Use Active Directory to install an MSI that needs a transform

Hello there,

I showed you how to distribute an MSI file to computers via AD in this article.  In that case it was to install the DataGravity Intelligence Service.  That was an application that had no real choices as part of the install so it worked well.  The outlined process would work with other software of course so long as they had no real choices as part of the install.

The updated version of the DataGravity Intelligence Service is now called DataGravity Tools and it is comprised of both the DataGravity Discovery Service (nee Intelligence Service) and the DataGravity VSS Provider.  So it has a number of choices – meaning several applications are installed with the one MSI file. I only want one of them.  Why did I want only one?  Most virtual machines need the DataGravity Discovery Service but yet almost none need the VSS Provider.  So why install the extra software – even with a very small footprint it is still a footprint.  So I need what is called a transform to modify what is installed.

Don’t need the VSS Provider? This service is necessary on physical or virtual machines that have an iSCSI LUN mounted locally and formatted with NTFS.  VMware Tools will not quiesce that disk so the DataGravity VSS will do it when called from a backup tool.  However I do not expect many customers to be in that situation so that is why we are talking today about how to only install the Discovery Service.

I go the idea of using a transform to modify what was installed by seeing a Modification tab on the software package where it mentions modifications or transforms – as seen below.


However the Add is greyed out.  So even if I knew how to create a transform or modification I could not add it.  Turns out that you can only Add the transform when you crate the software package.

I learned about how to do a transform when I learned I could modify the Log Insight agent for automated installs.  So I am going to give it a shot and see if it works – and I will detail it here as I go so if it does I can show you how to do this and I can always remember how myself by checking my blog!

What you need to get – before we start:

  • You need to download and install the Orca database editor from here.  Be aware Microsoft thinks it is not worth supporting.  BTW, you download and install an SDK,  then you need to find orca.msi in the C:\program files\Microsoft Platform SDK\bin folder and install it.
  • The actual MSI file you want to have a modified install for. In the DataGravity Tools there is a number of files.  The install file that can install anything and everything (Discovery Tools Setup.exe) but there is also 32-bit and 64-bit MSI files too.  I have only 64-bit Windows so I only need to do one MSI file update and that is DataGravity_Discovery_Tools_x64.msi).


So now we need to make the updated .MSI and the transform which is a .MST file.

You can find Orca in the All Programs area.


Once you open it up you will see not very much.


Lets load in our .MSI file now and change to the Property table.


And now I realize I do not have enough information to continue.  Research time.  See you soon.

I am back.  Looks like if there is a property called ADDLOCAL and if it has a value of DGFilter then only the DGFilter feature will be installed.  It is also known as the DataGravity Discovery Service.  Said another way, if this property doesn’t exist, that everything is installed.  If it exists then only what it specifies is installed.

So if you double + click on an empty row in the Property column you get prompted to enter some info.


And after I hit OK we see the following.


So this looks good but the multiple colors is curious.

I use the Save icon and save the file.  Next I did the Transform \ Generate Transform and it tried and said no – they was no changes in the file.  I made a mistake and should not have saved things.  If I did not save, but did the Transform \ Generate Transform I would have got both the original file and the transform file. But it makes me wonder if now only DGIS will be installed no matter where this is used.  So maybe this will be better.  Time to test.

OK, test is over.  It worked. That .MSI file is not now the same as when it left the factory. I still have another copy of it I could distribute to the physical (or virtual) machines that need – potentially – the Backup Service as well as the Discovery Service.  But for pushing out to my virtual machines only the Discovery Service that works great.

BTW, use this updated .MSI file with the process in this article or with your own software distribution tools to get it out to your virtual machines.

You could edit the .MSI again and remove the ADDLOCAL property and the MSI would back to the original format.


  • 10/29/16 – Here is an article to convert an EXE to MSI, and a good article on how to distribute via AD to your domain.
  • 12/1/15 – general updates after doing this process again with GA 2.1 Discovery Tools.

Questions or comments let me know!


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