A place for spare thoughts


MSTest 2010 on the build server without VS2010 installed

Filed under: Unit testing, VisualStudio — Ivan Danilov @ 23:24

Some time ago I found description how to get MSTest 2008 running without Visual Studio. This time I faced the same question with VS2010. Quick googling hadn’t result in any decent answer, so I did some digging.

I won’t enumerate countless exceptions, silent hangs, unclear error messages and happy MSTest’s reports about ‘Not executed’ tests without any reason. I’m pissed as hell with MSTest and its problems but forced to use it. So I will just describe how to have it working.

What you’ll need is some machine with VS2010 SP1 installed to get assemblies and MSTest.exe from. SP1 is very desirable if you want to test .NET 4.0 project and absolutely mandatory in case of earlier platform versions because without SP1 it is impossible AFAIK. Go to that box and take:

  1. c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*.dll
  2. c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\PublicAssemblies\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*.dll
  3. c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\MSTest.exe
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\MSTest.exe.config
  4. c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent.exe
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent.exe.config
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent32.exe
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent32.exe.config
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent32_35.exe
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent32_35.exe.config
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent_35.exe
    c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\QTAgent_35.exe.config

Make on target machine folder C:\VS2010Stub\ and copy these assemblies/configs there preserving the structure (so you’ll have C:\VS2010Stub\Common7\IDE\ and everything mentioned there and in PrivateAssemblies/PublicAssemblies).

The first step is done. The next is getting dependencies from GAC. Take gacutil.exe (check that you have one from .NET 4, i.e. it should have version like 4.0.30319.1 – older versions will result in an error), take gacutlrc.dll (without it gacutil.exe will exit silently – at least it was so on my build server) and copy them to target machine. We will need them to register extracted dependencies to GAC.

Now you need to take Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*.dll from source machine’s GAC. Notice that some of these assemblies have two versions if you have VS2010 SP1 installed: and You need them both. Do not rename assembly files because gacutil.exe won’t be able to register renamed assemblies afterwards. Just put different versions with same name in different folders.

In my dev box these files was placed in C:\Windows\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*.dll and in c:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*\…\Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.*.dll. Most probably you will find them there as well, but as I don’t know actual GAC structure (I’m not sure official documentation on GAC internals exists actually) – I can’t guarantee that.

UPD: if you will use database unit testing, you will need three more assemblies from the GAC – Microsoft.Data.Schema.dll, Microsoft.Data.Schema.Utilities.dll and Microsoft.Data.Schema.UnitTesting.dll. Note that archive at the end of this post doesn’t include them.

In any case take each of these assemblies to the target box and execute ‘gacutil.exe /i Microsoft.etc-etc-etc.dll’. You should see ‘Assembly successfully added to the cache’ for each one.

The second step is done. Now goes the last one. MSTest has some settings in the registry about file extensions that could be tested. Actually now you have MSTest functional, but if you try to run it on any assembly with tests it will say something about ‘dll is not correct test container’. Well, lets fix that.

Go to registry on the source box, find key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\EnterpriseTools\QualityTools\TestTypes (*)  and export it in some *.reg. And import on the target box. Be careful though to run reg file from 64-bit program. Explorer will go well. I have Total Commander which is 32-bit and sometimes accidentally run reg files from it. Which results in doubling Wow6432Node part.

That’s  it. Now you should be able to run MSTest.exe and test something with it successfully.

UPD: If you’re using MSTest private accessors – you’ll also need this as I discovered much later. Zip-archive linked below is already updated.

In case you’re lazy, there‘s zip-archive with everything already made for you. Just extract contents of the MSTest2010Install.zip to the target box and run install.bat.


(*) I’m assuming both source and target boxes have 64-bit OS. Otherwise you should cope with Wow6432Node part. It is easy but somewhat annoying. Feel free to ask me if you don’t know how to do this.



  1. hi, where is the

    Microsoft.Data.Schema.dll, Microsoft.Data.Schema.Utilities.dll and Microsoft.Data.Schema.UnitTesting.dll


    how can I download ? thx

    Comment by kiquenet — 14/09/2011 @ 19:06

  2. Hi!
    They should be in the GAC on the machine with VS2010 installed. On my machine they’re in C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\assembly\GAC_MSIL\ but YMMV.

    Comment by sparethought — 14/09/2011 @ 19:11

  3. […] while back I wrote on that topic. Today I found that that solution was not working when MSTest private accessors were […]

    Pingback by MSTest 2010 without Visual Studio at build server – again « A place for spare thoughts — 21/02/2012 @ 02:54

  4. […] MSTest 2010 on the build server without VS2010 installed […]

    Pingback by How I failed using MSTest on TeamCity without Visual Studio ← 5th day — 06/03/2013 @ 18:22

  5. Thank you so much, Ivan Danilov =)
    This really allowed me to save a lot of time, avoiding all kind of mistakes =D

    I only had to grab the local (and newer) version of gacutil.exe at C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\bin\NETFX 4.0 Tools\ to install those assemblies in the GAC ;o)

    Comment by Triskal — 13/06/2013 @ 11:33

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