Neil Martin got in touch offering to write up his experiences of setting up Pro Tools so that it can be installed and setup automatically on lots of computers as you find in ‘labs’ in colleges etc. Although this is a specilist area for those that need this solution it is a serious time saver and also makes sure that every installation is the same. Let me hand over to Neil….
Part 1 – The challenge.
I work in a university. My job is to look after the specialist technical needs of our music and music technology courses, including the Apple Mac network in our building. That’s 50 iMacs in 2 labs, 4 iMacs in edit suites, 2 Mac Pros in recording studio control rooms and 30 iMacs used by fellow technicians and academic staff. We need Pro Tools on all of them.
We use a tool called Munki to manage the installation of our software so that Macs on our network can install it automatically. We use it in conjunction with DeployStudio to form an agile and automated way to set up our Macs from scratch to exactly how we want. We do this because having to manually install software by hand on any more than a few machines is not feasible and it costs precious time and money.
The details of setting up software management systems are beyond the scope of this series of articles, which will focus on actually getting Pro Tools into them, but I’ll provide some links at the end that will help if you’re starting from scratch. If you don’t already manage the software on your Macs, you owe it to yourself and your institution to investigate the possibilities open to you.
From this point forward, I will assume you have a way of managing your software in place and you want to get Pro Tools to join the party. My experience is with Munki and that’s what I’ll write about, but you can probably apply the methods to your solution if you’re using something else.
Firstly, let’s examine what we get from Avid when we download Pro Tools and what the challenges are:
The Pro Tools Installer DMG
It contains the Pro Tools application and some additional installer packages. The DMG can be imported into Munki, and your Macs will install the application. Good. But, the first time you launch your freshly installed application after installation, it asks for your administrator password to do a couple more things:
It installs the ShoeTool component, used for discovering Ethernet based control surfaces:
It installs the iLok License Manager it if it’s not found, or out of date:
We need to make these things happen as part of the installation process, preventing the user from being stopped in their tracks when they run Pro Tools for the first time.
This DMG also includes packages for the HD Driver and some Avid codecs that can be imported into Munki easily.
The AIR Creative Collection DMG
It contains a single package that will not import into Munki. You’ll get an unhelpful error saying ‘talk to the vendor’. This suggests there’s something unusual going on from Avid’s side of things. Furthermore, the installer will only successfully complete if run from the DMG. You can’t copy it to another folder. We must get it into Munki whilst ensuring it still works properly.
This is an appeal to Avid: Please distribute your software in ways that allow for straightforward automated deployment. We love Pro Tools and want our students to use it because it’s great. Our students are the artists, producers and engineers of the future and they will buy your software because they had a fantastic experience with it while they were learning. Help us help them to help you!
- A great tutorial for setting up Munki (requires registering a few details but is free)
- Penn State Mac Admins Resources (start here if you’re new to everything)
Stay tuned for part 2 where we will tackle the challenges with the Pro Tools Installer DMG.