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Sophos Endpoint Agent Silent Installation Challenges

January 17, 2023

By Mike Walters

Action1 supports dozens of pre-packaged apps out of the box via our App Store, and it also allows authorizing of your own custom apps. Adding your custom apps sometimes is quite easy with Action1. However, the trick is to know the app’s silent (aka unattended) install switches. If you have an MSI setup, you are generally in luck since MSI is standardized, and Action1 knows everything about it already. If it’s an EXE-based setup, things can get more complicated.

Here is one interesting example of one of our customers trying to deploy the Sophos Endpoint Agent in their environment. The customer created a new custom package for Sophos, then configured an automatic app deployment policy to deploy Sophos. Action1 successfully distributed the setup file to all the endpoints and started it, however, then it looked like nothing was happening. It’s as if something was blocking the installation for no particular reason.

Very commonly, this happens because a .exe setup needs some additional parameters for silent installation (so it does not give any user prompts). One other aspect to consider is Action1 agent operates under the Local System account, and even if you tested the exe under your interactive user session, the behavior might be different when the agent starts it. Sophos provides detailed instructions on their website, which has the ‘-s’ parameter for silent install, and the customer used it. Turned out, after testing, the documentation was wrong. The actual parameter name was ‘-QUIET’.

The other recommendation I provided was to try it under the LocalSystem on a test system to fully emulate the agent’s environment. This is easy with psexec:

  • Download and install psexec on your test system
  • Start cmd.exe as Administrator
  • Run psexec –i –s CMD
  • In the CMD window, launch the setup.exe with all the needed switches and see what it does.

Most setups also have options to create a log file or even create it by default, which was the case with Sophos (it creates Sophos ES setup.log in %TEMP%).

P.S. If you don’t automate software deployment yet, look at Action1. It is free forever for your first 100 endpoints – with no strings attached.

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