Tips for troubleshooting (some) INF install failures under App-V Sequencer

12.10.2011

App-V

In a recent post over at the Microsoft’s Technet App-V forums, original poster had the issue during Star Office 8 sequencing wherein middle of the process Windows would just pop up a error message that INF file could not be installed correctly:

INF install error

Since the error description is, well, very unhelpful in assisting in knowing what exactly went wrong here, here’s a quick tip how you can find out what the installer was trying to do.

When you get the error, do not close the message boxt away; as long as we have the error in screen, the underlying process is still loaded and we can whip out the ol’ faithful (and no, I don’t mean this meaning of the phrase!) and indispensable Process Explorer and inspect running processes to give a clue what’s amiss.

So let’s see, in our case there’s processes started by the msiexec.exe which seem as a good candidate as a source of the message box we’re seeing:

Userdeinst.exe and rundll32.exe started by msiexec.exe

After taking educated guess of rundll32.exe being the process that tries to install INF, let’s take a look at its properties next (open the context menu i.e. right-click over the process, and choose Properties):

Properties of rundll32.exe

That’s looks good: there’s LaunchINFSection text there in the parameters passed to the executable, which verifies to us that it is indeed this process that tries to do some INF installation. You can copy-paste the whole text from Command line -box to Notepad so it’s easier to see all of it:

Command line pasted into Notepad

In the command line, we can find the exact INF file that the installer tried to execute using rundll32.exe (through intermediate executable). Since we now know the full path to the INF, and the error message is still on the screen, installer has not removed the temporarily created INF file from user’s temp directory and we can open it next to see what exactly is this mysterious INF:

Contents of oldreg.inf file

Based on the contents of INF file, it looks like Star Office 8 tries to remove some file association registrations of the older version of itself and for unknown reasons this will not play nicely with Sequencer’s virtual environment being up at the moment. But in this case there’s likely no harm of this step failing as the actual installation went successfully.

As you can see, looking at the properties of running processes can reveal additional information that even install log files or message boxes don’t necessarily do in all cases. This is especially true in situations wherein processes launch another processes: Windows Installer log only logs what it itself sees directly but grandchild processes’ results may be got lost in between.

And as a closing note, the trick presented here don’t apply to all INF installation failure situations. There could be another mechnisms in play wherein the installer itself calls out necessary APIs and then you won’t see a thing from a process’ command line, but in cases of like this it could be helpful to have an additional look at the running processes!

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About Kalle Saunamäki

As one of the first four Microsoft App-V MVP's, Kalle has been doing application virtualization since 2003 and virtualization in general from 2000, and is a recognized in-depth technological expert in Microsoft application virtualization community.

View all posts by Kalle Saunamäki

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