What is a Native EXE installer?

Native EXE installers

Native EXE software installers (or setup.exe) are still provided by some vendors as operating system agnostic delivery mechanism for software. An example of this is the Oracle Universal Installer (OUI) for example Oracle versions 9,10,1, which are designed to be executed on both Windows and Unix operating systems.

Vendor native EXE installers will also at times include support for command-line or response file configuration of the software at the time of installation.

Examples of Native EXE Installers

  • Oracle Universal Installer
  • NetBeans
  • InstallAnywhere


The native installers contain code written to conduct the installation of software, there are not many instances where you will able to view the code within the EXE and reveal what installation steps it will perform in detail. This can prevent you from being able to author a package out of it and if the vendor does not provide supported command-line configuration it makes it even more challenging to create an unattended installation or uninstall.

In some cases this is no the end of the world as more recent native vendor installer packages will provide command line parameters customisations or output by default a log file of the actions or processing it’s executing to perform the installation. You can look for log files in the user profile temp folder location.

How to find a log file?

  • From a run or command line type in %TEMP%
  • Run or execute the setup.exe and complete the installation with your desired options and click on “Finish”
  • Check the %TEMP% folder agin and sort by date and time stamp. The txt file or files created at the same you went through the installation can be opened up using an text editor.


Types of Native EXE Installers

Attended installation

On Windows systems, this is the most common form of installation. An installation process usually needs a user who attends it to make choices, such as accepting or declining an end-user license agreement (EULA), specifying preferences such as the installation location, supplying passwords or assisting in product activation. In graphical environments, installers that offer a wizard-based interface are common. Attended installers may ask users to help mitigate the errors. For instance, if the disk in which the computer program is being installed was full, the installer may ask the user to specify another target path or clear enough space on the disk.


 Silent installation

Installation that does not display messages or windows during its progress. “Silent installation” is not the same as “unattended installation” (see below): All silent installations are unattended but not all unattended installations are silent. The reason behind a silent installation may be convenience or subterfuge. Malware is almost always installed silently.


Unattended installation

Installation that is performed without user interaction during its progress or with no user present at all. One of the reasons to use this approach is to automate the installation of a large number of systems. An unattended installation either does not require the user to supply anything or has received all necessary input prior to the start of installation. Such input may be in the form of command line switches or an answer file, a file that contains all the necessary parameters. Windows XP and most Linux distributions are examples of operating systems that can be installed with an answer file. In unattended installation, it is assumed that there is no user to help mitigate errors. For instance, if the installation medium was faulty, the installer should fail the installation, as there is no user to fix the fault or replace the medium. Unattended installers may record errors in a computer log for later review.


Headless installation

Installation performed without using a computer monitor connected. In attended forms of headless installation, another machine connects to the target machine (for instance, via a local area network) and takes over the display output. Since a headless installation does not need a user at the location of the target computer, unattended headless installers may be used to install a program on multiple machines at the same time.


Scheduled or automated installation

An installation process that runs on a preset time or when a predefined condition transpires, as opposed to an installation process that starts explicitly on a user’s command. For instance, a system administrator willing to install a later version of a computer program that is being used can schedule that installation to occur when that program is not running. An operating system may automatically install a device driver for a device that the user connects. Malware may also be installed automatically.


Clean installation

A clean installation is one that is done in the absence of any interfering elements such as old versions of the computer program being installed or leftovers from a previous installation. In particular, the clean installation of an operating system is an installation in which the target disk partition is erased before installation. Since the interfering elements are absent, a clean installation may succeed where an unclean installation may fail or may take significantly longer.


Network installation

Not to be confused with network booting.

Network installation, shortened net install, is an installation of a program from a shared network resource that may be done by installing a minimal system before proceeding to download further packages over the network. This may simply be a copy of the original media but software publishers which offer site licenses for institutional customers may provide a version intended for installation over a network.


Do you want to know the “3 common vendor installer types?  then check out more in our next tutorial

“MSI Application Packaging  – Tutorial 1 – Understanding Vendor Installers”


New to Application Packaging, check out some more of our online tutorials.


Author: Geoffrey Regalado

With career spanning over 10 years specialising as an Application Delivery Systems and Application Packaging engineer, I have worked on various enterprise projects as a technical lead and consultant. As a specialist trainer in MSI, application virtualisation and layering technologies i am also a tech evangelist in the field.