Fixing Adobe CCP’s Broken Uninstallers

I wrote previously about Adobe Creative Cloud products and Munki.

It’s an ongoing struggle.

This week, I discovered a rather unfriendly issue with the process. If you use Serial Number Licensing (i.e. serialized per-device installs) in Creative Cloud Packager (CCP), you get an Installer.pkg and Uninstaller.pkg that contains all the CC products you checked the boxes for. In most cases, with some exceptions, the Uninstaller packages do the right thing with Munki and uninstall the product.
Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.48.40 AM

However, because these packages are all serialized, if you uninstall any serialized package, it removes the serialization from the device completely. This will break any existing CC apps still remaining on the machine.

More specific example:

  1. Create a Serial Number CCP package for Photoshop CC.
  2. Create a Serial Number CCP package for Dreamweaver CC.
  3. Install them both on the same machine / VM.
  4. Launch both Photoshop CC and Dreamweaver CC.
  5. Use the CCP Uninstaller package for Dreamweaver CC on that machine.
  6. Try to launch Photoshop.

Instead of Photoshop launching as you’d expect, you’re instead greeted by the Adobe Application Manager asking you to sign in and serialize your product – because there are no longer any serialization data on the device.

Uninstalling any CCP-generated product like this will completely remove all serialization.

I spoke to Adobe about this, and this was the response:
Screenshot 2015-04-22 12.20.43

Not great news – this is “semi-expected” behavior, and is potentially a huge problem.

Who Does This Affect?

Anyone who generates CCP packages for individual CC products using Serial Number Licensing can be affected by this. Admins already using Named Licensing will not encounter this issue.

The Solution

Patrick Fergus brought to my attention a clever idea. Since CCP allows the creation of both serialized (Serial Number Licensing) and non-serialized (Named Licensing) packages, we might already have a solution in place. The non-serialized packages don’t uninstall the serialization – because they never install it in the first place.

Thus, it’s possible to combine a serialized installer with a non-serialized uninstaller.

Here’s the general workflow:

  1. Create a Serial Number-licensed CCP package for Photoshop CC.
  2. Create a Serial Number-licensed CCP package for Dreamweaver CC.
  3. Install them both on the same machine / VM.
  4. Launch both Photoshop CC and Dreamweaver CC.
  5. Create a Name-licensed (non-serialized) CCP package for Dreamweaver CC.
  6. Use the Name-licensed (non-serialized) Uninstaller package for Dreamweaver CC to uninstall Dreamweaver on that machine.
  7. Try to launch Photoshop.
  8. It works! Photoshop launches as expected.

Using This Solution With Munki

Incorporating this into Munki is a bit more work.

If you’re starting fresh and haven’t already imported the Adobe CC products yet, you’re in luck, because this is relatively simple. Otherwise, we have to fix the pkginfos for each of the products in the repo.

Haven’t Yet Imported Adobe CC Products Into Munki:

The first step is to read the Munki wiki page about Adobe CC products.

Before you run Tim Sutton’s munkiimport script for CC installers, there’s some setup to be done.

You’ll need to run CCP twice for each package – once to create the Serial Number-licensed installer, and once to create the Name-license installer.

Copy/overwrite the Uninstaller packages from the Name-license versions into the Build folders for each Serial Number-licensed CCP package you created. The end goal here is that each product should be using the Serial Number Installer package and Named Uninstaller package.

Now go ahead and run Tim Sutton’s munkiimport script, and it will do the right thing.

Test thoroughly!

Fixing existing Adobe CC products in a Munki repo:

If you’ve already used Tim Sutton’s munkiimport script for CC installers to import your existing CC packages, it’s now time to fix the broken uninstallers.

You’ll need to run the CCP packages again for each product you want to fix – this time using Named licensing instead of Serial Number licensing, to create non-serialized packages. You can safely delete the Installer.pkg files to save space, as you don’t need them – you only need to keep the ~4mb Uninstaller.pkg files.

Next, you need to wrap each of the Uninstaller.pkg files in a DMG to replace the existing uninstaller DMGs in your Munki repo. You can do this using the same method munkiimport does:
hdiutil create -srcFolder /path/to/Named/Build /path/to/nonserialized/uninstaller.dmg

If I’m creating an uninstaller DMG for Adobe After Effects CC, for example:
hdiutil create -srcFolder Adobe/CC_Packages-NoSerial/AfterEffectsCCNoSerial/Build AfterEffectsCC_Uninstall-13.0.0.dmg
It’s important to make sure that the name of the DMG you are creating is identical to the one you are replacing.

The pkginfo files also need to be fixed for each product. Since the uninstaller items are being replaced, the hash sums for these DMGs must also be replaced with the new one – or Munki will complain that the hashes don’t much and won’t uninstall.

To calculate the SHA256 sum of the DMG, use this command:
shasum -a 256 /path/to/uninstaller.dmg
Then copy the resulting hash (the long string of letters and numbers) into the value of the uninstaller_item_hash key for each pkginfo you are replacing the uninstaller DMG for.

Copy the uninstaller DMGs to the Munki repo in exactly the same place as the previous ones, overwriting the previous DMGs.

Finally, run makecatalogs.

Test thoroughly!

Obvious Downsides

There’s one major issue here – uninstalling an Adobe CC product that was installed with serialization in this manner will not remove the serialization for that product on the device. In other words, if you are trying to count the number of licenses for Photoshop you have, uninstalling Photoshop CC via the Named-license uninstaller will not give you your license back (in the eyes of Adobe).

More than that, even if you uninstall all Adobe CC products from a machine using these non-serialized uninstallers, it won’t actually remove the serialization at the end. According to Adobe licensing, the device will still be using up a seat at the table.

With an ETLA agreement, where we have unlimited licenses and pay annual cost based on the number of Full-Time Employees, this isn’t an issue in our environment. But for anyone who has limited licenses of any of the products, this is an issue that has to be accounted for and worked around.

Possible solutions

If the goal is to remove all serialization from a machine after removing all Adobe CC products, you can use CCP to create a “License File package” – which isn’t actually a package, but a collection of files that includes a binary to serialize, and one to remove all serialization. This “RemoveVolumeSerial” binary (which is not an editable script!) could be run on the machines to remove all serialization.

If you need to remove a specific product license but leave the others untouched, you may have to look into the Adobe Provisioning Toolkit to accomplish what you need.


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