The more that we automate, the harder our problems become. Take application management as an example. We now deploy applications with SCCM or Group Policy. We configure first-run settings, user customizations, and license information in order to make applications easier to use. These settings, normally deployed after the application installs, may not always apply and might lead to an inconsistent environment.
By adding file, registry, and short changes to your deployments, your customizations apply while the application installs. This simplifies your deployments by allowing you to use one technology instead of two. In this guide, we are going to cover ways you can modify your MSI to meet your needs.
Adding Files and Registry Changes to Your MSI
Example 1: kill the auto-update feature in Adobe Flash Player by editing their MSI. You are probably currently doing this through Group Policy Preferences with a mms.cfg file. If not, you can read more about that process here.
Start by downloading Smart Packager, import your MSI, and launch the Package Editor. Under the Files tab, expand System Folder and navigate to Flash. This folder should be empty. In the blank space under Name, right click and choose Add. Select Add Files (in the top right). Browse to your mms.cfg file and add it. Your Flash folder should now look like the screen shot above.
Press Ok to save your MSI change and to exit the Package Editor. For a trial run, run your MSI silently on a test machine. Your modified Adobe Flash Player MSI will now have auto-update disabled when the install finishes!
This means end users will never be prompted for an update because GPP didn’t copy the file. Registry changes are made in the exact same way as a file change. If you have license keys that should be inserted into HKLM, this method provides a simple way of doing so.
Adding Shortcut Changes to Your MSI
I hate applications that spam shortcuts everywhere! Before deploying an application, we can clean up unnecessary shortcuts and add some structure to our start menu. Open the Package Editor, add a MSI that creates extra shortcuts, and select the Shortcuts tab. Remove any unneeded shortcut. In the screenshot below, I am removing the Uninstall Shortcut and the Desktop shortcut.
This application is part of a suite of software named Kuta. For my users, it will be easier to find if the Start Menu shortcuts are organized under a folder named Kuta. By editing the two remaining shortcuts, I can change their Start Menu location. Notice their new location in the screenshot below:
These are the most common reasons why I edit my MSIs with Smart Packager. Our applications used to install with SCCM/Group Policy and our changes were then applied with Group Policy Preferences. Now, our applications and changes are applied at once! This may not be the most exciting of work but take the time to simplify your installations. Your users will be happier, your desktops cleaner, your problems easier.
This post is brought to you by Scalable. What’s this?
A quick question about Smart Packager. We want to include a webdav registry key for LibreOffice.
My idea is to put it on the MSI package for LibreOffice (but we can proceed with GPO preferences).
The point is that this registry entry needs a REG_SZ key with (Default) name.
I have look at the LibreOffice MSI, which have that kind of key. But the name is empty and Smart Packager only accepts key with a name…
Do you know how to set this default name ?
Thanks for all your posts, we are using some of their content at work.
A tip for the shortcuts : if you want to add arguments to a shortcut (ie: for deploying BG Info) you can add it via the Advanced Edit mode.
There’s a table named “Shortcut” where you have an “Arguments” row. You can add the needed arguments there.
Thanks for the tip Bruce! Glad that these articles are helping you!
I decided to look at what other options there might be to configure this file, and I came across a good one on Adobe’s site. I would hope it works, since it is from their site, but I have not tested it yet, as I just put this on a couple of machines this morning to see what happens. The link to their kb is below, but the gist of it is change you mms.cfg file to the text below, and it will auto-update without displaying a message to your users. That is a big deal to us, as we try hard to have all updates installed to mitigate any security issues.
Great post, I always learn so much by reading your articles.
One question – All of our computers are Win 7 64 bit, but we use 32 bit browsers, because we have plugin issues when we try the 64 bit ones. I downloaded the 32 bit install of flash, edited the msi with Smart Packager and tested the deployment. It copied the mms.cfg file to the 64 bit location and not the 32 bit location. My question is, will that still work, or do I need to put it in the 32 bit install location, or maybe both?
I answered my own question be reading more on the link in my other post:
“Save the mms.cfg file with UTF-8 encoding in the correct system location for the user’s operating system.”
So it looks in the OS system folder, not based on the version of flash. Hopefully my test machines update this weekend and I can deploy this to all of my systems!!
Thank you! I am glad these articles helped you!
And thank you for posting that link!