Why is setup.exe so difficult? Am I missing something?

Rob Hatcherson rob.hatcherson@zedasoft.com
Wed Oct 12 16:03:00 GMT 2005


You wrote:
 > 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).

My personal experience of late has been that the setup app isn't the 
problem as much as a) mirrors that don't seem to have everything on 
them, and b) general frustrations of the "install everything" approach.  
We used to feel like we needed to install everything *and* do it in one 
stroke, and almost without exception ended up with some mirror that was 
missing something, and/or a post-install process that couldn't 
complete.  End result: a mess on the box.

We've found that the "two-pass" install advocated by the cygwin folks 
results in a much nicer installation experience, i.e. where you first 
let the base packages get on the box, then make a second pass to install 
other packages of interest.  We examined the total package set and 
determined we only needed 10-20% of it for general development work 
(e.g. a couple of shells, gcc tool family, make, perl, and maybe a few 
others), so the second pass is no big deal.  Of course your situation 
may be different.

As suggested by the cygwin folks, to do the first pass for scratch 
installs we just click through the whole process one time, i.e. when we 
get to the page in the setup app where you pick the packages you want we 
don't change anything, and just let it go.  On the second pass when we 
get to that page we click on the View button in the upper right corner 
to get the full view, then click on the "Skip" for the add-on packages 
of interest to mark their current version for installation, and install 
those.  I think somewhere in between we make sure the .../bin directory 
where the cygwin dll lives is on the PATH.

Some kind of kickstart facility would be interesting to provide presets 
for the second pass.  I don't know if setup can do this or not.  And 
maybe some brave soul can develop a yum-like utility for cygwin, 
presuming such doesn't already exist somewhere.

Perhaps a similar process combined with the previously suggested local 
mirror will help?

Rob Hatcherson
ZedaSoft, Inc.

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