This is a rant I originally posted to alt.folklore.computers and alt.peeves on 22-May-2001.

On the Need to "Install" Software

In the old days, most of the time you didn't need to "install" software. You copied a program to your disk, and ran it, and it worked. For more complicated things, there may have been a directory full of support files, and perhaps you had to set an environment variable or logical device so that the program could find them.

Now commercial software is packaged in such a way that you MUST run their damn installer program; you can't even get at the files until the installer has mucked with them, and done god knows what to the rest of your system. Install the support files in the same directory with the program? You've got to be kidding! We'll scatter them all over your disk in strange and mysterious places, especially in your Windows directory or System Folder so that they can conflict with the other programs you've already installed.

And fairly often the installer program doesn't anticipate how my system is configured, and the installation fails, usually with a cryptic error message that provides no useful information about the problem.

Am I the only person who's gotten pissed off about this state of affairs? Why do people put up with this crap? Is it just because the "unwashed masses" don't know any better?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to having simple, automatic, one-click installation procedures for use when people just want to say "install" and get on with their lives. I'd even use that most of the time. I'm just pissed off that there's usually no alternative for when that doesn't work properly, and there's no way (short of major reverse-engineering) to inspect what the hell the installer does.

Besides, the "one-click" installers generally aren't. They want to know your entire goddamn life story. They won't let you control the things you might actually want to change, but they require you to click "OK" to approve a zillion minute details that you don't care about.

Back to Eric's home page

Last updated February 15, 2002

Copyright 2001, 2002 Eric Smith

Valid HTML 3.2! check now