2way Technology

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    The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

    Packaging Hardware Drivers & Vendor Supplied Installers

    Recently a client requested for some touch-screen software to be repackaged to enable silent installation onto their digital signage platform. In a nutshell, the touch-screen is a piece of hardware that once installed presents to the Operating System as a mouse and as part of the vendor supplied installation exe a driver is also installed. Upon initial investigation I quickly discovered the vendor supplied installer requires a system restart and if you follow the installation process documented in the setup manual it says to install the software prior to connecting the hardware, then once the hardware is connected you need to run through the 'Add New Hardware' wizard.

    Well, let me tell you this is an inefficient and more complicated process than it needs to be, most of which can be eliminated through Software Packaging (also known as Application Packaging) using products such as Wise Package Studio.

    In the case of the touch-screen software and driver I was able to prevent the reboot requirement as well as the need for running through the 'Add New Hardware' wizard. If you were to use the vendor supplied installer the four-step process would be as follows:

    1. Install software (Vendor supplied software installation)
    2. Restart system
    3. Connect hardware
    4. Install driver

    By repackaing the software installation into a custom Windows Installer MSI, I reduced the total number of steps down by 50% to the following two-step process:

    1. Connect touch-screen hardware via USB
    2. Install software (repackaged Windows Installer MSI)

    Because I used a method of what we refer to as 'driver injection' or 'preloading', the hardware can either be present (connected) or not. If the hardware is not present during the installation, the driver is preloaded into the driver store and when the hardware is connected the device is immediately initiated by the system and becomes ready to use because the driver is already present, similar to standard devices with built-in drivers.

    There are a number of factors to consider when repackaging software, in the case of the touch-screen software and driver it was a relatively small application and single driver. Eliminating the need for a system restart was achieved by two things - ensure the new services installed were started and; make sure the driver is properly installed, both of these were not adequately catered for in the vendor supplied installation. It didn't preload the hardware driver and it didn't start the services it installed, both of which are required to complete the installation process. The other issue I found was the device driver wasn't written correctly and the INF installer file needed some adjustment because it didn't point to the correct location for the driver .SYS file.

    Repackaging software offers great benefits over using the standard vendor supplied installers including the ability to customise the installation - such as add and remove features as well as streamline the installation and setup process. In many cases, smaller vendors - such as the case of Zytronic (maker of the Zytouch Touch Screens) as they don't specialise in software packaging it's common to find their software installers lacking features and capability and in number of cases I've seen vendor supplied installers which can only be described as downright rubbish - if not harmful to your computer.

    If you're looking for expertise to package (or repackage) your software installations, contact 2way Technology on 1300 66 99 23.

    Posted: May 10 2010, 15:20 by Ben Fisher | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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