Unattended program installation options in a home context?
December 26, 2012 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to automate installation of windows programs.

What tools exist?

TGUP is almost but not quite enough for my needs.

I'd love to be able to run a mock installation, navigating the prompts and choosing the appropriate options, and then use that to generate an installation script that can be run unattended for each program. If it can detect the difference between a clean install and an upgrade, that would be interesting/nice as well.

Is there anything like that available? This is for home use, one Windows 7 and 8 machines. I don't have access to corporate software and don't want to spend more than a few bucks on it.
posted by jsturgill to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I can remember RM using something like this back in the 90s when they has a special version of Windows for school networks where software installations could be monitored and then rolled out silently to all of the client PCs.

Basically you need something that will detect new files, files being overwritten or changed, and Windows registry changes. I think one of the Installer-creating products (Wise?) used to have a utility that would do this and then recreate an installer.

I looks like Install Tracker does something close. There may be better products.
posted by pipeski at 12:14 PM on December 26, 2012

Ninite works great for this, but the app selection is somewhat limited and you don't get to choose options.
posted by neckro23 at 1:14 PM on December 26, 2012

You will need to automate the GUI portion as app installers aren't standardized- there is no real way to hook into them other than emulating clicks/keystrokes.



If you reinstall a lot, SVS is pretty neat as well. You also may consider building portable apps with ThinApp
posted by wongcorgi at 3:24 PM on December 26, 2012

I do a lot of silent installs because I manage a school network. I couldn't find anything that worked for everything either. I ended up rolling my own pair of great big batch scripts that do all my installations and upgrades, so that I could easily use whatever sequence of commands is necessary to get the job done.

machine-update.bat runs at startup and shutdown; user-update.bat runs at user logon. Between them, they handle every software installation, upgrade and configuration task I need to do.

Every package I have ever needed to generate installation and configuration script for has needed about a day of research and trial installations and general fartarsing about to make it work the way I want.

It would indeed be nice to have a tool that let you remember the choices made in an installation GUI and then script those. Various installer frameworks do let you do that, but the procedures are different for each one; as far as I've been able to determine (and believe me, I've looked) the path of least resistance involves using Google to find other people's installation snippets and lots of messing about.

Lots of executable installers start with a self-extracting archive step and follow on with executing one of the extracted files. One technique that's often proved useful is using 7-Zip to extract the archived files instead (it works against most self-extracting archive formats) which allows me to experiment with command line options on the actual installer contained within.

is a good resource, as is itninja.com.

Don't get too excited about packages that track file and registry changes across an installation and let you build your own installation packages that way. In my experience (and that of others) the results are often fragile and unsatisfactory.
posted by flabdablet at 8:17 AM on December 27, 2012

Thanks for the options.
posted by jsturgill at 9:20 AM on January 2, 2013

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