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Self-extracting files freeze under Win 7 x64
JLJ
post Feb 19 2015, 20:47
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System: Windows 7 x64, 4GB RAM, Intel Core2 Duo @ 2.2ghz

Playing around happily with WavPack 4.7 under Win7 through Speek's WavPack FrontEnd (I'm command-line savvy but have lousy eyesight). Everything seems to work except trying to run/play self-extracting executables. These can be created but when double-clicked or dragged into WMP (or similar) they freeze up. The rest of my system is unaffected, but per Task Manager the executables appear as processes, always read 108k for RAM use, and cannot be terminated through Task Manager or Process Explorer (indeed two attempts to run them survived logging out of my account, though not a soft reboot).

Normal .wv files play correctly through WMP.

Not sure where to start trying to diagnose and correct this error. Any hints/info appreciated, more tech details as needed.

THX JLJ
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bryant
post Feb 19 2015, 21:17
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I have an almost identical Windows system to yours and I do not see the problem. A couple things come to mind though. There have been problems with anti-virus programs interfering with self-extracting WavPack files, or perhaps it might be a Windows permission thing (I have liberal settings and am running the .exe on the desktop).

Some programs might not be able to play the self-extraction file unless you rename it to a .wv, and some programs that don't use the WavPack library (like VLC) might not be able to play them at all because they don't have the correct magic number at the beginning. Foobar and Winamp have no trouble.

It's funny because I was wondering the other day if anyone ever had use for this feature; it's tempting to remove it as part of a cleanup.

-David
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JLJ
post Feb 19 2015, 22:49
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Thanks for the speedy reply.

Created a new self-extracting file, renamed it to .WV, associated that filetype with WMP (my player of choice overall) -- and it played normally, both by double-clicking and dragging to a running WMP window.

For the sake of science (!) I renamed it back to .EXE; double-clicking resulted in the self-extraction DOS box, leaving me a presumed dupe of the original WAV; dragging the .EXE onto WMP did nothing. But at least it didn't completely lock up this time.

Guess my system chokes on trying to interpret the actual filetype when it encounters these.

So then a final question: looking at WavPack for archival/backup purposes, is there a real advantage in saving files as self-extracting EXEs? I'm thinking all signs point to yes -- in case WavPack fails, vanishes, or moves in with my mom. I can live with the time required to extract to WAV (and the extra 33k or so) if it means not actually being dependent on WavPack and relevant DLLs for future playback. Your thoughts welcome, and thanks again.

JLJ
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bryant
post Feb 21 2015, 02:17
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I guess I still am not completely clear on double-clicking the .exe to do the self-extraction. At first it did not work, but then you created another one and changed the extension to .wv and back to .exe and then it worked? That would be odd. In any event, I'm glad you got it going.

A disadvantage to keeping self-extractable WavPack files over the regular ones (besides the 33k), is that some players may have trouble with them, either now or in the future. Developers generally don't test their players and utilities with sfx files, so there are more likely to be issues. There are also issues with virus checkers and e-mail malware scanners, etc., with files detected as executables.

A funny thing happened the other day. I got an e-mail from a guy who had found an old floppy disk with some WavPack files on it and he could not get anything to play them. I suggested a few things about very old WavPack files and still nothing, so I had him send me a sample. Sure enough, I could not play them either, but on closer inspection I found that they weren't WavPack files at all but were SONARC files, an extinct format that also used the .wv extension! I found DOS executables online from 1994 to decode them but they would not run on Windows 7 or Wine, but I downloaded DOSBOX and was able to run them there.

The moral of this story is that programs (and the data they generate) can become obsolete over time regardless of precautions taken (not even considering the media they're on). The self-extraction WavPack header has survived several Windows revisions, but I would not be surprised if they might be broken on whatever is current 20 years from now.
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JLJ
post Feb 21 2015, 04:18
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Sorry, I don't think I expressed myself clearly re "archival/backup purposes."
Here's what I'm thinking:
  • One assumption is made: that uncompressed WAV files will always be playable and/or convertible by some application (just go with it rolleyes.gif )
  • The goal is to archive a lossless copy of a WAV file; WavPack is used solely to save space on the archive volume
  • When the time comes to retrieve the archived file, a standard WV file requires WavPack itself and/or a compatible media player
  • In case WavPack and compatible players are unavailable, an EXE version allows the original uncompressed WAV to be reconstructed,
    without any WV code included, and can then be played/converted to current standards

In other words, using EXE versions can result in a set of files that can be handled as if WavPack was never part of the process.
Does that make sense? I hope it doesn't sound like I don't think WavPack is awesome because I do!

This post has been edited by JLJ: Feb 21 2015, 04:18
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bryant
post Feb 21 2015, 08:36
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What you are saying makes sense, but my one caveat is that there's no guarantee that future versions of Windows will be able to execute the self-extraction files. After all, they're just programs that can use a facility that get deprecated.

That said, you will probably be able to find an old system or emulator that will be able to execute them (like I found for SONARC), but it would not hurt to also include a copy of wvunpack.exe with your archive just in case.
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JLJ
post Feb 21 2015, 19:59
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Irie mon. I suppose, when all is said and done, the best practice is to archive standard WV files -- so playback may be easy -- and include a copy of wvunpack.exe with each collection in case it's not.

Thanks, it's been a pleasure. Viva WavPack!
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