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Copying Files and Applications

Although the Install Packages command is incredibly helpful for administrators, not all developers rely on package files to install their software. Many applications don’t use any installer at all and just need to be copied to computers to be used. Others use proprietary installer applications (although the number of them has steadily decreased as Mac OS X has continued to evolve). To aid in these situations, as well as in situations in which you want to make files available to users of one or more computers, Remote Desktop includes a Copy Items feature that can be used to place applications, installers, or any other type of files on remote computers. It can even be used to place configuration or preferences files, which can modify the functionality of Mac OS X and various applications in a number of ways.

There are two forms of the Copy Items feature in Remote Desktop. The first of them is drag-and-drop copying. Drag-and-drop copying is new in Apple Remote Desktop 3 and is a welcome new feature. If you want to copy an item to a specific computer, you can initiate a control session of that computer. Then drag and drop files or folders to that computer in the same manner as you might move or copy items on your local computer. Just drag them onto the control window and drop them into any folder on the controlled computer. You can even use Mac OS X’s spring-loaded folders feature to navigate through the file system of the remote computer. When you drop the files, Remote Desktop will prompt you to confirm the copy, specifying the files and the file path on the remote computer where they will be placed. If you confirm the copy, they will be copied to that location.

The second method, which has existed in all previous Apple Remote Desktop versions, is the Copy Items command. Select one or more computers and then select Copy Items from the Manage menu (or the default toolbar). You will see a Copy Items task dialog box (see Figure 2). As with the Install Packages dialog box, the first item is a listbox in which you specify the items to be copied. Below it are a number of options for how and where the items should be copied.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Copy Items dialog box

The first option is where on the remote computer(s) the items should be placed. You can choose the same relative location on the remote computer as your local computer (providing the same file path exists), the Applications folder (prefect for applications that don’t require an installer), the current user’s desktop folder or home directory (these are somewhat pointless if you are using network home directories), the System Fonts folder (good for deploying new fonts), the System Preferences folder and System folder (good for configuration files modifying Mac OS X), or the top folder (aka the root level) of the startup disk. You can also specify the full path to the appropriate folder in the file system.

The second option is what to do if an item by the same name exists at the location you are copying to (which might happen if you are copying an updated application). You can choose to have Remote Desktop ask you what to do, to replace the existing item without asking, to replace the item without asking whether the existing item is older than the one being copied, to continue copying but rename the existing item, or to continue copying and rename the new item.

The next option gives you the choice of how file ownership and permissions are assigned after copying. You can choose to have the item(s) inherit from the folder they are being copied to, to preserve the owner that the file has on your computer, to set to the current console user (typically this will be the person performing the copy), or to specify POSIX owner and group permissions. If you are working in an environment that does not use directory services and network accounts, it is probably best to let the items inherit permissions. This is also true if you are in an Active Directory environment in which Apple’s Directory Access plug-in is dynamically generating user ID attributes (which will vary from one computer to another). Also, if you assign permissions, you will need to enter the user and group names by hand rather than from a menu, so be certain to enter them properly.

The options below this mirror the options for installing packages with one addition. That addition is the option to open the items after they are copied to the computer. This feature can be useful if you are copying nonpackage installer applications because the installer will be immediately available. However, in many cases, the installer will require user interaction. This can mean the user at the computer, or you can perform the needed interaction by controlling the computer using Remote Desktop.

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