Why is setup.exe so difficult? Am I missing something?
Wed Oct 12 14:03:00 GMT 2005
[Warning: This is a complete flame of cygwin's setup.exe. After being a
long-time user, I've simply given up patience with the program, and this
email will probably be the least-courteous note I've posted to any internet
community in a long, long time. I simply need to get someone's attention,
and this is my last ditch attempt before I (and my software group)
completely abandon cygwin for now and try an work exclusively with
mingw/mysys. I do have a purpose with this flame: I'm trying to find the
answers as to why setup.exe perplexes myself and the rest of my development
group. Please do not take any of this note personally.]
I find cygwin's setup.exe extremely difficult to understand, and over the
years I've used it, I have found it somewhat buggy (unless the "bugs" I
find are really just "features" that I don't understand).
The biggest question: why do myself and everyone else in my software
development group that I manage (as well as everyone else with whom I've
spoken over the years regarding cygwin) find cygwin's setup.exe so perplexing?
And why does everyone else in this community for which I write
(firstname.lastname@example.org) seem to have no problems with it? Or maybe they do?
Here are some example problems scenarios:
* Installing/updating a subversion package
I want to install or update a subversion package for my cygwin system. I
tried for about 15 minutes to figure out how to do this (and get a specific
rev of svn--1.2.3-1) to no avail. The organization of the modes and views
and lists of setup.exe to be are extremely unintuitive--I've never
understood them, and I think I've been using cygwin for about 5 years
now. It's not like I'm a rookie.
* Installing a full cygwin set
The only way I get by with cygwin is to always attempt a "full" download
and hope for the best. However, a full download of cygwin, at least with
our controlled setup.exe, is NOT a full download! We had to write a
user-installation page just to make sure the installation user had to
manually select all the packages in the supposed "full" cygwin install
(about 3-4 packages were missing in the list). What gives?
* Duplication a cygwin environment from machine to machine
This is critical for development consistency. We had to download the
entire package set,
* Figure out which things to install and which ones to not
This is the worst thing of them all. I always feel like an idiot whenever
I step into setup.exe
I could probably provide a longer list with much more detail. However,
empathy for these issues I suspect are rather binary: one either
completely understands what I'm talking about, or they think that I simply
haven't read the docs well enough and that they can use setup.exe just fine.
There's also the "setup.exe is an extremely powerful and flexible" utility
argument. I'll grant anyone this argument; it seems rather capable...I
guess...** if someone can figure out how to use it. ** I see flexibility
coming at the price of understanding.
I have attempted to read several different user guides on the setup.exe
installation process. None of them I have seen thus far address the
questions and problems I have with setup.exe. But let's say there is a
document out there that explains all the setup.exe nuances and helps a user
like me to "see the light." Why does one require such a document (and a
side note: why has it been so hard for me to find?)? Why not simply make a
more-intuitive flavor of the user experience for installation and upgrades?
Please, please do not label me an "idiot user." For what it's worth, I
hold a computer engineering degree from a highly-regarded university, I
have been a software developer for a long time, I have sysadmin-ed 6
different Unix systems, Redhat systems, BSD systems, and have been a
significant VMS user. On the web-and-email-server side of things: I have
administered and used qmail, postfix, Apache, Drupal, MediaWiki, phpBB,
mail2forum, Subversion, and several other similar systems. I have been a
sw-developer, tester, systems-integrator, sales-engineer, support
engineering, and marketing manager for a variety of storage-area networking
systems (I worked for a company that made them) on a heterogeneous
storage-area network (Windows NT, 6 Unixes, Linux, etc). I have helped
develop industry-leading, patent-pending software.
I'm not trying to impress someone with my "resume." I'm simply trying to
convey the fact that 1) I think I am a reasonably-capable technologist, and
2) I FIND cygwin's setup.exe *THE* MOST DIFFICULT-TO-USE PROGRAM IN ALL THE
SOFTWARE I CURRENTLY USE TODAY.
It's disappointing, because beyond the install-and-update process, I
generally find cygwin a pleasure to use. First of all, it's free of
charge; further, the software-module updates are fantastics (I subscribe to
the package-update-notification list, and like how the module/app
stakeholders pretty much update many things just as soon as they are
available; note the recent OpenSSL and Subversion updates). These and
other things enable my business to be quite productive.
But if this community and the cygwin developers are going to go to such
great lengths to make such a comprehensive and robust unix-on-windows
system, why not make a better installation-and-upgrade-package-management
Here's a thought: Why not just keep the setup.exe as it is, support all
the users who I'm sure have mastered it by now and probably love it (for I
doubt something like that would not have lasted this long without a devoted
user set), and simply build an additional install-and-upgrade program that
uses the same "back-end" technology/interfaces and presents something
different to the user?
Best regards, and thanks in advance for any help.
Unsubscribe info: http://cygwin.com/ml/#unsubscribe-simple
Problem reports: http://cygwin.com/problems.html
More information about the Cygwin