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Deploying Java through Group Policy and Java RE Improvements

To push Java out through a Group Policy, you’ll need to get the installation as an .msi. Fortunately, the installer that you can download from Java is an executable wrapped around a .msi. We’ll be able to use this to deploy the software.

Tip: Download the Java RE from java.sun.com instead of java.com to get the package without the Yahoo! Toolbar.
The installer from java.sun.com simplifies the matter greatly as no transforms are required and the Yahoo! Toolbar is not installed alongside Java.

Run the Java Runtime Environment installer that you just downloaded and install the software on a machine. This is the simplest means of extracting the .msi file from the installer. After it has been installed, you can find the .msi file in the Application Data folder of the user that just installed the software:

C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Sun\Java\jre1.6.0_11

In this folder you’ll find two files:

  • Data1.cab
  • jre1.6.0_11.msi

Copy both of these files to your deployment folder.

If you use the Java RE from java.com (not sun.java.com that has the Yahoo! toolbar in it), you will also have a .mst file. This is a transform that you can use to specify different settings during the installation. You can edit this .mst using Orca and apply it when you specify the new installation in the Group Policy.

You can then use the .msi file you’ve acquired and optional .mst (not needed with the .msi I linked to, from my experience) in a typical software deployment through Group Policy.

Good news:

Some good news regarding Java for once! Starting with 1.6.11, Java now uninstalls previous versions upon installation. I always thought this was a terrible fallacy in Java development mentality. Granted that some applications may need older versions of Java, most updates to software fix security issues. Why then, would you want to keep the older, insecure version on your computer? Previous installations took up about 170 MB of space with each instance as well.

Uninstalling previous versions is a step in the right direction for Java.

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