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Training required for simple repackaging?

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 00:48

I am wondering whether training would be required, or whether I could self-learn, for the use of AdminStudio JUST to (1) repackage about a dozen SIMPLE InstallScript msi apps into basic msi apps (I have the Installshield projects for these), and (2) repackage moderately complex third-party setups (I only have their setup packages; no InstallShield project files). If it's a straightforward process then maybe I can get by with reading the user's manual. I'm not sure the company will pay for formal training.

Repackaging is all I'm interested in. I have plenty of InstallShield experience, but have never used AdminStudio.

Advice, anyone?

Thanks for any input!


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Posted 28 February 2009 - 21:48

Repackaging is a black art if ever there was one. To properly clean up a normal third party capture requires a lot of experience. Ironically there is no official training that I know of that will help u learn this properly, it is a matter of knowing Windows well and knowing what to leave out of the package.

As with anything else, there is a cost benefit involved with package cleanup. Ironically a clean package is easier to break than an unclean one since a clean one won't contain redundant information. It is also typically the uninstall of a dirty package that breaks the system, not its installation. This is because it may rip out runtime components and third party components during uninstall.

Later versions of windows are generally much more robust when it comes to putting back files that shouldn't have been removed, but the registry is still vulnerable.

Here are some simple rules of thumb that may help. Also feel free to post back here with doubts:
  • Get rid of all HKCU keys if possible (most well designed apps will populate here on launch - but not all).
  • Limit HKLM keys to entries in the SOFTWARE sub folder unless you are installing very special files (such as shell extensions or services).
  • In HKCR, do not install any entries that don't belong to a file in the package. Often the capture tool will collect many Microsoft core OS COM components such as comcat, ole2, etc... leave all such stuff out of the package.
  • Don't install anything to system32 unless you are 100% sure what it is and that it must go there.
  • If you see stuff go into shared microsoft locations such as C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared, investigate whether the file is part of a Microsoft runtime that you can deploy as a prerequisite instead (in most cases this is true)
  • Use Merge Module finder to search merge modules and figure out if you can replace a file or more with the module.
  • Ask questions. Repackaging is a black art and years of experience will teach you about all the abundant, special exceptions to the rule.

Essential Repackaging Toolkit:
  • Wise Package Studio (BY FAR the best, much better than Installshield)
  • OLE View
  • Dependency Walker
  • Merge Module Finder
  • ProcMon

-Stein Åsmul


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Posted 28 February 2009 - 21:50

Reading your post again I think you will do find on your own with this, seeing as you are an experienced setup developer. Just dump any questions here.

Also, Installshield can convert the Installscript MSIs to Basic MSIs - or so they claim. Not terribly reliable, but at least a start for you. Sounds like Wise isn't available to you, so good luck with Installshield :-).
-Stein Åsmul