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What do I need to convert my EXE to be a MSI installer application?

Posted on 2008-06-09
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Last Modified: 2008-12-01
We have an application that must be be installed and deinstalled using VBScripts we have written in-house.  To install a new release we first have to run a deleteapp script to rip out any old verision that may exist.  After the old version has been removed files have to pushed down to a specific folder and then the Installapp script is run to hook the deployed files into system.  To make a long story short, we found a freeware utility called INNO Setup that has allowed us to create a single SETUP.EXE file.  When SETUP is executed it deploys all needed files to the C:\temp folder, executes the delete script, unzips the application files to the correct folder, runs the installation script and then removes the files from the temp folder.  The problem we have is that a particular area of the company cannot use our regular software deployment tool and they are attempting to use Microsoft Windows Group Policy Installer methodology that requires that the package be in an MSI format, not an EXE format.  I've been searching so far in vain for a utility to convert an EXE into an MSI and nothing seems to work like we want it to.  In our situation all we need to do is have the MSI installer deploy and execute the setup.exe on the target or does what the setup file does in the order in which things need to be done.  It would also be helpful if I could find something that was freeware as well.  Any help would be appreciated.
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Question by:wchull
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9 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Share-IT
ID: 21746800
Firstly i'm not much of a packager but i've  used Wise Package Studio to build .msi files. pretty easy really although i just used some real basic functionality.

As an alternate solution though could you not just build a GPO that calls a login script or start up script that installs the software?
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by:elimesika
ID: 21746808
Here  it is

http://juice.altiris.com/download/1355/exe-to-msi
its free , here is the license agreement
http://juice.altiris.com/ajsl
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Author Comment

by:wchull
ID: 21746985
I tried the EXE-to-MSI from Altiris however it doesn't work with our SETUP file.  The setup file that it works with is an Altris Software_Virtualization_Agent.exe and converts it to a Software_Virtualization_Agent.msi file.  Thanks for the post but this will not meet our need.
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by:matrixnz
ID: 21748199
Try Wininstall LE 2003 - found a link to it here http://www.winsite.com/bin/Info?16500000037147 this will allow you to do perform a snapshot install of the application, just make sure your master system is clean with things like AntiVirus switched off, otherwise you end up capturing this within the MSI.  On completion you can then use Orca to edit the MSI if required.  This by far is the easiest method of converting an exe to an msi.  There are some better products out there like installshield, wise installer, but they cost an arm and a leg, Wininstall LE 2003 is free.

Cheers
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Author Comment

by:wchull
ID: 21753115
WinInstall LE is no longer FREEWARE but a version comes on the Windows 2000 Install CD so I'm licensed for it.  Here's my problem as I think I have part of it working.....  As previously noted I really can't have the MSI installer perform the install per se.  What I really need is a single MSI installer file that when kicked off will write 3 VBScript files and 1 Self-extracting ZIP file to the C:\temp folder and when the files are unloaded into the C:\temp folder, execute one of the VBScripts.  So far I have tricked Wininstall into copying the files to the C:\temp folder but (1) the 4 files are not a part of the .MSI file and (2) I'm not sure how to cause the VBScript to execute.  Any ideas?
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Author Comment

by:wchull
ID: 21760824
Since my last post I've become a bit frustrated.  I found a freeware product calle MSIBuilder that seems to allow me to distrubute what I need to install the software except for the fact that I cannot figure out how to make the MSIBuilder launch the SETUP program that MUST be used to properly install the product.  If anyone has used this tool before and know how to have the MSI execute the setup program let me know.

What seems to work so far is a wrapper program that basically runs the SETUP.EXE thru the MSI.  The problem I have with this is the fact that the MSI file does not contain the whole package.  The MSI file and the Setup.exe remain sepeerate programs and must be resident from the same source locaton for the app  to install.

Note if anyone knows of a better way to do things let me know.
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Expert Comment

by:matrixnz
ID: 21765331
Within the MSI you can use Custom Actions to execute VBS and EXE, however not entirely sure how to do it with ORCA as I use AdminStudio.  Another thing to consider is to use a Custom GPO with a Startup Script, which will allow you to use your InnoSetup install, to ensure that on each reboot the application doesn't re-install itself, have InnoSetup detect during InitializeSetup if it's been installed already or not, if no install, if yes exit the script.

Cheers
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wchull earned 0 total points
ID: 21780004
Update.....I found something that actually allowed me to wrap Setup.EXE created by INNO Setup (http://www.jrsoftware.org/) into a single self-contained MSI file. This MSI Installer is called Installer2Go from WItem Software (http://www.witemsoft.com/togo/features/) and is Freeware. Installer2Go was VERY easy to use and allowed me to specify the SETUP.EXE file as a file to go into the CAB file and then allowed me to specify that the EXE must be executed after the EXE had been unloaded into the temporary work folder. After working with this product a bit I determined that I should be able to elimatate the use of INNO Setup entirely and just package my VBScripts and my self-extracting zip file using Installer2Go. My only problem was that one of my VBScripts that was used to actually execute all the installation processes in the correct order could not be kicked off by Installer2Go. My guess is that my script didn't meet some requirement of Installer2Go as during the Installer2Go "Custom Action" setup it kept asking me to specify a function to call in the script when I wanted to run the whole script that had no functions. To get around this I just converted the VBScript to a VB6 command line executable. Works VERY slick.
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LVL 8

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by:mugman21
ID: 23068218
wchull,

Excellent post, thanks for the link. Using Inno along with this app does conform to
MS logo requirements.

Thanks
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