MAKEMSI quickly and reliably creates MSI files in a non-programmatic way
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Have your say! Join the MAKEMSI discussion list or view archive! Suggest improvements. No question too simple or too complex.
\->Building or Updating MSIs->Repackaging - Converting an EXE to MSI->Wrap Existing Installers

Wrap Existing Installers

This approach automates the install of an existing (and well tested) installer and so does not have the same dangers as the "Setup Capture" approach (although it has some lesser dangers due to some flaws in installer development tools).

A large number of installer development tools allow for a silent installation procedure, the biggest trick is determining the tool used or finding the unattended install information, sometimes its in a readme.txt, sometimes on a web site. The installation tool's name or vendors name is frequently branded into one or more dialogs, the following is an NSIS (by NullSoft) based installer:

The "WrapInstall" command can be used to simplify the wrapping of an existing installer. A new version of the 3rd party product can generally be build the same way as the previous one and so there is little danger of failure and a relatively small amount of testing required.

The biggest problem is MSI based installers and there is limited scope for wrapping them other than creating your own "setup.exe" to wrap it plus your own install (also see "Create a MSI Transform").

I highly recommend you consider the need to use a tool like "RunProcess.EXE" to automatically terminate processes which may have hung. InstallShield and Microsoft are particularly bad and don't are prone to hanging.

Some specific information I have gathered is available here:

  1. Repackaging an InstallShield MSI based EXE
  2. InstallShield
  3. Repackaging an INNO SETUP Based Installer
  4. NSIS Setup (wrap installation)

If it is looking too difficult to reliably wrap a product then I'd have a look at reverse engineering the setup.

Links to Repackaging/Unattended Operation Resources

Some external resources which may have specific information about the product you wish to repackage are:

WinZip 8/9 - Repackage Information

The WINZIP site has a page on "unattended" installs where it mentions some of the command line switches you can use such as "/AutoInstall". There was no information about uninstallation. Search the site for more information.

I received this email from Chuck Campbell, WinZip Technical Support (17 Dec 2004):

WinZip versions 8.1 and 9.0 -only- will accept the /quninstall switch
when executed from the command line, which will remove the software
without further action; prior releases accept only the /uninstall
switch, which does produce a confirmation dialog.

The fact of the matter is that the return codes have not been tested to
the satisfaction of the developers and QA staff, and so are not
distributed.  This will remain the case until the reliability of the
return codes has been determined.  Neither the self-extractor program,
or the WinZip GUI program return any meaningful information to a calling
routine.

We did have a beta version MSI file of WinZip 9.0 that was being offered
to current site license administrators for testing, but we have
fulfilled the current testing needs and are no longer offering it.  A
final version is not quite ready for release.  The situation is still
being studied and in-house testing is still being done.

We are, however, still considering releasing an "official" MSI file.
Typically, there is a fairly extensive test period prior to a full
release.  We cannot yet commit to a final release date.


Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.Please email me any feedback, additional information or corrections.
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Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.