A word about installers
April 16, 2011
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Personally, I hate installers. Installers for DOS games are usually quite harmless, and I don’t mind them much. Their main function tends to be compression, some sort of proprietary compression that often actually makes the download smaller than the RARed game directory would be. The only thing that can be annoying about DOS installers is when they won’t run under DOSBox when the game itself would.
But with Windows they really get annoying. You never know what they do, they might modify something you might not want to be modified. They come with DLLs you already have, sometimes overwriting newer versions with older ones. I like to play Windows games directly out of the archive, something WinRAR allows. In some extreme case the installer is 32-bit only while the game itself is 16-bit!
So I tried to keep Download Central, especially the Windows 3.1 section, as installer-free as possible. I have preferred games that were not distributed as installers, or chosen slightly older versions that were not yet, or in rare cases even installed the game, zipped up the folder, and uploaded this archive instead of the original one. Now, I’ve reached a point where I won’t be keeping that up as consequently as I used to. There are a couple of reasons:
- Though I give them preference, I don’t want to restrict myself completely to games that were distributed without installers. In many of my download folders, I find I have already uploaded all those already, or at least all the good ones.
- I have an even stricter preference to upload archives where the time stamps of the files are intact. Many of the old installers give the file the installation date, so I don’t want to upload the zipped game folder.
- Finally, in some cases it might be a copyright violation. Some shareware developers are rather strict about their games to be distributed in its original state only. While I don’t see distributing the installed game folder as a violation of that rule, at least when there’s a list of the installer files, I’d rather refrain.
So, while my preferences haven’t changed, you’ll probably find more installers on Download Central in the future. Mystic Marbles and Defendroid are two I uploaded recently. And while I don’t like installers very much, I won’t add any warnings either. It’s, after all, just the way the game was originally released.
See also: Bypassing Windows installers.