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> - create one of these by hand, so that I can use mingw to create
> msvcr90-enabled executables

  The LuaBinaries source code have a manifest file that can be used by any

> - allow lua51.dll (compiled with msvcr90) to be used in an executable
> *without* such a manifest (say, because the executable itself does not
> use the CRT at all)

  This is a limitation on the current version of LuaBinaries. The version
available in the Lua for Windows distribution already have that fixed. There
the DLLs already have their respective manifest files.

> - distribute such an executable legally (msvcr90 isn't freely
> redistributable, AIUI, and doesn't come with the OS)

  You can install the redistributable package in any system you like:

  It is true that is does not come with the OS. But you can distribute it
together with your application. The Lua for Windows distribution does that.