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On Windows, simple programs can often be installed by unzipping a zip file into an arbitrary directory. IMHO this is a great example of keeping things simple. For example, it allows installing simple programs without root access. Why are so few Linux binaries packaged as self-contained .zip files, tarballs, etc.? Why is the standard way to do things on Linux to use a fancy package manager for even simple programs?

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closed as not constructive by Iain, Chris S, Zoredache, jscott, Ward May 10 '11 at 20:31

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Because package management is Better, and you are just being silly for not accepting the One True Way. –  Zoredache May 10 '11 at 20:25
    
Simply unzipping into a folder is NOT installing or managing software. –  John Gardeniers May 10 '11 at 21:30
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@John: But it works in practice for a lot of software on Windows and some software (though more rarely) on Linux. –  dsimcha May 10 '11 at 22:58
    
@john running a pakage maanger isn't managing software either –  Jim B May 11 '11 at 0:59
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3 Answers

I think you're badly misunderstanding how programs are installed and run.

You can download some programs to a *nix box and just run them. You can also install programs to your home directory, much easier than trying to do a My User Only install in Windows (which almost never works).

Most *nix systems include a package management system to help you keep dependencies in check. There is no such system in Windows. System Administrations who have dealt with dependency issues in Windows commonly refer to the problem as DLL Hell.

WinSxS has attempted to alleviate some of the problem, but at the cost of a lot of HD space and it doesn't keep itself cleaned up when you uninstall old programs. One major reason it can't keep itself clean is because Windows has no tracking mechanism for what DLLs are installed, what depends on them, where to find updated versions, etc, etc, etc.

All this functionality has been baked into most package management systems to avoid DLL Hell and keep your system running despite updates/upgrades and mismatched dependencies.

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DLL hell is a developer problem not a packager maanger problem. The standard package manger in windows works just fine –  Jim B May 11 '11 at 0:57
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Not that many Windows applications ship as a single executable, most need to install other files with a setup file that puts files into specific locations and edits the registry. Linux packages are just the same and there are plenty of applications that are stand alone, basically I don't see much of a difference at all.

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I actually find the package managers a little easier to use, as they are a central location to find most software. The package manager also handles the installation of the software, which I can find a little confusing to extract archive files.

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