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These days, the majority of installers you are going to find are going to be what are called "net-installs". Programs now are rather large, like hundreds of megabytes in size. On some internet connections it can take hours or even more than a day to download all of that. As a result someone invented these things called networked installers, which trade the requirement of an internet connection for a much faster download.
The same is true for operating systems: a lot of Linux distributions have an option for a "net install" which results in media that can be burned to a CD rather than requiring a DVD. Since some computers (even today, folks) don't have optical drives capable of writing to DVD media (and some don't have optical drives at all!), these networked installers make things much easier.

The problem, however, is that many programs REQUIRE an internet connection, period, the end! This is not the way that things should be done. But yet it is being done this way. Let's have a look at a few examples here.

This is a rather poor example, but Mozilla Firefox is an incredibly common web browser. A while ago Mozilla switched over to using a networked installer, and while standalones still exist they are buried way far down, and there isn't an obvious option. So an unsuspecting user might download it and try and install it on a computer that doesn't have an internet connection for the time being (if one will be added later), and then find that they can't install it until they hook up a network connection because the stupid thing requires it.

How about another example? Core Temp is an incredibly useful program that allows you to monitor CPU temperatures. This program can be run on all kinds of different platforms and also does not require an internet connection to run.
So what's the problem here?
Core Temp uses InstallIQ, which is an installer that bundles a load of advertising crap along with it, but in reality it's just a proxy downloader for the actual program. Again there is a way to get the program without downloading this pretentious excuse for an installer, but the file you get is a zip archive and not an actual installer. Yet try and install Core Temp on a machine that doesn't have an internet connection using the InstallIQ thing…

InstallIQ sucks...

This is madness!

And the worst part? Entire OPERATING SYSTEMS now require an internet connection to install! By default! Or at the very least they try and make it apparent that they do by stating it as a recommendation. Uh, no. If I downloaded and burned the full install media to a disc I will absolutely not be connecting it to the internet, regardless of whether or not the computer supports it.

That isn't the slightest of problems. Recently I reviewed Fedora 15, an operating system that required me to create install media since it would not run in Virtualbox (but that's another rant for another page). Despite my download being a DVD download, in other words it was a 4.7 GB ISO image, the installer still wanted me to connect to the internet in order to "download repositories necessary for install". Now why isn't any default repository included on the install media? After all this is a DVD we are talking about, and not a CD. I am sure you can fit a repository on a 4.7 GB DVD and just make internet an option. Since I needed to do this, however, I grudgingly allowed it to connect to my network and download the crap it needed to.
The problem with this arose when my mother started complaining about her networking stuff not working. This is not the first time it happened, however my brother's solution was to reboot the router. This kicked me off the internet 8 minutes after beginning the install, and it wouldn't reconnect. So I had to restart the entire god damned process all over again. It did this twice, I am not sure what happened the second time.

I am now typing this very rant on that Fedora 15 install, sitting here almost half an hour after I started wondering WHY the devil networked installs have completely replaced traditional downloadable executables. Is it for ad revenue? Is it for bandwidth cost-savings? I don't see how it could be the latter since you still have to download the whole program from somewhere, but the former seems like a pretty high possibility.

I do see the purpose of the networked installer. But not for operating systems that are on DVD media. Sure, if you put a repository on a DVD it will become outdated after a few days but who cares? Not all computers have an internet connection, even in this day and age, come on! Let's use some common sense here. The least I would like is to have an option of the networked installer and a fully-downloadable thing that can be transported between machines. And by an option I mean a plainly obvious toggle switch or drop-down menu showing these two options.

Of course that would be useful. Which is why such a thing will never exist.

Page created Tuesday December 24th, 2013, last modified Friday January 3rd, 2014
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