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Re: windows installer

From: Jostein Kjønigsen
Subject: Re: windows installer
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2017 08:31:11 +0100

Hey Phil.

I've done some testing on this installer now, and so far it seems most things works as it should.

My impression is that on overall, this will make life much easier for Windows-users, and maybe finally bring the installation-experience on par with Linux-users who've for a long time just been able to "apt install emacs", "dnf install emacs" or whatever.

I've tested on Linux with Wine and I've also tested on Windows 10, and didn't encounter any critical issues or errors either place. It mostly just worked.

This is no doubt a major-improvement.

If I were to provide some feedback or comments, I would like to point out a few things.

1. Not commonly downloaded (yet)

For the time being, the installer is reported as "not commonly downloaded", and gives a big red warning in MS EDGE. I'm guessing you'll get the same in Chrome, and also possibly Firefox:

I've seen this before when developing and delivering other Windows-software, and this should only appear in a transitional phase.

This will make the initial roll-out a little more painful, but it should basically resolve itself over time.

I'm just mentioning this, so that if you get other comments on the same subject, I don't think you need to be overly worried about it.

2. Installer is not signed

These days trying to distribute a unsigned installer on Windows is getting increasingly cumbersome. Especially for the end-users trying to run it.

Upon launching the installer, I'm getting this warnin:

To run this, you have to know that you can click "More info" and proceed from there:

This I think can become a major hindrance for some new users, and unfortunately this problem will not solve itself.

The solution is signing the installer. Signing an installer (and any EXE-file really) is fairly trivial and there are tools for this in the Windows SDK. (And make sure to use the time-stamp options too!)

To do this of course, you will have to be in possession of a X509 code-signing  certificate. If GNU already has one of these, it should be easy to convert into whatever format Windows expects it to be in, and put into use.

If not... This will cost money. How much, I do not know. Symantic has Authenticode-certificates starting at $500. While StartCom is no longer a trusted CA, I know they used to offer a significantly cheaper option. That gives me hope that there might be options cheaper than $500 available.

If this is deemed important enough to resolve, I think the first course of action will have to be finding an affordable option for buying and renewing code-signing certificates.

Managing the security of this certificate is also important concern, but one we can dig deeper into at a later point.

Also setting up code-signing in a CI-environment (and especially for a FOSS-project) can be a bit of a pain. Is the Windows-installer built in a CI-environment? Should it be? If so, this may also something we will need to solve too, but again, that's definitely something for later.

3. Installer defaults

Once launched the installer seems to work as intended. I do however question some of the defaults provided.

Install default directory has IMO at least 2 issues:

  • It should be noted that the Start-menu folder created for Emacs also contains the version number.

    For the same reasons given above, I advice that we also remove the version-number from this folder too. Again, it will make upgrades and similar scenarios much more hygienic, with less "old stuff" we have to clean up, in order to avoid stale links, or double program-registrations for the same piece of software.

Apart from that, I'm all positive about this initiative and the improvements it provides. This is just so much better.

Jostein Kjønigsen

address@hidden 🍵 address@hidden

On Tue, Nov 7, 2017, at 12:23 PM, Phillip Lord wrote:

The first snapshot is up on alpha.gnu.org!

Feedback welcome. And, I think you are right, this will be a big win for
Emacs users new to the party; I've seen people looking at the zip, and
not knowning what to do.


Jostein Kjønigsen <address@hidden> writes:

As a (part time) Windows-user I'd very much appreciate this.

Like I've mentioned earlier on this mailing-list, I have some custom
scripts I use to manually assemble a new release when it's available,
but even then it's so much of a hastle that I can't always be bothered.
Having an installer which makes this a next-next-next process would
be a great
But I'm already on the train. Where this would clearly be most
benefitial is for new Windows/Emacs-users if they could get going in
the usual "next next next" Windows-fashion which they're already
accustomed to.
Feel free to publish some test-installers for the community to try out.

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