This section describes some possible scenarios for distributing the .NET Framework redistributable, Dotnetfx.exe, using Visual Studio .NET 2003. Because Dotnetfx.exe is a significant run-time component, you must have administrator privileges in order to install it on a computer.
When you deploy applications created with Visual Studio .NET that depend on the .NET Framework, the .NET Framework must already be present on the target computer. The .NET Framework can be included in a setup executable file created using Visual Studio .NET deployment tools only if you have installed the Visual Studio .NET Framework Bootstrapper Plug-in; otherwise it must be installed separately.
Caution Deployment projects for applications that reference the .NET Framework automatically add a merge module (dotnetfxredist_x86_xxx.msm, where xxx represents the language code) in the detected dependencies folder. This merge module cannot be redistributed; it exists for internal use by the project to prevent individual .NET assemblies from being listed. It is excluded by default; attempting to include it will cause a build error.
There are four alternatives when deploying a .NET Framework application:
- Install the Visual Studio .NET Framework Bootstrapper Plug-in on your development computer and use a Setup project to install the .NET Framework executable file along with your application.
- Instruct the user to manually install the .NET Framework executable.
- Use the Setup.exe Bootstrapper sample to install the .NET Framework redistributable package (Dotnetfx.exe) and then launch the Windows Installer package for your application.
- Network administrators can redistribute Dotnetfx.exe using an electronic software distribution tool. For details, see Distributing Dotnetfx.exe Using an Electronic Software Distribution Tool in the white paper Redistributing the .NET Framework.