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How do you do....it? Thread, MSI Files. in Technical; Hi. Over the last few months, ive grown quite fond of *.msi files, so i was wondering what app you ...
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    MSI Files.

    Hi.
    Over the last few months, ive grown quite fond of *.msi files, so i was wondering what app you lot all used for making your own?

    As im sure your aware, alot of education software is very poorly designed with archaic installers. So being able to blast out in a nice clean MSI file would be a god send for me! lol.

    Thanks in advance all.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Filemon
    Regmon
    Orca
    WIWW (Windows installer wrapper wizard)
    and if the above fail Wininstall LE

    To date im yet to find an app i cant package with the above.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky
    Filemon
    Regmon
    Orca
    WIWW (Windows installer wrapper wizard)
    and if the above fail Wininstall LE

    To date im yet to find an app i cant package with the above.
    Are there any all in one solutions you can suggest?

    Filemon/Regmon/Orca are just editors, WIWW appears to be very basic and doesnt seem to work for me and Winstall LE costs.
    I dont have the Win2K disks to hand to get the free version either.

    Are there any good commerical products that are reccomended for the job?

    Thanks. .

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    ajbritton's Avatar
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    Re: MSI Files.

    Advanced installer (http://www.advancedinstaller.com/) is free if you want to author from scratch.

    Wise Package Studio is about the best if you need to repackage existing installations (or author from scratch).

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    Re: MSI Files.


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    Re: MSI Files.

    I use Wise Package Studio for repackaging and creating from scratch, and Orca for transforming vendor MSIs.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by ajbritton
    Advanced installer (http://www.advancedinstaller.com/) is free if you want to author from scratch.

    Wise Package Studio is about the best if you need to repackage existing installations (or author from scratch).
    OK, im lost.

    All i want to do is turn existing install files or an installed program, into a MSI file for deployment.
    I was under the impression that the proceadure was fresh install->scan system with MSI maker->install app->configure app->scan system again->MSI made.
    But with authoring, repackaging, author from scratch, ect; im completely lost! lol

    So what is it that i need?

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    Re: MSI Files.

    The process you describe is repackaging. You'd author an MSI if you knew the application and it's dependencies well (eg if you created the software, you'd author it's MSI).

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by boomam
    Filemon/Regmon/Orca are just editors, WIWW appears to be very basic and doesnt seem to work for me and Winstall LE costs.
    When you say "WIWW doesn't seem to work", what happens when you try to use it?

    What it's designed for is when you have a setup program which can run silently but is not an MSI - eg quite a few programs have a "/silent" or "/quiet" switch so you specify that as the command to run and off you go.

    What it won't do is cope with anything which would need user interaction.

    I've also used it when I just need a set of files copying - I just make a batch file which will do the copying and then specify cmd as the command with the batch file as the parameter

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by boomam
    All i want to do is turn existing install files or an installed program, into a MSI file for deployment.
    As has been pointed out be others, there are basically 3 options

    1 - Author your own MSI. To do this you have to know the names and locations of all the files/registry entries for the application. For some small apps and utilities this is quite possible but for larger apps it would be difficult. This is the only method that would allow you to 'turn an installed program' into an MSI.

    2 - Repackage the existing application using the 'snapshot before - install app - snapshot after' process. Although this sounds simple, for many applications this can create an MSI that is full of stuff that needs to be pruned away. If the application installs Flash, for example, this should not be included in the MSI and you will have to manually look at the created MSI and remove any files/registry entries relating to it.

    3 - It is possible to 'wrap' a 'silent installer' in an MSI using something like WIWW. This creates an MSI which simply kicks of the original installer with the necessary command line parameters to make sure the installer completes without requesting any user interaction. If you are persistant, you can even get WIWW to uninstall the app when the MSI is removed by launching a silent uninstall command, although in my experience this is less easy.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by srochford
    What it won't do is cope with anything which would need user interaction.
    What you say is quite right of course, but there is a way around this if using WIWW is the only option;

    Using AutoIt, create a short script that kicks off the installer and then watches for dialog boxes. AutoIt can them click the buttons for you. Once this is done, create a WIWW MSI wrapper which launches the AutoIt script.

    It's not 100% foolproof and I would only use it as a final solution but I just thought I'd mention it.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Sorry for multiple posts.

    @booman: If you are keen on MSIs because you can use them to deploy software using Group Policy (I think this is about the only reason to like MSIs), then there are alternatives. The one I want to mention is WPKG.

    It works in a similar manner to GP in that software is assigned to groups of computers, but it is not reliant on MSI technology. If you've got an install that can be 'silenced' then WPKG should be able to install it for you.

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    Re: MSI Files.

    How do i find out if a *.exe has silent/quiet install commands?

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    Re: MSI Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by ajbritton
    Sorry for multiple posts.

    @booman: If you are keen on MSIs because you can use them to deploy software using Group Policy (I think this is about the only reason to like MSIs), then there are alternatives. The one I want to mention is WPKG.

    It works in a similar manner to GP in that software is assigned to groups of computers, but it is not reliant on MSI technology. If you've got an install that can be 'silenced' then WPKG should be able to install it for you.
    I think there will be people at MS crying out to think that people know only 1 reason for using MSIs :-) I'm sure there are loads, but one of the big things when they were first introduced was the "self healing" nature. An MSI is essentially a database of what goes where to make the application install. This means that you can easily do a "repair" when an odd DLL goes missing etc, you can track versions (no more need for DLL versions to get messed up). You can also publish software - you just put the special shortcut icon on a machine and when it's clicked it installs the software transparently (or you can just associate a document type with the installer; when you try to open that document for the first time, the package will install).

    I suspect there are loads of other things; I, of course, really only make use of the GP deployment (but not being able to do that for a package is a real show stopper - can i just say "Boo, hiss" etc to ITS and the MyPC software which is a real pain!)

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    Re: MSI Files.

    @srochford

    I am aware of all the features you mention for MSIs, but I wonder how much they actually get used. A lot of times, the MSI supplied does not support these features well as whoever authored it did not really understand what they were doing but just ticked the MSI box in their setup authoring package.

    What really bugs me is that MS could so easily extend GP to enable to deployment of silent .exe based software. I believe it's possible to publish .ZAP wrappers around .exe installers but only for user level installations. What use is that. Instead, as usuall, we have to script our way around things. It's just one more thing that everyone wants to do but MS left out of GP, I suppose in the hope that we would all buy SMS.

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