Repackaging Wizard Best Practices

AdminStudio 2016 | Repackager

Edition • The Repackager interface is included with AdminStudio Standard, Professional, and Enterprise Editions.

To ensure optimal performance of the Repackaging Wizard during repackaging and when working with Repackager projects, the following best practices are recommended:

Repackage on a Clean System
Launch Repackager Remotely or Install Repackager on the Clean Machine
Use the Repackager Interface to Exclude Unwanted Items
Exit All Other Applications
Only Repackage Non-Windows Installer Setups

Repackage on a Clean System

It is essential that you repackage applications on a “clean” system to ensure you capture all changes made by the installation. A clean system typically consists of a computer with only the operating system and necessary service packs installed on it. Repackaging on a clean system provides the following benefits:

Prevents you from capturing Repackager files—By repackaging on a clean system, you are ensuring that you do not inadvertently capture Repackager files during repackaging.
Ensures that you capture all of the necessary setup files—If you do not repackage on a clean system, you may not capture all of the necessary files for the setup because the files may already be installed on the system.

Note • For more information, see About Repackaging on Clean Systems.

Launch Repackager Remotely or Install Repackager on the Clean Machine

Because it is best to keep the number of packages installed on the clean machine to a minimum, you should launch Repackager remotely from the clean machine or install Repackager on the clean machine:

Launch Repackager Remotely—You could install Repackager on a shared network drive and then launch Repackager remotely from the clean machine. See Launching Repackager Remotely.
Install Repackager on clean machine—You could install a copy of Repackager onto the clean machine. While it is preferable to launch Repackager remotely from the clean machine, if you do not have network access to an installation of the AdminStudio client tools, this is your best option. See Installing Repackager on a Clean Machine.

Both of these options are explained in Configuring Repackager to Ensure Optimal Installation Capture.

Use the Repackager Interface to Exclude Unwanted Items

You should repackage using the provided exclusions and then use the Repackager interface to visually remove unwanted items from the capture.

Because this occurs post-capture, you do not need to recapture the legacy setup if you inadvertently exclude items from the Windows Installer package you are building.

Note • Since Windows Installer does not support packaging device drivers, you would need to create Custom Actions to install device drivers. See Using Custom Actions in the Windows Installer help section for more information.

Exit All Other Applications

Other applications may lock files or directories, and may hinder the performance of the setup and repackaging. Therefore, exit all applications prior to repackaging.

Only Repackage Non-Windows Installer Setups

Windows Installer setups should not be repackaged. They should either be edited in InstallShield Editor, or, as Microsoft recommends, by creating a transform. This can be done using InstallShield Editor or Tuner.

You should not repackage Windows Installer (.msi) packages for the following reasons:

Repackaging a Windows Installer package is against Microsoft Best Practices.
If you make changes to a Windows Installer package, vendors will no longer provide support for that product.
If you repackage a Windows Installer package, the component codes within the package are not retained and hence future patching or upgrades will not work.
Traditionally, repackaging tools will ignore the Windows Installer-specific data in the Registry. This will result in an incomplete package.

Also, Repackager is not intended for repackaging operating system installations or service packs, or deeply integrated operating system components such as Internet Explorer. Moreover, components such as MDAC or DCOM should be included in the clean image, or installed by a setup using the vendor’s redistributable.

Exception to This Rule

In general, due to the reasons listed above, it is not recommended to repackage a vendor-created Windows Installer package to create a new Windows Installer package. However, some IT organizations may elect to repackage Windows Installer packages in order to simplify them, which should make them more reliable and less likely to violate the organization’s and Microsoft’s recommended best practices.

If you choose to repackage a Windows Installer package, you need to keep in mind that you may no longer be able to:

Directly deploy vendor-provided patches for this package, OR
Use any vendor-provided automatic updating service for this package.

Therefore, you should only consider repackaging a Windows Installer package if your IT staff is also willing to invest resources into periodically repackaging that application’s vendor patches into an updated Windows Installer package.

Note • Tightly-controlled organizations probably would not want to have automatically-updating software, so the inability to use an automatic updating service may not be of concern to them.