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AdminStudio Professional 6.0

Macrovision's AdminStudio Professional 6.0 lets you create Windows Installer (.msi) packages and transforms and helps you test packages before you deploy them. To repackage software, you simply install it while AdminStudio's Repackager runs in the background. Repackager easily repackaged legacy setups created with Macrovision's InstallShield and Wise Solutions' Wise Package Studio, even capturing application settings that I configured after the installation completed. Although the product's Installation Monitoring repackaging method incorrectly captured forward slashes instead of backslashes in paths when I repackaged some UNIX-like software, such as ActiveState's ActiveTcl, the Snapshot repackaging method worked fine. Packages I created on a machine on which I had previously installed and removed the software being repackaged didn't always install correctly, but repackaging on a clean install of the OS was consistently successful, so I recommend using AdminStudio with virtual machines (VMs) or allowing time for reimaging.

Before deploying packages, I used AdminStudio's predeployment testing capability to determine whether a nonadministrative user would be able to install the packages. I also challenged AdminStudio to resolve a subtle case of DLL Hell involving the Gaim Instant Messaging (IM) client, two versions of a DLL from Red Hat's Cygwin, ActiveTcl, and the PATH environmental variable. AdminStudio's ConflictSolver couldn't help me identify the problematic DLL, probably because each package kept its version of the file in a different location. ConflictSolver would have been successful with the more common problem of one package overwriting another's files. I also tried using AdminStudio's Tuner to customize my packages. Although it can automatically create response-based transforms for parameters that existing .msi packages prompt the user for, creating more detailed customizations required me to know the files and registry keys I wanted to change. I loved AdminStudio's Predeployment Testing feature and found ConflictSolver useful, but I wish Tuner's response-based transforms could automatically include post-installation changes like Repackager does.

AdminStudio Professional 6.0
Contact: Macrovision * 408-743-8600
Price: $3999
Pros: Easy to use; deployment testing saves time
Cons: Repackaging requires using VMs or a clean build of the OS; response-based transforms don't capture post-installation customizations
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: A good choice for administrators who manage many machines.
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