ChangeBASE 6.1: Automated repackaging via MSI Studio

One of the benefits of compatibility checking all applications is that the first step for non-MSI apps is to repackage it which helps in maintaining a standard for all apps in your estate.  ChangeBASE has a built-in conversion tool and this has been the standard method for converting non-MSI packages into MSI format in order to import into ChangeBASE for compatibility assessment. This works well but there are some scenarios where you may want more control over repackaging jobs. This is where ChangeBASE 6.1 helps out as it allows us to use either the built-in repackaging technology, or MSI Studio. The key difference here is that MSI Studio allows us to use the "Manual Configuration" option where we can easily tweak the install (for example turning off auto-updates) during the repackaging process. Another advantage of MSI Studio is that it monitors all changes which happen during the install, rather than just the changes made by the EXE installer file.

There are full details on how to set this up in the User Guide, but I thought it would be useful for me to share this on the blog. Here are the required steps:

  1. Revert the machine you use for ChangeBASE repackaging to the snapshot you setup for repackaging (or setuo a new VM as per the User Guide)
  2. Install ChangeBASE inside this VM. This installs MSI Studio which we need for the repackaging. You'll need to add a license. We tend to suggest a 32-bit VM for most tasks, but you obviously will need a 64-bit VM for repackaging 64-bit apps.
  3. Take a new snapshot of this VM.
  4. In ChangeBASE go to Settings, Conversion, Custom Conversion Technologies. Here there are two predefined technologies for MSI Studio running on a 32-bit VM, the other for a 64-bit VM (Note that both are for repackaging 32-bit software, you need to tweak the args for repackaging 64-bit software)

    You don't need to change anything here, but it's good to be aware of what has been setup.
  5. In ChangeBASE go to Settings, Conversion, Virtual Machines:
  6. Add the new snapshot for MSI Studio.
  7. Go to the Import screen and import an EXE.
  8. Go to the Applications screen and select the EXE and choose to Repackage it:
  9. Change the Technology to MSI Studio (and add the silent command-line argument if required).
  10. Place a tick next to Manual Configuration:
  11. Now you're ready to go! Click Convert -> Selected.
  12. In your VM you will now see that ChangeBASE will start the MSI Studio prescan, then launch you EXE installer. Note that the auto-clicker isn't available at the moment for repackaging with MSI Studio, so you need to manually drive the installation. Once that installation is complete you see this:
  13. Click "Pause Timer".
  14. Now you can make further changes on the VM.
  15. When you are finished click "Exit" and the Postscan will begin and the MSI will be built.
  16. You can now import the MSI via the Import screen.
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