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Easiest Notes upgrade ever

Mat Newman  July 1 2013 13:45:18
Last week was spent working with a customer to finalise their new SOE, with a major feature being the introduction of IBM Notes 9 into their organisation, upgrading from Lotus Notes 8.5.3.

Four features of the IBM Domino/Notes environment has meant that the roll out that began this morning is exceeding the expectations of the customer with regard the ease of deployment of Notes to their users:
  • Scripted Setup file,
  • Notes ID Vault,
  • Policies including Roaming user configuration, and
  • Widget Catalog,

Essentially once a user logs into their new PC for the first time, the scripted setup handles the initial Notes client configuration, the users security information is retrieved from the ID Vault, the client config is handled by the Policies, the users personal information is dragged down from the server from their Roaming settings, and then the corporate Widgets, Live-Text, Actions and Plug-ins are configured from the Widget catalog.

The only thing the user has to do the first time they double click the new BLUE IBM Notes 9 icon on their desktop is to enter their Notes password.

An amusing side note from the upgrade has been the number of users looking for their YELLOW Notes icon, almost every one so far has had trouble identifying that the BLUE icon without the word LOTUS is actually their Notes client.


Scripted Setup File

How does the scripted setup file work? There are two components,

a) An additional variable in the default Notes.ini file, and
b) The configuration file itself.

A) The Additional Variable in Notes.ini

Since we have installed Notes using the multi-user configuration option, the default notes.ini file is located in c:\Users\All Users\IBM\Notes\Data\notes.ini (Windows 7 is the OS)

This file is used as a template for the users individual Notes.ini files when the Notes client is first run.

The modification from the default notes.ini includes the line below in BOLD (ConfigFile=S:\Tools\Install\notessetup.txt )

[Notes]
KitType=1
ConfigFile=S:\Tools\Install\notessetup.txt
SharedDataDirectory=C:\ProgramData\IBM\Notes\Data\Shared
InstallType=6
InstallMode=1
NotesProgram=c:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Notes\

B) The Configuration File

What does the ConfigFile contain? The following:

Username=%USERNAME%
Domino.Name=theconfigserver/thecompany
Domino.Address=theconfigserver.thecompany.local
Domino.Port=TCPIP
Domino.Server=1
AdditionalServices=-1
AdditionalServices.NetworkDial=0
Replication.Threshold=9999
Replication.Schedule=0

The configuration file is responsible for 'answering' the normal user configuration settings required by the Notes client on first start up that many users have trouble with, even when given a help-sheet.

Essentially, all the script file does is use the Windows Login name for the current user, points setup to a standard server that all users can connect with within the Domain, and suppresses the additional setup dialog questions that the users don't need to answer.

The Notes ID Vault

One of the first things we configured for this customer when it became available was the ID Vault.  This feature of Notes/Domino administration has resolved many of the old complaints by Senior Help Desk and Administrators with regard ID file management being 'too difficult'.  Resetting passwords and backing up users ID's is just as easy with an ID Vault configured as the reset password process is in Windows Active Directory.

When the scripted setup file is used, the Notes ID is dragged from the ID vault, there's no need for any file shares or dragging old ID files over to the users workstations.

Policies and Roaming user configuration

Since this customer has a hot-desk environment with users regularly switching machines we have made use of IBM Notes/Domino's Roaming feature for quite a while.  What this feature does is replicate Notes client configuration back to a designated server for the user.  This means each users personal data is always backed up, and when they switch to a new machine their homepage, bookmarks and personal preferences don't have to be configured again, they're just pulled back down from the users roaming server.

Policies are also used extensively to standardise the environment for a consistent user experience, and to ensure that all the 'good' stuff available in Notes is turned ON.

Widget Catalog

The final piece in the puzzle is rolling out all the fantastic Widgets, Live-Text, Actions and Plug-ins that have been configured over the past few years down to the Notes client.  Here the Widget Catalog comes into play as the storage container for all these great Notes additions.  Deployed via policy, the Notes client pulls the configs for the add ins from the Catalog and makes them available for the user, again without any interaction required on their behalf.

This stuff just works.

Conclusion

With the new SOE hitting the users desk-tops and the four IBM Notes/Domino components identified within this article, the upgrade to Notes 9 for this customer has been - without doubt - the easiest Notes upgrade I've ever been involved with.





Comments

1Alin  07/01/2013 20:59:08  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

we implemented all this in 851FP5, except roaming.

We also have Self service for password reset with ID Vault in web application.

What we are missing is a way to redirect users to Self service for password reset in first time configuration in case they have trouble with the password. We have the link to self service in the "forgot your password" section in logon screen for a configured client, but no such thing available before configuration.

We had to develop on top of the "script hooks" (see on OpenNTF), to ask users if they know their password before Lotus Notes starts

2Alan Head  07/02/2013 0:14:55  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

Thanks for this Mat,

Given you are using the Windows username, does that have to be present in the Domino Directory for the user?

I take it that this is a fresh install rather than an install over the top of an existing 8.5.x client?

3Darren Duke  07/02/2013 5:40:38  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

6 months in and I'm still having issues finding the blue icons.

4Mat Newman

07/02/2013 10:46:51  Easiest Notes upgrade ever

@1, Alin: There are all sorts of advantages to not using SSO, synching Notes/Web Passwords and using Notes PWD policies. In this case, the users use their Notes passwords every day so it's not so much of an issue. Yes, this process could easily be applied within an organisation looking to upgrade from 8.5+ since - as you identified - all of the features mentioned were available with that release.

@2, Alan: Their Windows login ID and Notes short-name are the same and unique for each user, so that simplifies things a lot. In this organisation Windows users are generated during the Notes registration, which I know is fairly unusual. In an organisation that uses something like an 'Employee ID' for login this process would be very simple to duplicate. Notes 9 was piloted among a couple of users, and they were actually the guinea pigs for the upgrade via policy which is being used for Laptop users with a fairly recent lappy SOE refresh (last year, before Notes 9).

@3, Darren: Yes, 6 months in and the Blue icon is still a little funky. Although it does help differentiate between my personal Notes client and the other versions of Notes I have installed on my system.

Mat Newman IBM Champion

5Keith Brooks  07/03/2013 0:25:11  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

Well done Mat. I still use the yellow icons on some machines. I let Admin and Dev use blue.

It's an icon people, make it a jpg of your favorite movie star if that helps.

6Mat Newman

07/03/2013 13:01:38  Easiest Notes upgrade ever

@5, Keith: Good point. As long as they don't change it to an email icon ;-)

Mat Newman IBM Champion

7Anirudh  07/24/2013 22:59:37  
Lotus notes 9 auto config script

Hi Mat,

I am trying to develop the Lotus notes automatic config script .Can you please help me in creating the same .How to create the lotus notes auto config script .. One more thing how to we create the local copy in lotus notes by editing the Noets.ini .do we have any paramater in notes.ini to create the local copy ..

Please help me

8cnm  09/24/2014 23:50:32  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

Hi Mat,

Thanks for the document and which helps a lot.

I am creating the Notes 9 package for windows 7 by Installsheild Tuner. I have confusion where to add config file in that tool and which folder has to mention.

It would be great if you suggest me on this.

9Jared Roberts  02/24/2015 16:43:11  
Easiest Notes upgrade ever

@8

cnm

You can put the config file on a Network share and reference the file as Mat has indicated above (ie: S:\Tools\Install\notessetup.txt)

If you want the config file to be in say - C:\IBM\Notes\Data\notessetup.txt - you can do it with the Installshield Tuner. Create the config file - then using your Tuner - go to the System Config-->Files and Folders area.

Here you can take the file from the Source Computer (your Tuner PC) and place it in the appropriate Destination Computer (your 'virtual' install PC) under IBM-->Notes-->Data folders (you may have to create these folders in the Destination Computer area by right-clicking 'Destination Computer' and selecting 'Add')

If you are using the default install directories (C;\Program Files(x86)\IBM\Notes\Data) - then it's a bit easier - you just place the config file from your Source Computer to the Destination Computer 'ProgramFilesFolder' area under 'IBM-->Notes-->Data'

Bear in mind that extra files that are added via the Installshield Tuner are packaged as 'cab' files and need to be present for the install :-)

Mat Newman

THE Lotus Notes Guy. Productivity Guru. Social Evangelist. IBM Champion for IBM Collaboration Solutions, 2011/2012/2013. IBMer. Views are my own.

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Mat Newman

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