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I've noticed that, in the last half-decade or so, the installers of many programs themselves have acquired downloaders -- which sometimes need separate installation! -- which in turn delete themselves and the installer once the installation. (Adobe Flash Player and Google Chrome are some of the many examples.)

But I don't understand: What is the reason behind this shift?

Why is it so difficult to find offline installers for programs (even small ones), even though the only thing the downloaders do is just download the offline installer? And why do they delete the installer after they're finished, never giving the user the chance to run the program standalone?

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I'm surprised this is still open. There is no deterministic answer to this. –  surfasb Nov 1 '11 at 14:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The reason is that vendors want to control what you can do. It gives them the opportunity to force you to use a different version, to change distribution tactics, to show ads, etc. In short, what they want is power.

You can keep the intermediate installer in most cases by simply linking to it while it is busy installing. This is done with the 'ln' command as in:

ln <path-to-installer> <link name>

You will usually find the path-to-installer in your /tmp folder. In the case of some products (like Adobe's), you need to create 2 links, one to the installer (which is a small binary) and one to the program archive (which is a large data file).

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For some reason, typically security, it is important that the only the latest version of the application be installed or executed.

As for why the downloaded 'inner' installer can't be saved (it could still refuse to install or download an updated version if someone tried to run it directly and it wasn't the latest version) -- mostly just laziness and the lack of any perceived need.

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I have often wondered the same thing, because it often creates a hassle for those of us who often install the same pieces of software on many computers. I don't know for sure why this is becoming a trend, but I expect the biggest reason is this; Deleting an installer after the installer is done makes it so the next time you need the software, you are forced to download the most up to date version.

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For one thing, a downloader can be left non-updated (and therefore useful for a very long time), while only the program it downloads changes. Thus, you always download the latest copy.

Some applications delete their installer, some don't. I think most people delete the installer anyways later (I keep them because I have the room and I want to know what programs I had when I re-install Windows), so the installer writers just make this quicker. After all, why do you need the installer anymore when you have the program? (says the installer developer).

Also, I suppose a downloader program could apply diffs before or after installing, but automatically. So maybe it always downloads the same thing, just extra diffs and necessary. I think AVG does this.

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