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Unattended application install software...

Posted on 2006-05-19
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I have made unattended CD's for Windows server 2003 and XP, but I would like to make a seperate DVD for installing all of the programs I need as well.

Is there a GUI tool for adding the packages you want and then burn it to a DVD that will auto-install when you insert it after the successful installation of the OS?

I have tried making packages for things like Visual Studio 2003, but the instructions are not that clear and some other programs I have don't seem to have regular switches for running them unattended.

If I could get a program where I could add them to a list of things that I want to install and then burn it all to a DVD that would be great.

 
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Question by:wlandymore
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by:cschipper
ID: 16721011
I don't think it's possible with all software to do a silent install or you have to repackage the application to msi with wise package studio for example.
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by:wlandymore
ID: 16721062
things like Visual Studio have an msi file already, but because of the key and other installation parameters it's hard to do it unattended.

I have found a program Almeza Multiset which is basically recording what you are doing during the install and then trying to replicate it, but I can't figure out how to make a DVD that will auto-install what you add to the packages you make. Their documentation ain't the best....

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by:cschipper
ID: 16721179
with wise package studio you can make mst files for the msi. then you run the msi with the transform option. in the mst file are all the setting on how you want you're application to be installed.
For most applications of big company's like microsoft and adobe have there own mst build tools for silent installs.

for example an mst for visual studio can be downloaded here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=E8C5892D-F403-4F48-8062-E52455651CF0&displaylang=en

for ms office you have the custom installation wizard which makes a mst file for you:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/FX011511471033.aspx

http://www.appdeploy.com/packages/ is also a very helpfull site to check howto make a silent install of an application

hope this helps
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by:nltech
ID: 16721230
check out the (free) windows post install wizard - http://www.wpiw.net/


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by:victornegri
ID: 16722975
There are programs like Altirs Rapideploy (or whatever it's called now) which create .EXE or .MSI packages based on a before-after snapshot of the system. You can make a DVD full of those and then create a batch file that runs each one-at-a-time. Of course, these packages are OS specific (but they may work for Win2k and WinXP since they have a similar structure) so you have to test.
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16723061
There is so much variability between different windows installs, if they all used installshield, you could make scripts for them all, but each one does its own thing, and very few of them can be installed unattended.

However, that does not stop you from burning them all to a DVD.  You could put say 10 Install CDs on a single DVD under their own directories, and then you just click on each directory and run setup.exe or whatever you need to from each subdirectory under the *data* DVD burn.  That will work, maybe the closest you can get to what you would like.
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by:wlandymore
ID: 16760149
The Windows Post install wizard is the closest thing to what I'm talking about, but it only has the programs that they've put in there. I need things like Visual Studio 2005, SQL 2005, etc. that wouldn't be in the list of stuff that they offer.

I've made unattended installs for things like Office 2003, but it's so tedious I was hoping that there would be an easier way of doing it....like with a GUI.

I'm going to try the snapshot stuff, but I haven't heard a lot of good things about compatibility with those because you can get weird results if you try to install the software on a machine that was like the original that you made the snapshots on.
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victornegri earned 2000 total points
ID: 16760929
I've had some fairly good success with snapshot software. The thing to remember is to apply the snapshots in order from oldest to newest (unless you're certain that one isn't going to replace the files of another. Also test, test, test.
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by:wlandymore
ID: 16762112
you have any recommendations on snapshot software? (ease of use, options, etc.)
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16762604
Symantec live state recovery is a typical leader in snapshot, but this is the OS snapshot.  I dont understand how this would relate to burning an install DVD where the programs self install.  The one thing you do NOT want to do is take a snapshot of the OS on one computer and clone it to a different computer with different hardware.  That is were you get an unrecoverable setup problem.

Seems to me you want to (1) put all the applications on a CD that boots the windows version you want, and (2) write a routine to run each one of them, in sequence.  Now that is the hard part, because the END result of any application install is totally unpredictable.  It may force a reboot, on some hardware, it may not need a reboot on other hardware.

Say you do all this in a batch file -- easy enough, call setup.exe in one dirctory and setup.exe in the next, like --

@echo off
echo Here is the multidisk install -- press ENTER to continue, or Control-C to abort
pause
CALL \dirapp1\setup.exe
CALL \dirapp2\setup.exe
CALL \dirapp3\install.msi

....  and so forth.  That is the most direct way to do it, and it works fine, and it is VERY easy to setup.  But what happens if app 2 causes a reboot?  Now you have the problem of restarting the procedure from APP3, not the whole routine all over again.  SO you have to debug which one is causing the reboot, depending on the system setup, and insert a new command in the RunOnce portion of the registry, so it will start off where it left off on reboot.

You can see, this is unpredictable and hard to recover from.  The best way to do this in a GUI is using INSTALL SHIELD.  That is a program (which comes with Borland products free, but you can also buy install shield standalone).  I have used it, and it is a GREAT product for developing an install application.  It has tons of options, and there is almost nothing you cannot do with it.  It tends to want to package up ALL the program components into a singe EXE and you run that.  It would not be feasible for major apps you are talking about, so you will have to set it up from a pre-designed DVD where it just runs each app setup, like the batch file does above.

However, you still have the reboot issue.  Install shield will not persists beyond a reboot any better than the batch file.  Hope this helps understand the issue.  I think you should look at Install Shield, it might do all you need.

www.installshield.com
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by:wlandymore
ID: 16770512
when I say snapshot I don't mean imaging software. The software I'm talking about will record the keystrokes that you are sending when installing an application and then you stop recording at the end. Then when you install on a fresh system it will recreate the keystrokes so the product keys can be entered and buttons clicked without the user's interaction.

A good exaple of this type of software is http://www.almeza.com

I could use something like a batch file but many programs I'm installing require keys so that wouldn't be any good. As soon as the setup.exe file is called it would halt and wait for the user to enter the key and click next. I have made .mst files before to get around this, but it's not the same for all applications so there are some programs I can't seem to do it for.

Sorry about the confusion
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by:wlandymore
ID: 16770589
I accidentally chose the wrong comment as the answer. It should be victornegri's answer that receives the points. I have put in a request to change this so that the points will be given to the right user.

Sorry about that.
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16773115
why what was wrong with mine?  or a split?
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