07 Jun 2009
Complete installs and uninstalls

I think I must have missed a transition somewhere along the way, where the qualifiers “sorta” or “not really” became implicit for words like “Complete” or “Uninstall”.

There have always been rogue application (un)installations that due to programming errors or negligence don’t really do what they say, but I’ve lately grown increasingly annoyed at a couple packages.

First, there’s the Microsoft Office kit, which offers a “Complete” option during the installation. Now I believe that in general use, “complete” means everything, the whole shebang, the whole nine yards, whatever. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at Microsoft. The problem this leads to is that when applying updates — unless you had the foresight to really install everything initially — you have to insert the distribution CD-ROM before they will apply. Which is fine, unless you’re on the road, or one among dozens of Volume License Key users who don’t have the CD-ROM handy.

The solution is of course obvious (ha): you select the “Custom” installation and step through the options until you find where you can really do a complete installation … and then don’t inadvertently check the option to remove the installation files from disk afterward … and then don’t let the Disk Cleanup utility remove them later.

Second, on my list is HP’s printer borgware, which I’ve ranted about before. We have several of those L7580 All-in-One printers around on our network, and as far as I know they are working fine.

A staff member recently replaced a desktop with a Dell E5500 laptop, and needed to do multi-page scans initiated from the HP control software. However, the new install could not find the printer. Later, when coerced into finding it, it still wouldn’t scan, instead getting an internal error. This is after multiple uninstall/reinstall cycles.

Now, there appears to have been a problem with the HP installation at least since 2007, according to my Googling around. The only “solution” appears to be a complete uninstall and reinstall (which, by the way, didn’t work; User Support is gonna take that up with HP this week). Also BTW, if you read my earlier post, you recall that the installation is already broken unless you do a full install — and that’s according to HP’s telephone support.

As you’ve probably guessed from the “complete uninstall” above, uninstallation isn’t as simple as it seems. It turns out (surprise) that going through Add/Remove Programs to uninstall all the HP software is only the beginning. If you take that route, and try to re-install, the installer still sometimes greets you with a “Welcome Back!” and asks if you want to add a device. There’s no option to modify or repair an existing installation.

It turns out that there are some batch files that come with the installation, stuffed down in a subdirectory called “…\utils\ccc\” that purport to really uninstall the software. Before I get into that, I have a sub-rant about the location of on-disk installation files. Depending on your installation source (CD-ROM, downloaded kit, etc.), the installation files are copied to “7z????” subdirectories in “…\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Temp\” (which is of course hidden from the normal user), or in “C:\temp\HP_WebInstall\…”, or who knows where else — and, by the way, these are not cleaned up by any of the uninstallation methods (yet another rant for another day).

So to really uninstall the HP software, the user has to navigate to hidden areas on their disk, plunder through multiple (if they tried installing more than once) directories, and finally come upon the batch files. Or, if you have the CD-ROM, you can find them there, but they may not match what you’ve actually installed or updated.

Now, you’d think that there might be an “uninstall” batch file, and perhaps a “really-seriously-i-mean-it-uninstall” batch file (given the state of things), but you’d be wrong.

There are actually five(!): Uninstall.bat, Uninstall_L1.bat, Uninstall_L2.bat, Uninstall_L3.bat, Uninstall_L4.bat. If you look at the comments in them, the successive “levels” (the “L”) claim to remove more and more “stuff” from your system, with Level 4 claiming to really, seriously, I’m-not-kidding-this-time, remove everything, if Level 3 didn’t solve your problem. Arrrgh.

Category: Daily-Grind
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