Easy installation media download for busy SharePoint engineers

SubPointSupport
Mar 5 · 5 min read

Downloading and managing installation media is not fun. Whether it is development, test or lab environment, dozens of ISO images, patches, updates and language packs have to be downloaded prior to setting up you SharePoint, SQL or even bare Windows setup. Sometimes, it might be up to fifty files to move around!

We have had this problem too, and developed a PowerShell module which downloads over 120 installation files for Windows, SharePoint, SQL, CRM Servers for you. It comes with a command line interface, JSON driven configurations, built-in checksum validation and a few more nice features. Being written in PowerShell 6, it works on Windows and MacOS platforms. Altogether, it provides an enjoyable experience and takes away the complexity of downloading and organising installation media for your SharePoint and Windows environments. Here is how it looks like:

Introducing InvokeUplift module

Getting started is super-easy. Just grab the latest InvokeUplift module from the PowerShell gallery. Note that pwsh should be used all the time as this is a PowerShell 6 module.

Once done, validate install by running the following:

Listing installation medial

InvokeUplift knows more than 120 installation media files. It covers Windows 2016 ISO, patches, SQL Server ISO images and updates, SharePoint 2013 and 2016 trial ISOs, services packs and more. You can list available files using list command:

It also supports wildcard matching, so you can list only SharePoint relates resource as follows:

Similar for Windows 2016, SQL Server, and Visual Studio:

There more tools available, such as HashiCorp’s Vagrant and Packer, ReSharper, and more — just play around.

Downloading installation media

Now that we know the names of the file resources, it is super-easy to download them. Just use the resource name or wildcard with the download command:

By default, invoke-uplift downloads files into uplift-local-repository folder within the directory where it was run. This can be changed by using -r or -repository option:

More options — force downloading, debug and links validation

By default, files are downloaded with checksum verification. Assuming that the first download was successful, consequent downloading won’t download anything. That makes the downloading experience not only fast but also predictable — files are downloaded rightly, without being dropped in the middle.

That said, sometimes we need to re-download files overriding existing ones. It can be done with -f or -force flag:

By default, invoke-uplift reports only important information. Debug trace can be enabled with -d or -debug flag:

Finally, resource validate-uri command comes handy while ensuring that remote URLs are still alive. A simple HEAD request will be run against remote URL expecting 200 response. Same resource name or wild card value should be passed into the command:

Local repository structure

invoke-uplift uses a naming convention while organising downloaded files. Local file repository always looks as follows:

Initially, file is downloaded into /download-staging folder. If checksum passes, then the file is moved into /latest folder. Such stages download workflow prevents incorrectly downloaded files overwriting, corrupting current “latest”. Only checksum validated files make it forward.

Moreover, the /latest folder always contains two more files:

  • __metadata.uplift.json
  • {filename}.sha265

These files provide a machine-readable input so that external tools can consume and validated downloaded files.

As you can see, while invoke-uplift does not solve all the problems, it surely solves one problem nicely.

What do we use it for?

Initially, we struggled with file downloading while building golden images for our development and integration environments. Downloading and managing installation media was a manual, boring and error-prone process.

Nowadays, invoke-uplift is an important part of several other projects — Packer images and Vagrant boxes for SharePoint engineers. Every single bit is under CI/CD pipeline, complexity is covered and exposed via single line command, we almost forgot how to download things via browser, and so should you! Moreover, invoke-uplift works under MacOS streamlining Windows/Macbook experience.

What else can you do?

Once you built up your local file repository, here are a few things you can do:

  • Easy expose via shared folders, nodejs http-server , or any web server
  • Sync with Azure/Amazon Cloud storage
  • Build a CI/CD pipeline to pre-build your Azure/Amazon Cloud storage
  • Run local http-server and easily share files with Packer/Vagrant builds

Further reading

There are a few more features which we’ll cover later, but here are a few more links to follow up:

If you find this useful, drop us a line or give feedback on the GitHub. We always keen to learn more and improve on the feedback.

SubPointSolutions

Easy SharePoint automation for developers and engineers.

SubPointSupport

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Easy SharePoint automation for developers and engineers. Provision SharePoint artifacts and deliver SharePoint infrastructure with confidence, sanity and joy.

SubPointSolutions

Easy SharePoint automation for developers and engineers.