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I'm looking at deploying some software via GPSI and the current version of the software is distributed as a .exe so I need to convert it to an MSI file.

furthermore, why does MS still distribute some of its software (WMI Tools) as .exe

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The type of tool you're looking for is called an Application Repackaging tool. The process would include capturing an installation (take a machine snapshot, run your installation and make customisations, then run a second snapshot to calculate the differences) then compiling the captured data into MSI format.

The following are some free tools to perform these tasks, in order:

  1. AppDeploy Repackager: Use this to capture your installation and create an MSI from the captured data. If your app is reasonably simple then this may be all you need.
  2. Microsoft Orca: Use this to edit the MSI that has been created with AppDeploy Repackager. You will need to know how MSI's work to really make the most of Orca. Microsoft's Installer Database Reference is the definitive source for information on MSI contents.

As for your second question: You will find that sometimes vendors will supply an MSI wrapped in an executable, so if you run the .exe you might be able to dig out the MSI from a temp directory.

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great summary. Off topic, but important anyways, I can understand a vendor... Microsoft being excluded. It's their format, they should be using it :) I wouldn't expect a ford car salesman to be driving a Saab its bad for business. – GNUix Jun 9 '09 at 2:41
I can't speak for Microsoft, but wrapping the MSI in an EXE is one possibility anyway, sometimes this is done for security reasons so that you can't open the MSI, because MSI's are readable databases that can be opened by anyone with tools like Orca. – Wayne Koorts Jun 9 '09 at 2:44
@duffbeer703: slamming the ORCA tool without at least mentioning a viable alternative isn't really adding value to the discussion. – ThatGraemeGuy Jun 9 '09 at 5:03
Orca's been great for editing of installer options, but I certainly wouldn't use it for the full packaging job! – Le Comte du Merde-fou Jun 9 '09 at 7:26
@mh: My recommendation in the answer was to use it to EDIT the MSI which had previously been created by AppDeploy Repackager, not to create it from scratch. – Wayne Koorts Jun 9 '09 at 8:35

I've used Advanced Installer and AppDeploy Repackager and have gotten good results.

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Check out WinINSTALL LE:

You have to install the program, and it will watch what happens and create an MSI installer. I usually make my installs on a clean VM so that it doesn't catch background activities of programs I usually use.

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I'll check it out. Thanks – GNUix Jun 9 '09 at 2:35
Used this, it's a pretty fantastic tool. If it can successfully package Oracle client software, it has to have something going for it. – Le Comte du Merde-fou Jun 9 '09 at 7:27

Heh, I'll try and answer my own question.. I'm also going to look at The AppDeploy Repackager. It looks like it will do pretty much the same thing as Joseph mentioned. I'll see which one does the job with less stress on my part :)

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It's not free but if you have any Visual Studio licenses, that has a great MSI packager available in it.

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IMO WiX may be the best way, since repackager working with snapshots tend to record unrelated changes, as far as you don't spend some time setting exclusions...

Using the Wixtool makes the creation of an MSI quite convenient instead of writing lots of xml containers ;)

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Microsoft's Windows Installer XML toolkit (WiX).

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I'll check it out. Thanks. – GNUix Jun 9 '09 at 2:21
From the 10 second overview, it looks like a great package for deploying applications I develop, but doesn't look like I can simply wrap a .exe installer into an MSI file -- but I will dig deeper – GNUix Jun 9 '09 at 2:24
Ah sorry, I didn't realise on first reading that you were after a repackager. Damn my Answer trigger-finger! ;) – moobaa Jun 9 '09 at 3:22

protected by Michael Hampton Nov 3 '13 at 23:16

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