Log Group Policy (.msi) software installation errors

When .msi package installation via Group Policy fails and there are no good clues in Windows System or Application logs, it is good idea to enable verbose Windows Installer logging. This can be done either via Group Policy or Registry.

Disable desktop gadgets via group policy

Microsoft no longer supports desktop gadgets and even recommends disabling them. In Active Directory domain gadgets can be easily disabled via group policy.

  • Open Group Policy Management Editor
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Desktop Gadgets
  • Enable Turn off desktop gadgets policy
  • Save changes and deploy policy to your clients

If a user now tries to enable desktop gadgets he will get following message:

 Desktop gadgets are managed by your system administrator

Windows 7

Add operation failed. Unable to extract deployment information from the package

I was recently setting up Group Policy software deployment on Windows Server 2008 R2. Everything went fine until I came to Adobe Reader 10.1. Server was refusing to add the package with following error.

Add operation failed. Unable to extract deployment information from the package. Run validation to the package to ensure that the package is correct.

I was sure that package was good as exactly the same files were deployed in number of different locations.

Package was successfully deployed by performing the same actions using another domain administrator account. I never go to the bottom of what exactly is causing this issue and why it only affects Adobe Reader, but it seems that it's related to user profile or home folder setup. Recreating user profile on the original account resolved the problem as well.

Export Active Directory objects with ldifde before performing changes with ADSI Edit

ADSI Edit can be very useful and powerful toll in right hands, but it can also cause lots of problems if used incorrectly.

Before making any changes using ADSI Edit it is always recommended to perform a full Active Directory backup (using ntbackup or a third party backup software).

It can also be a good idea to export Active Directory objects you intend to change using ldifde tool. In this case, if something goes wrong you can simply import affected object without doing full Active Directory recovery.

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