Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Extracting CAB files for Windows Mobile without ActiveSync

I received an old bluetooth GPS that I write about here. To install the software, I simply had a Windows (not mobile) executable. I don't have Windows and ActiveSync installed, so how do I go about getting the contents out of the executable and onto my Windows Mobile phone?

In most cases it's quite easy! Here are some tips:

Try 1: Is a plain CAB alternative offered?

This may seem obvious to some, but check if the software is offered in two forms - as a Windows executable, and a plain CAB file download. Browse around the website or CDs for files ending in .CAB

Try 2: Is it a self-extracting zip file?

This is the easiest form of executable! Zip files can be made "self extracting" by containing both executable code and the embedded zip structure. To find out (from Linux, Unix, BSD etc) just run an incantation of zip that understands dos-based PKZIP archives, such as info-zip. (You may have this version of zip already).

info-zip comes with zipinfo which lists information about zip files. In my case, the TomTom executable is called navupd521.exe
$ zipinfo navupd521.exe
Archive: navupd521.exe 4409856 bytes 5 files
-rw-a-- 2.0 ntf 4762417 b- defN 16-Jan-06 13:17 setup.apk
-rw-a-- 2.0 ntf 81 t- defN 23-Feb-05 23:28 cp.txt
-rwxa-- 2.0 ntf 2498560 b- defN 16-Nov-05 15:49 setup.exe
-rw-a-- 2.0 ntf 0 t- stor 24-Feb-05 11:05 TomTom Update.cid
-rw-a-- 2.0 ntf 22 t- stor 11-Jul-05 08:54 ttn.txt
5 files, 7261080 bytes uncompressed, 4377788 bytes compressed: 39.7%
If you see a list of files, then the executable is understood by zip. But alas! there's no CAB files in here. Unless they're in that setup.exe...
$ unzip navupd521.exe
Archive: navupd521.exe
inflating: setup.apk
inflating: cp.txt
inflating: setup.exe
extracting: TomTom Update.cid
extracting: ttn.txt
$ ls
cp.txt setup.apk TomTom Update.cid
navupd521.exe setup.exe ttn.txt
$ zipinfo setup.exe
End-of-central-directory signature not found. Either this file is not
a zipfile, or it constitutes one disk of a multi-part archive. In the
latter case the central directory and zipfile comment will be found on
the last disk(s) of this archive.
zipinfo: cannot find zipfile directory in one of setup.exe or, and cannot find setup.exe.ZIP, period.
And here's the end of the line! The setup.exe file is not a zip archive (even though they sometimes are called setup.exe).

Try 3: Temporary files

Use wine to start the install process, and look for temporary files.

In my case, when I run wine navupd521.exe:
  • While the TomTom installer is complaining that your computer does not support the device blahblah or somesuch rubbish, look for a directory in <>/windows/temp that wasn't there before. If necessary, create an index of all the files in your wine c drive before you run the installer. Then do it again with the installer running, then check for differences. There should be a temporary file or directory somewhere!
  • copy the entire directory (for TomTom that's "<.wine>/drive_c/windows/temp/WZSE0.TMP/") to somewhere safe
  • Exit the installer, and search for CAB files in the directory you just copied.
  • For TomTom you will find:
  • Choose the right CAB file matching your device by name or directory. I'm going with the pocketpc directory for my pocketpc!
Now all that's left is to copy the CAB files to your device using bluetooth, USB, or storage card; then select them in Windows Mobile to start the install.

(This example is for the TomTom Navigator 5 December 2005 update. After installing your original TomTom Navigator, run these CAB files to update to the new version)

And that's how you can get CAB files without Windows!

1 comment:

Dion Moult said...

Thanks for the tip - I've always been pissed at people who only provide .exe installers.

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