I'm trying to discover a reliable way of bundling several applications that may use different installer software (InstallShield, MS installer Service, Wise, etc) and automating installation of them all in some fashion. I haven't seen any product out there that reliably does this. Here's what I would like it to do:
Install several applications that may use different installers.
Install applciations without requiring manual interaction for each app. I'd prefer an option in the main installer to have a custom option where you can select the apps you want and just click "Install" and have it install those applications (but without popping up the install for those apps)
Have the main installer only show up in the Add/Remove programs menu within Windows, so that when that one application is removed, all applications that were installed are also removed.
Control install parameters for each bundled application so that they can be installed in a logical related directory structure. For example, installing all the apps in a Program Files\Bundled App Set folder.
From what I've researched, there's really only a few ways to do this:
External install, which would simply launch the installer for each application and require manual interaction for each installer (but that breaks almost all goals above, but would at least install all apps chosen after interaction)
Unattended/silent install assuming each installer supports it via an answer file or flags passed to the installer.
Repackaging installs using software that can track changes to a system during an install and record those changes which are then repackaged into a new installer. I've read this isn't very reliable and tends to break often. It can have problem detecting things like services added to Windows.
There's also a 4th option using merge modules, but that would only work if every application uses the same MS installer service. I didn't list it because of that.
This is really a question for opinions on the best way to go about this. Some software I have access to and can repackage, and other software I do not. I would prefer to not go with a hybrid system, like using #1 and #2, but if I have to, I have to.
I would imagine there's some way of doing this right, and I'm open to any opinions or suggestions to get something like this working--and hopefully not be incredibly fragile in the end. Maybe it isn't possible? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.