A blog by Gary Bernhardt, Creator & Destroyer of Software

Adobe, master of the painful install

27 May 2007

After using Macs for about two years, I've become accustomed to the painless installation process there: open the dmg, drag the app to the Applications folder, and you're done. Unfortunately, I recently had to install Acrobat Reader to electronically sign some insurance documents. They have managed to come up with a downright pathological installation process:

  1. Download AdbeRdr80_DLM_en_US_i386.dmg.
  2. Open the dmg.
  3. DownloadReader.pkg is inside; open it.
  4. Click through some stuff.
  5. Wait for the "Adobe Reader Download Manager" to download
  6. another 23 MB dmg.
  7. The "Download Manager" has silently quit (what?), but the dmg is now mounted. Open "Adobe Reader 8 Installer.app" and wait for it to finish.
  8. The "Installer" has silently quit (what?), but it must be done, because Acrobat is now running.

This is amazing. When I saw the very first pkg file, I was annoyed: I hate installers and they're rare in the Mac world. As I kept installing and installing, it was almost surreal. In the above list, there are three times where something is being installed. Working back from Acrobat itself,

  1. "Adobe Reader 8 Installer.app" installs "Adobe reader.app", so it's the installer.
  2. The "Download Manager" installs that, so it's the installer installer.
  3. DownloadReader.pkg installed that, so it's the installer installer installer.

So, while most Mac programs have shed the archaic notion of an installer altogether, Adobe Acrobat Reader has a program that installs a program that installs a program that installs the software you actually need.