About Windows Installer, the .NET Framework, and Visual Studio.
A reader who happened across my post on
Installer on 64-bit Platforms
mentioned a problem with running 64-bit managed custom actions using the
Visual Studio 2005 Windows Installer project. This also recently cropped up in
an internal discussion alias.
The issue is that if you build a managed class library project targeting a 64-bit platform
using /platform:x64 or /platform:Itanium and install a
Windows Installer package built in Visual Studio 2005 on a
64-bit machine a
System.BadImageFormatException is thrown. The reason is because
the native shim packaged with the .msi file is a 32-bit executable.
Let's step back a minute, though, to how to build a Windows Installer setup
project with managed custom actions. I won't go into
details, but basically you
create a new Class Library project that contains one or more derivatives from
System.Configuration.Install.Installer class. In the Custom
Actions editor for your Windows Installer project you can right-click on a
specific phase (Install, Commit, Rollback, or Uninstall) or, preferably, the root node
(which adds the custom action to all phases with the appropriate custom action
types) and add whatever you want from
project output to a specific file in your file system. If your class library is
in the same solution I recommend clicking "Add Output" in the custom action
You should also click on the Windows Installer project and change the
TargetPlatform property to either x64 or Itanium, depending on what you're
targeting. This makes sure that 64-bit components are installed to the 64-bit
folders like [ProgramFiles64Folder]. If you don't set this according to what
binaries you're installing (which can be a mix of both 32- and 64-bit) 64-bit
files will be installed into [ProgramFilesFolder] which, on 64-bit platforms,
is, for example, C:\Program Files (x86).
Back to the problem. When you build the Windows Installer project in Visual
Studio 2005 it embeds the 32-bit version of InstallUtilLib.dll into the
Binary table as InstallUtil. When Windows Installer executes your managed
custom action it actually is calling the ManagedInstall entry point function
from InstallUtilLib.dll as a
type 1 deferred custom action (1025) which creates
an instance of the CCW
and runs your Installer classes. Since the native
InstallUtilLib.dll is 32-bit it loads the 32-bit Framework which will throw
the BadImageFormatException since your managed class library is 64-bit.
To workaround this issue you either need to import the appropriate bitness of
InstallUtilLib.dll into the Binary table for the InstallUtil record or -
if you do have or will have 32-bit managed custom actions add it as a new record
in the Binary table and adjust the
CustomAction table to use the 64-bit Binary table record for 64-bit managed
To replace the 32-bit InstallUtilLib.dll with the 64-bit bitness,
Note that the Framework64 directory is only installed on 64-bit platforms and
that it corresponds to the 64-bit processor type. That is, you won't find the
x64 flavor of InstallUtilLib.dll on an IA64 machine.
If you already have or anticipate having 32-bit custom actions in future
patches - and I recommend this approach because the future is difficult to
predict - you should add a new record.
This only affects DLLs build with /target:library. Managed EXEs will run
correctly according to what platform they target.
Why are managed custom actions "best to avoid"? How would I install Windows services, WMI schemas, etc?
@Jack, please read blogs.msdn.com/.../custom-action-guidelines.aspx and links therein. You can install services natively using the ServiceInstall and ServiceConfig tables whether they are managed or not, though if you install managed service assemblies (or its dependent assemblies) to the GAC this will not work. It is not recommended that you install service assemblies to the GAC.
For WMI, you can write a native DLL custom action that cocreates CLSID_MofCompiler (implement IMofCompiler: msdn.microsoft.com/.../aa390865(VS.85).aspx) and compiles either your file you installed already (so schedule the CA after InstallFiles as a deferred CA) or compiles a binary blob you could store in the Binary table (to be able for admins to rerun it, the former is recommended.
what if I have .net 4 x64 dll and a .net 2 x64 dll ?
@Khayralla, please see http://wixtoolset.org. This is a far better way to do managed CAs - though you should avoid using CAs anyway - because it remotes the managed CA to a separate process so the .NET Framework version doesn't really matter. That site also has support links for additional help.