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Microsoft KB Archive/171070

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Knowledge Base

Article ID: 171070

Article Last Modified on 10/27/2006


  • Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.0 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q171070


Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.2 now provides the ability to install packages on computers running Windows NT Workstation in the background by means of the Package Command Manager (PCM) service. This functionality was included with Systems Management Server 1.2 Service Pack 2, and also as a separate update available on the Web (Pcmupdte.exe) at

A requirement for using Package Command Manager as a service is that the executable file it starts must be run "silently" with no user input. Microsoft Systems Management Server Installer can create executable files that allow for silent running through the "/s" command line switch. In addition, the RESTART script variable, when set to "S" in the Installer script, causes a restart of the system. Lastly, using these two options in conjunction with selecting the advanced Installation Properties check box for Suppress Reboot Message During Silent Installations provides a completely unattended installation of an Installer package and restarts the computer at the end of the installation. See the Installer online documentation for details on this functionality.

While the Installer provides this method for installing a package silently and restarting, it fails to restart if:

  • A run command is sent through the PCM service and no user is logged on or the workstation is locked. In this case, the Installer package will run correctly, but upon completion, the system restart will not occur. However, the job is marked as completed.
  • A shell other than Explorer (if you are running Windows NT 4.0) or Program Manager (if you are running Windows NT 3.5x) is managing the desktop.

An active shell, such as Explorer or Program Manager, is required for Systems Management Server Installer's own restart mechanism to work properly. The shell is not available if the user is logged off or has the workstation locked.


If an application installation requires a restart and must be installed when a user is not logged on, you must use some method other than the Installer to restart the workstation. One possible solution is to use the Ntencap.exe utility. The latest version of this utility (provided with the Package Command Manager Web update or Systems Management Server 1.2 Service Pack 2) has a command line switch that blocks a restart (if it is issued by the executable it encapsulates), begins a timer countdown, then initiates its own shutdown process.

Ntencap.exe is located in the Mstest subdirectory of the SMS_SHR of all logon servers.

The Package Command Manager service runs Ntencap.exe as part of a Run Command On Workstation job. To use the Ntencap.exe restart functionality with an executable file created by the Installer, use the following syntax in the package properties, workstation command line:

   NTENCAP.EXE /NTz:xx myprog.exe /s

Where "xx" is the time in seconds to wait before restarting the computer and "myprog.exe" is the Installer executable file.

After the Run Command On Workstation job completes, the following message will be displayed on the workstation, regardless of whether a user is logged on:

System Shutdown

The system is shutting down. Please save all work in progress and log off. Any unsaved changes will be lost. This shutdown was initiated by DOMAIN\pcmsvc.

Time before shutdown: xx:xx:xx.

After the timer expires, the system will shut down and restart.

IMPORTANT: Any unsaved work on the workstation will be lost when it restarts. Be sure to use the /NTz:xx option to provide an adequate amount of time for users to save their work. A value of 300 would provide users with five minutes to save all their work.

This solution should not be implemented in situations where users may leave their workstations unattended (that is, not logged off) with unsaved work.

Other Alternatives

Alternative methods in this situation would be:

  • Send a separate mandatory job (not system-background) that restarts the workstation after the package installation. A utility created by the Installer can include an interactive dialog box informing the user that an application was recently installed and requires the system to be restarted. Also, if the Installer executable file restarts the workstation, it will allow each application open to prompt the user to save any unsaved work.
  • Use the Shutdown.exe utility from the Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit, sent as a separate mandatory system-background job. Shutdown.exe provides restart functionality similar to Ntencap.exe, but with additional options. Unless you use the "/c" switch, it allows the application's prompt to save data that may have changed, protecting the user who has stepped away from his or her desk from loss of data. You can also include an additional message, up to 127 characters in length, which gives an explanation for the required restart. For information on Shutdown.exe syntax and usage, see the Windows NT Resource Kit Tools Help file.
  • Ask the users to restart their computers manually (for example, send an e-mail mail message to the users, asking them to manually restart their computers).

Additional query words: prodsms sms

Keywords: kbinfo kbusage KB171070