Unattended installation and Setup

explained again in more detail.

Unattended Setup.exe

In the case of an unattended installation, the complete setup of a program or an installation routine is carried out without user input being required.
There are various options for unattended installation of the programs. Each of these methods offers advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed up in each individual case. Often the available parameters can be displayed by calling filename .exe /?, filename .exe -? (or instead of ?, enter h). Alternatively, the required information may be available directly in the documentation of the program or can be obtained from the knowledge about the Windows Installer used. Often, for example, the /silent, /s, /quiet or /q switch can be used to start an installation that installs the program to the hard disk during setup without any further configuration. It is important to pay attention to the upper and lower case of the respective parameter, not always a lower case written parameter (example: 7-Zip [7z465.exe /S]) so that the parameter /S for Silent must be written in capital letters to be recognized and executed by the application.

However, the installation can usually hardly be completely configured by parameters. Besides the option for unattended installation as well as the installation path, other configurations can rarely be set by the switches.

Often, unwanted toolbars (), adware (), etc. are also installed together with the application and have to be removed from the computer in a further step. Regarding the Internet, there is a saying that can also be useful for adware prevention: "If you don't pay for it, you are the product!

  • AdbeRdr11007_de_DE.exe /sPB /rs
  • Firefox Setup 29.0.1.exe -ms
  • install_flash_player_13.0.0.214.exe -install -au 0
  • Shockwave_Installer_Slim_12.1.2.152.exe /s
  • jre-7u55-windows-i586.exe /s
  • gimp-2.8.10-setup.exe /silent /norestart /SUPPRESSMSGBOXES

Oh, one more thing. The /r and /s switches from Installshield packages only work if the release engineer is competent. Many packages have "custom dialogs" which are not supported by setup.iss, which means the dialogs will always appear no matter what you do. For such packages, I suggest asking the vendor to fix their installer. If that does not work, I suggest doing what you can to deprive them of business.

There are several tools that vendors use to create installers for their applications. To make an educated guess about how an installer runs unattended, you need to know which tool was used to create it. Sometimes this is apparent from the installer's splash screen, sometimes you can find out by running "Strings" (from SysInternals), and sometimes you have to guess. For example, the command strings -d "Firefox Setup 59.0.3_x64.exe" tells me that the Firefox setup is a 7-zip self-extracting Binary and contains a .manifest configuration.

Installation ≠ Configuration

Software applications do not conform to any standard. Some have a greater range of functions that support automated installation than others. User-defined configuration settings are only implemented in a second attempt. There is often a logical gap between the products and the defined COE-Platform specifications. In organizations that have multiple COE Platform specifications (subdivided by areas, departments, project teams), this logical gap can become all the greater. Short-sighted strategies generally result in additional work within the application lifecycle and increase the potential for errors.

Installation with scripts

If the software does not offer its own option for automated installation, the entries to be made can therefore be implemented by a WSH script, VBS script or AutoIt script or the offshoot Autohotkey, for example. Scripts also are be able to store the keyboard and mouse entries to be executed in succession (for example Tab,Tab,Tab, C:\Program1,Enter). The unattended installation can cause problems if unforeseen windows appear during the installation that are not handled in the script. Most often, installations are performed during normal working hours in the company. This approach is not useful, because keystrokes and mouse clicks of the user would conflict with those of the script.

Inno Setup

is a program that can be used to create installation routines using scripts. Only a text editor with syntax highlighting is included in the package to create the scripts, but other vendors offer additional software that also provide a graphical user interface for package creation. Thanks to the disclosure of the source code and the liberal license, there are numerous plug-ins and programs for Inno Setup. Together with Inno Setup, they make up a free suite for creating installation packages.

Nullsoft Scriptable Install System

(NSIS for short) is a software for creating installers for the Windows operating system. It was originally developed by the company Nullsoft, who used the installer for their media player Winamp, among other things. Today NSIS is free software and is released under the zlib/libpng license. The source code of NSIS and the downloads are offered via SourceForge, where NSIS was chosen as project of the month in January 2006.


(abbreviated to AHK) is a scripting language and associated interpreter that can be used to control the Windows user interface in particular and automate repetitive work tasks under Windows, but can also serve many other purposes. In the current versions AutoHotkey comes close to a full-featured programming language. AutoHotkey is free software.


is a software for executing scripts, with which mainly processes under Microsoft Windows can be automated, but also complete Windows programs can be written. AutoIt is freeware. The program provides the user with a BASIC-like scripting language. It also contains an interpreter and a compiler that can be used to create executable files (exe files); this means that AutoIt scripts can also be executed on computers on which AutoIt is not installed.

Windows Installer XML

(short: WiX Toolset) is a collection of programs for creating Windows installer packages (MSI, MSP, MSM and MST files) using XML files. WiX was originally developed at Microsoft and is the first Microsoft program to be released as free software. When it was registered on SourceForge on March 31, 2004, it caused quite a stir. The project's source code has been maintained on GitHub since March 2014. A graphical user interface exists only in the form of a plug-in for Visual Studio called Votive.