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Michael Maclean: Why one-line installers are a bad idea

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 22 September 2012.
PHPDeveloper

There's a feature that's usage has been showing up more and more in software projects (both open source and not) that allows you to install their system with a single line command, usually involving curl and maybe piping it to a shell. In this recent post Michael Maclean takes a look at this trend and some of the possible pitfalls of the approach.

There has been a trend in the last while for various bits of useful software to have a one-line shell command recommended as the installation method. The usual form of this is to pipe something like curl or wget to some interpreter, be it bash, php, ruby, or some such. [...] This [type of] command takes the output of curl and pipes it straight to bash. I have several issues with this.

His three main points center around the fact that you cannot inspect the code before executing it with this method, that you can't verify the source of the code and that it teaches users bad habits of trusting in "magic commands" like these.