By terryh on May 18, 2005
As I mentioned previously, one of the sources of complexity in our install process is that we provide two different media - a physical CD and a web download. This wouldn't be an issue, except for the fact that the two images are different. If you install with either method, you should end up with identical bits on your machine, but the code that runs to get them there is different. There is a historical reason for this.
Back before I worked in this group, there was a perception that download of our software was problematic. Therefore the install was split into several "chunks", each of which was intended to be self-sufficient. Then it was noticed that this wasn't very convenient if you want the whole product, so code was added so that the sub-installers could be glommed together on the fly. Unfortuntately it didn't prove possible to support batch-mode install of the glommed-together thing. So you have the choice of a combined interactive install, or individual batch installs.
Although this was done with the best of intentions, I now believe it to have been misguided. We could remove a huge amount of documentation and testing overhead if we adopt a new strategy. This proposed strategy is to have only one image (per platform), which is the current CD image. For customers with slow or unreliable internet connections, we already provide a physical media kit for a nominal cost. For people with fat pipes, they won't care about downloading the whole CD image. Everyone wins, because the quality of the installer will be driven upwards by the simplification of the code, documentation and testing.
The image could be provided both as a tarball, which you unpack and run, and as an .iso file which can be burned to a CD and run on a different machine.