I came in to help with was that people were not able to connect to the network for some reason. These were people who just came back from a long period of time and logged in but were not getting connectivity to the network drives or printers. We thought that the solution was to put them into another port on the switches which did work for some people but for some reason it didn’t work that day.

As I was trying to figure out this problem, another issue arose. I rebooted someone’s PC who was having network connectivity problems and all I got was a blank desktop with a cursor for the mouse. Even in safe mode, I got the same symptom. Checking IPCONFIG I got the 169.x.x.x address. You know what that means, it wasn’t getting an IP assignment from the DHCP server.

Another tidbit of information – this network didn’t have folder redirection or roaming profiles so it wasn’t either of those that was causing issues. After some trial and error, I was able find a Band-Aid while we worked towards a solution. The temporary fix was to disconnect the LAN cable, log in, then connect back up. After that, people were able to use their PCs. But the issue still remained without employing the Band-Aid fix. Why are they getting blank screens with a mouse pointer and nothing else?

We don’t know exactly what fixed it but we did a few things and either one or a combination of the things we did apparently fixed the problem. Rebooted all the switches. And I found that the DHCP wizard was complaining about something not being completed. I ran through the wizard to finish it all up. I don’t remember exactly what it was but some final steps needed to be completed. I believe there are some accounts/groups that needed some DHCP service permissions that it found wasn’t done. Rebooted the new 2012 server.

After doing those, the network authentications problems, network connectivity issues, and blank screens all disappeared. My personal feeling is that the DHCP wizard needed to finish up the permissions. The reason I think that is because of the fact that client PCs were not getting IP assignments. In any case, the problem was fixed and everyone was back to work within a few hours.

Hope this helps someone.