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cargo-wix: A cargo subcommand to create Windows installers

A subcommand for Cargo that builds a Windows installer (msi) using the Wix Toolset from the release build of a Rust binary project. It also supports signing the Windows installer if a code signing certificate is available using the SignTool application available in the Windows 10 SDK.

Crates.io GitHub release Crates.io Build Status

Quick Start

Start a command prompt (cmd.exe) and then execute the following commands:

C:\>cargo install cargo-wix
C:\>cd Path\To\Project
C:\Path\To\Project\>cargo wix init
C:\Path\To\Project\>cargo wix

The Windows installer (msi) for the project will be in the C:\Path\To\Project\target\wix folder. Please see the Documentation for more advanced usage, configuration, and customization.


The cargo-wix project can be installed on any platform supported by the Rust programming language, but the Wix Toolset is Windows only; thus, this project is only useful when installed on a Windows machine. Ensure the following dependencies are installed before proceeding. Note, Cargo is installed automatically when installing the Rust programming language. The stable-x86_64-pc-windows-msvc toolchain is recommended.

After installing and configuring the dependencies, execute the following command to install the cargo-wix subcommand:

C:\> cargo install cargo-wix


Start a command prompt, such as cmd.exe, the Developer Prompt installed with the VC Build Tools (recommended), or git bash, and navigate to the project's root folder. Run the subcommand:

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix init

This will create the wix folder in the project's root (along side the Cargo.toml file) and then it will create the wix\main.wxs file from the WiX Source (wxs) embedded within the subcommand. The generated wix\main.wxs file can be used without modification with the following command to create an installer for the project:

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix

The cargo wix subcommand without any arguments searches for a wix\main.wxs file, relative to the project's root. It will compile the wix\main.wxs file and then link the object file (target\wix\build\main.wixobj) to create the Windows installer (msi). The installer will be located in the target\wix folder. All artifacts of the installer compilation and linking process are placed within the target\wix folder. Paths in the wix\main.wxs file should be relative to the project's root, i.e. the same location as the Cargo.toml manifest file.

A different WiX Source (wxs) file from the wix\main.wxs file can be used by specifying a path to it as an argument to the subcommand as follows:

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix Path\to\WiX\Source\File.wxs

You can also automatically run the installer after creating it by specifying the --install argument:

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix --install

The print <template> subcommand, which prints one of the embedded templates to stdout, can be used to create the main.wxs file. A WXS template file specifically designed to work with this subcommand is embedded within the cargo-wix binary during installation. Use the following commands to create a WiX Source file and use it to create an installer with this subcommand.

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix print wxs > example.wxs
C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix example.wxs

The WiX source file can be customized using a text editor, but modification of the XML preprocessor variables should be avoided to ensure the cargo wix command works properly.

To sign the installer (msi) as part of the build process, ensure the signtool command is available in the PATH system environment variable or use the Developer Prompt that was installed with the Windows 10 SDK, and use the sign sub-subcommand as follows:

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix sign

Use the -h,--help flag to display information about additional options and features.

C:\Path\to\Project> cargo wix -h


There are set environment variables that can be used to help debug a failing test. The CARGO_WIX_TEST_PERSIST environment variable can be set to persist the temporary directories that are created during integration tests. This allows the developer to inspect the contents of the temporary directory to better understand what the test was doing. The CARGO_WIX_TEST_PERSIST environment variable accepts any value. Unsetting the environment variable will delete the temporary directories after each test. The CARGO_WIX_TEST_LOG environment variable is sets the log level while running an integration test. It accepts an integer value between 0 and 5, with 0 turning off logging, and 5 displaying all log statements (ERROR, WARN, INFO, DEBUG, and TRACE). Log statements are not captured during tests, so this environment variable should be used only when running an integration test in isolation to prevent "swampping" the terminal/console with statements. Finally, the CARGO_WIX_TEST_NO_CAPTURE environment variable accepts any value and will display the output from the WiX Toolset compiler (candle.exe) and linker (light.exe) when running an integration test. Similar to the CARGO_WIX_TEST_LOG environment variable, this variable should only be used in isolation to prevent "swamping" the terminal/console with the output from the WiX Toolset commands. By default, the output is captured by the test not cargo's test framework; thus, the cargo test -- --nocapture command has no affect. Example of setting and unsetting all of the environment variables for running a specific test:

C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set CARGO_WIX_TEST_PERSIST=1
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set CARGO_WIX_TEST_LOG=5
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set CARGO_WIX_TEST_NO_CAPTURE=1
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> cargo test <TEST NAME>
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set "CARGO_WIX_TEST_NO_CAPTURE="
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set "CARGO_WIX_TEST_LOG="
C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> set "CARGO_WIX_TEST_PERSIST="

where <TEST NAME> is replaced with the name of an integration test. The last three lines/commands are optional and unsets the three environment variables to avoid additional tests from also persisting, logging, and dumping output to the terminal/console. Note, the -- --nocapture option is not needed to display the logging statements or the output from the WiX Toolset compiler (candle.exe) and linker (light.exe). Here is the same example with Powershell:

PS C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> cargo test <TEST NAME>
PS C:\Path\to\Cargo\Wix> Remove-Item Env:\CARGO_WIX_TEST_PERSIST; Remove-Item Env:\CARGO_WIX_TEST_LOG; Remove-Item Env:\CARGO_WIX_TEST_NO_CAPTURE


The cargo-wix project is licensed under either the MIT license or Apache 2.0 license. See the LICENSE-MIT or LICENSE-APACHE files for more information about licensing and copyright.


~327K SLoC