Making Beyond Labz Connect Labs available on hundreds of IT-department-managed devices

EDIT: We submitted a support request and @heather replied rapidly and helpfully, which Heather has included below. I will reply with details once we have confirmed the approach we are taking works.

My team administers hundreds of university-owned Windows laptops, and the students who use our laptops are standard users. We have successfully made Beyond Labz Connect client (2.1+) available for students to install via our systems management platform (SCCM/MECM). Installing individual labs requires each student to elevate, which is something we do not permit for security reasons, and performing dozens of remote support sessions to enter administrator credentials to install labs would be inefficient.

Has anyone found a way to either allow students to install the labs from the portal in their web browser or silently install each of the labs with systems management software for Connect (>version 2)? It was somewhat cumbersome, but we did manage to make the labs for the older 1.7 version installable by students with their standard user accounts (via SCCM) so they could add their own license after “installation”. That method was made possible by the existence of a free trial period. We installed the labs in user space and use a PowerShell script as the detection method, and would accept something similar for the newer v2+ connect client.

@uofutah-mlib
I hope my response from the Support desk was useful!
Please let us know if you have further questions. I also look forward to hearing if anyone from our community responds with methods they have found to install for their managed devices.

Can you post your response to the question here so we don’t all have to open tickets individually for this issue? Thanks.

@Mgong
Yes, certainly.

First off- the lab applications are exactly the same lab folders as the 1.7 version was calling- so if you have a way to get those to students, great- they just need to be dropped in the Program Files folder for a default install.
Not sure if you have a way to preinstall the lab folders onto their computers for them? The lab folders are totally generic zipped folders that just then get extracted and placed into Program Files. You don’t have to be logged in on our website to put the folders in the correct location.
So many IT admins just install all the labs & the Beyond Labz Connect software on all of their computers from the backend and then when the students login on the website, they can just open the software that has already been installed and they don’t need to deal with installing anything.

The admin can choose where the lab applications are installed, and this will hopefully help with however you have your student computers configured.

Here’s a quick explanation:

When you go to portal.beyondlabz.com and click to download Beyond Labz Connect, that installs by default into Program Files (x86). You can move that if that is not a location your students can access when they log into the computers.

Then after licensing, the program default downloads each of the labs into Program Files, through this pathway: downloading the zipped installer files into this location:

C:\users\localuser\appdata\roaming\blz_connect

Then it unzips them there and moves the lab folders over to Program Files. In that blz_connect you will find a file that you can modify if you wish to change where the lab files are installed and where the program calls them from. I’ll include directions below.

Let us know directly if you want zipped versions of all of those lab folders.
You can download those, unzip them and place them in your desired location on your computers.

How to change where the Connect program installs the labs and calls them from:

  1. On Mac go to /user/Library/Application Support/blz_connect/ or on Windows go to /Users/user/AppData/Roaming/blz_connect. Library on the Mac and AppData on Windows are hidden.
  2. You will find a file called installDir.example. It is a JSON file and you need to open it with a text editor.
  3. Change the path to where you would like to install the labs. Note on Windows you need a “\” for each backslash.
  4. Rename the file to installDir.json and that will make the connector recognize the new path.

So then when a student logs into a computer, they would just open the browser, sign in to the portal.beyondlabz.com site, and click to Connect and then Open the labs, and they will open from wherever that json file indicates.

We do not have the silent install ability built in. Sorry about that.
This fall all of our chem programs will just be websites, so you won’t have to worry about any of this install headache anymore.

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