Manifests and Digital Signatures for Self Extracting Scripts

It has been quite in this little corner of the blogosphere lately. Must be because I am not doing anything, right?

Wrong. I have run out of time to blog. But today I will make an exception because I need to provide an update to an old post:

As a substitute for becoming a real programmer, I have for years been writing VBScripts and wrapping them up with the Z-Zip Self-Extracting executable. After the release of Windows 8, this model became more difficult. Out-of-box, the 7-Zip self extractor started generating application compatibility troubleshooter pop-ups on clients. Even prior to that, clients would get warnings asking them “do you really want to execute this scary unsigned possibly-from-a-murdering-hacker” when they launched our executables.

The solution for this is, of course, to add an application manifest to the self-extractor, and then to digitally sign the resulting executable. Easy, right?

I actually did this a few years ago for our venerable Wi-Fi profile installation tool. It was not quite easy, and unfortunately I never did get the process fully automated. The roadblock was in automating the addition of a manifest to the application. Microsoft’s tool for this, “mt.exe”, from the Windows SDK, consistently corrupts my executables. Others in the blogosphere have identified the tool “Resource Hacker” to fill this need:

I added this tool to my ugly-old script packaging batch files, and had good success with eliminating the program compatibility dialogs:

..bin\resource_hackerResourceHacker.exe -addoverwrite %fname%.exe, %fname%.exe, %fname%.manifest, 24,1,

I also was able to streamline the signing process with the following batch code:

set fname=fixThunderbirdMailboxPath
set SDKPath="C:Program Files (x86)Windows Kits10binx86"
set TimeStampURL=""
set /P CertPath="Enter the full path to the PKCS12/PFX signing certificate:"
set /P CertPass="Enter the password for certificate file:"
%SDKPath%signtool.exe sign /f "%CertPath%" /p "%CertPass%" /t %TimeStampUrl% /v %fname%.exe