HP3I: or “HP’s Insanely Idiotic Installers”

After my Canon i320 printer died earlier this week, I purchased a new HP D2460 this afternoon.

One of the computers which has to use this printer is a Windows machine, which is mostly used by the people who stubbornly refuse to stop using Microsoft Office at home. Unfortunately, the onus of “supporting” the idiotic joke from Redmond which pretends to be an operating system, falls on me.

This means I have to deal with the crap that comes out of Windows developers, like the error message of the HP D2460 installation CD-ROM shown below:

Idiotic Installers

As you can see the installer bombs out because it can’t access a file in the G: drive. The main problem is that the particular system has no G: drive AT ALL.

This is the installer which launches from the officially packaged driver CD-ROM, and is bundled as the “driver software” with the printer itself. I’m filing a complaint with HP early tomorrow morning, but I consider this sort of bug something that should NOT have been there in the first place.

It looks like someone forgot a hardcoded path somewhere in the program’s source, but can you configure where this path points? No, because “printer drivers” for Windows are monstrously large sets of obscurely packaged binaries. Forget about “apt-get” like your Debian can do, or the simple extractable tarball of your BSD’s “pkg_add” utility. These are “teh” drivers baby… the official, the one, the only, and unfortunately — at least in my cases — the ones with the insanely idiotic installer.

(Footnote: Downloading the latest version of the 78 MB self-extracting Windows executable “printer software” from http://www.hp.com is not going to help, thank you. The same bug is present in that version too).

Off to see if the “basic driver” executable from the same manufacturer’s web site has a better chance of working in the aforementioned joke of an “OS”.

.. and yes, I know this post may be unfair to HP, but I didn’t buy a printer to have to deal with crappy installers like this. I also don’t care if “Windows is crappy and we have to go through shit like this” is even viable as an excuse.

This sucks HP!

UPDATE (after about an hour or so): After fidding a bit with the options of the installer, and trying both the installer of the bundled CD-ROM and the installers I downloaded from http://www.hp.com, several times in a row, it occured to me that it may be possible to “trick” the installer into believing that there *is* a G: drive, by:

  • Sharing any random local directory through the network
  • Mapping the shared directory at G: through Explorer
  • Creating (through the mapped drive, to check that writing new stuff is possible) a new G:\TEMP directory

This seems to have worked around the installer stupidity, but now the installer is stuck for the last 15 minutes in “A device has been found. Waiting to complete device installation.”

Oh well, let’s wait a bit more and see what other surprises this crapware will come up with for tonight :-)

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6 Responses to HP3I: or “HP’s Insanely Idiotic Installers”

  1. Michael Iatrou says:

    Oh well, you can always setup a *NIX machine with CUPS and use it as print server for Windows :-)

    BTW, this color theme is more readable, thanks!

  2. keramida says:

    I thought about that, but there’s no spare “Linux” machine to do this right now, and the Linux support for HP printers is a “hack” which depends on “hpijs” and other filters. The native win32 drivers are probably a better choice for a Windows-only user.

    The funny thing is that an email responce from HP, to a support request I filed through their web interface last night, said:

    We are sending this email message in responce to your support question about your laptop.

    We would like to inform you that in order for your computer to operate correctly, you will have to perform the restore procedure for the original operating system, by following to the following instructions:

    Back up everything.
    Restart your computer
    When the HP logo appears, press F11
    The original operating system installation will be restored
    If this fails, try again pressing F8 instead of F11

    etc.

    Immediatelly below this top-posted responce was my original support question, which specifically mentioned that this is a question about a printer (edited to remove/hide personal information):

    language_code : el
    language : Greek
    Country of Residence : Greece
    product_line : DL
    product_oid : 2510767
    product_name : HP Deskjet D2460 Printer
    part_number : CB611A,CB607A
    purchase month : 1
    purchase year : 2008
    problem area : Installation and configuration
    serial number : XXXXXXXXXX
    operating system : Microsoft Windows XP Home
    How is your product connected to your PC? : USB
    problem description : The installation of the bundled CD-ROM drivers *and* the drivers downloaded from HP’s web site (Version: 9.0.1) fails because it cannot write to the G: drive.

    I never had a G: drive on this computer though.

    A screenshot of the error message can be found at:

    http://keramida.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/idiotic-installers.png

    Now, I don’t know what sort of support “responce” would completely ignore the fact that I am not asking about an HP laptop, but this is something that I find completely and utterly offensive. That’s not the sort of “support” I would expect from a company the size of HP.

    So I just archived the responce and ignored it altogether, since I now have a workaround in place for the driver’s installer bug.

  3. Nuclear says:

    It would be fun to bitch a bit with another email to HP about their quality of support. In the offchance that they actually respond to that, the response would be interesting I guess :)

    Btw, the abominable quality of HP printer drivers hit me earlier this month as well. A friend needed assistance because she couldn’t install the drivers herself. After about half an hour of strugling with missing cab files in the installer I gave up.

    Incidentally, I also happened to have just installed Ubuntu GNU/Linux on her computer earlier the same afternoon (as part of my ongoing anti-windows advocacy to simple users), which to our collective astonishment detected the printer and was able to print a test page in seconds… I’m not even sure what I did, I think nothing… CUPS just kicked in…. Never had a printer myself, so I didn’t know what’s the process of installing a printer through CUPS. Didn’t get the chance to find out this time either I guess :)

  4. Giorgos Notaras says:

    Giorgos, I can “feel” your frustration, but, seriously, you need to spend more time with GUIs :P

    Just a thought… I would check the environment variables just in case some other smart program has modified the default TEMP path and set it to G:\TEMP. I guess the installer reads these settings from the system by default and it is very unlikely that a developer has ever touched these internal functions of the installer.

    I highly recommend using the installation media in another machine (or VM).

  5. Manolis says:

    Heh, I had the exact same problem a few years ago with a customer’s HP scanner. The official CD would refuse to install in his machine, the driver was too big to download (pre-DSL times…). I ended up copying the entire CD to the hard disk and tweaking some (I think) inf files by hand to make it install. I was swearing to never buy an HP product again. (I actually never bought an HP scanner but I am quite happy with my Laserjet 1015 – it just works everywhere).

    On another note, when you get to the “Waiting to complete device installation” it is actually the point where you should plug (…and pray) your usb cable. Quite commonly, some people plug the cable before getting to this point and this almost always causes a mess: Device is detected, no driver is installed, a question mark appears in device manager…chaos rules until you delete the device and reinsert cable. It is not however unusual for a completely valid set of steps to halt at this point, waiting forever.
    Actually HP installers have gotten much worse lately. For starters, they take ages to complete. Some of their CDs take 20-30 minutes on even recent hardware. What is even more laughable, sometimes they report the “read speed” which resembles in many cases dial up modems :) And all this for a really really simple driver (If the printer is a Winprinter, I can accept a somewhat bloated driver: The printer is simply not there, the driver is doing everything, but what about PCL5 and 6 printers? why do they have to be so big?). But then again they install everything AND the kitchen sink.

    And my final rant would be for Vista (sic). The included driver for my Laserjet is missing the single more important feature of the printer: Manual duplexing. It was there in XP, vanished in Vista. And HP does not have (and will not produce) an updated driver. And I really really fiddling with turning pages upside-down, changing print order and so on. And I thought Linux was the OS having somewhat “incomplete” drivers…

  6. keramida says:

    George Notaras wrote: “I highly recommend using the installation media in another machine (or VM).”

    That’s an idea, but it may take a while. The only Windows “system” I can almost tolerate approaching at home has 256 MB of memory, so a VM may slow it down to a crawl.

    “Just a thought… I would check the environment variables just in case some other smart program has modified the default TEMP path and set it to G:\TEMP. I guess the installer reads these settings from the system by default and it is very unlikely that a developer has ever touched these internal functions of the installer.”

    That’s what I thought too. Unfortunately, there’s no TEMP, TMP or other environment variable in the system’s setup. That’s odd and kind of silly, but since I found a workaround and *did* complete the installation, I don’t really care about the installer anymore.

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