Adobe AIR installer, a hateful tradition

Tweetdeck seems to be the path of least resistance for a desktop Twitter client on Mac OS X 10.4 (there are other free Mac desktop clients, Nambu and Tweetie but unfortunately they both require 10.5).

But Tweetdeck requires the Adobe AIR runtime. And the Adobe AIR 1.5 installer takes Adobe’s favourite approach of ignoring Mac OS X’s package installer format in favour of a custom installer application.

When you open the installer, it takes a few seconds and then gives you a license agreement. Here’s an excerpt:

2.3 Distribution. This license does not grant you the right to sublicense or distribute the Software. For information about obtaining the right to distribute the Software on tangible media or through an internal network or with your product or service please refer to…

I read that as explicitly banning any efforts to create a package to ease the pain of deploying AIR across a bunch of Macs. Damn it.

Clicking Accept moves you to the installation proper, and Adobe loses a few more points by immediately throwing up an authentication dialog box. Why does this dialog appear? What am I about to install? If only this was a package installer I could have looked at the installation manifest to get an idea of what was going to happen before granting the installer free rein to my computer.

Turns out that everything you care about is installed in /Library/Frameworks/Adobe AIR.framework and /Applications/Utilities/Adobe AIR Application and /Applications/Utilities/Adobe AIR For some reason the installer also touches a couple of files in /Users/Shared/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AIR/Updater and slips a couple utility apps in your Library somewhere. You can ignore those.

It feels particularly wrong when non-system applications put things in the Utilities folder – it is effectively a special system directory, and its contents are tools for tinkering with the system configuration or for diagnostics. Adobe Creative Suite 3 likes to create a folder Adobe Installers in there and Adobe Utilities, just in case you haven’t worked out how much you need their software on your computer.

Heaven is almost certainly running System 6.0.8. Nothing is installed without Font DA Mover.

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