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Creation Date: 2004-04-06
Hello, I missed a week or two to general slacking again. Hopefully I can do some good work this week and next. I'm getting pretty close to a good system. It's interesting how far I am and how far it seems to go. Whenever I make a good system, I think of the dozen more left to do. Well, I think discovery of new problems will slow to a stop. Then when the engine is complete, I'll have a lot of scripting to do (which I totally love, considering the years I spent writing ASP scripts, hah).

In development, there are large things and there are small things. Some of the large things are easy to do and involve little real work. Most are very hard, take a lot of time, and are vital to the success of the product. Some of the small things are important enough to decide whether the product succeeds or not. But most of the small things are just not very important at all. How one does the large things and small things will ultimately decide success of the product. So every once in a while I end up working on a small thing and think: "Is this worth the effort I am putting into it?" I often grumble about small things becoming my focus.

For example, an installer is a simple thing. But many people feel that "configure; make; su; make install; exit" is too hard for people to type. So I came up with a better way for Hack Mars to install. You will click on an executable and it will have the logo and the button. You will click the button and the game will install. It will ask you for your root password. When it finishes, it will tell you that it is finished. This system is tried and true. The whole installer takes 30 minutes to write in Python/Tkinter. Then, to get it to work on systems without Python, I need to use the py2exe tool (which is quite easy to use). This installer business is a simple thing.

So, the question becomes: What's the deal that this small thing has to have so many problems in programs throughout the software and driver industry? Microsoft just released WIX (I won't link to it because I feel that it sucks compared to writing a Python/Tkinter installer) under the Open Source License. For years, Microsoft has been hoarding their packaging and distribution under their enterprise development studio (which costs $1000, by the way). Open Source Software has decent tools for free to distribute source, binaries and other. For example, the configure, make, make install is from GNU autoconf/automake. Almost all *nix systems are able to compile binaries from this simple tool. That is a major advantage that OSS has over closed source and closed source would never need it since users never compile in closed source programs. Open Source also has RPM system which seems to work well. Gentoo has apt-get which I hear is amazingly cool. Slackware has the pkgtool tgz system which is pretty cool and simple if you like Slackware. So why do I decide to create my own system? Because none of the previous examples are suitable for multi-platform end users who want pretty from start to finish. Python allows this and that is cool.

Also, I have to admit that I did a tiny bit of cheating and saw that both Unreal Tournament 2003 for Linux and Neverwinter Nights for Linux both have this style of installer. I mean, get with the program, my competitors are smart, but I am clever.

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