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Create MST from custom setup.exe file

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Hi,

My software vendor provided a custom install setup.exe.  There are embedded config.ini files in this package and would like to create a transform files MST to make some changes to it. 

What tool can I use to open it up? 

I tried to run the exe and see if there is any msi extracted in the users\AppData\Local folder and I can't find any. 

Where does it usually reside?  

Thanks,

Brandon.

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1 Solution

Hi @BrandonHo 

Not all setup.exe installers contain an MSI installer.  I found this third-party website not affiliated with Flexera on some tips for finding if one does exist in an EXE setup.

However, as even this website states: 

[They] strongly advises against extracting (and using) MSI files from the EXE installers ... Unless the product website allows such an operation ... use the .exe setup files.

This is because the setup.exe likely contains extra logic that's needed for the end-to-end installation to success correctly; extracting and installing just the MSI installer won't set up the application correctly.

There may still be a way to pass a transform file through the setup.exe to the embedded MSI, if there is one.  For InstallShield-authored setups, there is a command-line switch /v that can help you to do this; more info found in the InstallShield product documentation here.

If there is no MSI embedded into the setup.exe, then a transform file would not be relevant as transform files require an MSI to modify.  Depending on the setup.exe technology used, there may or may not be a way to pass another kind of customization file to it so it runs silently with your customizations.  Ask the vendor for any customization options or you can search on forums like ITNinja.com.

If the setup.exe does not support customization as is, you could repackage the EXE and turn it into a standard MSI package that can be further customized.  This feature is available in Flexera's AdminStudio solution.  This method runs the setup.exe on a clean machine with the Repackager monitoring the machines for file and registry changes, provides a summary of the captured output, and allows you to build MSI as well as MSIX packages from that captured output. 

Hope this information helps.

Expert Flexeran on AdminStudio, Workflow Manager, and Software Vulnerability Manager / Research
If I've answered your question, please mark my response as "Accept as Solution" to help others find answers. Thanks!

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1 Reply

Hi @BrandonHo 

Not all setup.exe installers contain an MSI installer.  I found this third-party website not affiliated with Flexera on some tips for finding if one does exist in an EXE setup.

However, as even this website states: 

[They] strongly advises against extracting (and using) MSI files from the EXE installers ... Unless the product website allows such an operation ... use the .exe setup files.

This is because the setup.exe likely contains extra logic that's needed for the end-to-end installation to success correctly; extracting and installing just the MSI installer won't set up the application correctly.

There may still be a way to pass a transform file through the setup.exe to the embedded MSI, if there is one.  For InstallShield-authored setups, there is a command-line switch /v that can help you to do this; more info found in the InstallShield product documentation here.

If there is no MSI embedded into the setup.exe, then a transform file would not be relevant as transform files require an MSI to modify.  Depending on the setup.exe technology used, there may or may not be a way to pass another kind of customization file to it so it runs silently with your customizations.  Ask the vendor for any customization options or you can search on forums like ITNinja.com.

If the setup.exe does not support customization as is, you could repackage the EXE and turn it into a standard MSI package that can be further customized.  This feature is available in Flexera's AdminStudio solution.  This method runs the setup.exe on a clean machine with the Repackager monitoring the machines for file and registry changes, provides a summary of the captured output, and allows you to build MSI as well as MSIX packages from that captured output. 

Hope this information helps.

Expert Flexeran on AdminStudio, Workflow Manager, and Software Vulnerability Manager / Research
If I've answered your question, please mark my response as "Accept as Solution" to help others find answers. Thanks!