Wednesday, 14 December 2011

MSI repackaging and Microsoft’s Orca tool

orca_transA common task required of those of us who support a large number of managed Windows computers is software repackaging.  The process of repackaging allows you to take a proprietary executable installer provided by a vendor and from this create a Microsoft Installer file (MSI file) suitable for distribution using an enterprise deployment tool such as SCCM. In recent years vendors have become better at supplying MSI files.  This saves you the task of completely repackaging the software, but there are often changes you might wish to make to the default behaviour of the vendor-supplied installer.

This is where Orca comes in.  I’m surprised how unknown this tool is amongst systems administrators.  Although aimed primarily at developers, Orca should be in the armoury of any IT professional with responsibility for Windows application deployment. Orca is a database table editor for MSI files.  It allows you to inspect and amend the underlying structure of an MSI file and to save any changes you wish to make to a separate transform file (MST file).  This means you can keep your original vendor MSI file intact and yet apply organisation-specific changes at install time using the MST file containing your changes.

You can find a basic tutorial here and another here.  Orca can be downloaded here or as part of the  Microsoft Windows SDK here.

No comments:

Post a Comment