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I feared programs that require installation a lot. They leave traces behind the registry even after un-installation, plus, some uninstallers are poorly-programmed (that means, some programs cannot be uninstalled). That applies to Windows.

The good side of installers, they create shortcuts and file associations. However, the Komodo on Linux uses a shell script to setup and can be safely uninstalled by deleting the folder.

Do you think installers should be all abolished? Do you think the effect of installations should be replaced by shell scripts? Do you think all computer games should be portable?

Should the "scan the /Applications/${AppName}/Information folder and list app icons" design should be used for future desktop environments?

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Whats the obsession about traces in your registry? If a program leaves something in there, its likely it will never ever affect you and it takes a negligible amount of disk space... That said, I do like portable apps so I can just run them right off my USB memory. –  rmx Nov 10 '10 at 14:40
    
@rmx: What's the obsession to put everything on registry? What's the real advantage to put things on registry? Nothing against the registry either. –  bigown Dec 11 '10 at 11:03
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It depends on your target audience.

As a programmer or a power user, I like my software to be inside a compressed file for portability and to be able to just delete the software without having to worry about it leaving any traces in the registry.

As a regular person (mostly applies to regular Windows users), however, I just want to click setup.exe and have it install itself for me. I don't want to have to bother looking at a README file or following some other form of instruction just to install the software that I want. Don't make me click any more than I could handle.

You should consider who you're making the software for first before deciding whether to make an installer or not.

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Nothing that says a setup.exe couldn't just be a self-extractor that also puts out some shortcuts. My problem is that is changes the system (registry, etc). I'd like it to be contained in one top-level folder, and have shortcuts to things in that folder so I could delete that whenever I felt like it. –  Michael K Nov 10 '10 at 13:22
    
Whats the problem with making an entry in the registry? Thats what the registry is for. It greatly simplifies tasks such as locating an application on the PC. The registry shouldnt be used to store loads of data, but inserting file associations, locations, startup commands, etc are all why the registry exists. Its not going to have a measurable effect on your system. –  GrandmasterB Nov 10 '10 at 19:25
    
Without registries, applications will make their own folders to store configuration, which makes it easier to delete and share configs. That's how I shared save between Nexuiz on Windows and Linux –  SHiNKiROU Nov 13 '10 at 0:59
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I'm pro-portable myself, because an application should never modify the system unless it is really necessary, and most of the time it's not.

If my machine was in state A when I installed something, I want it to go back to state A when that something is removed. Otherwise, you end up with tons of (now) useless crap on your system.

In this regard, Linux works better for me because the location of everything is much better "standardized" than on Windows, where, for example, you can find your settings almost anywhere: in Windows folder, in your home folder, in $App's install directory, in the registry etc..

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I prefer applications that have both. I think at their best, a software installer is basically a slightly glorified self extracting zip, but that can do stuff like add start menu items and whatnot.

When I have admin access, I much prefer to mindlessly double click the installer and let it do the grunt work for me, unzipping it, making a program files folder, etc.

But, sometimes I don't have admin access or I want to run something from a remote machine because again I am too lazy to cop it to myself, then having it self contained saves me that labor.

Distributing both the installer and a zip file of the files I think is the way to go.

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