I do it from scratch, ok, you can't do it for everything and it's not perfect nor exactly easy.
Great guide at: Spinner Software - Knowledge Base - Creating an MSI installation package from scratch
What does everyone suggest? winInstall? or is there something better?
it seems interesting, but I m from a RM environment moving to a vanilla network, so i'd like something quick and similar to rm package builder
Wininstall LE will be fine for you initially, but you may want to pick up Orca to tidy up anything stupid it might do.
Also take a look at Windows Installer Wrapper Wizard - not exactly 'real' MSIs since they can't self heal but everything else works
Orca can also put in the icon images that Wininstall LE always misses.
Orca isn't easy and documentation is scant. I worked out the basics for myself - changing shortcut locations, icon images.
Wininstall LE, Orca, Windows Installer Wrapper and Bat To Exe Converter are all the tools I use for all my packages.
Wininstall LE is actually the same tool that RM package builder frontend is built over. But as it can be a bit messy and include bits in packages you donít want so I tend to use Windows Installer Wrapper if the install exe will do a silent install.
Orca I use to make MST,s (Microsoft MSI Transform File) for existing MSIís that just need things like the product key and local settings put in.
Bat To Exe Converter I use in conjunction with Windows Installer Wrapper to send out BAT scripts that only need to rune once to fix a problem on workstations. (E.G. the Sophos uninstall BAT script for when that brakes and will not uninstall to allow a re install)
I use the freeware features in Advanced Installer for creating MSIs, and often use Orca for tweaking existing ones or adding features to the Advanced Installer packages that the freeware version doesn't do (installing services, for example).
For the nitty-gritty of MSIs, the Microsoft MSI Database schema is also a very useful reference.
I use Wise Package Studio here for repackaging and either use InstallTailor, Orca or Instedit for transforming vendor packages.
Another tip is to use a clean virtual machine running under VMWare Server. Use it for creating the MSI and testing deployment. Take a snapshot of the VM switched off before you do anything, that way you can go back to the clean machine at any time instantly.
Good advise OverWorked - I do the same thing when packaging, it saves so much time. Before Vm'ing I used to re-image a test workstation everytime I messed up the MSI package.
But yeah, Winstall LE is great for packaging, and Orca is also good for clean up tasks like removing unwanted Current User keys the package may want to insert into the registry.
garethedmondson (15th April 2009)
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