NSIS vs. MSI? Which is better for Opera?
Monday, March 27, 2006 2:59:03 AM
With recent builds of the Opera beta, they released the Windows Installer version of the Opera package. Unfortunately, this has lots of problems with users running Windows 9x or NT4 preSP6. What makes matters worse is that the InstallShield version that the installer is built with uses the Windows Installer 3.x series runtime, which is the first version to not support Windows 9x or NT4 completely. Windows Installer 1.0 was the only version to support NT4 preSP6, so that does not matter. Another problem is when Vista comes out. Vista will introduce new features into the Windows Installer that make it very difficult to not use. The reason is, the ability to patch installations without being an Admininstrator is very useful, but EXE based installers such as NSIS have supported this for years. Being opensource and free, there is no money really to market these things. So, they rely on users. I myself built a few installers with NSIS and find it really easy and effective. In my previous post
, I compared them, so I will not compare again. But I will explain whether NSIS would be the best choice for Opera. Opera wants to get into the corporate world, I can understand that, but I don't get why they have to put up with an installer system that goes against everything Opera stands for! NSIS is very flexible, and that flexibility could be used by the Opera installer development team to create a plugin that would allow the missing functionality to be added, then they could release the plugin as opensource so that it would be improved and continually updated. Opera can then use this plugin to create an NSIS package that would do exactly what the MSI package has that the NSIS system does not. I recently discovered though, that NSIS's silent mode can read options from an external script file, where usermode options such as Name, Company, type of installation, total silence, etc.... This could possibly allow Opera to tap into NSIS! In Chapter 4, section 12 (notated as 4.12) title "Silent Installers/Uninstallers" in the NSIS User Manual that comes with the NSIS package, there are instructions on how to create a silent installer. It also refers to creating an answers file to configure silent installations. This may be the key to letting Opera use NSIS. I think this well hidden feature of NSIS may have been overlooked for quite some time, giving the impression that it is not good for network installs. I know that this is the major feature holding Opera back, and I have given the thing that can set it free!
I just hope someone from the Opera Desktop Team actually looks at this post and sees it... I doubt it though, they have lots of work to do anyway...