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What's Wrong With Setup.exe?


Also, I think part of the problem is that Windows users are in the mindset that applications must actually be “installed”, implying that something special/hard must be going on to get it working.

That’s not the case with most Mac applications, you can run most applications directly from the dmg/Desktop/wherever. “Installation” is simply the act of copying the application bundle to your Applications folder for permanent storage.


I agree with Sean

I believe the Windows and Mac style of installation is broken. They should take some hint for Linux (Ubuntu/Debian) package manager. I am not saying it does not have its problem but its approach is in the right direction.

search/browse and check the application you want to install and hit apply is the simple and should work for most of the users.


I felt exactly the same way about installations on the Mac to start with, but I have to admit, I much prefer it now. I’m not quite sure why the guy is getting all those steps, a well done Mac app is simply:

  1. Download the dmg, it automounts and opens a window with a nicely laid out “drag this to here” where here is a short-cut to your applications folder.

  2. Drag and drop it within that same window over your applications folder… launch the app.

It would perhaps be nice if Apple made it easier for shareware authors to get the short-cut-in-the-dmg-window thing working, but if you can’t get to your applications folder in a single drag on the mac… you’re doing it wrong.

Now, let’s post the steps for installing too

  1. Drag your app to trash

Over to windows…


Some web-installers can cut out the ‘click install’ step as well - one click downloads, executes and installs and sometimes even runs.

If you’ve got an older version of IE you could even skip the step of choosing to install software as software would sometimes choose to install itself instead :stuck_out_tongue:


Generally, the install process is NEVER that hard. I have it setup so that it downloads, mounts, and opens a finder window for me. What do I do then?

Step 1: Drag icon into Applications folder in sidebar
Step 2: Unmount
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit

But as far as I’m concerned, there’s not much easier than…

[make test]
make install


Check out Wink by DebugMode it’s free and a much more feature full screen capture utility than Window Clipping.



I must say that although I have no experience installing software on a mac, I know that installing software on Ubuntu is incredibly painless compared to the Setup.exe file. For one thing there’s no EULA to blindly click accept too and not worry about signing your soul to some random company. All I have to do is open synaptic and find the package, check install and hit apply. I do prefer the commmand-line over synaptic because all I have to do is type sudo apt-get install name of app and it takes care of the rest. It will even install all the dependencies for me. Now I rarely install software on Windows unless it’s a game, and most of the time they’re ports of games I was too lazy to get working on Wine or Linux.


It has been mentioned here briefly, but the most brilliant thing about typical Mac apps not using an installer means that those same apps don’t need to be uninstalled. They can just be thrown away, with no concern that they’ve left traces anywhere except maybe in your preferences folder.


the most Mac Apps have a Applications symlink in the dmg. then you only need to drag the one icon to the other.


Amen to that, Jeff.


I’ve always hated how Windows installs software. Decentralization is a good idea, but it doesn’t explain the stupidity of most installers.

Compare and contrast how things work on Ubuntu for example:

  • Launch package manager
  • Look for software
  • Mark checkbox for installation
  • Click apply
  • … wait …
  • Close installation dialog
  • Close package manager

I know they can still do better, but compared to Windows, we don’t care where the software’s installed, feature selection, etc. We don’t get 6 icons per program in a sub-folder of “Programs” menu. It’s much simpler than both Windows and Mac.


I have to say, I prefer the Mac approach. Installing any random new piece of software on my Mac generally takes about 20 seconds; it seems to take anything up to an hour on my (fast, new) Windows machine at work, with even small applications taking a surprisingly long time. Un-installation of Mac apps is also generally simple; just delete the application. A few do make other changes to the system, and generally provide an un-install app.


Linux package managers not only make the install/uninstall process easier, they make updates to individual programs easier too. The equivalent of Microsoft Update handles not only system updates but updates to all the installations you’ve made through the package manager too.

It does it in a much less annoying fashion as well. The final straw in me switching away from windows was that after updating my computer would restart itself if I was not constantly there to tell it to wait. Unless a new kernel is installed reboots are not necessary on linux, and even then it (ubuntu at least) reminds you unobtrusively and you can reboot at your leisure.


@Jeff Atwood: “I don’t understand why Mac users accept this with a reserved shrug of their shoulders and say “that’s just the way it is”, or worse, defend it as some sacred act of drag and drop busywork that somehow blesses the application”

Because they’re Mac users. It’s what they do. You can’t be a Mac user without defending every design choice Apple made for the OS, the iPod and the iPhone.

It’s all about the iLife.


Let me get this straight. You’re complaining that the Mac doesn’t “automatically” install software like Windows does? You mean like all the spybots, worms, and other garbage that Windows happily lets onto your system with, or without your permission.

Next, you’re complaining about having to make decisions about where to install software and you’re too blasted lazy to learn where things go?

I’ve installed software on a wide variety of platforms and found that all of them have their quirks. I will happily take a little of the work on myself just so that I know where I put stuff as well as to have some idea of what’s there.

Finally, a hint. If you drag something to the applications folder that’s where it is. The program may or may not create preferences files but everything is usually right where you put it. On Windows try tracking down all the DLL’s and other stuff it tucks away in all sorts of locations.


@Rami Kayyali

You’re comparing apples to oranges. The Ubuntu equivalent of a typical Windows installation programm is dpkg.

Package installation on Windows works the same as on Ubuntu provided you have either ActiveDirectory Software Installation or a comparable solution (MS Systems Management Server, IBM Tivoli, Novell ZENworks, …) and some administrator that maintains the package repository. The administrator will customize the package as needed so that there is no user input required during installation. With Ubuntu this is done by the Ubuntu team.

Unfortunately not all application vendors offer standard Windows Installer packages (MSI files) but instead rely on “home grown” installers that are usually broken (this includes NSIS, Inno Setup and worst of all Installshield) and make automated software installation really painful. Take Paint.NET as an example g


@Rami Kayyali:
Couldn’t agree more. After using Ubuntu, installing apps on Windows seems archaic.

The idea of googling and downloading some random .exe off of a web page and executing it with administrative rights on my computer is scary now that I’m used to installing signed packages from an open source repository.


Your missing the whole security aspect Jeff.


I used a Mac for a few years a while back (and still would if they had some lower end versions of their PowerMacs with Core 2 Duo instead of Xeons), and installing applications was just as easy as on Windows. More importantly, however, it was MUCH easier to keep track of and get rid of applications after they had been installed.

BSD-style ports and RPMs and Debian packages are fine too, and also quite a lot easier to manage than Windows applications. It’s a bit annoying that libraries and applications are treated as equals, since that makes it more difficult to see what you’ve actually chosen to install rather than having dragged in as dependencies, but it’s possible some improvements have been made in this regard in the Linux world since I last looked at it.

As others have pointed out, the lack of a standard way to install things on Windows complicates everything a whole lot. The average user’s “Program Files” is a mess after a year or two. Yes, it can be avoided, if you’re very disciplined, but in practice that’s just not the case for the vast majority of computer users.

I’m not even sure who to blame - Microsoft actually tried to solve this, since there is “Add or Remove Programs” in the Control Panel. But there’s a lot of applications installed that are not listed there, so it didn’t quite work out.


This is the most painless windows installer I’ve ever seen. You click a checkbox to agree to the EULA then on the same page you click the large bold button that says install, no reboot required.

Cool software too.