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How do you do....it? Thread, Vanilla Network Package Creation in Technical; I use Wise Package Studio to create MSIs but only as a last resort. When faced with a new package, ...
  1. #16
    Norphy's Avatar
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    I use Wise Package Studio to create MSIs but only as a last resort. When faced with a new package, this is that I usually do:

    See what the installer is. They are usually one of the following:

    1. Pure MSI
    2. Installshield installer
    3. Inno Setup
    4. Nullsoft installer
    5. Custom installer rolled by the manufacturer


    If it's a pure MSI, I first run to see what happens. I see if there are any custom variables that need to be set. If there aren't, I cancel the installer and run it silently using MSIEXEC (The command line is MSIEXEC /i {installer.msi} /qb). If the software works after that, I stick it in the software repository and say job done.

    If there are custom variables which need to be set, I then use Install Tailor which is part of the Wise Package Studio to see what they are. This captures the custom variables and stores them in an MST file for you. I then run the installer with the transform applied (MSIEXEC /i {installer.msi} TRANSFORMS={transform.mst} /qb) and see if it works. I also make a note of the variables that Install Tailor captures as you can pass them on using the command line too (MSIEXEC /i {installer.msi} {VARIABLENAME}={VALUE} /qb) which is sometimes preferable.

    With Installshield, it's much the same. Installshield builds upon the Microsoft installer so the majority of what you can do with pure MSIs can be done to Installshield packages too. It's usually a good idea to unpack them using the /a command (or with WinRAR) as you can get to the MSI inside the package and pass it using MSIEXEC again. There are a few out there which insist on being run using the setup.exe and which won't let you pass variables on to them (Nelson Thornes comes to mind) but thankfully these are rare.

    If I can't capture an MST or pass variables onto an installer, I use an AutoIT script to install the program which effectively mimics you pressing the buttons in an installation routine. It's crude but it usually works. I go through this amount of trouble because unless it's completely unavoidable, you should not repackage packages which are already packaged using a Microsoft installer. It just causes too much trouble.

    Inno setup files are usually easy, you can get all of the documentation from here and you can get an unpacker for Inno setup routines from here. Unpacking the installer will let you look at the installation script and work out what the variable names are. You can them pass them on the installer via the command line.

    Nullsoft installers tend to be very simple. The bulk of the command line options are here

    Custom installers tend to be the most annoying. Sometimes there's documentation, sometimes there isn't. VLC is a good example of a custom installer which is quite well documented. For those, I tend to look at AppDeploy.com - The Application Deployment Information Center and see what other people are saying.

    Once you've worked out how to install a program silently from the command line, you're pretty much sorted. MSIs and MSTs can be deployed by using the built in software deployment options in Windows Server. You can install programs which insist on using executables or AutoIT scripts using startup scripts or by using software management programs such as SCCM.

    Again, with Inno, Nullsoft and custom installers, if I really can't get them to install silently using their own installation routines or with AutoIt, I repackage them using Wise Package Studio. At least with them they don't use Microsoft installer databases so it's not so bad. It is a last resort though and you do need to go through the created MSI with a fine tooth comb to make sure you weed out any unnecessary information.

    There will always be bloody awkward software which won't deploy themselves over networks no matter what you try (Adobe CS, I'm looking at you!). In this case, I found the simplest thing to do is to just roll the software up in your main OS image and shove it out that way. It makes creating the image a little more labourious but saves time in the long run as it takes Creative Suite (for example) as long or longer to install using its own setup routines as it takes for me to deploy a 10GB image across our network.

    An additional piece of advice re rolling your own MSIs (I'm sure you realise this already but anyway): Do so on a completely clean machine. Built it up to the required service pack level. Turn off automatic updates, BITS and anything else which will make background changes. Do it on a virtual machine if you can so you can install the OS and package manager then snapshot it. This will make it easier to make sure that you've got a clean MSI plus you'll be able to go back to a clean slate once you're finished.

    I've been responsible for software packages and OS images on our network now for about two to three years and so far I think I'm doing OK. If you have any questions, please ask.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckster
    If there's a MSI already shipped with the CD, I always run command prompt and type in: msiexec /a D:\filename.msi which enables me to create an administrative install of the MSI, so that I can input things like the serial key and username etc.
    Running an MSI with a /a command will usually only extract its files. Don't count on being able to enter variable names and them sticking from there on in. The only installer where I've seen that happen is the Office 2003 one.
    Last edited by Norphy; 17th March 2011 at 07:21 PM.

  2. 2 Thanks to Norphy:

    bodminman (18th March 2011), nephilim (17th March 2011)

  3. #17

    plexer's Avatar
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    I use the supplied msi's with transforms where needed, editing with orca as required.

    Also started to use cameyo for application virtualisation.

    Ben

  4. #18

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plexer View Post
    Also started to use cameyo for application virtualisation.
    That was another possibility I was looking at. How's that going for you?

  5. #19
    clareq's Avatar
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    Even on RMCC4, I still look for a msi on the disk or within the exe first, and use orca to edit it. I was taught that re-packaging an existing msi caused problems.

  6. #20

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Also, while one about Cameyo - is it best practice to run the virtualised apps over the network off a network share, or put them on the HDD of each machine? If it is the latter, how do you get them to the machine? Part of the image, or with a copy script etc?

  7. #21

    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Real network managers build their MSIs by hand

    (where a proper one isn't available, obviously)

  8. #22

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    Real network managers build their MSIs by hand
    Real network managers post a link that works

  9. #23

    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hightower View Post
    Real network managers post a link that works
    It does work. Your internets fail.

  10. #24

    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hightower View Post
    Real network managers post a link that works
    Hmm works fine for me.

  11. #25

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkeh View Post
    Hmm works fine for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    It does work. Your internets fail.
    Another fail for our ISP

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    I've used Wininstall LE for many years to create snapshot packages, and not once have i had an issue with it.

    I always use a totally 100% clean install of XP off the disk to create the snapshot.

    In my last school (I was the NM), before i moved into a new job, i had literally every software package being deployed via Msi apart from Sims.

    This meant that our RIS images were very small, and only included the OS and drivers.

    So, +1 for correctly made Wininstall LE snapshot Msi's

  13. #27


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    We should have a sticky thread for Windows installer tips, as posts like Norphy's are great. Here are a few more...

    1. To obtain the latest version of Orca (currently v5.0.7693) directly from Microsoft without downloading or installing the huge Windows SDK, click the link below to download a 10.6MB .cab file, open it up and look for a file called WinSDK_Orca_Msi_5E20C107_DAA3_4D49_AFAE_7FB2594F0C DC_x86. Extract this file (you can drag-and-drop it to your desktop), rename it to Orca.msi and double-click to install.

      http://download.microsoft.com/downlo...Tools/cab1.cab



    2. To run through an MSI without actually installing the software, set its execution mode to none. If you add /l*v Install.log onto the end, you can also find out what the installer does to your computer without any changes being made.

      Code:
      msiexec /i "Sample.msi" EXECUTEMODE=None /l*v Install.log
    3. To speed up the installation of large MSIs you can use the MSIFASTINSTALL property. This property is only supported by Windows Installer v5.0 (which means it won't be recognized by OSs older than Windows 7 or 2008 R2), but can be a huge time saver, particularly if an MSI contains hundreds/thousands of files.

      Code:
      MSIFASTINSTALL=6
    4. One little known feature of Windows Installer is its ability to read transform files which have been embedded into the MSI itself using programs such as EmbedTransform.exe. To get MSIEXEC to look inside the MSI for the transform, all you need to do is insert a colon before the name of the MST (look in the _Storages table of the MSI to find the name of the embedded MST).

      Code:
      msiexec /i Sample.msi TRANSFORMS=":en-GB.mst" /qb!
    5. Windows Installer also has the ability to install MSIs directly from a web server. HTTP and HTTPS protocols are both supported, although FTP isn't. This could be useful, for example, if you wanted to create your own Ninite-style installer.

      Code:
      msiexec /i http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/sevenzip/7-Zip/9.20/7z920.msi /qb
      msiexec /i https://dl-ssl.google.com/edgedl/chrome/install/GoogleChromeStandaloneEnterprise.msi /qb
    6. You have an MSI which includes advertised shortcuts, but want to convert them into standard (non-advertised) shortcuts when it gets installed. The easiest way to do this is to use the DISABLEADVTSHORTCUTS property.

      Code:
      DISABLEADVTSHORTCUTS=1
      Left = Advertised Shortcut, Right = Non-advertised Shortcut



    7. Universal Silent Switch Finder (Download Link). Although this program hasn't been updated in more than six years, it is still very useful if you need to quickly determine which silent switches to use with a particular installer, or you aren't sure what type of installer it is.



    8. Universal Extractor. Another really handy program. This enables you to extract files from a huge range of installers and archives. The full UniExtract installer can optionally add a context menu to Windows Explorer which gives you the ability to right-click an installer and extract all of the files inside. It supports almost every installer there is, from InnoSetup and NSIS to Wise and InstallShield.



    9. To import the contents of a .reg file into an existing MSI/MST, the quickest way I have found is to use InstEd. Open up the MSI/MST, go to the Components tab on the left, right-click the component you want to add the registry entries to, select "Import .reg file" and then save the MSI/MST.

  14. Thanks to Arthur from:

    sparkeh (21st March 2011)

  15. #28
    Jamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    It does work. Your internets fail.
    doesn't work for me :s

  16. #29

    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    doesn't work for me :s
    Still working here. Odd huh?

  17. #30

    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    doesn't work for me :s
    Watch out, someone might give you neg rep for such a bold and opinionated post!

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