The Windows Servicing Guy

Tips and tricks from a Windows support engineer on issues related to servicing

New year answers...

New year answers...

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Thanks for the couple of questions that I got on my end of year post.  Let's look at the first one:

"Many times after reinstalling Vista, I can't reliably install already downloaded *.cab updates (things like Ultimate Extras and Bitlocker repair tool etc) using pkgmgr. Sometimes, the packages "install" (appear in Programs & Features) but actual files are not installed (no games in program files) and shortcuts don't appear in Start menu. I have to uninstall and installing again makes them work *sometimes*. This never happens with MSU updates because they're maybe handled by WUSA.exe? The same issue also doesn't arise if I install Extras and cab updates from Windows Update. This happens on Vista SP2 (both 32-bit and 64-bit)."

There could be several reasons this could happen:

1.  Because of package dependancies on the OS, you may hit a point where a portion of the update has been superseded by another update thats attempting to be installed.  This should happen on tools like the Bitlocker update because they arent shipped in box on Vista, but other updates may fail because an update that was installed post clean install is actually newer than the one you are attempting to install.

2.  In the case of the Bitlocker update, or other tools updates, they have service pack dependancies that must be met in order to properly install.  Let's say you have downloaded and installed the Bitlocker update from when it was first realeased a couple of years ago.  You flatten your machine but still have those bits sitting around and attempt to pkgmgr the files in and it fails.  It's most likely failing because the OS you are now running is on a later service pack than what the package is expecting.  This will cause it to fail.

3.  This last reason might come off wrong, but the reality is that we dont really want you using pkgmgr unless you have to.  WUSA and the was we package the standalone updates allow us to make sure that specific dependancies and applicabilities are checked when you attempt to install an update.  We would prefer that you use that method if you can because we have tested those packages that way.  Also, if a package is working using the WUSA method, then you might have syntax issues when you are installing the update via pkgmgr, but because pkgmgr lacks any great logging, it can be hard to pinpoint why its happening (this is resolved with DISM in Win7). The pkgmgr option is really meant for the creation of a unified image.

Hope that helps clear that up a little bit.  If not, post some comments and I will clear them up.

 --Joseph

Comments
  • But can WUSA install .cab updates? I thought we need Pkgmgr for installing .cab update like Ultimate Extras as WUSA only support .MSU updates. That's where I see this behavior but if I install the same updates using Windows Update, they all install without any issues. I don't want to download Ultimate Extras for every machine I update, and I don't want to use WSUS. A simple script should work to install all downloaded .CAB Ultimate Extras in a row one after the other but it doesn't as only pkgmgr supports .cab updates and it produces this above weird behavior if installing more than one update sequentially.

  • No WUSA cannot install .cab files, you would need DISM or PKGMGR for that.  Why not build an image with the Ultimate Extras you want and then deploy it without the need for the script?

  • Not what I wanted to hear but Vista is gone anyways. Here's hoping that less updates/hotfixes will be distributed as cab files in the Windows 7 era and all of them as MSUs.

  • Well an MSU is nothing more than the cabiner file in a wrapper.  That's why you can always use the EXPAND command against the MSU to get the underlying cabinet files for the fix.

  • Is the MSU wrapper technology interesting itself? For example, why not just put the underlying cabinet files in a zip file? What does the MSU technology provide that a zip file wouldn't, for example? Is it at all like the WIM format?

  • Nothing that would be really interesting to anyone outside of MSFT.  It keeps a couple of other things used during processing.