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Deploy a Windows universal forwarder via the installer GUI

This topic describes how to manually install, configure, and deploy the universal forwarder in a Windows environment using the installer GUI. It assumes that you're installing directly onto the Windows machine, rather than using a deployment tool. This method of installation best suits these needs:

  • small deployments
  • proof-of-concept test deployments
  • system image or virtual machine for eventual cloning

If you are interested in a different deployment method or a different operating system, look for another topic in this section that better fits your needs.

You can also install the universal forwarder from the command line, using msiexec. See "Deploy a Windows universal forwarder via the command line" for more information.

Important: If you do not want the universal forwarder to start immediately after installation, you must install via the command line.

Before following the procedures in this topic, read "Deployment overview" to further understand the mechanics of a distributed Splunk deployment.

Steps to deployment

Once you have downloaded the universal forwarder and planned your deployment, as described in "Deployment overview", perform these steps:

1. Install the universal forwarder (with optional migration and configuration).

2. Test and tune the deployment.

3. Perform any post-installation configuration.

4. Deploy the universal forwarder across your environment.

Before you install

Choose where the universal forwarder will get its data from

When you install the universal forwarder, you can select where the forwarder will get its data. You have two choices:

  • Local Data Only
  • Remote Windows Data

If you tell the installer to collect Local Data only, the universal forwarder can collect any kind of data that is available on the local machine. It cannot, however, collect data from other machines.

You must tell the forwarder to collect Remote Windows Data if you intend to do any of the following:

  • Read Event Logs remotely
  • Collect performance counters remotely
  • Read network shares for log files
  • Enumerate the Active Directory schema, using Active Directory monitoring

If you tell the installer to collect Remote Windows data, you must then specify a user which has access to this data. Read "Choose the Windows user Splunk should run as" in the Installation Manual for concepts and procedures on the user requirements that must be in place before you collect remote Windows data.

Important: You should choose - and configure - the user that Splunk will run as before attempting to install a universal forwarder for remote Windows data collection.

Configure your Windows environment for remote data collection

If you do not need to install the universal forwarder to collect remote Windows data, you can continue to the installation instructions below.

If your monitoring needs require you to install the universal forwarder to collect remote Windows data, then you must configure your Windows environment for the proper installation of the forwarder.

1. Create and configure security groups with the user you want the universal forwarder to run as.

2. Optionally, configure the universal forwarder account as a managed service account.

3. Create and configure Group Policy objects for security policy and user rights assignment.

4. Assign appropriate user rights to the GPO.

5. Deploy the GPO(s) with the updated settings to the appropriate objects.

Note: These steps are high-level procedures only. For step-by-step instructions, read "Prepare your Windows network for a Splunk installation as a network or domain user" in the Installation Manual.

Install the universal forwarder

The Windows installer guides you through the process of installing and configuring your universal forwarder. It also offers you the option of migrating your checkpoint settings from an existing Splunk forwarder.

To install the universal forwarder, double-click the appropriate MSI file:

  • splunkuniversalforwarder-<...>-x86-release.msi (for 32-bit platforms)
  • splunkuniversalforwarder-<...>-x64-release.msi (for 64-bit platforms)

The value of <...> varies according to the particular release; for example, splunkuniversalforwarder-4.2-86454-x64-release.msi.

Important: Running the 32-bit version of the universal forwarder on a 64-bit platform is not recommended. If you can run 64-bit universal forwarder on 64-bit hardware, we strongly recommend it. The performance is greatly improved over the 32-bit version.

A series of dialogs guides you through the installation. When you're through with a dialog, click Next to move to the next in the series. Here are the dialogs, in order:

1. "Welcome" dialog

To begin the installation, click Next.

2. "License Agreement" dialog

Read the license agreement and select "I accept the terms in the license agreement".

3. "Destination Folder" dialog

The installer puts the universal forwarder into the C:\Program Files\SplunkUniversalForwarder directory by default.

Click Change... to specify a different installation directory.

Caution: Do not install the universal forwarder over an existing installation of full Splunk. This is particularly important if you are upgrading from a light forwarder, as described in "Migrate a Windows light forwarder". The default installation directory for full Splunk is C:\Program Files\Splunk, so, if you stick with the defaults, you're safe.

4. "Migration" pop-up

If the installer detects an existing version of Splunk, it will ask you whether or not you want to migrate the existing Splunk's data checkpoint settings to the universal forwarder. If you click Yes, it will automatically perform the migration.

Important: This is the only time when you can migrate old settings to this universal forwarder. You cannot perform the migration later.

See "Migrate a Windows forwarder" for more information on what migration does.

5. "Deployment Server" dialog

Enter the hostname or IP address and management port for your deployment server. The default management port is 8089.

You can use the deployment server to push configuration updates to the universal forwarder. See "About deployment server" for details.

Note: This step is optional, but if you skip it, you must enter a receiving indexer in step 6; otherwise, the universal forwarder does not do anything, as it does not have any way of determining which indexer to forward data to.

6. "Receiving Indexer" dialog

Enter the hostname or IP address and receiving port of the receiving indexer (receiver). For information on setting up a receiver, see "Enable a receiver".

Note: This step is optional, but if you skip it, you must enter a deployment server in step 5; otherwise, the universal forwarder does not do anything, as it does not have any way of determining which indexer to forward to.

7. "Certificate Information" dialog

Select an SSL certificate for verifying the identity of this machine. This step is optional.

Depending on your certificate requirements, you might need to specify a password and a Root Certificate Authority (CA) certificate to verify the identity of the certificate. If not, these fields can be left blank.

Note: This dialog will only appear if you previously specified a receiving indexer (step 6).

8. "Where do you want to get data from?" dialogs

This step in the installer requires one or two dialogs, depending on whether the universal forwarder will be collecting local data exclusively.

In the first dialog, you specify the user context: whether you want the universal forwarder to collect only local data or also remote Windows data. The installer uses this information to determine the permissions the universal forwarder needs.

Note: If you select Local data only, the universal forwarder installs as the Local System user, and network resources will not be available to it. This is recommended for improved security, unless this universal forwarder will be collecting event logs or metrics from remote machines.

For more help in determining what to select here, see "Before you install" earlier in this topic.

Once you've made your choice, click Next.

If you specified Local data only, the installer skips the second screen and takes you directly to the "Enable Windows Inputs" dialog (step 8).

If you specified Remote Windows data, the installer now takes you to a second dialog, where you need to enter domain and user information for this instance of the universal forwarder. The universal forwarder will run as the user you specify in this dialog.

Important: The user you specify must have specific rights assigned to it prior to completing the installation. Failure to do so might result in a failed installation. Read "Before you install" earlier in this topic for specific information and links to step-by-step instructions.

9. "Enable Windows Inputs" dialog

Select one or more Windows inputs from the list.

This step is optional. You can enable inputs later, by editing inputs.conf within the universal forwarder directory.

10. "Ready to Install the Program" dialog

Click Install to proceed.

The installer runs and displays the Installation Completed dialog.

Once the installation is complete, the universal forwarder automatically starts. SplunkForwarder is the name of the universal forwarder service. You should confirm that it is running.

If you encounter an error during installation

Sometimes the Windows installer encounters a problem when installing the universal forwarder. This can be due to any number of reasons, such as lack of administrator privileges, disk space, memory, or other issues. When this happens, the installer displays an error dialog with an error code.

After the installation exits, review the installer log (usually located at C:\TEMP or C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp for clues as to what is causing the installation error.

Test the deployment

Test your configured universal forwarder on a single machine, to make sure it functions correctly, before deploying the universal forwarder across your environment. Confirm that the universal forwarder is getting the desired inputs and sending the right outputs to the indexer. You can use the deployment monitor app to validate the universal forwarder.

If you migrated from an existing forwarder, make sure that the universal forwarder is forwarding data from where the old forwarder left off. If it isn't, you need to modify or add data inputs, so that they conform to those on the old forwarder.

Important: Migration does not automatically copy any configuration files. You must set those up yourself. The usual way to do this is to copy the files, including inputs.conf, from the old forwarder to the universal forwarder. Compare the inputs.conf files on the universal forwarder and the old forwarder to ensure that the universal forwarder has all the inputs that you want to maintain.

If you migrated from an existing forwarder, you can delete that old instance once your universal forwarder has been thoroughly tested and you're comfortable with the results.

Perform additional configuration

You can update your universal forwarder's configuration, post-installation, by directly editing its configuration files, such as inputs.conf and outputs.conf. You can also update the configuration using the CLI. See "Deployment overview" for information.

Note: When you use the CLI, you might need to authenticate into the Splunk forwarder to complete commands. The default credentials for a universal forwarder are:

Username: admin
Password: changeme

For information on distributing configuration changes across multiple universal forwarders, see "About deployment server".

Deploy the universal forwarder across your environment

If you need just a few universal forwarders, you might find it simpler just to repeat the manual installation process, as documented in this topic. If you need to install a larger number of universal forwarders, it will probably be easier to deploy them remotely with a deployment tool or else as part of a system image or virtual machine.

Uninstall the universal forwarder

To uninstall the universal forwarder, perform the following steps:

1. Use the Services MMC snap-in (Start > Administrative Tools > Services) to stop the SplunkForwarder service.

Note: You can also stop the service from the command line with the following command:

NET STOP SplunkForwarder

2. Next, use the Add or Remove Programs control panel to uninstall the forwarder. On Windows 7, 8, Server 2008, and Server 2012, that option is available under Programs and Features.

Note: Under some circumstances, the Microsoft installer might present a reboot prompt during the uninstall process. You can safely ignore this request without rebooting.

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Deploy a Windows universal forwarder via the command line

This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Enterprise: 5.0.2, 5.0.3, 5.0.4, 5.0.5, 5.0.6, 5.0.7, 5.0.8, 5.0.9, 5.0.10, 5.0.11, 5.0.12, 5.0.13, 5.0.14, 5.0.15, 5.0.16, 5.0.17, 5.0.18


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