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Unattended Install of InstallShield-based Apps

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By John Klein

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Posted: 26 Jun 2003

Update: We got even more additional info from an alert reader. Look under Other Suggestions.

Many applications use InstallShield but are packaged in a way that makes it hard to do an unattended installation with ZENworks for Desktops. Even some Novell products, like NICI 2.4.2 (which you really want to install widely, especially if you're using a modern ConsoleOne) don't seem to like to be automated.

SOLUTION: Here's how I "unpacked" the self-extracting exe file that I downloaded and set it up to install silently from the NAL:

  1. Download the installer (for NICI this was wcniciu0.exe from
  2. Run the installer, but DO NOT press Next or agree to the license yet!
  3. Look in your %temp% directory, and try to locate the randomly named dir from which the installer is still running. Usually there are license files, images, or some other indication of the product's orgin. I like to have %Temp% open in Windows Explorer, so I can see when the new directories appear and go right to them.
  4. Copy the installer (in my case I copied just the "Disk1" subdirectory that contained the InstallShield Setup.exe and support files) from this temporary directory to a network install space. You must do this while the installer is running, lest it clean up after itself and delete the files you need.
  5. Cancel the installer you started in step 2 (you got what you needed). From your network install space, run "setup -r" (for "record"). DO complete this install. InstallShield will record all of your choices into a response file named %SystemRoot%\Setup.iss
  6. Copy setup.iss to your network install space (same dir as setup.exe) Now you can make a NAL icon for setup.exe with command line parameter "-s" (for Silent install) Users will not be prompted (actually no dialogs at all are displayed).

This works for NICI 2.4.2, and should also do for any InstallShield-based self-extracting installers.

If you have any questions you may contact John at

Other Suggestions

Paul L.

Note that Installshield allows you to "record" all your options and run the install with those options, silently in some cases. See

Also, if you use procexp.exe from you can see all the files an installation has open, so it's easy to locate where it extracts the installation from!

Michael Zeiss

Install-Shield Apps delivered in a Single Exe-File are so-called "PackageForTheWeb."

If you have a package for the web install file, you should use the -a or /a parameter to pass by the other arguments for silent install or for recording an install.

acroread.exe /a /s /f1C:\Filename.ins

Therefore it is not necessary to unpack the install and you can deliver the single exe with one .iss file!

It is also better to use / instead of - when passing parameters.

Look at Article Number Q102293

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