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Demo: Create Customized Installations Using Monitoring

In some cases, you may need not only to repackage a non-silent installation but also to customize it after installation to apply a license code or change the installed application settings and to get an MSI that includes the installation and its customization. As you may have learned in the Overview of the MSI Creation Methods chapter, you can repackage such installations using the Advanced Monitoring mode of repackaging. This mode allows you not only to monitor an installation but also to monitor any changes performed in Windows and create an MSI reproducing those changes. This very powerful feature of EMCO MSI Package Builder allows you to create any type of installation quickly and easily. Let's have a look at some examples of how you can use it.

Create a Customized Firefox Installation

Suppose we need to distribute Firefox across a local network. The standard Firefox installation doesn't work silently, so we need to repackage it into an MSI. An additional requirement here is that the Firefox installation should show our company home page at start and should have certain changed proxy settings. Those changes can be applied in Firefox options after installation, so we need to monitor the installation and application customization steps to create the required MSI.

Step 1. Open the Repackage Installation wizard
As the first step, you need to open the Repackage Installation wizard. If it isn't opened automatically, press the Repackage Installation button in the Home tab of the Ribbon, read the welcome information and press the Next button.

Step 2. Select the Monitor Installation option
We are going to use installation monitoring, so select the corresponding option and press the Next button to proceed Pic 1.

Select the Monitor Installation mode

Pic 1. Select the Monitor Installation mode

Step 3. Select the Advanced Monitoring option
We need to monitor not only the Firefox installation but also the post-install customization, so we cannot use the automatic monitoring start and stop functions provided by EMCO MSI Package Builder by default. As you learned in the Overview of MSI Creation Methods chapter, we need to use Advanced Monitoring to start and stop monitoring manually, so select the corresponding option and press the Next button Pic 2.

Select the Advanced Monitoring mode

Pic 2. Select the Advanced Monitoring mode

Step 4. Check the repackaging best practices
When you use monitoring, you need to follow the repackaging best practices to get accurate repackaging results. Review the recommendations displayed by the wizard, make sure that you perform repackaging in a clean environment and follow other best practices, and then press the Next button. You can learn more about this topic in the Overview of Repackaging Best Practices chapter.

Step 5. Specify the project name
EMCO MSI Package Builder will automatically create an MSI project when the monitoring is completed, so you need to enter the project name and press the Next button.

Step 6. Specify the MSI properties
At this step, you need to specify the properties of the MSI package to be generated. You need to specify the path to the MSI file that will be generated automatically after the monitoring ends. You also need to specify Product Name and Version that should be the same as in the repackaged Firefox installation. You can enter your company name as Manufacturer and click on Icon to pick it from the Firefox installation file Pic 3. To learn more about the options in this dialog, refer to the Creating MSI Package chapter. Press the Next button when you finish editing the MSI properties.

Specify the MSI properties

Pic 3. Specify the MSI properties

Step 7. Filter out the running applications/processes
To prevent any unwanted changes from appearing in the repackaging results, you need to close all applications that are not related to the monitored process. EMCO MSI Package Builder automatically detects all running applications before starting the monitoring, so you can select the application the changes initiated by which should be excluded from the monitoring results. If you follow the repackaging best practices and use a clean environment, you will see an empty list in the wizard and can start monitoring. Otherwise, if you see a list of running applications, choose the applications that should be excluded from the monitoring and press the Finish button to start the monitoring Pic 4.

Filter out the running applications

Pic 4. Filter out the running applications

Step 8. Follow the installation and customization steps
At this step, the monitoring is started, and any file system and registry changes are being captured. Note that you haven't specified the Firefox installation in the wizard, so it won't be started automatically, and you need to find the installation file in Windows Explorer and run it manually. You need to follow the Firefox installation process until Firefox is installed. The difference from repackaging in the default mode is that monitoring isn't stopped automatically when the installation is finished, so you can apply the required customizations. After Firefox is deployed, you can run the Firefox application and specify your company website as the home page, then set the required proxy settings in the program options.

Step 9. Stop the installation and get an MSI package
Now that all the Firefox installation and customization steps are finished, you can go back to EMCO MSI Package Builder and press the button to stop the monitoring Pic 5. As you can see, once the monitoring is stopped, EMCO MSI Package Builder generates an MSI package automatically, and you can see it in the Windows Explorer.

Stop the monitoring

Pic 5. Stop the monitoring

After getting an MSI package, you need to test it before you can deploy it across a network. The testing approach is explained in the MSI Packages Testing and Troubleshooting chapter. If you generate an MSI using the trial version of EMCO MSI Package Builder, you get a trial MSI package that can be deployed during 30 days only and that displays a trial message in Windows Programs and Features after the deployment. These limitations do not influence the functionality of the repackaged application, so you can fully test it to make sure it works as expected.

As you can see, the installation repackaging in the Advanced Monitoring mode works automatically and is identical to the Automated Monitoring except for the requirement to run the repackaged installation and stop the monitoring manually, but that allows you to repackage installations that require customization.

Create a Custom Font Installer

Using repackaging in the Advanced Monitoring mode, you can easily get custom installations for any software deployment or Windows administration task. For example, let's assume that you need to distribute a font across your network, but you only have a font file. Of course, you can create an installation from scratch manually using the visual editors of EMCO MSI Package Builder, but in this case, you need to know a lot of technical details like the folder where the font should be installed, how to register the font, etc. Using Advanced Monitoring, you can create the required MSI automatically and let EMCO MSI Package Builder capture all the required changes while you install the font manually. Let's see how it works.

Steps 1 - 7. Select the Advanced Monitoring mode and configure the MSI properties
Every time you use Advanced Monitoring, the initial steps are the same: you need to open the Repackage Installation wizard, select the Advanced Monitoring mode and make sure you follow the repackaging best practices. You also need to specify the MSI properties and to use the installation-specific properties such as the MSI path, Product Name and Version. You can see the details steps 1 to 7 in the example above. In the dialog where you need to provide the MSI properties, you should use the Always restart computer after the installation option for Restart Mode. It is required to make the installed font visible in the system after the deployment.

Step 8. Install the font
Now that EMCO MSI Package Builder monitors all the changes, you can select the font file to be installed in Windows Explorer and choose the option to install it from the context menu. Check the Windows Control Panel > Fonts to make sure the font has been installed correctly.

Step 9. Stop installation and get an MSI package
Once the font installation is finished, you can go back to EMCO MSI Package Builder and press the button to stop the installation and generate an MSI. As a result, the MSI generation is started automatically, and you get an MSI package that installs the font.

Using this approach, you can create an MSI automatically for any system administration task. For example, if you need to create an installation that deploys a set of files and registry keys, at Step 8, you can copy these files to the required target folders in Windows Explorer and create the required registry keys in Registry Editor manually, and EMCO MSI Package Builder will create an MSI that reproduces the captured changes.