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I do an awful lot of software installs in work (Microsoft Office, Norton, McAfee, etc.) on Windows 8 machines and having no real way to automate the process for a variety of machines.

Primarily I'm a Linux user and prefer that environment to Windows 8 (which I find hard to work with at the best of times); what I'm asking is if it's possible to have a set of executables that I could install to the Windows partition, but do it from a live USB, without ever booting into Windows.

To some this may seem pointless, but I'm I think it's an interesting concept. So, is it possible to install software on Windows from Linux, and if so, how?

Cheers!

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Sure its possible (assuming no drive encryption) but I know of no one trying to make it work.

Installing an application is nothing special, really. Its the obfuscation from the user that makes it appear magic.

Basically, what would need to be done:

  • Capture all file writes
  • Capture all Registry changes

Linux can read an write to NTFS, so you could capture all file creations and manually copy these to the write places on the Windows drive, likely at C:\Program Files\ApplicationFolder\ and maybe some others like C:\Users\Public\Desktop\ and C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Once all the files are in place, you just need to tell Windows what it does, where its installed and modify all that fun stuff.

You need to add an uninstall string in Add remove programs (I detailed some of that here)

But to do that, you need to load the hive for the machine. Some linux based utilities already can do this (Password reset disks for example) You would need to expand that functionality to many new keys.

Possible keys that you might need to add to:

  • extentions: What to do with a new file type
  • Path variables
  • Enviroment variables

There is not a single approach to install an application and what files registry keys it may touch, so every install would have to be independently captured and converted to do what you wish.

TL;DR

It is possible, but there is nothing on the market that does this. It would not be a simple task to do this reliably.

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  • I see, so assuming I was aware of every read/write that an install would cause and could copy those files off AND knew every registry entry they added it would be do-able. However, I'm guessing that packages like MS Office have restrictions in place for capture of data like that? I doubt I'd have the knowledge to be able to do something like this but it'd be interesting nonetheless, you wouldn't know of any resources that I could use at all?
    – JMercer
    Dec 2, 2013 at 2:26
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    Essentially yes, capture everything and figure out how to write it directly to disk and the registry... Tools that may help process explorer technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx procmon technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896645.aspx and EMCO Package Builder would all be ideas for capturing data emcosoftware.com/msi-package-builder Dec 2, 2013 at 4:15

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